The Sacramento Kings trailed by as many as 22 points in the first half, yet rallied in Houston, cutting the deficit to one in the third quarter.
Unfortunately for the Kings, they couldn’t get any closer, and would end up losing 102-89 at the Toyota Center.
The Kings (9-6) fell to the Rockets in the third game of a four-game road trip, and the second of a back-to-back after winning in New Orleans on Tuesday.
The Kings trailed by four points entering the fourth quarter but a James Harden dunk with 2:07 to go extended the Houston lead to 10 points, providing the exclamation point on the Rockets win.
The Rockets jumped on the Kings behind Harden and Isaiah Canaan, who combined for 19 points as Houston ascended to a 37-19 lead in the first stanza.
Houston was aided by nine Sacramento turnovers, which the Rockets converted to 16 points.
Sacramento rallied in the second quarter outscoring Houston 31-20, while cleaning up its act by committing only four turnovers.
They trailed by only seven at the half 57-50.
The third stanza featured Sacramento cutting the deficit to one at 57-56 on a Ben McLemore 3-pointer at the 9:25 mark.
However, Houston eked out a four-point lead 77-73 at the end of three quarters.
Houston improved to 12-3 on the season and was lead by Harden with 26 points, Canaan with 24 points, as well as Donatas Motiejunas who finished with 21 points.
Cousins secured his eighth straight double double and 12th of the season going for 29 points and 17 rebounds in the defeat.
Omri Casspi and McLemore chipped in with 14 points each for the shorthanded Kings.
Both teams were without key personnel, as the Kings toiled for the second consecutive game without starters Rudy Gay and Darren Collison.
The Rockets were also without vital pieces in Dwight Howard, Patrick Beverly and Terrence Jones due to injury.
STANDOUT PERFORMER: James Harden was big for the Rockets with 26 points.
While Harden led all scorers, it didn't come easy. The 6-foot-5 guard's efficiency was less than ideal, shooting 10-of-31 from the floor. However, with the Rockets' limited roster, a 'whatever-it-takes' mentality was necessary.
TURNING POINT: The slow start in the first quarter doomed the Kings as they trailed by 18 points after the initial 12 minutes.
INJURY UPDATE: Sacramento – F Rudy Gay (right Achilles tendinitis) and G Darren Collison (left quadriceps contusion) were out and did not play. G Ramon Sessions (right knee strain) was probable and started. Houston – C Dwight Howard (right knee strain), G Pat Beverly (strained left hamstring) and F Terrence Jones (left leg nerve inflammation) were out and did not play.
WHAT'S NEXT: The Kings conclude their four-game road trip in San Antonio on Friday before returning home to host Memphis on Sunday.