HOUSTON (AP) — Marcus Thornton and Samuel Dalembert scored 21 points apiece, Dalembert and DeMarcus Cousins each grabbed 15 rebounds and the Sacramento Kings hurt Houston’s playoff hopes with a 104-101 win over the Rockets on Tuesday night.
Tyreke Evans scored 18 points and Cousins scored 15 for the Kings.
Kevin Martin scored 30 for the Rockets, who blew a big chance to gain ground on Memphis in the race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West. Houston was three games behind the Grizzlies and New Orleans entering the game, and Memphis lost to the Los Angeles Clippers.
Kyle Lowry had 15 points and nine assists and Luis Scola had 18 points for the Rockets, who had a seven-game home winning streak snapped.
The Kings shot well and led most of the way.
Thornton’s fadeaway jumper with 1:26 remaining put Sacramento up 96-90, and Martin lost the ball on the Rockets’ next possession, their 14th turnover.
The Kings twice fouled Lowry on 3-point tries in the final minute, and Houston’s point guard went 5 of 6 from the free-throw line to give Houston a chance at the end.
But Dalembert made a pair of free throws with 11 seconds to go, grabbed a defensive rebound and made another one with five seconds left to put it out of reach.
Sacramento shot 53 percent (44 of 83) and snapped a four-game losing streak to Houston.
The Rockets led 28-24 after the first quarter, even though the Kings shot 56 percent (10 of 18). Houston shot only 43 percent in the quarter, but took 12 more shots (13 of 30), with the help of six offensive rebounds.
Patrick Patterson converted another offensive rebound into a basket early in the second quarter to keep the Rockets ahead. But the Kings continued to hit shots, and led 48-41 just before the 2-minute mark of the half.
Sacramento made 23 of 43 shots in the first half (23 of 43) and outscored Houston 34-20 in the paint. Cousins already had his 24th double-double of the season at the break, with 13 points and 12 rebounds.
Dalembert scored three baskets inside early in the third quarter to move the Kings out to a nine-point lead. Lowry made his first 3-pointer and Scola scored from the top of the key to pull Houston back within four, and Scola finished a fast break with a layup to cut the deficit to 64-62.
Thornton scored three baskets in a 40-second span as Sacramento pushed the lead to 10. The Rockets rallied again before the end of the quarter, with Lowry capping a 10-2 spurt with a running jump shot.
Houston committed four turnovers in the first five minutes of the fourth and the Kings rebuilt a 10-point lead. The Rockets also missed seven of their first nine shots in the final quarter.
Beno Udrih hit a jumper, then drove for a layup to give Sacramento its biggest lead at 92-80 with six minutes left.
Courtney Lee and Lowry finished a 10-2 Houston run with 3-pointers, cutting the gap to 94-90 at the 2-minute mark. The Rockets had a chance to get closer, but Scola was called for an offensive foul trailing a fast break.
Notes: Cousins has nine double-doubles in his past 19 games. … The Kings won for only the second time in their past nine trips to Houston. … Thornton has scored 20 points or more in 10 of his past 14 games. … Martin has reached 30 points in five of his past 12 games. … The Rockets play the Hornets in New Orleans on Wednesday night.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)