NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Sunday, December 15th (All times Eastern)
Houston Rockets (16-8) at Sacramento Kings (6-15), 6 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - James Harden and the Houston Rockets will close out a three-game western road trip Sunday against the Sacramento Kings.
Harden is averaging 27.7 points per game in his last seven and is fifth in the NBA with 24.7 ppg. Harden had 26 points and nine assists in Friday's 116-112 win at Golden State and has scored 25 or more points in four straight games.
Chandler Parsons scored 23 points and Dwight Howard finished with 18 and 11 rebounds for the Rockets, as they rebounded from Thursday's loss at Portland in the opener of the road trip. Patrick Beverley netted 16 points for Houston, which won for the 11th time in the last 15 tries and is 6-5 on the road.
"If we're going to chase our goals and the dreams that we have for our season, we have to win games like tonight," Rockets interim head coach Kelvin Sampson said.
Sampson filled in for head coach Kevin McHale for a second straight game following the death of McHale's mother. Sampson is 8-7 overall during McHale's two leaves of absence.
After the Rockets visit the Kings they will take a break before hosting Chicago on Wednesday.
Houston is second in the NBA with 107.7 points per game, while the Blazers are averaging slightly more at 107.8 ppg. The Rockets could be better on defense and are allowing 102.0 ppg.
Sacramento is third to last in defense, allowing 102.5 ppg, and looks to get back in the win column versus the Rockets. In Friday's 116-107 loss at Phoenix, Isaiah Thomas scored a team-high 29 points on 11-of-20 shooting and Rudy Gay made his Sacramento debut with 24 points.
Gay was acquired in a trade from Toronto and scored in double-figures in 17 of the 18 games this season for the Raptors.
"I still have a lot to learn and I think I can still get better with this system and this team," Gay said of his debut. "Today was just the start."
DeMarcus Cousins had 15 points and grabbed 16 rebounds for the Kings, losers in eight of 10 games. The Suns used a 14-0 run to grab a 77-65 lead with about six minutes left in the third quarter. Sacramento did come within 85-82, but the Suns pulled away.
Thomas has started the last three games, averaging 24.3 ppg in that time, and has scored at least 20 points over the previous four games. He has shot 50 percent or higher from the floor in three of the last four games.
Cousins recorded his fourth double-double in the last five games, and leads the team in scoring (22.1 ppg), rebounding (10.8 rpg), steals (1.80 spg) and blocks (1.20 bpg). He has scored 20 or more points in seven of the last nine games he has played in.
The Kings, who are just 4-10 in California's capital, will head east in a few days to take on Charlotte, Atlanta, Miami and Orlando.
Sacramento and Houston are meeting for the first time since the Rockets took two of three matchups a season ago. Houston is 10-3 in the past 13 games in this series and 8-4 over the last 12 trips to Sacramento.
12/15 10:28:23 ET