Rockets lift off early, hand Kings 104-87 loss

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Rockets lift off early, hand Kings 104-87 loss

BOX SCORE
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) Courtney Lee scored 19 of his 25 points in the first half, leading the Houston Rockets to a 104-87 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Sunday night.Goran Dragic had 15 points and nine assists, Chase Budinger also scored 15 and Luis Scola added 13 points and eight rebounds as Houston won its third straight and fourth of the last five. Patrick Patterson had 10 points and 10 rebounds.The Rockets, sixth in the Western Conference, moved one-half game ahead of defending champion Dallas.Terrence Williams had a season-high 21 points and eight rebounds for the Kings, losers of four straight and nine of 11. Rookie guard Jimmer Fredette, making his seventh start, made three 3-pointers and finished with 17 points in a season-high 37 minutes, and Isaiah Thomas added 16 points.Houston led by 22 points in the third quarter before the Kings cut the margin to 10 entering the fourth. However, the Rockets pulled away again as Budinger, who had 10 points in the final quarter, made a runner and followed with a 3-pointer to put Houston ahead 93-74 with 4:02 remaining.Rockets starting point guard Kyle Lowry came off the bench in the first quarter, playing for the first time in a month after missing 15 straight games due to a bacterial infection that required hospitalization. Lowry had one point and seven assists in 18 minutes.Houston entered the game well rested, playing just twice over the previous seven days. Both were significant wins as the Rockets beat East-leading Chicago on the road and the visiting Lakers on Friday.The slumping Kings committed 12 turnovers in the first half and finished with 21.Quiet in the first half, Scola made three jumpers early in the third quarter. A three-point play by Parsons put the Rockets ahead 69-47, their biggest lead of the game.But the Kings quickly recovered. Switching to a zone defense with four reserves, and benefitting from the shot-altering capability of backup center Hassan Whiteside, the Kings ran off nine straight points and closed the quarter with a 16-4 run to pull to 73-63 heading into the fourth.Houston led by 11 points after the first quarter and took a 58-43 lead into the break. Lee got going early, scoring 17 points in the first quarter when he made 7 of 8 shots, including all three 3-point attempts.NOTES: Ex-King Kevin Martin, Houston's leading scorer, is still nursing a shoulder injury and missed his 13th straight game. ... Houston shot 61 percent in the first quarter when it led 32-21. ... Kings F John Salmons has missed the last eight games with a sore hip and teammate Marcus Thornton has been out the last four with a bruised left calf. ... The Kings made 20 of 37 free throws.

NBA Gameday: Kings, Pistons going in opposite directions

NBA Gameday: Kings, Pistons going in opposite directions

The Sacramento Kings are in a free fall. They come into Detroit mired in a five-game skid and they are a season-high 11 games under .500 when they face the Pistons on Monday night at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

DeMarcus Cousins was the only Kings player to score in double-figures in the team’s 102-99 controversial loss to the Chicago Bulls on Saturday evening. The NBA’s two-minute report conceded that the officiating crew made an error in the final minute of the game when they called Cousins for a push foul on an attempted dunk by All-Star Dwyane Wade.

The game was tied at 99-99 at the time of the infraction and Sacramento should have had the ball with 14 seconds remaining. Instead, Wade went to the line to give the Bulls a one point lead.

Detroit is riding a three-game win streak, including a big 113-112 victory over the Washington Wizards on Saturday night. Marcus Morris led the way for the Pistons, scoring 25 points and grabbing 10 rebounds against his twin brother Markieff. Detroit has had an up and down season, but they definitely playing better than when they faced off with the Kings two weeks ago in Sacramento.

LINE

Pistons by 5

WHERE THEY STAND

Kings: 16-27, third place in Pacific

Pistons: 21-24, fourth place in Central

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Anthony Tolliver vs. Tobias Harris -- The last time these two teams met, Tolliver dropped in 17 points on 3-of-7 shooting from long range to help the Kings erase a big deficit and come away with the win. Harris went blow for blow with Tolliver, scoring 18 points on 7-for-16 shooting, but it was the Kings who prevailed. Cousins versus Andre Drummond is always a marquee matchup, but the game will likely be decided by someone other than the two All-Star bigs.   

INJURY REPORT

Kings: SF Rudy (left Achilles tendon) out for the season, SF Omri Casspi (calf strain) out.

Pistons: SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (rotator cuff) questionable, SG Michael Gbinije (forearm) out.

SERIES HISTORY

The Kings lead the season series 1-0 after coming away with a win at Golden 1 Center Jan. 10. Detroit holds a 133-118 advantage over the Kings all-time and a 36-25 edge during the Sacramento-era.

QUOTABLE

“I think our team’s effort was incredible tonight. I think we did everything the right way to have a chance at winning this game, we just fell short.” -Cousins following the loss to the Chicago Bulls

Cousins buys chocolate from kids for charity, donates bars to flight staff

Cousins buys chocolate from kids for charity, donates bars to flight staff

DeMarcus Cousins leads the NBA in technical fouls. He also leads the league in scowls and he’s even kicked over a few garbage cans following the Kings' loss to the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night. But that’s just a small portion of who he is.

According to a source that travels with the team, Cousins went out of his way Sunday morning to make an impact in the lives of a couple of local youth in Chicago.

Kids were selling chocolate bars outside the team’s hotel trying to earn money for charity. Plenty of people walked by, avoiding the youth, but Cousins stopped, reached into his pocket and purchased all of the boxes they had to sell.

Later on in the day, Cousins donated the candy to the flight service staff for use on the flight to Detroit.

Cousins gets plenty of negative press for his antics on the floor, but off the court, he is extremely generous. He plays Santa-Cuz during the holidays, buying gifts for underprivileged children in Sacramento and his hometown of Mobile, Alabama. He has also purchased a new scoreboard for a local high school and even paid for the funeral of a local high school football player who lost his life in a drive-by shooting.

No one is perfect, Cousins included, but he also has a genuinely good side that he often doesn’t seek or receive press for.