SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Forward Rudy Gay provided a spark to a team in desperate need of one, leading the Sacramento Kings to an impressive 106-91 win over the Houston Rockets on Sunday at Sleep Train Arena.
Gay, playing his first home game with the Kings after he was acquired in a seven-player deal with the Toronto Raptors, scored a game-high 26 points. He torched Houston defenders, energizing the crowd with his hustle and crafty finishes around the basket.
Sacramento guard Isaiah Thomas added 19 points and eight assists, and center DeMarcus Cousins contributed 21 points and 10 rebounds as the Kings (7-15) snapped a stretch of eight losses in 10 games.
The Rockets (16-9) had a sloppy first half, committing 11 turnovers, and the Kings took advantage to build a 57-49 advantage at halftime.
Houston never found its way in the second half. The Rockets faced an uphill battle after guard James Harden left the game with a left ankle injury early in the third quarter. He returned later in the period but wasn't as effective, settling mostly for long-range jumpers. He finished with 25 points.
After shooting a blistering 55 percent from the field in the first quarter, the Rockets went cold in the third, making only 41.2 percent of their shots. Even Dwight Howard's poor free-throw shooting returned, as he missed eight of 13 attempts on the night. He finished with 13 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks.
Houston forward Chandler Parsons added 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
Gay led a 12-1 run that extended the Kings' lead to 75-62 at the 5:26 mark of the third quarter. From there, the Kings kept the Rockets at arm's length and held on for the win.
The Rockets lost two of the three on a road trip that concluded Sunday. They head home to face the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday.
The Kings played 14 of their first 20 games at home, and they now play six of eight on the road. They play the Bobcats in Charlotte on Tuesday.
NOTES: Rockets C Omer Asik did not suit up, missing his sixth straight game with a right thigh contusion. ... Rockets coach Kevin McHale did not travel with the team on their three-game road trip. He is back home in Minnesota where his mother, Josephine, died Thursday. ... Rockets G Jeremy Lin did not play due to back soreness he suffered in Oakland, Calif., against the Golden State Warriors on Friday. Rockets F Terrence Jones (flu) was a game-time decision but ended up starting. ... Kings F Carl Landry warmed up before the game. He has yet to play this season, recovering from a torn hip flexor that he suffered in October. He is estimated to be out for the first half of the season. ... Prior to the game, Kings G Ben McLemore was honored as the Western Conference Rookie of the Month. He averaged 9.1 points and 2.9 rebounds over 14 games in November.