The Kings failed to protect an eight-point lead heading into the fourth quarter and were plagued by 22 turnovers that Houston converted into 27 points, as Sacramento lost in overtime 113-109 on Thursday at Sleep Train Arena.
The Rockets (17-5) began the overtime session on a 7-0 run with James Harden scoring all seven points, propelling the Rockets to the overtime win.
The Kings (11-12) did rally in the extra session as Darren Collison’s 3-pointer cut the Rockets lead to 111-109 Houston 7.1 seconds to go, but Harden converted two free throws to seal victory outscoring Sacramento 18-14 in overtime.
Sacramento started the game on a 7-0 run and the Kings utilized lock-down defense in the first quarter, holding Houston to just 16 points and securing a 10-point lead at the end of the first quarter.
Sacramento’s defense was no fluke in the second quarter as the Kings allowed just 20 points and took a 46-36 lead at half time.
The Rockets responded by outscoring the Kings 10-3 to start the third quarter.
Drama ensued as double technical fouls were assessed on a hard foul by Patrick Beverly on a Rudy Gay drive to the hoop that resulted in a skirmish with the Kings up 55-53 at the 6:37 mark of the third quarter.
Kings respond with a 10-0 run to go up 65-53 with 3:33 left in the third quarter.
Sacramento took a 69-61 lead into the fourth quarter, but the Rockets bounced back with a 15-8 run capped by a Trevor Ariza 3-pointer with 7:19 remaining in the game to tie the game at 77.
Multiple lead changes followed and the game was knotted up at 90 at the 2:36 mark on an Ariza driving layup. The Kings countered with a Derrick Williams 3-pointer and two free throws from Jason Thompson to take a 95-90 lead with 1:12 remaining in regulation.
However, Ariza was fouled by Williams on a shot attempt, made both free throws to cut the Sacramento lead to 95-92 and after Gay missed a 3-pointer, the stage was set for Harden.
Harden’s 3-pointer tied it at 95 with 20.5 seconds left in the game and Gay’s jumper went in and out as the Rockets secured the defensive rebound with 0.9 on the clock.
Harden missed a jumper that sent to the game to overtime.
Harden led all scorers with 44 points and the Kings were lead by Collison’s 24, while Ben McLemore added 21 points and Williams chipped in with 17 off the bench.
Both teams were without their starting centers in DeMarcus Cousins and Dwight Howard. The Kings are now 2-6 without Cousins while Houston is now 8-3 sans Howard.
Harden was sensational and virtually unstoppable going for a season high 44 points.
Harden’s self propelled 7-0 run to start the overtime propelled Houston.
Kings – C DeMarcus Cousins (viral meningitis) and F Omri Casspi (left knee bone contusion) were out.
Rockets – Isaiah Canaan (left ankle sprain), Dwight Howard (right knee strain), Terrence Jones (left leg nerve inflammation) and Kostas Papanikolaou (right knee strain) and Francisco Garcia (right calf/Achilles strain) were out.
The second game of a five-game homestand for the Kings is Saturday versus Detroit.