Score Strip

Kings 110, Rockets 106

The SportsXchange

HOUSTON -- Center DeMarcus Cousins took over down the stretch, delivering on both ends of the court as the Sacramento Kings earned a 110-106 win over the Houston Rockets on Tuesday night at Toyota Center.

With the Rockets clinging to a 104-101 lead, Cousins scored on a reverse layup after spinning past Houston center Dwight Howard. Cousins added a putback for a 105-104 lead with 56.3 seconds left before picking the pocket of Rockets guard James Harden.

After Kings rookie guard Ben McLemore turned the Cousins steal into a transition layup, Cousins drew a charging call on Harden to seal the win.

Cousins finished with 17 points, 16 rebounds and four steals. Forward Rudy Gay scored 25 points in his 10th game with Sacramento (10-20).

Harden paired a season-high 38 points with 10 rebounds. He poured in 16 points in the third quarter, then buried a series of jumpers to seemingly put the Rockets in control in the fourth. However, Cousins was a tour-de-force, aided by Kings guard Isaiah Thomas (17 points, 10 assists).

Gay produced an opening half far more efficient than his previous visit to Toyota Center, scoring 17 points on just nine shots after hoisting 37 shots en route to a 29-point outing for the Toronto Raptors on Nov. 11. He worked over whomever the Rockets sent his way defensively, drilling a 3-pointer and also converting all four of his foul shots.

When the Rockets (21-13) attempted to forge a comeback behind Howard, who followed his scoreless first quarter with a 13-point second period, guard Marcus Thornton came off the bench to energize the Kings. Thornton poured in 15 first-half points on 6-of-8 shooting, including 3-of-4 from 3-point range. He finished 6-for-9 from the floor for 15 points.

After the Rockets clawed within 49-48 when Howard's assist set up a dunk by forward Chandler Parsons with 3:05 remaining in the first half, Thornton sparked a 9-2 run with his offensive rebound and putback at the rim. The Kings led 58-52 at the break, largely on a plus-12 advantage on shot attempts.

Howard wound up with 15 points and eight rebounds. Rockets guard Jeremy Lin added 15 points and six assists.

NOTES: The Rockets capped a difficult run of eight games in 12 days on Sunday in Oklahoma City, prompting coach Kevin McHale to give the team Monday off despite a 31-point loss to the Thunder that left Houston with a 5-3 record during that stretch. "I don't know if we earned our rest -- we took it though," McHale said. "I wanted to practice so bad but I thought we'd probably have about six or seven guys." ... Rockets F/C Greg Smith (sprained right knee) missed his sixth consecutive game but is probable to return Friday night against the New York Knicks. ... The Kings' 112-104 loss at San Antonio on Sunday included being outscored by 14 points in the fourth period, an indication of their continuing effort to acclimate newly acquired F Rudy Gay. "We've shown flashes," Sacramento coach Michael Malone said. "But for it to be there consistently, guys are still figuring out how to play with each other, most importantly in crunch time."
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