JOSÉ LUIS VILLEGAS / jvillegas@sacbee.com

DeMarcus Cousins walks off the court after Wednesday's loss. Cousins scored 20 points but fouled out, picking up his six fouls in the second half. Houston's Omer Asik took advantage, scoring 11 of his 19 points in the third quarter.

Kings come out flat, struggle late in loss to Rockets

Published: Thursday, Apr. 4, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Thursday, Apr. 4, 2013 - 12:34 pm

For the future of the Kings' franchise, the biggest event of the day wasn't Wednesday's game at Sleep Train Arena.

Most Kings fans were focused on the happenings in New York. That's where Mayor Kevin Johnson, officials and investors went before the NBA and presented Sacramento's bid to buy the franchise and have it stay put.

Seattle's ownership group was also in New York to state its case. The Seattle group already has a binding agreement to purchase a controlling interest in the team and has given the Maloofs $30 million as a down payment.

Hours after both sides had made their pitches to the league, the team in the middle of the figurative tug of war hosted the Houston Rockets and turned in an effort that didn't inspire many good feelings.

The Kings were lethargic early and faded late in a 112-102 loss. They missed 12 of their first 17 shots and 11 of their final 15.

Even the chants of "Sa-cra-men-to" that have become the rallying cry during the ownership ordeal couldn't generate more punch from the Kings, who lost their second consecutive game, both at home.

"This was a very, very bad loss for us and our fans," Kings coach Keith Smart said. "We played, but we didn't create the opportunity to win on the floor. They made the plays that won the basketball game, and we didn't. Our fans did a good job of encouraging this basketball game, but we weren't able to take it tonight."

Before the game Rockets coach Kevin McHale was asked what his game plan was to slow down Kings center DeMarcus Cousins. His reply was, "Omer Asik."

Asik set the tone early, not just against Cousins but the entire Kings team. His presence in the paint caused the Kings to miss a lot of shots.

"I know I rushed my first two (shots)," Cousins said. "Sometimes you have those type of shots, but after we calmed down we got the flow going."

When Cousins had to sit after picking up three fouls in less than three minutes in the third quarter, Asik asserted himself on offense, scoring 11 of his 19 points in the period.

"(Asik) probably had about six or seven points for sure off transitions and picking up some loose garbage plays," Smart said. "Asik doesn't need the ball to be effective. He just simply runs the floor, spaces and takes opportunities as they come."

The Kings (27-48) played well in spurts but were unable to match the energy and consistent ball movement of the Rockets, who are trying to clinch a playoff spot.

Jeremy Lin had 10 assists and James Harden nine for Houston (42-33), which finished with 32 assists. Sacramento had 19 assists.

But it wasn't All-Star Harden, the popular Lin or even Asik who hurt the Kings the most. Chandler Parsons had a game-high 29 points, and rookie Terrence Jones came off the bench to score 14 points and grab a season-high 12 rebounds. Eight of Jones' rebounds came in the second half.

Tyreke Evans led the Kings with 22 points, 17 in the second half. Marcus Thornton added 21 points off the bench, and Jason Thompson had 17 points and 15 rebounds.

Cousins scored 20 points before fouling out. All six of his fouls were in the second half.

Follow The Bee's Jason Jones on Twitter @mr_jasonjones and read more about the team at www.sacbee.com/kings.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Jason Jones



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