Houston Rockets vs Sacramento Kings Preview

By Sarah Breuner

April 03, 2013; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings point guard Isaiah Thomas (22) drives in against Houston Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin (7) during the fourth quarter at Sleep Train Arena. The Houston Rockets defeated the Sacramento Kings 112-102. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Rockets will finish out their trip down the West Coast Sunday night against the Sacramento Kings.  The 16-8 Rockets have won nine of their last 11 meetings with the Kings, who are now 6-15.  Unfortunately due to his mother’s death, head coach Kevin McHale is not yet expected to return for Sunday’s game.  Assistant Kelvin Sampson will take his place once again, as his did earlier this week.  Here are some things to keep in mind going into the Sunday’s matchup:

Injury Report

Forward Chandler Parsons is still having back trouble, but he said Saturday that he will fight through it and play.  Greg Smith, who had been out due to a knee injury, is expected to return to the court against the Kings.  Jeremy Lin also says that he is back and healthy after a prolonged knee injury.

Facing Rudy Gay

Sacramento just added forward Rudy Gay to the roster for Friday’s game against the Phoenix Suns after the trade from the Toronto Raptors.  Though he scored 24 points in Phoenix, Gay along with his new teammates must tighten up defensively if they want to contain Houston.  He may have added generously to the scoreboard, but Gay only recorded one rebound in his 36 minutes.  Houston’s offense is head and shoulders above a slow Sacramento defense, which is now the third worst in the league.  Sunday night will be Gay’s debut in Sacramento, so it will be interesting to see what he makes of his new home court.

Howard and Cousins Head to Head

Big boys Dwight Howard and DeMarcus Cousins are just about guaranteed to be an electric matchup Sunday night.  At 6’11”, both should challenge each other in the paint.  However, Cousins has been unimpressive at the hoop lately, as you can see the 6’1” Eric Bledsoe blocked him in a big way Friday night:

The Suns’ Miles Plumlee also swatted Cousins. Howard and the rest of the Rockets will need to capitalize on Cousins’ vulnerability after his less-than-imposing presence on the court.  If Howard utilizes his experience combined with his strong consistency on both sides of the ball, he should be able to contain Cousins.  Here you can see his teammates celebrate when Howard hits his first three-pointer of the year:

Tip: 5 PM CST

TV: CSN Houston