The Rockets led by as much as 25 but struggled down the stretch, scoring just 16 points in the final frame. But the Rockets completed the wire-to-wire victory to win their fourth consecutive game.
The visiting Rockets blitzed their opponent in their building early with 37 first-quarter points from all eight Rockets who checked into the contest.
Clint Capela had a difficult assignment defending the Kings’ size but despite being outrebounded 50-39, Capela built a strong presence on the low block early and often and the Rockets never looked back.
Capela finished the game with 15 points and a team-high 14 rebounds.
The Kings were able to shrink the lead in the second quarter thanks to Houstonian De’Aaron Fox, who dropped a team-high 31 for the Kings. The offense rolled through Fox all night long, which helped and hurt the Kings as the rest of the team was one-dimensional.
However, Fox’s efforts helped cut the deficit in half from 16 to eight going into halftime.
In the third quarter, the Rockets raced out to a large lead, where it ballooned all the way to 25, the largest of the game.
During the third quarter, the Rockets shot 62 percent from the field while the Kings shot a mere 26 percent. James Harden and Russell Westbrook were the most responsible for the growth of the lead.
In the whole contest, the Beard and Brodie combined for 72 points. Harden shot an effective 10-19, while Russ made 10-22 shots and shot 3-4 from beyond the arc.
The Kings made a strong push in the fourth quarter, taking advantage of the Rockets’ 3-16 shooting in fourth quarter.
Fox led the run but missed five free throws down the stretch and the Rockets’ defensive efforts were just enough to hold the Kings back.
In the end, the Kings’ hole they dug for themselves was too much for them to get out of.
If the Kings made a few more shots in crunch time, the Rockets might not have gotten as lucky. They were fortunate enough that their lead was large enough to shoulder their freezing cold shooting in the fourth quarter.
The game tonight reflected the Rockets’ 30 games so far this season.
Throughout the year, the Rockets have experienced peaks and valleys. Although the valleys have been rough, the team has experienced enough peaks to come out on top and be exactly where they want to be.
Tonight, there were some valleys, but the peaks were enough to get the job done.
NEXT: The Rockets will suit up Christmas Day to face the Warriors. Tipoff is at 4 p.m. CT.