Prior to the game, Kings coach Dave Joerger joked that he liked being a part of history when asked about the NBA-record 50 3-pointers the Rockets attempted in a win at Sacramento on Nov. 25.
The Kings were nearly part of history again as the Rockets made 22 3-pointers, one shy of tying the record for most made in a regular-season game as Houston rolled to a 132-98 victory Wednesday night at Toyota Center.
The record of 23 was set by Orlando against the Kings on Jan. 13, 2009, and matched by Houston on Feb. 25, 2013, against Golden State.
The Kings were without three starters: DeMarcus Cousins (rest), Rudy Gay (strained right hip flexor) and Ben McLemore (left quad contusion). But even at full strength, the Kings have been poor at stopping 3-pointers.
The Rockets, who have won eight consecutive games and are 19-7, had their way on offense most of the game.
The Rockets’ point total, field goals made (50), assists (40), 3s made, points in the paint (50), field-goal percentage (.588) and 3-point percentage (.524) were all season highs allowed by the Kings. Houston’s 28 fast-break points tied the most the Kings have given up this season.
“They were shorthand ed,” said Houston coach Mike D’Antoni. “They came in without at least three of their players, so we should have done this. We did it and now we move on to the next one.”
It was also Sacramento’s most lopsided loss of the season.
“It’s tough because I felt like we didn’t do anything right defensively,” said Kings guard Darren Collison. “Coming off such a good defensive effort last game I felt like this was the game to carry over. And we’ve just got to be better individually, starting with myself. We’ve just got to be better defensively and try to take away something (Wednesday) and we didn’t do that.”
Stopping the 3-pointer must be a priority because it’s as common as a layup with some teams, especially the Rockets, who either shoot the 3 or try to get to the rim.
The Rockets took 85 shots and 80 were either 3s (42) or in the paint (38).
And it’s not as if the Kings didn’t know the Rockets would shoot the 3. After all, they shot 50 against them last month. But too often, the Kings didn’t do enough to chase the Rockets off the 3-point line or simply weren’t close enough to a shooter.
“That’s a good shooting team, good team,” Collison said. “James (Harden) is playing really good as far as passing the ball, and in transition if you make a mistake, if you don’t get back on ‘D,’ they’ll make you pay.”
Still, there were times the Kings hurried to defend the rim in transition, only to have the Rockets stop at the 3-point line and wait to take another shot from deep.
“That’s what we talked about, though,” said Joerger. “It doesn’t even matter if he’s your guy or not, you’ve got to find a guy in transition.”
Harden led the Rockets with 15 points, 11 rebounds and 14 assists. It was his fifth triple-double of the season and 14th as a Rocket, tying Hall of Fame center Hakeem Olajuwon for most in franchise history. Ryan Anderson led all scorers with 22 points.
Garrett Temple led the Kings (9-16) with a season-high 20 points.