Two days removed from the loss in Los Angeles, the Kings followed a familiar script; a solid fourth quarter lead evaporated due to unforced turnovers, missed free throws and an abundance of threes by their opponent. It needed an overtime period, but Sacramento's late mistakes led to a 113-109 loss to the Houston Rockets.
James Harden had 44 points, including a game-tying three to force overtime and 12 points in the extra period to win it for the Rockets (17-5). Sacramento (11-12) made a late overtime run capped off by a three from Darren Collison with seven seconds left that made it 111-109, but Harden made two clutch free throws to secure the victory.
Rudy Gay finished with 13 points, eight rebounds and eight assists but shot just 4-18 from the field. Collison led the Kings in scoring with 24 points, seven assists and six turnovers, while Ben McLemore had 21 points. Trevor Ariza and Patrick Beverley each had 15 points for Houston.
With 35 seconds left in regulation, Gay missed a contested three, and Harden sank one of his own with 20 seconds left to tie the game at 95. Gay missed a 18 foot jumper on an iso play the next possession, but Houston didn't have enough time to ward off the extra period.
Houston had been struggling with the three point shot until the final quarter, going a combined 5 of 27 in the first three periods but sank 8 of 13 in the fourth and 2 of 3 in overtime. The Rockets are the NBA's best three point shooting team, and even without the anchor of Dwight Howard in the middle, they weren't shy about taking them; they finished a combined 15 of 44 on the longball.
The Kings meanwhile finished with 21 turnovers-14 of them in the second half-and shot 23 of 34 from the free throw line, both problems that haunted them in the 98-95 loss to the Lakers on Tuesday.
Sacramento broke out in the first quarter, running to a 26-16 lead while holding the Rockets to 28% shooting. Unlike the season's regular pattern, the bench unit did not surrender the lead to begin the second-they combined for 14 first half points while holding their own against many of the Rockets' starters. The Kings maintained a 46-36 lead at halftime, which was the lowest amount Houston has scored in a half all season.
Sacramento had plenty of opportunities to close out the game, including a 95-90 lead with 57 seconds to go, but Gay misfired on both of his late iso possessions while Harden managed his own.
It wasn't the full match-up that the national TNT audience would have liked-DeMarcus Cousins missed his seventh straight game due to his viral meningitis, while the Rockets were without star Dwight Howard (knee), as well as Terrence Jones, Kostas Papanikolaou, Francisco Garcia and Isaiah Canaan.
The Kings remain home for four more straight games, continuing with the Detroit Pistons on Saturday and the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday.
For the opponent's perspective, visit The Dream Shake.