Malone: We showed pride in our defense against Rockets
The Kings beat the Rockets 106-91 on Sunday despite 25 points from James Harden (right). (USATSI)
SACRAMENTO -- Rudy Gay scored 26 points in his first home game since coming over in a trade from Toronto, leading the Sacramento Kings past the Houston Rockets 106-91 Sunday night.
Gay added five rebounds and four assists. He finished 10-for-20 shooting in a dazzling home debut for the Kings, who had lost eight of their past 10 games.
James Harden twisted his left ankle early in the third quarter but finished with 25 points, and Dwight Howard had 13 points and 10 rebounds while battling foul trouble in a disappointing end to Houston's cramped three-game road trip. The Rockets lost at Portland on Thursday and won at Golden State on Friday.
Rockets assistant Kelvin Sampson filled in for Kevin McHale all three games following the death of McHale's mother. Guard Jeremy Lin sat out with back spasms and forwardTerrence Jones had two points and five assists while playing just 15 minutes because of flu-like symptoms.
Sacramento's newest attraction seized the opportunity.
Gay, who came over in a seven-player trade from Toronto last the week, had 24 points in the loss at Phoenix on Friday. He started quickly in his first game at home for Sacramento, scoring 14 points in the first quarter, including a series of scintillating drives and dunks.
As Houston's mistakes piled up, Sacramento surged ahead.
The Kings took advantage of 11 turnovers by the Rockets in the first half to go ahead 48-38 late in the second quarter. They had six turnovers in the second half.
Harden gave Houston a bigger scare when he twisted his left ankle stepping on Ben McLemore's foot while driving through traffic early in the third quarter. Harden lay on the hardwood for a couple minutes, but stayed in the game to make both free throws - lifting his left foot in the air - before limping to the locker room.
Harden returned later in the quarter, and appeared slightly hampered. The Rockets also struggled to regroup, especially with Howard on the bench with his fourth foul.
The Kings, who led by as many as 12 points, entered the fourth quarter with an 81-71 lead. They went ahead by 18 late in the fourth and never relented.
NOTES: Kings G Marcus Thornton did not play in the first half. He had two points in nearly 7 minutes in the second half. ... Houston had won five of its previous games at Sacramento. ... Rockets big man Omer Asik, who has been the subject of trade rumors, missed his sixth straight game with what the team has called a bruised right thigh.