Head coach Keith Smart addresses the media following the Kings' 104-87 loss to the Houston Rockets at Power Balance Pavilion.
Rockets 104, Kings 87
Lacking energy from the opening tip-off, the Kings dug themselves too deep a hole early en route to losing their fourth game in a row.
A mix-and-match lineup of Isaiah Thomas, Jimmer Fredette, Terrence Williams, Chuck Hayes and Hassan Whiteside gave the Kings a spark in the third quarter and played much of the fourth.
Starters DeMarcus Cousins, Tyreke Evans and Jason Thompson did not see the floor in the fourth quarter and combined for 19 points and 18 rebounds.
"That group got us to eight points, so I played those guys," Kings head coach Keith Smart said of his fourth-quarter lineup. "They did a good job getting us back to a manageable number."
Williams had 21 points and eight rebounds off the bench. Fredette added 17 points and Thomas had 16 points and six assists.
But the Kings burned themselves with mistakes, finishing with 21 turnovers that led to 22 points for the Rockets and making just 20-of-37 free-throw attempts.
And the fast-paced play that they have thrived with was nowhere to be found.
"The last two games have kind of resembled the beginning of the season," said forward-center Chuck Hayes, "like when things go bad we show everybody that things are going bad with our body language and our emotions.
"Maybe because it was the second game of a back-to-back or an early Sunday game, I don't know. We have to find the energy that we pretty much contained the past month or two."
Courtney Lee led the Rockets with 25 points, 17 of which he scored in the first quarter. Guard Goran Dragic had 15 points and nine assists, while Patrick Patterson added 10 points and 10 rebounds off the bench.
The Rockets outscored the Kings in the paint, 46-28. The 28 points were the fewest the Kings have scored in the paint in a game this season.
Cousins finished with nine points and eight rebounds in 25:45. Playing much of the second half, Hassan Whiteside had four points and a team-high 10 rebounds in 19:44.
"It's more of a mental thing than a physical thing," Fredette said of the team's lethargy. "Mentally you have to be prepared, all of us. We have to do a better job of getting ourselves ready in warm-ups and getting ourselves mentally prepared so we can start the game well and not get into lapses."
Rockets 73, Kings 63
After trailing by as many as 22 points in the third quarter, the Kings have pared that deficit down to 10.
They made their run with a lineup of Isaiah Thomas, Jimmer Fredette, Terrence Williams, Chuck Hayes and Hassan Whiteside.
Head coach Keith Smart must like what he's seen from them, because that lineup has come out to start the fourth quarter.
The Kings still need to cut down on their mistakes, though. They have committed 17 turnovers and are shooting 55 percent from the free-throw line.
Williams has 16 points for the Kings, matching his season high, and Fredette has added 12 off the bench.
Courtney Lee has 23 points for the Rockets.
Rockets 58, Kings 43
Turnovers continue to plague the Kings in what has been a lethargic showing most of the game.
The Kings have 12 turnovers and only two fast break points. Sacramento has only forced five turnovers by the Rockets.
Seven different Kings have a turnover. Five of them have two turnovers.
If that's not bad enough, the Kings are 11-for-19 on free throws (57.9 percent).
Terrence Williams has nine points to lead the Kings. DeMarcus Cousins has six points and seven rebounds.
Rockets guard Courtney Lee leads all scorers with 19 points.
Rockets 32, Kings 21
Bad habits are carrying over to tonight's game.
After committing 20 turnovers in Saturday night's loss at the Los Angeles Clippers, the Kings already have six, leading to 10 points for the Rockets.
Five different Kings have a turnover.
It also hasn't helped that Courtney Lee might be having the best first quarter of his career for the Rockets.
Lee has 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting, two steals and an assist. The Rockets are shooting 60.9 percent and have only two turnovers.
DeMarcus Cousins leads the Kings with six points and six rebounds.