Utah and Phoenix were officially knocked out of the playoff race in the West. Houston is the only team left with a chance of moving into the playoffs. New Orleans and Memphis are tied for 7th place a game behind 6th place Portland. So, with 5 games left Houston is not mathematically out of the playoffs. At 41-36 they are 3 game behind both Memphis and New Orleans and 4 behind Portland, so they need to win their remaining 5 games and hope one of the other teams loses 3 or 4 of their remaining 5 games.
The Rockets are 13-4 since the trade deadline and 8-4 since beating the Kings 123-101 in Sacramento back on March 7th. Their FG% (45.4%) ranks them one place ahead of the King who are at 44.8%, but the Rockets have the 10th best TS% because of their 3P% where they are ranked 11th, and FT% where they are ranked 4th. And they take full advantage of that good shooting by limiting their turnovers (6th fewest) while the Kings rank the 3rd worst.
We should see the same starting lineup as the last game Chuck Hayes at center Luis Scola at PF, Chase Budinger at SF, Kevin Martin at SG and Kyle Lowry at PG. The shortened bench consists of Courtney Lee, Goran Dragic, Patrick Patterson and Jordan Hill.
Houston has won the first 3 games of our 4 game series, and in the last game they killed us in transition. They scored 33 points off 16 turnovers and pushed the ball at every opportunity resulting in 26 fast break points. Houston made 26-of-27 from the line and that's where the game was truly lost.
The Kings DeMarcus Cousins recorded a double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds. Samuel Dalembert grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds. Marcus Thornton added 16 points and Beno Udrih contributed 15 points. Francisco Garcia scored 11 points, Omri Casspi and Jermaine Taylor each tallied 10 points off the bench. The Kings out rebounded the Rockets, 42-39.
Kevin Martin scored 15 points. Luis Scola and Goran Dragic each tallied 10 points. Lowry grabbed a team-high seven rebounds. Budinger was high scorer with 20, and Lowry and Lee contributed 19 each.
The Kings outscored the Rockets from the field by 2 pts. But Houston got to the FT line 27 times and made 26 on 16 fouls by the Kings. The Kings got to the FT line only 11 times on 17 fouls by Houston giving the Rockets a 17 pts advantage from the Charity Stripe. Houston also made 9-23 (39%) from beyond the arc while the Kings made 2-6 for 33%. So, in the end we lost another game while the clock was stopped.
In the last 10 games Kevin Martin is averaging 26.5 pts/ 3.2 rebs on 43.6% field and 37.7% from three, but don't send him to the line cause that's where he does his most damage 92% of the time. Kyle Lowry is shooting 17.7 pts/ 7.8 asts/ 5.9 rebs on 42.6% field and 37.7% from three. He's also shooting in the 90's from the FT Line. Luis Scola is contributing 15.7 pts/ 7.5 rebs on 50.8% from the field. Chase Budinger is averaging 12.1 pts/ 3.3 rebs on 36.7% field and 38.5% from three. Chuck Hayes is averaging 10 pts/ 10.8 rebounds on 43.8% from the field. Lee, Patterson, Dragic and Hill average between 6-8 pts per game.
The only change between this game and the last one is that TYREKE IS BACK. But will it be enough? In the last game Scola injured his knee early in the third quarter and didn't return. And Martin missed seven of eight first-half shots so the margin of victory could have been much larger. It was Budinger, Lowry, and Lee that won the game and their bench beat out bench 51-31.
Now with both teams healthy, can the Kings control Hayes and Scola again, and can Tyreke repeat last Sunday's performance against Utah? It would be a good win for the Kings but it could be the difference between the playoffs and going home early for the Rockets. It will be interesting to see who wants it the most and plays the hardest. Stay thirsty and play hard my friends.