Samuel Dalembert hits a double-double as Sacramento Kings squeak past the Houston Rockets 104-101

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  • Samuel Dalembert hits a double-double as Sacramento Kings squeak past the Houston Rockets 104-101

Samuel Dalembert hits a double-double as Sacramento Kings squeak past the Houston Rockets 104-101

Two reserves and four starters made it to double figures, as the Sacramento Kings beat the Houston Rockets, with a 104-101 win on Tuesday night, at the Toyota Centre. The win ended the Rockets’ seven home game winning streak and has also dented National Basketball Association play-off push for the team.

Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins scored 15 points and 15 boards to mark another double-double. Marcus Thornton and Samuel Dalembert also tallied 21 points each for the Kings.

Houston tipped off aggressively and gained the advantage 9-15 straight into the game. The Kings quickly gauged the situation and responded with an 11-2 run, taking the lead 20-17. The Kings lost the lead when the Rockets launched another counter- attack to lead the first quarter by 24-28.

The battle to take a substantial advantage peaked in the second quarter, as the lead changed on three occasions and the scores was tied four times. The Kings took the final 43-41 lead of the period, in 5:35 minutes. They capitalised on it, stretched it down and secured the period with a 52-46 lead. 

During the first two quarters, Sacramento hit 23 shots out of 43 and outscored the Rockets 34-20 from the paint. 

Moments after the break, Dalembert hit three baskets to push the Kings to a nine point gain. The Rockets tried to cut the lead with a surge of their own. Point guard Kyle Lowry hit a three-pointer and Luis Scola also scored to pull Houston within four. The Kings then finished a quick break with a layup to slash the shortfall to 64-62.

The Kings retaliated with a quick 10-2 surge, advancing to 74-64 and blew all hopes of the Rockets to overtake the lead. The Rockets continued to make inroads into the fragile Kings’ defence and ended up two points behind Sacramento on 76-74, when the third quarter closed.

The teams fought valiantly in the opening passage of the fourth period, neither willing to let the momentum slip away. In the last two minutes of the fourth quarter, Marcus Thornton of the Kings hit a fade away jumper and followed it with two free throws within a 40-seconds span to spark the Kings’ lead to eight points.

Louis Scola and Lowry combined for the Rockets at that juncture to reel out a 7-2 run and remain within striking distance, with nearly 20 seconds to go. Fouling caught up with the Rockets in the final seconds of the game, as Samuel Dalembert fired four times from the charity stripe to seal the match for the Kings.

Tyreke Evans counted 18 points and Cousins tallied 15 for the Kings. The Kings have won six of their last eight games, but they have picked up the pace too late in the season. Next up they will meet the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night.

Sacramento coach, Paul Westphal said, "We are playing hard and together as a team. We finally have our team together, and we like what we see. I give our players credit for their continued improvement. The players are making a statement that they care about things."

Kyle Lowry scored 15 points and provided nine assists. Scola made 18 points for the Rockets. Kevin Martin led the Rockets with his game-high 30 points.

After the game, Martin articulated the reason for their loss and said, "From the tipoff, we just seemed to not have our energy that we had for the last couple of months. It's a bad time of year to not play like you've been playing for the last couple of months. For whatever reason, we just looked really tired in a lot of spurts."

With this defeat, the Rockets have lost a good chance to gain an advantage over the Memphis Grizzlies, in the battle for the eighth and final NBA play-off position in the Western Conference.

The Rockets will take on the New Orleans Hornets at home on Wednesday night. It’s a must-win game for the side to keep their post-season chances sparkling.