It’s extremely difficult to beat a team who makes 26 three pointers in a game. It’s extremely difficult to beat a team led by James Harden. It’s extremely difficult for the Kings to handle Houston as a collective whole. They possess too many mismatches and it showed over the course of the season. The Kings drop to 38-40 on the season after a rough outing on both ends of the floor.
Nemanja Bjelica came out with six of Sacramento’s eight points, but two fouls had to put him on the bench early. Buddy Hield also had a solid all-around quarter, finishing with 10 points on 4-9 shooting, four rebounds and three assists. The Kings as a team however were only 10-27 from the field (35%) and 2-8 (25%) from three. The Rockets were led by James Harden’s 11 points and he already had five free throw attempts. Houston shot 6-15 from three that helped them gain a 33-23 lead at the end of one.
The Rockets outscored the Kings 29-23 that ended in a P.J. Tucker three at the buzzer, establishing a 62-46 lead at the half. Harden was already up to 23 points on 8-13 shooting and four assists, Tucker added 11 points on 3-6 shooting from three and Eric Gordon scored 10 on 3-8 shooting overall. Chris Paul was 0-4 from three and 0-6 overall for zero points but had five assists. Hield led the Kings with 15 points on 6-12 shooting and 3-6 from deep along with six rebounds, three assists and a block. Bjelica had eight points on 4-4 shooting but three fouls limited his time on the court. Bogdan Bogdanovic had six points and two assists off the bench, but many key Kings struggled shooting. Marvin Bagley was 1-6 from the field but grabbed six rebounds. De’Aaron Fox was 0-3 and Willie Cauley-Stein was 1-5. The Kings ran plays with him in isolation resulting in mid-range jumpers that he has struggled to make and missed shots around the rim.
Houston extended their lead to 91-68 late in the third quarter as Harden knocked down three after three and Danuel House Jr. put on a mini-dunk show. The Kings ended the quarter on a 9-0 run to make it 91-77. Hield missed a good look at three that would’ve made the deficit 91-80 at the buzzer. Harden finished the quarter with 33 points on 11-18 shooting (6-11 from three) and eight assists. Tucker and Gordon both scored 13. Hield led the way for Sacramento with 18 points, Bagley went 4-4 in the quarter for 13 points, Harrison Barnes scored 10 and Bjelica had 12 but four fouls sent him to the bench again.
All you need to know in the fourth is that the Rockets decided to not miss a three en route to a 39 point fourth quarter. The Kings scored 28 but fall 130-105. Caleb Swanigan also made his Kings debut and had three rebounds. Frank Mason got some playing time and made a three pointer.
Buddy Hield led the team with 20 points on 8-16 shooting, 4-9 from three, seven rebounds, five assists and one block.
Marvin Bagley played 28 minutes off the bench after missing the previous game, finishing with 19 points on 7-18 shooting, 2-4 from three. eight rebounds, one assist and one block.
Nemanja Bjelica had 12 points on 6-7 shooting, six rebounds, one assist and one steal in 19 minutes.
The Rockets were 26-61 from three, good for 43%. The Kings were 7-23, which is a rough 30%.
The Kings won the rebound battle 51-43, but lost the assist battle 30-19.
Sacramento had more points in the paint at 62-36, but the Rockets had 78 points from three compared to Sacramento’s 21.