NBA Basketball

Final 1 2 3 4 Tot
Sacramento 32 28 33 15 108
Houston 35 28 28 28 119
3:00 PM PT4:00 PM MT5:00 PM CT6:00 PM ET22:00 GMT6:00 3:00 PM MST5:00 PM EST2:00 UAE (+1)23:0018:00 ET4:00 PM CT21:00 , March 30, 2019
Toyota Center, Houston, Texas  Attendance: 18,055

Rockets will try to maintain defensive effort against Kings

According to STATS
According to STATS

Sacramento Kings at Houston Rockets

  1. The Kings are averaging 23.9 fast-break points per game over their last nine games. Sacramento has 22 games this season with 25+ fast-break points, most in the NBA.
  2. The Rockets won their most recent game against the Nuggets, 112-85. The 85 points scored by Denver were a season low allowed by Houston's defense -- the Rockets are 14-2 this season when holding their opponent to fewer than 100 points.
  3. Since the All-Star break, Marvin Bagley III is averaging 18.9 points and 8.6 rebounds compared to averages of 13.3 points and 6.9 rebounds prior to the break.
  4. James Harden went 11-for-13 from the free-throw line last game, bringing his season total to 700 made free throws. It's Harden's fourth season with at least 700 free throws made, tied with Oscar Robertson for most such seasons in NBA history.
  5. Clint Capela is averaging 12.6 rebounds this season, on pace to be the most in a single season by a Rocket since Hakeem Olajuwon (13.0) in 1992-93 (min. 60 games played).
  6. The Rockets are 14-2 against the Kings since the 2014-15 season, their second-best record against any Western Conference team over that time (vs. Suns -- 15-2). Houston has made exactly 20 three-pointers in two games (both wins) against Sacramento this season.

In throttling the Denver Nuggets Tuesday night, the Houston Rockets showed another flash of defensive potential in a showcase of how effectively they can perform on the end of the court where they most often produce inconsistent efforts.

In their 112-85 win, the Rockets communicated with fervor and suffocated one of the best offenses in the NBA. Houston (48-28) has executed similarly before, but an inability to repeat that level of defensive might has become an identifying characteristic, one the Rockets can't deny.

So when the Rockets host Sacramento on Saturday at Toyota Center in the first game of a home-and-home with the high-flying Kings (37-38) -- the second game is Tuesday at Golden1 Center -- they'll have another shot at proving how good they can be when fully committed on the defensive end.

"We can go all the way. If we play defense like that we can win a title," Rockets guard Austin Rivers said. "That's what we believe around here."

There is no doubting the Rockets' offensive chops; they've ranked second to Golden State in offensive efficiency for much of the season. Where Houston lacks punch is on defense, even though incremental improvement there has the Rockets set to escape the bottom 10 overall.

The Rockets' effectiveness against Denver underscored what could happen in the postseason if they get their offense and defense in sync. The burden remains on Houston to make that happen.

"We have the ability to do it," Rockets guard James Harden said. "We've just got to continue to do it and continue to get better. And we will."

On the opposite end of the court, time is set to expire on what has been a promising season for the Kings, who stand one loss shy of being eliminated from postseason contention in the West. Sacramento suffered a 121-118 setback in New Orleans on Thursday against the Anthony Davis-less Pelicans and dropped to 7-11 since the All-Star break. The Kings' inability to string together a winning streak of note - Sacramento has won consecutive games only once since mid-February - torpedoed their aspirations of qualifying for the postseason for the first time since the 2005-06 campaign.

Maintaining a singular focus, particularly after a playoff berth became a surprising possibility, became a struggle for the Kings. With Davis unavailable for the Pelicans on Thursday night, Sacramento faced an opportunity to capitalize on his absence and set an early tone against New Orleans. Instead, the Kings were slow out of the gate and struggled to build momentum against a shorthanded foe.

The next hurdle for the Kings is developing a mental fortitude that complements their enticing talent. However, Sacramento won't have an opportunity to maximize that potential this season.

"What can happen is, when you're a young player and you find out 25 minutes before the game that a team's best player (Davis) and an MVP candidate on a perennial basis is not going to play, you relax a little bit," Kings coach Dave Joerger told the Sacramento Bee. "I thought we played way too relaxed in the first half."

--Field Level Media

Updated March 29, 2019

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