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Kings 83, Rockets 105: End with a whimper

The Kings did not have the willpower to compete tonight

NBA: Sacramento Kings at Houston Rockets Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Cue the Frodo Baggins gif: its over, its done. The Kings finished off their brutal eight game road trip, and the fourth game in five nights, by making a token appearance in Houston against the Rockets, but clearly did not have anything left in the tank. The Rockets, who didn’t even really play well, slowly built up the lead over the course of the game without anything resembling a challenge from the Kings.

There’s just not much to talk about here. DeMarcus Cousins’ double-double streak ended at 13 games, moreso due to minutes played (25) than his rebounding rate (he grabbed 7, which over 36 minutes is roughly over 10). Cousins led the Kings in scoring with an inefficient 16 points (5/16 FG, 14 3P, 5/7 FT) and 5 assists, and even miraculously kept his turnovers low. Kosta Koufos added 12, and Willie Cauley-Stein and Anthony Tolliver added 10 each.

The Kings had no legs this entire game. They short-armed most of their shots (34.9 FG%, 27.6 3P%, 15/26 FT%). They repeatedly got beaten in transition and on the Rockets’ complex pick-and-roll game, even moreso than they usually would. Thankfully, the Rockets weren’t exactly lighting it up from three point range either (14/45 for 31.1%) otherwise the final score would have been even uglier.

The last thing of note is that the kids got some playing time. Cauley-Stein struggled to create offense for himself, but hustled his butt off and was still pretty good on defense, including crashing the glass (6 in 24 minutes). Malachi Richardson scored 8 points on 10 shots, but was aggressive looking for his shot. Skal Labissiere missed the post move he put up but drew fouls, crashed the offensive glass, and made a nice instinctive defensive play to break up one of the Rockets’ alley oops out of pick-and-roll. Ben McLemore... er, lets just move on.

The Kings fall to 19-30 on the season and earn a much-needed break until they play again on Friday. The schedule in February is very favorable to the Kings, so this is the season-defining moment here. We’ll have a better picture of where the Kings are likely to end the season at the end of this month.

Some Observations:

  • Garrett Temple went down with what the Kings are calling a pulled hamstring. That is unfortunately one of the ugly side effects of playing so many games in so few days while at the tail end of an enormous road trip: your guys are more likely to get injured. Especially someone like Temple, who gives everything he’s got every night.
  • More injury fun: Calvin Watkins, ESPN’s Rockets beat writer, reported that Ty Lawson went into the locker room for a while before returning to the Kings bench. He did not re-enter the game, which may have been just precautionary, but still something to monitor. The Kings don’t have another PG on the roster, and may not even have Temple around to masquerade as a PG.
  • Cousins and Koufos on a good day would have trouble trying to contain Ryan Anderson (25 points, 6/12 3P), let alone in this throwaway game. It seems that even though Cauley-Stein has strung together a few weeks of solid play, Dave Joerger is still reluctant to trust him, even when the matchup is a horrid one.