Road Reaction: Houston Rockets 121, Sacramento Kings 100

The Sacramento Kings had no answer for James Harden in Houston tonight.  The fourth year-guard out of Arizona State punished the Kings from start to finish, scoring a game-high 29 points while leading the Houston Rockets to a 121-100 route of the Kings.

Sacramento looked listless and uninspired playing the first game of a back-to-back.  They take on the Oklahoma City Thunder tomorrow night before returning home for the season finale on Wednesday.

With 30-wins looking more like a fleeting dream, the Kings will need some help from two major powerhouses to avoid finishing the season losers of eight of their last nine.

Notes and Analysis

  • Harden has developed into a superstar.  The Rockets No. 1 option torched the Kings and added nine assists to his 25-plus points in the win.  Blake Griffin got all the fanfare coming out of the 2009 NBA Draft and Sacramento’s Tyreke Evans won the Rookie of the Year trophy, but Harden is easily the best player now.
  • John Salmons led the way for the Kings, scoring 14 points on 5-for-8 shooting, but failed to record a single rebound or assist in 26 minutes of action.  Be it in Sacramento or Seattle, there is a giant red circle around the small forward position next season.  Again.
  • Isaiah Thomas set a new career-high in assists with 10.  The second-year guard out of Washington added 10 points, but shot just 2-for-9 from the field in 28 minutes.
  • Cole Aldrich set new career-highs in points with 12 and rebounds with 12.  The former Rocket added four blocks as well as one of the lone bright spots for the Kings in tonight’s effort.
  • Jimmer Fredette played a solid all-around game, finishing with 10 points, five assists, five rebounds and three steals in 21 minutes.  After two seasons, the Kings still have no idea who and what this kid is as an NBA player, one of the true failures of the 2012-13 season.
  • Evans, DeMarcus Cousins, and  Jason Thompson struggled to get anything going at all, combining for just 25 points in the loss.  Without the Kings’ most consistent players, they had no chance of pulling the upset.
  • Stat of the Night: Harden was great tonight, but the Rockets got a nice team effort. Six players finished in double-figures and shot a combined 54-percent from the field.

Three answers to three questions pondered:

1.  Will Francisco Garcia do damage against his former team?

Garcia was a non-factor, scoring just two points in 12 minutes of action.  While the veteran has found minutes in Kevin McHale‘s rotation, he didn’t stand out tonight against his former teammates.

2.  Will Patrick Patterson have strong outing in his first game back in Houston?

Patterson had an okay performance, scoring eight points and grabbing four rebounds in the loss, but it seems like the Kings have forgotten how to use him again.  The veteran forward missed his lone corner three point attempt, a staple in his game.  While the Rockets had no issue dispensing the Kings, they clearly miss Patterson’s versatile offensive game.

3.  Will the bench be able to match its performance from Friday night against San Antonio?

The bench was solid tonight, scoring a combined 36-points, but Marcus Thornton was a major disappointment.  The Kings’ leading reserve went 0-for-6 from the field in just eight minutes, as Smart stuck with a backcourt of Fredette and Toney Douglas for his bench production.

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About: James Ham

James Ham is co-owner and senior editor of Cowbell Kingdom, providing extensive Kings coverage through news analysis, in-depth interviews with players and staff and daily coverage of breaking news. Along with providing original content for the site, including the Cowbell Kingdom Podcast and his weekly Sunday Musings column, James also provides game day coverage for NBA.com and is one of the producers behind the award-winning, independent documentary "Small Market, Big Heart".