Two teams in search of an elusive winning streak go head-to-head when the Houston Rockets and host Sacramento Kings meet Friday night.
The teams also play at Sacramento on Sunday.
The Rockets put up their third-most points this season when they surprised the San Antonio Spurs 128-124 on Wednesday night to open a five-game trip. Eric Gordon led the way for Houston with 31 points.
Meanwhile, the Kings earned a 125-116 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers at home Wednesday behind 29 points from De’Aaron Fox.
The victories by the Rockets and Kings had something in common: Each featured double-figure scoring by all five starters. The Rockets’ starting quintet combined for 99 of the team’s 128 points, with each player going for at least 13, while the Kings’ first-teamers totaled 96 of the 125 points, with each contributing 14 or more.
Houston’s win came one day before the one-year anniversary of its franchise-altering trade that sent James Harden to the Brooklyn Nets. The Rockets went on to lose 49 of their last 63 games last season (.222 winning percentage), and have started this season 12-31 (.279).
After a full year, Houston coach Stephen Silas sees improvement.
“I love our direction,” Silas said. “I love where we’re going and where we will be, but the growing pains sometimes can be pretty tough.”
The Rockets lost three in a row and 11 of 12 before the win over the Spurs. They had a seven-game winning streak bridging November and December but have not won consecutive games since.
The Kings also are plowing forward minus a superstar who sat in the owner’s box. Shaquille O’Neal announced Wednesday he was forced to sell his financial stake in the franchise because of a relationship with a gambling site.
“I loved being an owner of such a forward-thinking organization,” O’Neal posted to Twitter shortly before a game against one of his former teams, the Lakers. “I hope to be back someday.”
Perhaps coincidentally, the Kings responded with one of their best games of the season, especially in the second half, when a 24-3 burst turned an eight-point deficit into a 13-point lead.
The win allowed Sacramento to split its four-game season series with the Lakers. The Kings’ longest winning streak this season is just three games.
Friday’s contest pits two teams that have shown improvement of late offensively, but have continued to struggle because of poor play at the other end of the court.
The Rockets have averaged 112.3 points in January, a continued climb from 104.3 in November and 111.6 in December. But their 124.9 points allowed this month are the most in the league.
The Kings have allowed the 10th-most points this month (113.1), including 103 or more in all seven games. Sacramento has scored 111 or more in four of its last seven games, but lost two of them.
“We knew offensively we can get whatever we want,” Tyrese Haliburton said of the Lakers game. “We just have to put it in the hoop.”
Houston has made just one trip to Sacramento in the post-Harden era, losing that game 125-105 last March. Fox paced the win with 30.
–Field Level Media