Sacramento, We Have A Problem: Kings Fall Short To Rockets
The Kings had their chances on Sunday afternoon but couldn’t create enough stops down the final stretch of the game
No Fox, No Haliburton–big problem.
With Tyrese Haliburton (Health & Safety protocols ) and De’Aaron Fox (ejected in fourth quarter) both unavailable during the final minutes of Sunday’s game, the Sacramento Kings fell short as they dropped a 118-112 contest to the Houston Rockets.
With the loss, the Kings (18-28) have their two-game winning-streak snapped and fall to one full game behind the Portland Trail Blazers for the 10th spot in the Western Conference standings.
Playing Houston for the second time over a 48-hour period, the Kings started Sunday’s game off in very similar fashion to Friday night’s contest as the Rockets put a 13-spot on the board before Sacramento scored a single point.
With Tyrese Haliburton (Health & Safety protocols) sidelined, the Kings offense looked stagnant in the first quarter as the Rockets were able to take advantage in a big way. Houston led by as many as 16 points in the first en route to taking a 29-21 lead into the second quarter.
Buddy Hield did all that he could to keep this game from getting out of hand early as the sharpshooter knocked down four-of-five shots from the field to score 11 points over seven minutes in the first period.
The Kings offense would finally show signs of life in the second quarter as Chimezie Metu’s triple with 3:03 left in the half capped off a 12-0 run that gave Sacramento its first lead of the game at 52-50. As Houston lost its touch on the offensive end, the Kings flipped the script by outscoring the Rockets 39-26 in the second quarter during another Jekyll & Hyde start to a ballgame.
Sacramento’s guards–Hield, De’Aaron Fox, Terence Davis and Davion Mitchell–combined to score 42 points in the first half to give the Kings a 60-55 advantage heading into the second half.
While most of Golden 1 Center was buried into their smartphones as they watched the conclusion of Sunday’s nail-biting finish between the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys, the Kings looked stagnant once again to begin the second half as Houston used a 20-11 run to regain the lead.
Sacramento ended the quarter on a 13-4 run to take an 88-85 lead into the fourth quarter as the Kings guards continued to give the Rockets defense fits.
As fans around the arena rejoiced when the final score graphic showed a 49ers victory, Sacramento allowed the Rockets to once again pull out in front as Houston took a three-point lead with less than nine minutes remaining in regulation.
De’Aaron Fox was assessed a Flagrant Foul 2 penalty after making hard contact with Rockets guard Garrison Mathews, leaving the Kings without their best offensive weapon for the final eight minutes.
With Fox out of the game following the questionable ejection, Sacramento ran through Buddy Hield and Harrison Barnes as the veteran duo brought the Kings to within 107-104 with under four minutes to go.
Needing a stop down by one point, the Kings allowed Kevin Porter Jr. to knock down a huge triple to give Houston a 114-110 lead with just under a minute remaining. Following two made free throws from Terence Davis, Sacramento once again allowed the Rockets to score as Eric Gordon’s lay-in put the game away.
Sacramento was shorthanded on Sunday, but they had their chances in this one. It all came back to late-game stops, something that the team has struggled with all year as they weren’t able to string together consecutive stops down the final stretch.
With Fox and Haliburton both out, Davion Mitchell did an admirable job running the offense during the final moments–but this team needs its primary playmakers.
The Kings squandered a massive chance to regain some momentum following the recent five-game losing streak. A win on Sunday would have pushed Sacramento’s winning-streak to three games leading into Wednesday night’s matchup against the 10-32 Detroit Pistons.
Instead, the Kings will look to once again avoid letting themselves slip into another extended losing-streak with a tough five-game road-trip beginning on Saturday night in Milwaukee.
King of the Night
Buddy Hield put forth his second-highest scoring output of the season on Sunday as the 29-year-old finished with 27 points on nine-of-16 shooting from the field and five-of-nine shooting from beyond the arc.
Starting in place of the absent Tyrese Haliburton, Terence Davis did a great job of stuffing the stat-sheet by scoring 17 points, pulling down six rebounds dishing out five assists and swiping four steals over 37 minutes.
Rookie guard Davion Mitchell did a bit of everything on Sunday as the 23-year-old scored 16 points (seven-of-12 shooting from the field) to go along with four rebounds, seven assists and four steals over 28 minutes of action.
- Tyrese Haliburton became the 12th member of the Kings to enter COVID-19 Health & Safety protocols this season after entering protocols on Sunday afternoon. Haliburton can return to game action after registering successive negative COVID-19 tests 24 hours apart.
- Marvin Bagley III was ruled out prior to tip-off due to shoulder soreness. Bagley is not listed on the injury report for Sacramento’s contest against Detroit on Wednesday night and should return to his role in the lineup.
- Richaun Holmes & Damian Jones (Return to competition conditioning) were both listed as questionable prior to Sunday’s game before being ruled active during Alvin Gentry’s pregame presser. Holmes had some cramping in his hip, but the center said postgame that he’s okay and will be good to go on Wednesday night.
- Tristan Thompson was ruled out for the fourth-straight game due to a non-COVID illness. Thompson is not listed on Sacramento’s injury report vs Detroit.
The Kings will take two days off before completing their five-game home-stand on Wednesday night against the Detroit Pistons.
Back on November 15th, six players finished in double-figures for Sacramento as they claimed a 129-107 win over the Pistons at Little Caesars Arena.
Be sure to get all of your all of your Kings vs Pistons coverage right here on Sports 1140 KHTK beginning at 5:30pm PST on Game Night with Scott Marsh and Henry ‘The High Flyer’ Turner prior to 7:00pm PST tip-off from downtown Sacramento.
Upcoming Sacramento Kings Schedule
- January 14th vs Houston Rockets
- January 16th vs Houston Rockets
- January 19th vs Detroit Pistons
- January 22nd @ Milwaukee Bucks
- January 25th @ Boston Celtics