The Kings shots would start to fall in the second as they pulled within two points before the half. The game would remain close till the very end of the game when the Rockets pulled away, after key plays from James Harden down the stretch.
Below are three takeaways from the win
Lots of guys looking for that extra pass
The ball movement was pretty crisp a lot of the time on Saturday night. The Rockets finished the night with 10 secondary assists, which meant they did not settle with an OK shot, they kept looking for the best shot. The Rockets even had six free throw assists, the ball was flying around the court.
One of the plays that stuck out in my head the most: In the span of 20 seconds, all five Rockets players touched the ball, eight touches in all, midway through the third. The ball was passed around the arc, (near the end of the possession) James Harden passed to Patrick Beverley who then tossed Trevor Ariza for a corner three, Ariza pumped to try and drive baseline but got caught. Ariza tossed the ball to Harden who had sprinted over, only to get the ball right back under the hoop for an easy lay-in.
That was a beautiful play, and it wasn't the only one. The Rockets looked good and there wasn't even that many ISOs.
The Return of D-Mo
Mid-way through the first quarter the Rockets subbed in Donatas Motiejunas for Dwight Howard, and he was met by loud cheering from the fans in attendance. It was a nice scene, the fans knew the journey he has taken and were happy to see him back out there.
Motiejunas did not score any points, but he did look good in his return. The 7-footer, in his first action, finished playing a touch over 6 minutes, 0 points (0/4 shooting), 1 offensive rebound, and 2 turnovers, but the Rockets were +3 with him on the floor.
Boogie did not Boogie often
Demarcus Cousins on the season is a nearly 30-point-per-night guy, on Saturday the Rockets limited him big time. Cousins on the night was 4 for 16, early on it wasn't all the defense.
Let's be honest Cousins missed a bunch of WIDE open jumpers, but down the stretch, when the Kings went to Cousins more and more, the Rockets locked in.
In the fourth it was especially tough, the Rockets made it hard for Cousins to catch the ball, denying him easy catches. When Cousins did get the ball the Rockets made sure to body him up, not giving him much space to operate.
Cousins was pretty ineffective all night, he only was able to grab nine rebounds before ultimately fouling out when he was trying to draw a charge from Harden with a little more than 2 minutes left in the game.