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Rockets crank up the defense in 122-97 victory over Kings

The Rockets won their third straight on Monday night.

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

The Houston Rockets played arguably their best game in three years, taking down the Sacramento Kings 122-97 with some tight defense and solid three-point shooting to win their third straight game and even their record at 3-3.

It was a complete, all-around game for the Rockets, who dominated the entire contest and in pretty much every statistical category. They were up 25 points at halftime and 37 points after three quarters and began the fourth quarter with a mostly cleared bench. We wouldn’t see the starting lineup again.

The Rockets held the Kings to just 45 percent from the field, but below 40 percent before the final frame, and they were solid at all D levels and in defensive help for the majority of the night. The Ime effect in defensive effort is certainly becoming noticeable, as the Rockets played a visibly physical game.

Houston was led by Jalen Green, who played his most efficient game of the season. He was fast and active, finishing with 23 points on 5-for-9 from the field, including 3-for-5 from three and 10-for-12 on free throws in 26 minutes of action.

Alperen Sengun was downright dominant, as he was Houston’s primary playmaker in the first half and then amped up the scoring in the third quarter. He finished with 17 points, 8 rebounds and 12 assists on 7-for-13 from the field and almost certainly would have had a triple double had this game been closer and Sengun played more than 25 minutes. Baby Joker indeed.

Jabari Smith had 13 points and 4 boards, but he got things started off early by hitting a couple triples in the first, and he finished 5-for-8 from the field and 3-for-5 from three on the night. He also looked good defensively and we’re really starting to see the elite shooting and defensive potential that had Smith so high on so many draft boards (mine included).

The Rockets also finally got some good stuff from their bench, with Uncle Jeff Green playing well with 6 points, as did Jae’Sean Tate with 8 points, 4 rebounds and 2 steals and Aaron Holiday finished with 13 points.

The Rockets are a .500 team for the first time in two years and will look to get their fourth straight win on Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Oh, yeah, Tari Eason might be back for that one.