Rockets Reign Over Kings
Dalembert, Lowry too much for Sacramento, help lead Houston to 103-89 win
HOUSTON - Perhaps he was feeling particularly inspired by the Rockets’ legends sitting courtside. Or maybe he just wanted to show his old team what they were missing. Whatever the reason, no matter the motivation, Samuel Dalembert put on quite a show Friday night en route to leading the Rockets to a 103-89 win over the Kings.
Indeed, Dalembert delivered a performance befitting the illustrious big men of Houston’s past on hand at Toyota Center, providing emphatic proof that the Rockets’ center of the present is more than capable of making his mark as well.
Playing in front of the Rockets’ Team of the 70s a squad which included Hall of Fame big men Moses Malone and Elvin Hayes as well as the inimitable Chuck Hayes (in street clothes for Sacramento due to a shoulder injury), Dalembert was dominant from start to finish Friday night, racking up 21 points, 16 rebounds and 4 blocked shots to help power Houston past the Kings.
“Big Sammy told me, ‘Coach, don’t worry. I’m feeling better, starting to move better,’” said Rockets Head Coach Kevin McHale. “And evidently he did. He was just fantastic tonight.”
The big man’s performance marked the third straight game he has provided his club with a towering presence in the paint, dominating the glass and redirecting shots at a prolific rate. Friday night he made Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins an absolute non-factor, taking the Kings’ talented young center out of the game almost from the opening tip. Cousins, who came in averaging more than 15 points and 11 rebounds per game, was continuously confounded by Dalembert’s length and defensive prowess, and as a result the second-year forward finished the game with a mere 4 points, 4 rebounds and 4 fouls in a frustrating 18 minutes of action.
That Dalembert was also able to give the Rockets a lift on the offensive end was certainly a big boost for his ballclub. But he’s under no delusions about his primary responsibility to his team; the man is here to serve as a defensive anchor which is why his ever-increasing comfort level within Houston’s system and his ability to log a season-high 33 minutes bode well for the Rockets going forward.
“My main goal was to try to control the paint and try to help,” said Dalembert. “(During the Charlotte game) when I started to do that we could see the difference we really started to believe in our defense. I wanted to keep reminding the guys that I’m going to continue to be a presence for them.”
With Dalembert making the painted area his own personal playpen on one end, the rest of the Rockets’ starters were largely free to take turns shredding Sacramento’s porous defense on the other. All five members of Houston’s starting five eclipsed double-digits in scoring and the Rockets repeatedly crushed the Kings on the offensive glass as part of the club’s resounding 55-36 rebounding edge overall.
Then, of course, there was Kyle Lowry, who is rapidly making his sparkling stat lines appear downright routine. Once more, he put the Toyota Center stat crew on triple-double alert before finally finishing with a humdrum total of 25 points, 9 assists and 7 rebounds.
In fact, if there was anything negative to say about his evening it was probably only in regard to the Rockets’ overreliance on his presence since Houston’s lulls conspicuously coincided with his time on the bench. After the game, McHale admitted he doesn’t want to get in the habit of having to play Lowry 41 minutes a night but, not surprisingly, the point guard’s only concern was with doing whatever it takes to rack up as many wins as possible.
“I like to play the game,” said Lowry, shrugging off any suggestion that he was carrying too heavy a load. “As long as I keep taking care of my body the way I do, I think I can do it every night. If I have to play every minute every night or play these kind of minutes every night to win games, then that’s what I’m going to do.”
(On Samuel Dalembert) “Sammy was really lively tonight, not just on the fact that he was 9 for 11 and he had16 rebounds, he was bouncy. I mean, he was just blocking shots and moving around. He just had great energy tonight. It was just fantastic. That was just kind of the Sammy we've been hoping to see.”
(On the Chandler Parsons) “Chandler is a very good defender and he stayed between his man at the basket and he got his hand up and you know, they had some funky match-ups. We were having a hard time. They (Kings) went kind of small.”
We were playing better the last two or three games and tonight we were able to finally put a good game together and that’s why we won. We still have a lot of things we can get better at, but today was a pretty good day all-around.
(on Dalembert): He’s been amazing He had a monster game and he’s been playing well lately and he’s a big part of us. He knows we need him in order to win games and he showed up big-time today.
(on Dalembert): He was possessed or something. He played like he always talks. He played like the old Sam Dalembert from back in the 76er days and he played really good. Tonight was a big stepping stone for him and now he just has to be more consistent and do it every night.
(On the game) “I think we just started the game off so slow that we didn't play as intense as we should have. In the second half we picked it up. We made big shots and big plays when we needed to.”
My main goal was to try to control the paint and try to help. (During the Charlotte game) when I started to do that we could see the difference we really started to believe in our defense. I wanted to keep reminding the guys that I’m going to continue to be a presence for them.
(On the defending of DeMarcus Cousins) “I think the key is not letting him get comfortable. Any real good players and guys who get a lot of touches in the game, you don't want them to start going. I didn't want him to start getting the ball and creating things for them. I tried to make it a little tough and I tried to deny him a little bit and he wasn't hitting shots that well and that helped us a lot too.”
COACH KEITH SMART
(On the game) “It was a game with lots of runs. We started sluggish and then our bench came in and did a good job. We have to start making shots and we can’t lose confidence in shooting them. We had to play a perimeter game to try to get back in. We were slow and lethargic to get going in the third quarter, They made some incredible shots.”
(On his team’s play) “I may have to go to the bench sooner but I still have to keep confidence in my starters. I’m still trying the team and feel things out as we go.”
(On Sam Dalembert’s play) “There’s a guy that played with a lot of fire. He played really well against his former team.”
(On the key to the game) “We just didn’t make our open shots. They beat us up badly on the boards and they were making their shots.”
(On Dalembert) “We knew that Sam would be ready to play. He had a good game on both ends of the court.”
(On his health) “I don’t know what’s going on. I couldn’t stop coughing and I can’t seem to get over it.”
(On the key to the game) “In the third quarter they started off on a 10-2 run and Kyle (Lowry) played great. We let them get too many easy buckets. The second chance buckets killed us.”
(On the Kings play) “We have to do a better job of running plays and making shots. The bench came in with a lot of energy and did a good job. We just have to finish better.”
The Rockets registered a 103-89 win over Sacramento tonight, which improved Houston’s record to 14-8 all-time when wearing their alternate uniforms featuring the “ketchup-and-mustard” color scheme (11-4 in 2009-10, 2-4 in 2010-11 and 1-0 2011-12).
The Rockets have now built double-digit leads in each of the last four games, including a 16-point advantage in second half tonight.
Houston placed all five starters in double-figure scoring for the first time since last season vs. Atlanta (4/3/11).
The Rockets, who trailed 52-50 at the break tonight, picked up their first win this season when trailing at halftime. Houston entered tonight’s contest with a mark of 0-6 in such games.
Houston had three 20-point scorers in the same game for the first time this season: Kyle Lowry (25), Samuel Dalembert (21) and Luis Scola (21). It was the first time since at Minnesota (4/13/11): Chase Budinger (35), Kevin Martin (25) and Courtney Lee (22).
Kyle Lowry finished with 25 points (7-15 FG, 3-6 3FG), nine assists, seven boards and two steals tonight. He also went a perfect 8-of-8 from the free throw line. Lowry owns the most free throws made and attempted in a game this season with a 9-of-10 outing from the stripe at Orlando (12/26/11).
Samuel Dalembert posted 21 points (9-11 FG), 16 rebounds (7 offensive) and a season-high-tying four blocks tonight. It marked his first double-double since a 16-point, 18-rebound game for Sacramento vs. the L.A. Lakers (4/13/11). Dalembert actually finished with 21 points (8-12 FG), 15 boards (14 defensive), three steals and three blocks for the Kings in the last meeting between these two teams at Houston (4/5/11).
Luis Scola recorded 21 points (9-23 FG), 11 rebounds and five assists tonight. Scola, who now has five 20-point outings this season, picked up his first double-double of 2011-12.
Chandler Parsons added 11 points (5-9 FG), six rebounds and three steals tonight. Parsons now has 10 total steals (2.50 spg) over the last four games.
Tyreke Evans notched a game-high 27 points (11-22 FG), six boards, five assists and three steals tonight. Evans, who entered tonight’s contest averaging 24.5 points in the previous four games, has now tallied 25 or more points in four of the last five games.
Isaiah Thomas scored 15 points (4-4 FT) and dished out five assists tonight, leading a 42-point scoring night for the Sacramento bench.
Donté Greene, who was acquired by the Kings from the Rockets in a trade on Aug. 14, 2008, had 11 points (4-8 FG) and a team-high eight rebounds off the bench for the Kings tonight.
DeMarcus Cousins has four points (1-7 FG), four boards and three blocks through three quarters. He recorded 21 points and a career-high 19 rebounds at Toronto (1/11/12). Cousins has notched double-doubles in each of the last four games (18.3 ppg and 13.5 rpg over span).