Too many times, the Kings were their biggest impediment to success.
That’s the case when a team gives up a season-high 32 points off 21 turnovers.
So on a night the Houston Rockets, who were shorthanded like the Kings, and Rockets star James Harden was as inaccurate from the field as the Kings could hope, they couldn’t overcome themselves in losing to the Rockets 102-89 Wednesday night at Toyota Center.
The Kings had won three in a row.
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“We were not very smart with the basketball, and our turnovers led to easy baskets for them,” said Kings coach Michael Malone.
When the Kings weren’t turning the ball over, they were watching two backups post career nights.
Isaiah Canaan, starting for point guard Patrick Beverley had a career-high 24 points, 17 in the second half. Donatas Montiejunas, who has been starting for power forward Terrence Jones, had 21 points.
“You can’t allow two guys to get career highs on you and turn the ball over as many times as we did and expect to get a win against a very good team in their building,” Malone said.
Canaan’s previous career high was 21 on Nov. 8. He also made a career-high six three-pointers. Montiejunas bested his previous career high of 20 points, set last season.
Canaan carried the Rockets as Harden misfired (10-for-31 shooting), and the Kings kept leaving him open.
“You’ve got to feel the game,’ Malone said. “When you see a guy hit two or three shots, you’ve got to guard him a little differently, and we really didn’t adjust, for whatever reason. Great job by him and poor job of us defending him and Montiejunas.”
Then there were the turnovers that put the Kings in a 22-point hole in the first half. Houston scored 16 of their 37 points in the first quarter off turnovers and built a 43-21 lead early into the second quarter.
The Kings cut the deficit to one in the third quarter, but never led.
“We dug ourselves a hole and spent most of our energy trying to get out of the hole, and the last couple of minutes I felt like guys were just gassed,” said Kings center DeMarcus Cousins.
With All-Star center Dwight Howard injured, the Rockets were concerned Cousins would have his way, and he did. Cousins had game highs of 29 points and 17 rebounds. He also had six assists and three blocks, but also had seven turnovers.
Ramon Sessions started again for the injured Darren Collison and had five turnovers to go with eight points and three assists.
“A lot of them were just on us,” Sessions said of the turnovers. “I came out with a few that were me just dribbling the ball. They played good defense, but I don’t think it was something they were actually doing. We were just trying to do one too many things too fast, and it kind of caught up with us.”
Malone did not like how the Kings (9-6) responded to Houston’s aggressive approach. The Rockets (12-3) are known for their lack of defense this season but are making an effort to be more physical.
Even without Beverley and Howard’s defensive presence, their tactics worked.
“To be very honest, they were into us,” Malone said. “They brought it tonight. They made us feel them all night long. They got into us and we did not handle that.”
The Kings were without Collison and Rudy Gay for the second consecutive game. Collison sat out with a left quadriceps contusion and muscle strain. Gay has right Achilles’ tendinitis. Both are considered day-to-day and will be re-evaluated prior to Friday’s game at San Antonio.
Omri Casspi started for Gay and had 14 points and seven rebounds. Jason Thompson blocked three shots to give him 346 for his career and pass Francisco Garcia for seventh in Sacramento history.
Harden finished with 26 points, seven rebounds and eight assists.