Sports News

Rivers' career night helps Rockets down Kings

Aug 9, 2020; Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA; Houston Rockets' Austin Rivers (25), center, puts up a shot past Sacramento Kings' De'Aaron Fox (5) and Nemanja Bjelica (88), upper left, during the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Aug. 9, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Mandatory Credit: Ashley Landis/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

Austin Rivers scored 41 points off the bench, James Harden tallied 32 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, and the Houston Rockets roared back from a sluggish start in their 129-112 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Sunday in The Field House at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando.

The Rockets (44-25) improved to 4-1 in the restart while the Kings (29-41) were eliminated from playoff contention when the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Philadelphia 76ers earlier Sunday.

Houston played a second consecutive game without guard Russell Westbrook (right quad contusion), although Westbrook and guard Eric Gordon (left ankle sprain) are nearing a return. Rivers helped compensate for their absences with his career high scoring, including 19 points on 7-of-8 shooting prior to the intermission to help the Rockets erase an early 13-point deficit.

Harden added three steals while Ben McLemore chipped in 20 points for Houston. Robert Covington added a double-double (12 points, 13 rebounds) with three steals as the Rockets maintained their grasp on fourth place in the Western Conference standings, holding a one-game lead over Oklahoma City.

De’Aaron Fox posted 26 points and nine assists for the Kings while Buddy Hield tallied 16 points off the bench. Sacramento led 36-23 entering the second quarter following a scorching start, shooting 15 of 23 overall -- including 5 of 9 from behind the arc -- while also recording 20 points in the paint in the first 12 minutes.

The Rockets, meanwhile, appeared listless in the early stages. But after missing 14 of 18 3-pointers while committing six turnovers in the opening period, Houston roared ahead with a 14-0 run in the second, with Harden, Rivers and Covington accounting for all the scoring. Rivers’ 3 with 3:10 left capped the run and gave Houston a 55-50 lead. The Rockets hit 7 of 14 3-pointers in the second quarter and led 61-56 at the half before extending the lead in the third.

Houston opened the second half with a 22-9 blitz and surged to an 87-67 lead when Rivers scored at the 2:09 mark of the third period. The Rockets led by as many as 24 points.

--Field Level Media