In rookie battle, Keegan Murray shoots Kings past Jabari Smith Jr., Rockets

Two nights after allowing an astonishing 153 points in a loss at Oklahoma City, the defensive results weren’t much better for the young Houston Rockets in a 140-120 home loss (box score) to Sacramento. The Kings led comfortably for most of Monday’s game, with their 65 first-half points providing a formidable cushion.

In a battle of two rookie forwards drafted in the top-four picks of the 2022 first round, Sacramento’s Keegan Murray clearly outshined Jabari Smith Jr. of the Rockets. Smith, the No. 3 overall selection, saw his first-year offensive struggles continue with 13 points on 5-of-15 shooting (33.3%) and 1-of-6 on 3-pointers (16.7%).

Meanwhile, Murray — the No. 4 overall pick — led the Kings with 30 points and 6 rebounds on 11-of-17 shooting (64.7%), including 8-of-12 from 3-point range (66.7%). Sacramento (30-23) remains in an impressive third place in the Western Conference standings.

Key offensive statistics for the Rockets (13-41), who continue to hold the NBA’s worst record on the 2022-23 season, included:

  • Jalen Green: 27 points, 3 assists, 2 steals; 10-of-21 shooting (47.6%), 5-of-11 on 3-pointers (45.5%)

  • KJ Martin: 18 points, 8 rebounds; 8=of-10 shooting (80.0%), 2-of-2 on 3-pointers

  • Eric Gordon: 16 points, 8 assists, 2 steals; 5-of-7 shooting (71.4%), 3-of-5 on 3-pointers (60.0%)

  • Alperen Sengun: 15 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists; 4-of-10 shooting (40.0%), 1-of-2 on 3-pointers (50.0%)

Scroll on for highlights, analysis, and postgame interview reaction. Next up for Houston is a rematch with the Kings in the same Toyota Center arena on Wednesday night, with tipoff set for 7 p.m. Central.


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Story originally appeared on Rockets Wire