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Kings 111, Rockets 115: Harden's 51 sinks Kings

DeMarcus Cousins stuffed the stat sheet, but James Harden's 51 powered the Rockets to a win

Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

For the second time this season, the Sacramento Kings have watched a shooting guard light them up for 50 points. Before it was Klay Thompson's 52, but this time the marauder was the Houston Rockets' James Harden. Harden was brilliant from all over the court, dropping 51 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists to bury the Kings 115-111.

DeMarcus Cousins had a brilliant game for the Kings in his own right. After missing taking a break to rest up in the last contest, Cousins came back with a vengeance; his line of 24 points, 20 rebounds, 10 assists, and 6 blocks has only happened a few times in NBA history, the last time by Charles Barkley in the 90s. Boogie was incredible in every category; his passing helped his teammates get easy layups, his battle on the glass helped the Kings outrebound the Rockets 57-42, and his defense stopped and altered many more shots than the six blocks suggest. Boogie's superstar effort was the main reason the Kings even had a chance down the stretch.

The Kings took a bit of time before getting going in this game. The Rockets were able to build a 17 point lead in the second quarter, and another 16 point lead in the third, but the Kings would respond with runs of their own. Omri Casspi (18 points), Derrick Williams (10 points), and Ben McLemore (14 points) all overcame slow starts to contribute. Jason Thompson had a big impact game off the bench against the Rockets' undersized frontline with 16 points and 10 rebounds of his own. Ray McCallum started the game hot and ended with 14 points. Six Kings scored in double figures in this one, helped by the blistering pace the Rockets like to play at and getting out on the fast break.

Unfortunately, the Kings were done in by turnovers and defense. Some of the Kings' turnovers in this game made one wonder what was happening; it seems like donning a black jersey tonight meant all basketball I.Q. is flushed down the drain. The biggest culprit was Omri Casspi, who had five turnovers, an absolutely unacceptable number given his role on the team. Cousins had five himself, but his 10 assists helped mitigate them. McLemore had a few passes just bounce off of his hands, McCallum made several bad decisions and brain farts, and even Sauce Castillo had trouble hanging onto the ball.

And the defense, yikes. Vance Walberg mentioned that the defensive strategy was to take away the paint but that meant giving up threes, but I'm positive that the gameplan didn't call for giving up open threes. The Rockets hit 18 threes shooting at 45% on the night, most of them wide open, and many of them coming from the short corners. There is still much confusion from the Kings in getting their defensive rotations straightened out.

The Kings now only have one more playoff team left on their schedule. With 26 wins, they still appear to be trying to get as many wins as possible. The next game is against the Pelicans on Friday, a game which they will likely be without the services of Rudy Gay.

Random Observations

  • Another day, another monster game from Boogie wasted in a loss. It sucks that we didn't get to see the team at full strength under Karl because the addition of Darren Collison would have made this team that much tougher to beat. Just have to sell Cousins on patience for yet another offseason.
  • I have no idea how Carl Landry scored 10 points because it seemed like every time he got the ball in the paint he was getting blocked by Terrance Jones. Jones had 7 blocks, easily a career high, three of those coming on Landry on a single possession where he took advantage of Landry's lack of vertical leap.
  • David Wear got a look in the first half, but didn't see the game again after halftime. Missed both of his shots, grabbed a rebound and whacked a Rocket for a foul, but nothing much to see here.
  • Ben McLemore really needs to work on his finishing off the dribble towards the rim. He's improved his handle to the point to where he can get to the rim but has shown awful touch in the paint. Good to see him shoot the ball well after a few off-games, but need to see him contribute more consistently.
  • Derrick Williams continued his hot shooting tonight, but got absolutely smushed in the paint. The Rockets threw out Joey Dorsey, Josh Smith and Jones as interior defenders, and Williams had a rough time finishing over them around the rim. At least he contributed on the glass.
For the opponent's perspective, visit The Dream Shake