The Kings went into halftime with a 52-50 lead. During that half they played some very good basketball, particularly in transition. Tyreke Evans was on fire early, just carving up the Rockets defense and running the offense very well. Tyreke finished the game with 27 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals, but nobody really managed to step up and help him when the offense stagnated in the 2nd half. DeMarcus Cousins was absolutely shut down by Samuel Dalembert, being held to just 4 points (1-7 shooting) and 4 rebounds in 18 minutes, and John Salmons had yet another terrible night with 4 points on 10 shots.
Houston came out on fire in the 2nd half, spurred by the play of Kyle Lowry, Luis Scola, and Samuel Dalembert. Scola (21 points, 11 rebounds) and Dalembert (21 points, 16 rebounds, 4 blocks) killed the Kings on the offensive glass, combining for 16 of Houston's 18 offensive rebounds. Dalembert had one of his "I'm actually the best Center in the NBA, don't watch any other of my games" performances, altering a bunch of shots and eliminating the Kings post threat. The huge advantage for Houston on the offensive glass led to 21 2nd chance points for the Rockets. The offensive boards also hurt the Kings from getting out and running like they did so well in the first half.
Kyle Lowry was the star for Houston however, running the offense to a T and making some absolute huge shots (including a set three from almost halfcourt) in the 4th quarter. Lowry finished with 25 points, 7 rebounds, 9 assists and 2 steals despite a slow start. Throughout the broadcast, Jerry Reynolds kept expounding his virtues and even said that Lowry is currently a better player than Deron Williams. At least for this season, that is true.
The Kings did manage to get a solid contribution from their bench, getting 11 points and 8(!) rebounds from Donté Greene, 11 points from Francisco Garcia, 7 points and 4 boards from Jason Thompson, and 13 points, 5 assists and a couple of highlight alley-oop passes from Isaiah Thomas. Regarding Isaiah and Donté Greene, both should be probably be playing more than they are at this point, at the expense of Jimmer Fredette (who has no confidence) and John Salmons (who has too much confidence). I still like Isaiah off the bench, but Donté has been our best Small Forward over 12 games, and it isn't even close.
Despite the loss the team looked a lot better, and it must be remembered that they are playing without their best scorer in Marcus Thornton and a great defender and rebounder in Hayes. You could also make the case that they are playing without John Salmons and I wouldn't disagree with you other than the fact that Salmons not playing might have more of a positive effect than him playing at this point. I honestly hope Salmons manages to turn it around, because right now we're stuck with him, for better or for worse.
The Kings play again tomorrow in Dallas and then head to Minnesota on Monday to finish this road trip. On the television broadcast, Grant Napear made it seem like the Kings were targeting Monday for Thornton's return, so expect him to be out again tomorrow.