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by: Kris Gardner, United States Basketball Writers Association member. Credentialed media member since 1997. USBWA approved online journalist. Voter of Katrina McClain, Naismith, USBWA, and Wooden awards.

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Rockets crush Kings by 21

Dwight Howard with 26 points, 13 boards, and 4 blocked shots

Posted: January 22, 2014 -- 10:49 pm CST.

HOUSTON, TX (Toyota Center) -- The Houston Rockets won all four quarters Wednesday night and defeated the Sacramento Kings 119-98 in front of an announced crowd of 16,488 fans.

The Rockets started slowly making just 1 of their first 8 field goals; but, they made 11 of their last 17 shots in the first quarter to lead the Sacramento Kings 29-22.

The Kings led 12-7 when forward Rudy Gay launched a fade away jump shot with 6:17 left in the first quarter. Sixteen seconds later, Gay left the game for good with an Achilles injury.

With Gay out of the game, the Kings' offense bogged down; and, James Harden went into attack mode. Harden attacked the basket and finished the first quarter with 12 points to help the Rockets lead by seven after one quarter.

"He started getting at the rim," Kevin McHale said of Harden. "I thought we were settling for a lot of playing east and west. We told them to get to the hole and put pressure on the basket and they did."

The Rockets scored 66 points in the paint in the game -- tying their season high.

The Rockets (29-15) stretched their lead to 38-24 before Jimmer Fredette made a three-point shot. After Fredette and Jeremy Lin exchanged misses, Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins drove to the hoop and rolled his left ankle (badly) with 7:17 left until halftime. Patrick Beverley was called for a foul on the play.

Cousins stayed on the court in pain before hobbling to his feet. His teammates had to help him to the locker room. Since Cousins could not shot his two foul shoots, after the injury, he was done for the game.

With Cousins out of the game, Dwight Howard went to work. Howard dunked his way to 12 points in the second quarter -- two dunks courtesy of alley-oop passes from James Harden.

With Gay and Cousins out of the game, the Rockets led by as many as 22 points in the third quarter and 29 in the fourth quarter.

Sacramento Kings head coach, Michael Malone said, "We got our butts kicked tonight. We are a no excuse team; so, whether Rudy or DeMarcus plays, the fact that we guarded no one tonight has nothing to do with them not being play in the second half."

Howard finished the game with 26 points (10 for 13 field goals, 6 for 17 free throws), 13 rebounds and four blocked shots. Harden added 24 points and nine assists. Omri Casspi scored 20 points and pulled down a career-high tying 12 rebounds against his former team. Chandler Parsons tallied 19 points, 10 rebounds, and four assists while Jeremy Lin added 13 points and four assists.

"Casspi played very well," said McHale. He had twelve rebounds. He played well for us. We need him. We're down on bodies. Every body that played had to play well and they did."

The Rockets shot 47.8% (43 of 90) from the floor with 29 assists and just 11 team turnovers.

"We had 29 assists tonight," McHale said. "That made a big difference. I thought we had good ball movement. I thought our defense was really, really good tonight."

The Rockets' next two games are a back-to-back, home-and-home match-up with the Memphis Grizzlies. Friday in Houston and Saturday in Memphis.

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