The Houston Rockets hope a rare two-city, four-game trip reverses their fortunes when they take a seven-game losing streak into the opener of a consecutive-game sequence against the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night.
The clubs also will duel Friday in Sacramento before the Rockets move on to Los Angeles, where they will see the Clippers on Sunday and Lakers on Monday.
Houston is coming off an 0-2 homestand, beaten by an average of 12.5 points by the Utah Jazz and Minnesota Timberwolves. Five of the seven losses in the Rockets’ current skid have come by double-digit margins.
Rockets coach Stephen Silas walked away from the most recent setback — 104-96 against the Timberwolves — lamenting the fact that his young team is good enough to build big leads (like the 20-pointer Sunday), yet not experienced enough to avoid losing them.
“We have to understand that this league is all about sustaining your play,” he said. “We are a wildly inconsistent team where we have highs and lows. We’re working to either maintain the highs or just find a middle ground.”
At the midpoint of the season Wednesday, the Rockets will be facing the Kings for the first of four times this year. Coincidentally, the clubs will also square off in consecutive games when they meet up again in Houston next month.
Sacramento took three of four in the season series a year ago, with all four games featuring a lot of offense. The losing team scored 114, 112, 118 and 117 in generally tight battles decided by 12, six, three and five points.
The inconsistency of Jalen Green was on full display in the four contests. He went for 32 and 33 points in the home games, but just 11 and 15 points at Sacramento.
Now in his second season, Green has scored 30 or more points seven times, but also as few as nine. The latter occurred Sunday against the Timberwolves, three days after he’d had 30 against the Jazz.
The Kings surely haven’t been lacking for offense this season, especially at home, where they’ve run up 127 or more points nine times, going 8-1 in those games.
Their most recent pinball effort came at the expense of the Orlando Magic on Monday, a 136-111 shellacking in which Harrison Barnes exploded for a season-best 30 points.
The Kings bombed in 23 3-pointers in the win, but the best part, according to coach Mike Brown, was the score. It allowed him to keep his starters to 32 or fewer minutes apiece.
“Those guys have been logging big minutes for us, and we put a lot on their shoulders on both sides of the floor,” he said of Barnes, Domantas Sabonis and De’Aaron Fox in particular. “To be able to have them play low minutes in a game and us still get the win pretty handily, you welcome these types of games.”
Despite sitting out 16 minutes, Sabonis still found time for 12 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. He has never faced the Rockets as a member of the Kings but had double-doubles in each of his last three encounters while with the Indiana Pacers.
–Field Level Media