Thursday, December 1

Rockets’ rally falls short against Kings in familiar rerun


The Rockets might have just wanted a do-over, another chance to hit the last-second 3-pointer to force overtime that they missed Monday.

They did everything they could to put themselves in that predicament again, fading down the stretch, turning the ball over, not defending until down 14. But they got a second chance at a last chance 3-pointer.

Once again, when down to their last shot, the Rockets missed, this time taking the Sacramento Kings to a 121-118 win Wednesday at Toyota Center much as the Spurs had held on to win two nights earlier.

Jalen Green matched his career high with 32 points, hitting six 3-pointers and becoming the first NBA rookie to make at least five 3s in four consecutive games. Kevin Porter Jr. had the first triple-double of his career with 30 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists. But when the Rockets needed a last shot, neither could get free, with Josh Christopher’s contested corner 3 sailing long at the buzzer.

When the Rockets tightened their defense, they took the lead with 6 ½ minutes left. But they missed their next five shots with two turnovers. They recovered for a few possessions. But the Kings took a four-point lead on a Damian Jones tip with 1:17 remaining.

Jae’Sean Tate scored inside. But the Rockets turned the ball over on their next two possessions, their eighth and ninth turnovers of the fourth quarter, forcing them to foul to stop the clock.

Davion Mitchell gave the Kings a four-point lead with 22.4 seconds remaining, but Green kept the Rockets in the game with his sixth 3-pointer, cutting the lead to one with 10.5 seconds left.

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The Kings’ Trey Lyles made two free throws for a three-point lead with 9.4 seconds remaining, with the Rockets using their final time out to try for the 3 to force overtime, just as they had Monday. 

The Rockets began the game playing little defense and then somehow managed to play considerably less in the second quarter.

They hit 3s early and got the now nightly ridiculous slam from Green — this time taking a lob sent from Christopher high above the rim for a one-handed catch and spike – to lead by as much as 14. But that lead was not enough with the way they allowed the Kings to do as they pleased in the second quarter.

Sacramento scored 44 second-quarter points to take a 72-66 lead into the second half, making 64 percent of their second-quarter shots with the Rockets getting close enough only to commit nine fouls in the quarter, sending the Kings to the line to make 9 of 12 free throws.

The Kings came within two points and one field goal shy of their most in a half this season. Though the Rockets were scoring easily, as well, with Bruno Fernando adding a jolt of energy along with 11 points in 11 minutes, scoring seemed to be their only interest.

That led to the Kings going from a 14-point deficit to a 14-point lead. But late in the third quarter, the Rockets began getting stops and running. That got them the lead, but it did not last, with another chance at overtime missing at the buzzer.

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