April 8, 2012; Sacramento, CA, USA; Houston Rockets guard Kyle Lowry (7) points to the team bench after forward Chase Budinger (not pictured) made a three point basket against the Sacramento Kings in the fourth quarter at the Power Balance Pavilion. The Rockets defeated the Kings 104-87. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-US PRESSWIRE
The Kings looked like they had turned a corner in terms of development just a couple of weeks ago, and now it seems as if they are regressing. Part of that has to do with injuries to leading scorer Marcus Thornton, who has missed the last four games with a bruised calf, as well as to John Salmons who is now at 8 straight missed games. Sacramento was also without Francisco Garcia, who suffered a concussion in yesterday's game against the Clippers.
The Rockets were hurting too, missing Kevin Martin, but they did see the return of Kyle Lowry to action tonight. Lowry and Martin's backups have performed admirably during their absence and that was true again tonight. Courtney Lee scored a game-high 25 points, 19 in the first half alone. Goran Dragic had 15 points and 9 assists as Houston dominated the game all night.
Without Garcia, who had started for the injured Thornton the previous two games, Sacramento started rookie Jimmer Fredette in the backcourt along with Isaiah Thomas. Fredette played a season-high 37 minutes and scored 17 points to go with 4 assists. Thomas added 16 points and 6 assists. Terrence Williams led all Kings with a season-high 21 points and 8 rebounds.
The Kings' offense struggled mightily throughout the game. Sacramento had just 15 assists to 21 turnovers, compared to 29 and 11 for Houston. Aside from Williams, Fredette and Thomas, no King scored in double digits. DeMarcus Cousins came closest with 9 points and Tyreke Evans and Donté Greene were the next closest with 6 points each. Free throws were another negative for the Kings as they shot just 20 of 37 from the line.
Second year big man Hassan Whiteside had the best game of his career, finishing with 4 points, 10 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks in 20 minutes off the bench. Whiteside's defense was a big part in getting the Kings back in the game in the 3rd quarter, where Sacramento held Houston to just 15 points and Sacramento cut their lead to just 10 entering the quarter. The Rockets made adjustments however and scored 31 in the final period to easily put away the Kings, losers of four straight.
Sacramento now departs for a three-game road trip, beginning in Dallas on Tuesday. Marcus Thornton should probably be available, as according to his twitter feed it seems he wanted to try to play tonight, but the Kings shut him down just to be safe. In Lottery implications today, the Pistons and Raptors both lost, but the Nets did beat the Cavaliers to achieve a couple games of separation from the Kings in the win column.