Houston fell to 1-3 on the trip with Sunday’s 109-108 loss to the Sacramento Kings. The setback dropped the Rockets into a tie for eighth place in the Western Conference with Phoenix. However, if the teams finished tied, the Rockets hold the tiebreaker with three wins over the Suns.
Steve Francis scored 38 points, but his running jumper bounced off the rim as time expired. The Rockets nearly came all the way back from a 14-point deficit as Maurice Taylor scored 15 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter and rookie Yao Ming collected 11 and a career-high 19 rebounds.
The Rockets played Sunday’s game without coach Rudy Tomjanovich, who is being treated for a tumor on the lining of his bladder. He also is expected to miss Monday’s game.
Los Angeles shot a franchise-low 26 percent (21-of-80) from the field in Saturday’s 88-73 loss at Utah. Corey Maggette netted 13 points and Wang ZhiZhi added 11. After scoring a season-high 21 points in Wednesday’s win over Denver, Wang made his first start of the season.
The Clippers have won two of the first three meetings with the Rockets and are trying to claim the season series for the third straight year.