Kings 84, Rockets 81
Carl Landry's most memorable game in Houston may be the first one he played in a visitor's uniform.
The former Rocket had 22 points and 10 rebounds against his old team, leading the Sacramento Kings to an 84-81 win Wednesday night.
Landry was smiling through much of his return game, talking playful trash to the Houston bench and dominating close friend Chuck Hayes, who guarded him most of the night.
``They're all like my brothers, and just to have the chance to play against those guys was really great,'' Landry said. ``It was fun, I love Houston, everything about it. But this is a new beginning for me.''
Houston picked up Kevin Martin in the trade, and Sacramento's leading scorer over the last three seasons struggled against his former team, scoring 14 on 3-for-13 shooting.
The Rockets have lost five of seven since the trade.
``We wanted that one, it just didn't happen for us,'' Martin said. ``We played good defense, but we just didn't get into any type of rhythm. There was just no flow or anything.''
Landry was nervous before the game, but Kings coach Paul Westphal calmed him with a pep talk.
``He said not to be too aggressive, that I didn't need to go out there and score 40 points,'' Landry said. ``I didn't really know how to go about this game, and he said, 'Just be relaxed, be comfortable and play your game.'''
Landry got a standing ovation when he was introduced, and the fans chanted ``Landry! Landry!'' in the moments before the tipoff.
The Rockets played a video of Landry highlights from his two-plus seasons on the scoreboard during the first timeout of the opening quarter, and fans cheered him again.
Landry missed the montage and showed little emotion when he returned to the floor.
``I just tried to stay calm, cool and collected and let the game come to me,'' Landry said.
Landry then won a jump ball against the shorter Hayes and drew Hayes' second foul to send him to the bench. Landry promptly drove around backup center David Andersen for a slam, then blocked a shot that led to Tyreke Evans' breakaway dunk and a 20-12 Kings' lead.
Houston mustered only 17 points in the opening quarter after reaching 30 in the first quarters of each of its previous three games.
``We made a few of the same mistakes we have been doing the whole year,'' Scola said. ``We started a little bit badly. We made a lot of mistakes and they made us pay.''
Sacramento led 43-37 at halftime after Francisco Garcia just beat the buzzer with a 3-pointer from 30 feet. The Kings generated 19 second-chance points in the half, but went 18 for 61 (30 percent) from the field.
Brooks and Martin, Houston's top two scorers, combined to shoot 5 for 18 from the field in the half. Martin also had four turnovers. Brooks finished the game 2 for 13 from 3-point range.
The duo continued to misfire in the third quarter and Sacramento stretched the lead to nine. The Rockets pulled within two in the last minute, Evans missed an off-balance shot and Scola rebounded with 8.5 seconds left.
Evans fouled Brooks going for a steal and Brooks split two free throws with 6 seconds remaining to cut the Kings' lead to 82-81. Shane Battier fouled Landry with 4 seconds left, and Landry calmly swished two free throws to make it 84-81.
``I wanted to hit those free throws,'' he said. ``It was just a sigh of relief, I was so happy.''
NOTES: Brooks sank a 3-pointer for the 34th consecutive game, the NBA's longest active streak. He's three games shy of the franchise record, set by Luther Head during the 2006-07 season. ... Houston coach Rick Adelman said Trevor Ariza and Kyle Lowry were ``doubtful'' to return from injuries this weekend. Ariza has missed the last four games with a left hip pointer and Lowry has sat out the last nine with a sprained left ankle. ... Kings forward Andres Nocioni sat out to conclude his league-imposed two-game suspension stemming from a drunken driving arrest in November.