California appears to be the land of losses for the Rockets early on in the season, with a healthy handful of their games in the state early on in this season, including tonight's game against the Sacramento Kings. The hallmarks of this game were sloppy offense, poor transition defense, and a bench effort that resembled the Houston Texans offense.
Derrick Williams, Isaiah Thomas, and Rudy Gay lead the Kings in the first half, helped by 11 Rocket turnovers. They combined for 36 of their 57 first half points. The Kings shot 46% to the Rockets 49% but got four more shots off and benefited from poor transition defense and a lack of effort on defense.
Omer Asik was, again, held out with an ‘injury' pending his imminent trade for what hopes to be a nicely wrapped lottery pick in this year's upcoming draft. His defensive prowess would have been much appreciated tonight. Jeremy Lin also sat out after a collision he had during the Warriors game.
Rockets were constantly trailing, committing bad turnovers and taking poor shots that put Sacramento in a position to score. Defensively it seemed as if no one could, much less wanted to, stop anybody. Even Patrick Beverley fouled Isaiah Thomas on a three point shot that resulted in a 4 point play.
In the second, James Harden rolled his ankle badly in the beginning of the third on a drive to the basket. Crane shots at the free throw line afterwards before being taken to the locker room for x-rays. He returned later in the third looked a bit lethargic and struggled to get into his shooting rhythm.
The fouth quarter featured heavier doses of Dwight Howard, which ended in held balls, missed shots, and foul shots (which he also missed many of). We could not mount the comeback effort that we needed on a night against a team that is incredibly beatable.
This loss, to me, falls on the shoulders of the bench. Make no mistake, the starters had a lackluster effort on defense and were not able to string enough plays together on offense, but we need to be able to count on at least one of the players on the bench to step up and provide a spark. Greg Smith got his first minutes in ages after his knee injury after Terrence Jones got put on the bench. Omri and Francisco have to be able to contribute more, at least in the form of three point shooting to keep struggling starters afloat.
Harden ended up with 25 points, 3 boards, and 3 assists, losing significant steam after his injury. Parsons had the best game of the night with 19 points, 7 boards, 5 assists and steals. Other than those two stat lines, the rest was generally underwhelming. Even Dwight Howard's performance seemed pedestrian, albeit impressive at times.
Overall, it was a very depressing from a team that desperately needed a Jeremy Lin to come off the bench and get us back into it. Losing to the Kings is not something I believe Daryl Morey and Les Alexander payed for this off-season. For all of our sakes, I hope we don't have to watch these kinds of games often.
More comprehensive thought in a post later tonight
For now, read more over at Sactown Royalty
- Jeremy Lin out with back injury, Terrence Jones questionable with the flu for Rockets vs. Kings
- Omer Asik trade could involve Rockets and Sixers in three-team deal
- Omer Asik trade talk: Breaking down the Rockets return in a deal
- Houston Rockets vs. Sacramento Kings game preview
- Video: Dwight Howard's 3 Career Three Pointers