James Harden’s new career-high of 51 points bested DeMarcus Cousins’ second career triple-double in the Kings' 115-111 loss to the Rockets on Wednesday at the Toyota Center.
Cousins went for 24 points, 21 rebounds and 10 assists in the contest.
Former Rocket Omri Casspi (18), Ray McCallum (14), Ben McLemore (14) and Carl Landry (10) were also in double figures, while Jason Thompson contributed a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds.
The Kings were plagued by the inability to defend the 3-point line, as Houston drained 18 shots from downtown, and also committed 21 turnovers that the Rockets turned into 27 points. Sacramento was also uncharacteristically 7-for-14 from the free-throw line.
Harden achieved this milestone shooting 16-of-25 from the floor, 8-of-9 from 3-point range and 11-of-13 from the free-throw line.
Trevor Ariza (22) and Terrence Jones (16) were the only other Rockets in double figures, while former King Joey Dorsey added seven points and 11 rebounds.
The Kings, who trailed by as many as 19 points in the second quarter, cut the lead to two points with just under six minutes to go but could not overcome Harden and the Rockets.
As a harbinger of things to come, the first half was marked by two significant runs. The Rockets 24-6 surge extended the Houston lead to the aforementioned 19 points (46-27), but Sacramento closed the gap with a 28-12 response -- and the Kings trailed 58-55 at the half.
Sacramento has now lost three-straight games and was without Rudy Gay, who sustained a concussion in Monday’s loss to the Grizzlies. The Kings are now 2-5 without the NBA’s 13th leading scorer in the lineup this season.
Houston (51-24) bounced back after a Monday loss in Toronto, and with the win, the Rockets are now tied with Memphis for the second seed in the Western Conference playoff race.
The Kings (26-48) conclude their road trip losing three in a row, while falling to 10-27 on the road.
STANDOUT PERFORMER: James Harden’s 51 points was an outstanding effort, and DeMarcus Cousins was prodigious going for his second career triple-double.
TURNING POINT: The Rockets managed to hold off the Kings, who cut the lead to two points with just under six minutes to go and four with under a minute to go in the fourth quarter to secure the victory.
Kings -- F Rudy Gay (concussion), G Darren Collison (core muscle injury) and F Eric Moreland (left shoulder labral tear) were out.
Rockets -- G/F Corey Brewer (left oblique strain) and G Jason Terry (neck strain) were probable and played while F Terrence Jones (pneumothorax) was questionable and played.
G Patrick Beverley (left wrist sprain), F/C Donatas Motiejunas (low back pain), C Dwight Howard (right knee edema) and F Kostas Papanikolaou (sprained right ankle) were out.
WHAT’S NEXT: The Kings return home to host New Orleans on Friday in the first game of a three-game homestand.