Buddy Hield - Sac Kings

Andy Lyons / Staff - Getty Images

Kings lose to the high-powered Houston Rockets 113-104

ESPN Radio
December 30, 2019 - 11:53 am

By Charlie O. Mallonee

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Sacramento – The Sacramento Kings had the Herculean task of trying to end a three-game losing streak by taking down the high-powered Houston Rockets on Monday night. The Rockets send James “the Beard” Harden and Russell Westbrook out on the floor together and they average 62.5 points per game. On Monday night the deadly duo combined for 62 points (Harden 34, Westbrook 28).

The Rockets (21-9) won the game because they outscored the Kings from behind the 3-point arc 15-7 (a -minus 21-point differential). Houston also dominated the free throw line hitting 20 of 23 opportunities while the Kings were successful on 15 of 23 attempts from the charity stripe. That was a real improvement in the number of opportunities for Sacramento, but the execution must improve.

Just couldn’t quite reach. ------

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The Kings never held a lead in the game

It is hard to win a game when you cannot get the lead. The Rockets jumped out to a 37-21 lead at the end of the first quarter, and that set the tone for the game. The Kings (12-18) outscored the Rockets in second period but went in at halftime trailing the visitors 65-57.

The crowd turned ugly

The Rockets came out on fire to start the third quarter and built up a 25-point lead. Kings head coach Luke Walton called a timeout with 4:52 to go in the period and the sellout crowd made their unhappiness with the home team’s play known with a loud chorus of boos. The Grinch would have been proud.

SAC did cut the Houston lead down to 18 points by end of the third, but things looked very bleak for the home team.

Fourth quarter surprise

If the Kings were to have any chance to get back into the game, they would have to put together a big run against one of the best teams in the NBA, and that is exactly what they did in the final 12 minutes.

After the Rockets hit a 3-point bucket to open the quarter, the Kings went on a 13-0 run to close the Houston lead to just eight points – 100 to 92. The crowd that had been booing their team was now standing screaming with delight.

The Kings cut the Rockets lead to just six points with 4:41 remaining in the contest, but as happens so many times, that was as close as they would come. The men of SAC had expended so much energy that they literally had nothing left in the tank to make that final run to push them past Houston.

When the final buzzer sounded, the Rockets had won 113-104.

Buddy Hield did not play in the 4th quarter

To almost everyone’s surprise, Buddy Hield did see any action in final 12 minutes of the game. Usually, Hield would be on the floor for his 3-point shooting to put points up on the board. Luke Walton said he was just going with the players who had the hot hands.

Walton was quick to point out that he was not trying to make a statement to Hield. He just felt that the five players on the floor gave his team the best chance to win the game in that given situation.

Walton’s analysis of the game

“It’s what it is in the NBA – it’s about getting better and the only way to do that is repetition. There’s no magic behind it. We didn’t do the little things well enough tonight again for 48 minutes. We played a good second quarter and a really good fourth quarter. We didn’t do that in the first and third. That’s a championship contending team – they got MVPs over there, it’s a tough team to defend. Again, I’m proud of our guys for sticking through it and really fighting it out and giving ourselves a chance again in the fourth. It’s what you ask for in this league, a chance come fourth quarter time and I thought they really showed a lot of heart again. We’re not there yet so we got to get back into that gym tomorrow, watch tape, practice some more.”

Top scorers

  • James Harden scored a game-high 34 points to go with five rebounds and five assists.
  • De’Aaron Fox – who was playing without any minutes restriction for the first time since returning from the injury list – was Kings leading scorer with 31 points to go along with nine rebounds and six assists.

The Glass cleaners

  • The Rockets Clint Capela was the game’s top rebounder with 14. He made it a double-double game by scoring 15 points.
  • Richaun Holmes was the Kings leading rebounder hauling in 13. He also put a double-double in the book by adding 12 points.


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Drop the dimes

  • De’Aaron Fox tied for the game leader in assists with six dimes.

Swipa goes for 31 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists against the Rockets in Sactown! --

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  • Russell Westbrook also distributed six assists.

Pay the gamers

  • The Rockets were the favorites minus six points. They won by nine points. If you picked the Rockets and took the points, cash your ticket.
  • Houston was a -250 on the Money Line. If you played the Rockets, winner – winner, chicken dinner!
  • The Over/Under was 230. Hope you played the under.

Up next

The Kings are off until December 26th when they will host the Minnesota Timber Wolves.

The Rockets will have to work on Christmas Day. They will play the Warriors in San Francisco on the 25th.

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