Kings vs. Rockets preview: Finishing the year in Houston

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Kings end 2013 in Houston, facing a top club.

The Kings and their maligned defense remain in Texas, facing the impressive Houston Rockets attack on Tuesday to end 2013. The game is scheduled for 4 p.m. Pacific on Comcast SportsNet.

NUMBER OF IMPORT

The Rockets are No. 3 in the league in shooting, with an effective field goal percentage of .532. Welp!

MATCHUP OF THE GAME

Rudy Gay vs. Chandler Parsons

Remember, the Kings did beat Houston in Sacramento this month in one of the team's two signature home wins to date. Rudy Gay was fantastic in that one, finishing with 26 points on 10-20 shooting. Chandler Parsons is a fine player (he had 19 in that game), but he's not a great defender. If Gay can go nuts again, like he did in the second half on Sunday, the Kings will be in the game. Defense is also Houston's weakness.

3 THINGS

1. Foul trouble! DeMarcus Cousins kept his hands clean on Sunday in San Antonio, but no one draws fouls better than the Rockets. Part of that is James Harden. The other part is that it's not horrible to foul Dwight Howard. But we don't necessarily want Cousins fouling him: the Kings need every minute of Boogie they can get.

2. Bench success. The reserves were largely bad on Sunday. Part of that is that the Spurs' bench is just incredible. But the other part is that the Kings' bench is not very good, especially at a couple of key positions. Treading water would be preferable to sinking like a stone.

3. Moving off the ball. The Kings' offense is fine, but it could be better. The one weakness that's glaring right now is a lack of movement off the ball, particularly when Isaiah Thomas has the ball up top. It seems like everyone stands around until a screen is set or the ball is entered to the post. I'm envisioning a glorious Sacramento attack that relies on cuts and off-ball screens in addition to the basic screen-roll and post-up.

START FOUR

Last game of December! Anyone above me on the leaderboard after this one gets entered into that drawing.

PREGAME HAIKU

Rocket into the
New Year with sweet victory!
Onward to '14!

PREDICTION

Basketball.

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