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Game Day: Houston Rockets vs. Sacramento Kings 11.25.16

By Tamberlyn Richardson
Feb 25, 2015; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings forward Rudy Gay (8) and center DeMarcus Cousins (15) argue a call with the referee during the second quarter of the game against the Memphis Grizzlies at Sleep Train Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 25, 2015; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings forward Rudy Gay (8) and center DeMarcus Cousins (15) argue a call with the referee during the second quarter of the game against the Memphis Grizzlies at Sleep Train Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports
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Feb 25, 2015; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings forward Rudy Gay (8) and center DeMarcus Cousins (15) argue a call with the referee during the second quarter of the game against the Memphis Grizzlies at Sleep Train Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 25, 2015; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings forward Rudy Gay (8) and center DeMarcus Cousins (15) argue a call with the referee during the second quarter of the game against the Memphis Grizzlies at Sleep Train Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Feb 25, 2015; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings forward Rudy Gay (8) and center DeMarcus Cousins (15) argue a call with the referee during the second quarter of the game against the Memphis Grizzlies at Sleep Train Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

In Game Day Countdown Houston Rockets look to recover from their embarrassing loss as they face a Kings team on a roll.

Houston Rockets may have entered their last game confident given their recent win streak, but the Raptors reminded them of their Achilles Heel – defense. Or, perhaps I should say their complete lack of playing defense.

The Rockets are still a formidable squad with their offensive prowess. That said, when the 3-ball isn’t falling (or a team defends them well) they are privy to easy losses. Their opponent this evening is similar in their penchant for losing defensive focus. The difference with the Kings is they are suddenly thinking they can win, which is dangerous when you’ve got to handle a beast like DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay who is playing like it’s his contract year – oh yeah, it is!

Regardless of the Rockets opponent, it’s time to put actions where words have been. Though the entire team has said they are buying in on the defensive end, they aren’t demonstrating it consistently.  Sure, Ryan Anderson is always going to be a liability, but if he at least communicates with his teammates things could vastly improve.

Suffice to say, there’s no time like the present to showcase that commitment to defense.

With that, SCS offers up the Game Day Countdown:

Next: Kings Offseason Moves

Nov 21, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) attempts to steal the ball from New York Knicks guard Arron Afflalo (4) during the third quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 21, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) attempts to steal the ball from New York Knicks guard Arron Afflalo (4) during the third quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 21, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) attempts to steal the ball from New York Knicks guard Arron Afflalo (4) during the third quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Draft Picks

Round 1: Georgios Papagiannis (13), Malachi Richardson (22) via trade of Marco Belinelli to Hornets, Skal Labissiere (28)

Round 2: Isaiah Cousins (59)

Hornets traded the rights to freshman guard Malachi Richardson, the 22nd pick, to Kings for Marco Belinelli

Moves made following July 1, 2016:

Incoming:

Exiting: 

  • Rajon Rondo 2-years $30M to Bulls
  • Marco Belinelli  (trade)
  • Seth Curry leaves for Dallas
  • Quincy Acy has agreed to a 2-year minimum deal with Dallas
  • James Anderson signed overseas

Re-upping:

  • Butler has since been waived

Waived:

Next: Starting Line-Ups

Oct 26, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Sacramento Kings head coach David Joerger talks with guard Ben McLemore (23), guard Ty Lawson (10), center Willie Cauley-Stein (00) and forward Matt Barnes (22) during the second half of the game against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. The Kings defeated the Suns 113-94. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 26, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Sacramento Kings head coach David Joerger talks with guard Ben McLemore (23), guard Ty Lawson (10), center Willie Cauley-Stein (00) and forward Matt Barnes (22) during the second half of the game against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. The Kings defeated the Suns 113-94. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 26, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Sacramento Kings head coach David Joerger talks with guard Ben McLemore (23), guard Ty Lawson (10), center Willie Cauley-Stein (00) and forward Matt Barnes (22) during the second half of the game against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. The Kings defeated the Suns 113-94. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

Current Stats:

Point Guard:  James Harden – 28.7 points, 12.5  assists, 7.7 rebounds 2016 SCS Harden preview

Shooting Guard: Patrick Beverley – 8.3 points, 3.5 assists, 3.5 rebounds 8.3 points, 3.3 assists, 1.3 reboundsMedia Day Interview

Small ForwardTrevor Ariza – 12.1 points, 2.1 assists, 4.9 rebounds, 2.1 steals, 37.8% from deep 2016 SCS Ariza preview

Power Forward: Ryan Anderson – 12.3 points, 6.0 rebounds, 39.8% three point field goal percents  Anderson Media Day

CenterClint Capela – 11.5 points, 8.6 rebounds, 62.5% field goal percent, 2.0 blocks  2016 SCS Capela preview

Kings Starting 5:

Point Guard:  Darren Collison – 13.9 points, 5.7 assists, 2.0 rebounds

Shooting Guard:  Arron Afflalo – 9.5 points,  1.0 assists, 2.5 rebounds

Small Forward: Matt Barnes 7.6 points, 2.5 assists, 4.7 rebounds

Power Forward: Rudy Gay – 20.2 points, 2.8 assists, 6.8  rebounds

Center: DeMarcus Cousins – 27.5 points, , 3.4 assists,  9.9  rebounds

Next: Reserves

Oct 18, 2016; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings forward Omri Casspi (18) during the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Clippers at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 18, 2016; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings forward Omri Casspi (18) during the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Clippers at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 18, 2016; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings forward Omri Casspi (18) during the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Clippers at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Rockets Bench:

Guards:

Wings:

Bigs:

Kings Reserves:

Guards: Ty Lawson, Malachi Richardson,

Wings: Ben McLemore, Omri Caspi, Garrett Temple

Bigs: Kosta Koufos, Anthony Tolliver, Willie Cauley Stein,  Skal Labissiere, Georgios Papagiannis

Next: Game Particulars

Oct 29, 2016; Sacramento, CA, USA; A general view of Golden 1 Center prior to the game between the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Sacramento Kings. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 29, 2016; Sacramento, CA, USA; A general view of Golden 1 Center prior to the game between the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Sacramento Kings. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 29, 2016; Sacramento, CA, USA; A general view of Golden 1 Center prior to the game between the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Sacramento Kings. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Game Specifics:

The Venue: Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, CA

The brand spanking new stadium that Kevin Johnson fought for is a massive structure and apparently beautiful inside. It looks a little like a monstrosity outside though.

The Tip: 10:30 PM EST, 9:30 PM CT

TV: Root Sports in Houston

Radio: 790 AM in Houston

Walking Wounded:

In a rarity neither team has any players listed as being on the disabled list

Next: Keys to winning

May 10, 2016; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings head coach Dave Joerger speaks with vice president of basketball operations and general manager Vlade Divac during a press conference at the Sacramento Kings XC (Experience Center). Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
May 10, 2016; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings head coach Dave Joerger speaks with vice president of basketball operations and general manager Vlade Divac during a press conference at the Sacramento Kings XC (Experience Center). Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

May 10, 2016; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings head coach Dave Joerger speaks with vice president of basketball operations and general manager Vlade Divac during a press conference at the Sacramento Kings XC (Experience Center). Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

As per usual the Sacramento Kings seem to be embroiled uncertainty. Rudy Gay has said he’ll opt out and wants a trade. Long time Kings fans favorite Omri Casspi also wants out and hasn’t been getting much playing time.

Factor in DeMarcus Cousins, Ty Lawson, Matt Barnes and Darren Collison form the catalyst for combustion in the locker room.

New head coach Dave Joerger has his hands full with this crew of personalities. Joerger made his first “big” move by inserting Matt Barnes into the starting line up as the small forward then moved Gay and Cousins up one spot to in the starting line-up to power forward and center respectively.

Unlike the Raptors the Kings won’t necessarily provide 48 minutes of  hard core defense, but if they start well it bodes better for them to play all game. Capela and Nene will have their hands full facing Cousins. And with Gay now playing the power forward role Ariza is in for a long night because there is no way Anderson can guard him.

Where the Kings do resemble the Raptors is they don’t force up threes, but the ones they do attempt are generally clean open shots.

Unlike the Raptors, the Kings can be easily turned over which can lead to easy buckets for Houston.

Harden has a particularly great assignment versus Collison who has zero chance of stopping Harden. This could be another triple-double evening for the Beard (but of the natural variety not including 12 turnovers).

The Kings are also just below the middle of the pack when it comes to defending the perimeter, not that I’d condone 42 more attempts tonight.

More from Space City Scoop

Three key  areas the Rockets can look to exploit is:

  • they allow teams to shoot the third most free throws, so they foul – – A LOT.
  • and they also allow teams to shoot a high percentage (hence my comments about their propensity to not defend for a full 48)
  • Despite the size of Boogie with Joerger moving him to center it’s made the Kings more susceptible in the paint because Gay doesn’t have the size. The problem is the Rockets don’t tend to run many plays for their bigs. The answer may be for Harden, Beverley and Ariza to drive the ball early to get Boogie in foul trouble.

Ultimately, this is a very winnable game, especially if the Rockets decide to play on both ends!

For more details on the Kings check out SCS  2016-17 team preview:

Next: Kings 2016-17 Team Preview

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