What are your chances of winning when two of your top players leave with injuries, your third standout player is cold, and you don’t rebound, make free throws or play defense? For the Sacramento Kings in Houston on Wednesday, there was no chance. The positive vibes built up from Tuesday’s win in New Orleans turned sour early when Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins exited the game. The Kings left standing offered little resistance to a Rockets blowout victory. Sacramento, who has beaten Houston twice this year, was manhandled by the Rockets, 119-98.
GAY, COUSINS GO DOWN – What horrible luck. Right as the Kings started finding a groove with some impressive road play, the injury bug struck with force. Rudy Gay elevated for a short, first-quarter jumper and appeared to land with no problem, but on the trip back up court he began grimacing. Soon, he left the game with what the team called an injured Achilles. When Gay left, the Kings energy dropped drastically — guys just seemed defeated. It didn’t help when DeMarcus Cousins was lost later in the first half after rolling his left ankle. The Kings center couldn’t put much weight on the leg as he was helped to the locker room. Preliminary reports are positive — Gay’s injury is thought to be minor, while Cousins’ sprain is being called “moderate” — but the losing of two studs clearly demoralized the Kings.
REMAINING KINGS GET TORCHED – Losing Gay and Cousins could explain the lack of offense, but Sacramento was destroyed in nearly every facet of the game. Isaiah Thomas (39 MIN, 20 PTS, 6-16 FG, 2-9 3FG, 6-10 FT, 6 AST, 4 TO, 3 REB, 2 STL) was valiant in his attempt to carry the load, but he just didn’t have the stroke going, and with no running mate, the Rockets were able to contain the point guard. Free throw attempts across the board were wasted (18-30 FT, 60%). The loss of Cousins hurt on the boards, but the Kings have the players to still compete in that area. Unfortunately, Sacramento lacked passion on the glass, as the Rockets were able to create multiple second opportunities with offensive rebounding. And to further complicate victory hopes, the Kings were lazy defensively, offering up wide open lanes to James Harden. The chance was there for the remaining Kings to embrace the underdog role, but that call went unanswered.
OTHER OBSERVATIONS – If you had to pick one bright spot for Sacramento, it would be the play of Derrick Williams. Williams (40 MIN, 22 PTS, 7-15 FG, 3-6 3FG, 11 REB) picked up the slack offensively, showing great touch from long range … Jimmer Fredette (18 MIN, 14 PTS, 4-6 FG, 4-6 3FG, 2 REB) also had a hot hand from downtown. All of his shots were from beyond the arc … This seemed like a perfect opportunity for Marcus Thornton to assert himself with two scorers down and the Kings yearning for a hero. But Thornton (22 MIN, 4 PTS, 2-8 FG, 2 AST) again looked awful, varying between ugly misses and simply passing up open looks because of his low confidence. Hard to tell what it will take to get him going again, but it could just be getting a couple jumpers to fall. That’s a tough proposition for him right now … Carl Landry (12 MIN, 6 PTS, 2-8 FG, 6 REB, 2 TO) got extended run late in the blowout, but it’s pretty clear he’s not up to speed. He was a step slow on most of his moves and was unable to create space. Nonetheless, it was the perfect chance to get him floor time.