Game Preview: Houston Rockets vs Sacramento Kings

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After dropping to 9-6 at the hands of the Toronto Raptors, the Rockets head to Sacramento to take on the Kings. James Harden leads the Rockets in both scoring and assists, at 28.7 points and 12.5 assists per game, and in rebounds by Clint Capela, who is at 8.6 a game. Going into Friday’s game, the Rockets rank 6th in offensive rating, 24th in defensive rating, and 11th in net rating.

The Kings have struggled out of the gate, as many assumed they would, starting the season with a 6-9 record. The Kings are led in scoring and rebounding by DeMarcus Cousins, who is averaging 27.5 points and 9.9 rebounds per game, and assists by Darren Collison (5.7 assists per game). The Kings rank 15th in offensive rating, 28th in defensive rating, and 25th in net rating.

Starting Lineups

The Rockets are likely to continue to start with James Harden at point guard, Patrick Beverley at shooting guard, Trevor Ariza at small forward, Ryan Anderson at power forward, and Clint Capela at center, with Eric Gordon getting starter’s minutes.

After missing the first eight games of the season due to a suspension, guard Darren Collison is back and competing with Ty Lawson for the starting point guard role. The Kings are likely to start Darren Collison at point guard, Aaron Afflalo at shooting guard, Rudy Gay at small forward, Matt Barnes, who was recently moved into the starting lineup over Kosta Koufos, at power forward, and DeMarcus Cousins at center.

Three Things to Watch

  • Minutes for Montrezl-  After playing five minutes in the first half, Nene was a healthy scratch for the rest of the game, in favor of Montrezl Harrell. Montrezl has looked at least as good as Nene to start the season, but given Nene's veteran presence and the below-market deal he signed for, I have a hard time seeing Harrell continue to steal his minutes. Watch to see if D'Antoni really is starting to lose confidence in Nene, and continues to give Harrell playing time.

  • Another test for Clint- After playing well against a series of top centers, from Andre Drummond to Jonas Valanciunas, Clint Capela once again faces a top flight center in DeMarcus Cousins. Watch to see if Capela can keep up his level of defense and rebounding we've seen over the last stretch of games against someone who many see as the best center in the NBA.

  • Turnovers- The Rockets are 28th in turnover rate, and it's easy to see as they turned the ball over 26 times (12 from Harden) against the Toronto Raptors. Watch to see if the Rockets can work on their biggest offensive flaw and take care of the ball.


Prediction and Tip-Off

It's the Kings.

The Rockets should beat teams like the Kings. I'm going to predict a Rockets win, and it would be rather disappointing if they lose this one. I also expect a bit of a bounce back game from Harden after struggling over the past five or six games.

Tip-off will be at 9:30 P.M. Central Time at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Friday, November 25th. The game will be televised on ROOT Sports with the radio broadcast on Sports Talk 790-AM.

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