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Rockets defeat Kings in second consecutive win despite James Harden’s absence

The Houston Rockets won their second consecutive game against the Sacramento Kings based on their second-half defense.  

Sacramento Kings v Houston Rockets Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

For the second time in two days, the Houston Rockets took on the Sacramento Kings inside the Toyota Center in Houston. And for the second time in two days, the Rockets came away victorious. But this one was a bit different.

James Harden was a late-scratch 30 minutes before tip-off due to a sprained right ankle. John Wall picked up the scoring in his absence with a game-high 28 points (11-21 FG, 2-8 3PT), to lead the Rockets to a 102-94 victory over the Kings. Eric Gordon, who started in place of the injured Harden, added in 21 points in the win.

The Rockets held a two-point lead entering the fourth quarter. Gordon opened the final period scoring the first six points, as the Rockets created separation from the Kings on a 9-0 run.

Although Houston had three players who scored 20 or more points, the Rockets came away with Saturday’s win based on their second-half defense. The Rockets gave up 64 points in the first half but held the Kings to 30 in the final 24 minutes.

As great of an offensive performance Wall had for the Rockets, his most beneficial contribution came on the defensive side of the ball. Wall registered three steals and two blocks. After the game, he proclaimed himself as the best “shot-blocking point guard” of all-time.

Christian Wood continued his impressive start to the season against the Kings. He scored 20 points in the win, but his most significant impact came on the defensive end. He pulled down 15 boards (12 defensive rebounds) and added four blocks in 33 minutes of play. While the starters took care of business — as usual — Houston received a boost from their second unit. The Rockets’ bench outscored the Kings’ reserves 23-16. Sterling Brown recorded 11 points and six rebounds in the win — leading all reserve players in scoring.

In the loss, De’Aaron Fox scored 23 points, while Harrison Barnes added 19. With less than a minute left in the ball game, the Kings gave the Rockets a late-game scare by going on an 8-2 run. After giving up 22 points to him in the previous game, the Rockets held Richaun Holmes to 11 on the day.

According to head coach Stephen Silas, the availability of Harden’s status for Monday’s game against the Dallas Mavericks is unknown. With their latest victory, the Rockets are now 18-16 in Harden’s absence all-time.