With three consecutive road games left before the All-Star break, the Houston Rockets will attempt to overcome their struggles away from home with a trip to northern California.
First up on their quick road jaunt, the Rockets will meet the disheveled and influx Sacramento Kings at Arco Arena.
Houston created some space for the eighth spot in the Western Conference playoff race with their 118-103 victory over the Portland Trailblazers Friday, but will have to take advantage of the 18-33 Kings before they meet fellow postseason contenders in the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clipper next week. The Rockets currently have the worst road record, 10-16, of any playoff team in either conference.
Guard James Harden continued his All-Star year with 35 points, seven rebounds, and 11 assists against the Blazers. Jeremy Lin chipped in 16 points and four assists, shooting 2-for-3 from three-point range. In his last three games, Lin has shot 62 percent from deep.
Houston has gone 7-3 in their last 10 due to Harden and Lin, but also in large part to center Omer Asik’s 13.7 rebounds per contest during the run. The 26-year-old Turkish native is tied for 12th in the NBA with 22 doubles-doubles. Asik is tied with Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins.
Cousins, a troubled but highly skilled second-year big man, leads the Kings in points and rebounds, and is the only center in the NBA to also lead his club in steals. Even with his on and off the court antics, Cousins is the lone bright spot for a Sacramento club that’s lost nine of its last 12 games.
The Kings put together a rare victory Saturday, toppling the Utah Jazz 120-109 behind point guard Isaiah Thomas’s 25 points and three steals, and 13 points and 11 rebounds from Cousins. Guard Marcus Thornton game off the bench firing, and finished with 24 points on 7-for-14 shooting.
Most of the Kings woes begin on defense, as they give up a league low 103.2 points per game. That could be a bad omen against Houston and its second-ranked offense.
Coverage of the game begins at 9 p.m. eastern and will be broadcast by CSN Houston or CSAC depending on your region of the country. You can watch a live online stream of the game by purchasing NBA League Pass Broadband here.
Betting Odds: Houston is favored by 5 points
Over/Under: 217 points
Prediction: Lin and Harden should feast on the Kings poor defensive schemes, though Cousins will have a big game against the thinner Asik. Look for Houston to pull off a rare road victory.
Predicted Score: Houston 112, Sacramento 95