The Kings (11-11) return to Sacramento to begin a five-game homestand hosting the Rockets (16-5) Thursday night.
The last time DeMarcus Cousins played was in Houston on Nov. 26, when he put up a game-high 29 points along with 17 rebounds in a 102-89 loss to the Rockets, who were operating without Dwight Howard.
Cousins is out again Thursday, missing his eighth straight game due to viral meningitis, as is Howard, who will miss his eleventh straight game due to a right knee strain.
The Kings are 2-5 without Cousins while the Rockets have gone 7-3 in Howard’s absence.
Rockets by 1
MATCHUP TO WATCH
Ben McLemore vs. James Harden -- No rest for the weary. After Kobe Bryant and his 32 point performance Tuesday, McLemore gets Harden who leads the NBA averaging 25.6 points per game (.1 points ahead of Bryant) to go along with 6.4 assists per night.
1. Hold down Harden -- He put up 26 points and eight assists last time against the Kings, and 41.7 percent of the Rockets points are via Harden.
2. Strong with the ball -- Sacramento turned it over 21 times in the teams' first meeting, leading to 32 points for the Rockets. The Kings cannot afford to help Houston out.
3. Deliver defensive rebounds -- The Lakers secured 14 offensive rebounds and 21 second-chance points against the Kings on Tuesday. While Sacramento still leads the NBA in rebound margin at plus-7.1, the Kings must do a better job on defensive rebounding against the Rockets.
Kings -- C DeMarcus Cousins (viral infection) is out.
Rockets -- James Harden (back spasms) and Joey Dorsey (right ankle sprain) are probable. Isaiah Canaan (left ankle sprain), Francisco Garcia (right calf/achilles strain), Dwight Howard (right knee strain), Terrence Jones (left leg nerve inflammation) and Kostas Papanikolaou (right knee strain) are out.
This is the second of three meetings this season between Sacramento and Houston as the Rockets defeated the Kings 102-89 at the Toyota Center on Nov. 26.
The Kings and Rockets split last season’s four-game series with Sacramento winning the first two games and Houston taking the last two games.
The Rockets lead the overall series 119-87 and have the advantage 78-41 in the Sacramento era.
Rudy Gay on Cousins: “He’s a very skillful big man. He’s the kind of player who you don’t see much of in the NBA right now.”