The losing continues: Three takeaways from Friday’s 139-114 loss to the Kings

Jan 13, 2023; Sacramento, California, USA; Houston Rockets forward Kenyon Martin Jr. (6) reacts after a play during the second quarter against the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

The losing continues: Three takeaways from Friday’s 139-114 loss to the Kings

The Rockets have lost nine in a row and 14-of-15 after Friday’s 139-114 loss in Sacramento. Houston trailed by just three at halftime, but Sacramento blew the game open with a 43-26 third quarter. Two nights after finishing an assist shy of a triple-double, Domantas Sabonis scored 19 points, grabbed 15 rebounds, and dished out 16 assists. The Rockets allowed 274 points over two games in Sacramento this week. Jabari Smith Jr. scored a career-high 27 points. A fourth-quarter altercation led to the ejections of Garrison Mathews, Tari Eason, Malik Monk, and Chimezie Metu.

Defense optional

The Rockets allowed 41 points in the decisive fourth quarter of their loss in Sacramento on Wednesday, and that carried over into this game. The Kings shot 56.5% in a 36-point first quarter, then added 33 points in the second before exploding for 43 points in the third. Sacramento finished the night shooting 55% from the field and connecting on half of their 40 attempts from behind the 3-point line.

This shouldn’t come as a big surprise in a game that featured the NBA’s third-best offense against the third-worst defense, but many of the Rockets’ issues were self-inflicted. They allowed 11 offensive rebounds in the first half, leading to 14 second-chance points, and the Kings scored 12 points off five Rockets turnovers in the third quarter. Houston’s porous transition defense also allowed 23 fast break points.

Strong first half for Jalen Green, poor second half

After a disappointing first half of the season, Jalen Green played his best half of the season to start the second half of his second NBA season. He scored 25 points in the game’s first 24 minutes on 9-of-14 shooting, and after entering the game connecting on less than 32% of his 3-pointers, he made 5-of-6 in the first half on Friday.

Problem for Green was that he couldn’t carry that into the second half. He scored two points after halftime to go with one assist. He made one of his six shots, and only one of those shots came at the rim.

Josh Christopher gets an opportunity

With Kevin Porter Jr. unavailable due to a left foot contusion, Josh Christopher found his way into Stephen Silas’ rotation and finished with five points in 18 minutes. His first bucket of the game came on a strong drive, and then he knocked down a corner 3.

After exceeding expectations as a rookie, Christopher has found himself struggling for minutes this season, and has even been assigned to the G League on a couple of occasions just to get minutes. With Porter’s availability for Sunday’s game in Los Angeles in doubt, Christopher could get another chance to prove he deserves rotation minutes.

Next up

The Rockets’ four-game trip through California continues with a Sunday matinee against the Los Angeles Clippers

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