Kings-Rockets Preview

It wasn’t long ago when newly acquired Rudy Gay sparked a

victory over the Houston Rockets in his home debut with the

Sacramento Kings.

Given their frustrations on the road, the Kings aren’t likely to

match that performance in Houston.

Sacramento will try to avoid its sixth loss in seven games away

from home while the Rockets seek their 12th win in 14 home games

Tuesday night.

In his first home game after being acquired from Toronto, Gay

walked off the court to a standing ovation after his 26 points led

the Kings to a 106-91 victory over Houston on Dec. 15.

He shot 10 for 20 and added five rebounds, four assists and four

steals as Sacramento (9-20) won for only the third time in 12

meetings with the Rockets (21-12).

Gay is averaging 19.3 points in nine contests with the Kings

after scoring 19.4 per game for Toronto, but he’s been far more

efficient with a 48.1 field-goal percentage. He was shooting a

career-worst 38.8 percent in 18 games with the Raptors.

With 24 points in a 112-104 loss at San Antonio on Sunday, Gay

has scored at least 20 in four of six road games for the Kings.

Sacramento has dropped five of those contests, however, and has a

Western Conference-worst 3-9 road record.

After the Spurs went on a 23-8 run to close the game, shouting

could be heard behind the closed doors of the Kings locker

room.

“Sometimes people get a little frustrated,” coach Michael Malone

told the league’s official website. “We’re fine. We’re still

united.”

Sacramento faces another difficult road test against the

Rockets, who have won three straight and 10 of 12 meetings on their

home floor.

Houston, though, is hoping to regroup after having its

three-game winning streak snapped with a 117-86 loss at Oklahoma

City on Sunday.

James Harden had a season-low eight points while missing 7 of 9

from the floor for the second time in three games. He twisted his

ankle in the first matchup with the Kings but stayed in to finish

with 25 points.

In the most recent meeting with Sacramento in Houston, Harden

scored 29 on 11-of-16 shooting with nine assists in a 121-100 win

April 14.

Dwight Howard also is coming off a subpar performance with nine

points and nine rebounds Sunday, three days after finishing with

two and six in a 100-92 win over Memphis.

”We just had a tough time making shots,” Howard said after

Houston shot 36.5 percent. ”That happens. We’ve got to come out

better. We’ve got to find a way to get ourselves going. That’s

it.”

Howard contributed 13 points and 10 rebounds in the first

meeting, while DeMarcus Cousins finished with 21 points, 10 boards

and five assists for Sacramento.

Cousins has averaged 26.7 points and 15.0 boards in the last

three games, and Isaiah Thomas has scored 23.3 per game while

hitting 14 of 26 from 3-point range in the past four.

Though the Kings limited the Rockets to a 41.3 field-goal

percentage in Sacramento, they’ve given up an average of 112.3

points on 51.1 percent shooting over their last six games.

Houston has scored 107.0 per game in its last 13 at home.