Kings vs. Rockets preview: The home debut for Rudy Gay

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Another afternoon game in Sacramento, this one starring The Great Rudini.

Good news: Rudy Gay was awesome and efficient in his Kings debut. Bad news: the Kings lost because the team defense was amazingly bad. Worse news: Gay's home debut comes against an even tougher team. The Kings meet the Rockets at 3 p.m. Pacific at Sleep Train Arena. The Rockets are currently 16-8 with the No. 3 offense in the NBA. You'll be unsurprised to learn that the Kings have the No. 28 defense, unless you are surprised that the Kings' defense is ranked that highly.

MATCHUP OF THE GAME

DeMarcus Cousins vs. Dwight Howard.

Howard's status has fallen over the past year plus, but he's still among the best defenders in the NBA, especially in the post. Though Cousins hasn't been shooting too well from the perimeter, I wonder if Michael Malone will station him out at the elbows more to pull Howard away from the rim and give the slashers (Isaiah Thomas, Gay) more space to attack.

On the other end, keeping Howard off of the offensive glass and preventing him from feasting on dunks is the key. Might see some early Aaron Gray if Cousins isn't handling it.

3 THINGS

1. Ben McLemore and Marcus Thornton are now a combined 8-43 (.186) over the Kings' past three games. The good news is that each will get some time against James Harden, who makes Kevin Martin look like Thabo Sefolosha defensively. The bad news is that Mac and Thornton have been struggling on defense, too.

2. Cousins' technical foul situation is getting a little crazy again. He's up to seven techs in 21 games, or one every third game. He's on pace for a suspension by February 3. February 3!

3. Those danged open threes. The Suns hit 12-24 on Friday. Sacramento is No. 29 in opponent three-point shooting. Houston takes more threes than anyone. Yikesville.

START FOUR

Here's the group leaderboard. You'll find me at No. 30. I made some bad choices against the Suns. Yikes. That all changes now! (Well, maybe. As of 5 a.m., the lineups weren't available.)

PREGAME HAIKU

Swish! Swish! All the threes
rip the net. Well, all the threes
the other guys shoot.

PREDICTION

Rockets 110, Kings 105.

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