THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Sacramento, Calif. – It’s not easy trying to defend an ultra-offensive team like the Houston Rockets, but the Sacramento Kings did show the playoff-bound squad they could battle them in a shootout.
The Rockets beat the Sacramento Kings 135-28 at Golden 1 Center. MVP candidate James Harden had 35 points, 15 assists, and 11 rebounds for Houston (54-26 overall, 25-15 road). It was Harden’s 21st triple-double of the season.
Despite the loss, the Kings had seven players in the scoring column, led by the ever-improving Skal Labissiere 25 points and six rebounds. Ty Lawson contributed 20 points and 11 assists and Ben McLemore added 18 points off the bench.
Houston had 20 point lead in the first half and a 22-point margin in the second half, but the Kings came back to cut the Rockets lead by six points and in the third quarter and 10 points in the fourth quarter. Houston thought they were safe on all accounts, but the young kings kept the pressure on.
“We were down 15, 20 points in the first half and we knew the way they play we were gonna get chances when they start missing buckets because they are not a defensive team at all,” said Kings guard Garrett Temple, who finished with 13 points “It’s good to get back in it, but it’s also tough because they are so potent offensively.”
The Rockets opened the game outscoring the Kings 42-27 in the first quarter and trailed 78-62 at halftime. Harden had 21 points, eight assists, and four rebounds in the first 24 minutes of actions for the Rockets. Houston also made 12-of-23 shots behind the 3-point line in the first half.
“James is playing at a level that I have not seen in several years,” said Kings head coach Dave Joerger. “He is making every read on every pass and I know he had some turnovers tonight. But what he is doing right now, the level he is playing at, it’s just not a treat for me to watch. But he is fantastic right now.”
Houston Rockets guard James Harden defends Sacramento Kings point guard Ty Lawson on April 9, 2017. Publicity Agents photo art by A. Ray Harvey.
Willie Cauley-Stein had 16 points and 10 rebounds and Buddy Hield added 12 points, six rebounds, and three assists for the Kings (31-49 overall, 16-24 G1C). Langston Galloway had 10 points in 26 minutes off the bench for the Kings.
Ryan Anderson scored 21 points, making 6-of-8 beyond the arc for Houston. Lou Williams and Clint Capela scored 18 points each for the Rockets. Houston made 45-of-80 shots from the field at 56.3 percent. The Rockets made 18-of-43 treys at 41. 9 percent. Harden made five 3s from 13 attempts.
“Honestly, my teammates knocked down shots,” Harden said following the game. “Ryan had it going on earlier in the game. I’m just trying to make the right read, the right plays, and just trying to go out there and do what I’ve been doing all year.”
By T. Ray Harvey | PA Public Information Officer and Photographic Artist
Twitter: Tony Ray Harvey @PublicityAgents
PA's PUBLIC INFORMATION
Garrett Temple's MVP Ballot Is In
Sacramento Kings guard Garrett Temple likes the MVP race between Houston Rockets' James Harden and Oklahoma City Thunder's Russell Westbrook. But the nod goes to Westbrook.
TEMPLE: "Honestly, man, as great as James has been playing the last week, Russ has summed it up in my eyes. I mean he had another 50-point something and triple-double with a game winner. Nobody has been talking about how clutch he's been. Russ is playing at another whole level right now. Russ is my MVP."
T. Ray (Antonio) Harvey is a Public Information Officer and Photographic Artist for Publicity Agents. Harvey is also the author of The HOMICIDAL HANDYMAN OF OAK PARK: MORRIS SOLOMON JR.