SACRAMENTO -- Strong fourth-quarter defense led the Sacramento Kings to a rare home accomplishment.
Kings point guard Isaiah Thomas scored 17 of his 23 points in the fourth, and Sacramento rallied from a 10-point deficit early in the period to defeat the Houston Rockets 117-111 before a crowd of 15,526 at Sleep Train Arena on Sunday night.
The Kings (19-33) won at home for the second night in a row, having beaten the Utah Jazz on Saturday. They improved to 14-12 at Sleep Train Arena.
The victory was the first time the Kings have won two home games in as many nights since Feb. 1 and 2, 2008, when they defeated the New Orleans Hornets and Chicago Bulls.
Kings coach Keith Smart saluted his team's defensive effort against the high-scoring Rockets. Sacramento outscored the Rockets 31-16 during the final 9 1/2 minutes.
"Late in the game, our guys did a great job of working, talking and switching in order to not give up wide-open 3s," Smart said. "Chuck Hayes and Francisco Garcia did a great job with that."
Hayes, a former Rockets forward, said attempting to cover the perimeter as well as the post is difficult against Houston.
"They like to run that high pick-and-roll and spread the floor," said Hayes, who finished with eight points and 12 rebounds in 24 minutes. "If you are going to beat them, you have to find a way to cover both. It takes multiple efforts."
The Rockets (28-25) slipped to 10-17 on the road with their third straight road defeat. They had won six of their previous eight games overall before Sunday.
Kings center DeMarcus Cousins scored consistently when he was on the floor, but he battled foul trouble. He picked up his fifth foul early in the fourth quarter and rode the bench as the Kings roared back for the victory.
Cousins scored 20 points in 24 minutes, but the smallest King, Thomas, led his team back. Forward John Salmons added 23 points and six assists for Sacramento.
The Rockets, who trail only the Oklahoma City Thunder in points per game, bolted to a double-digit lead at the start of the fourth. It was the first time either team was in front by at least 10 points.
However, Thomas sparked the Kings' lackluster offense with his long-distance shooting as well as his ability to take the ball to the basket. Thomas made two of three 3-point attempts, and he went 13-for-13 at the foul line. He was ably assisted by Salmons, who made four of seven 3-point attempts and all seven of his foul shots.
Thomas had made just one of five field-goal attempts when he re-entered the game with 10:45 left in the fourth. He made three of five shots down the stretch.
"I just wanted to be aggressive," he said. "I wanted to make plays for myself and my teammates. I felt in the first three quarters I wasn't being aggressive. We were down (90-84), and we had to push (the tempo)."
Thomas made each of his nine free-throws in the fourth and helped the Kings to a season-high 96.3 percent success rate at the line (26 of 27).
Rockets coach Kevin McHale said his team did not accomplish two of its goals.
"We talked about not giving up second-chance points, and we didn't contain the ball," McHale said. "It got to where they wanted to go off the dribble off pick-and-roll with Isaiah Thomas.
"We didn't defend very well all night with anybody on the floor."
James Harden, the league's fifth-leading scorer at 26 points per game, produced a game-high 30 points. The Rockets were hurt down the stretch when starting point guard Jeremy Lin fouled out with 2:40 left in the fourth. Lin finished with 12 points and six assists.
Patrick Patterson scored 18 points for Houston, and Omer Asik added 17 points and 12 rebounds.
NOTES: Houston guard Toney Douglas, who sustained a left hip pointer Friday in the Rockets' home win over the Portland Trail Blazers, didn't play at Sacramento. ... Sunday night's game was the first of three meetings between the teams. The Rockets visit Sacramento again on April 3, and the Kings play at Houston on April 14. ... The Rockets started a three-game road swing through California. They play the Golden State Warriors in Oakland on Tuesday, then the Clippers in Los Angeles on Wednesday. ... The Rockets and the Kings each have had seven-game losing streaks this season. ... The Kings averaged 11.2 steals during their previous six games, and they came away with nine steals Sunday.