HOUSTON (AP) — Dwight Howard didn't think he was aggressive enough in Houston's two losses to Sacramento this season and vowed to attack from the beginning when the Rockets faced the Kings on Wednesday night.
Howard's plan worked. He had 17 points and 10 rebounds by halftime on the way to a 26-point night to help the Rockets cruise to their third straight win, a 119-98 victory over the Kings.
Howard also had 13 rebounds and four blocks and James Harden added 24 points and nine assists before the pair went to the bench for the fourth quarter.
"The last couple of games against those guys, I didn't come out aggressive like I needed to on both ends of the floor," Howard said. "I've been looking at some film and I wanted to get off to a better start. It's not just about scoring. It's defense and things like that."
The Rockets took the lead midway through the first quarter and didn't trail again. The Kings struggled after losing top scorers Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins to injuries before halftime.
Gay, who tied a career high with 41 points on Tuesday night, injured his left Achilles tendon in the first quarter and Cousins sprained his left ankle in the second.
Sacramento coach Mike Malone didn't have any more information on the injuries after the game and said that they'd know more on Thursday.
"It was a big loss to lose both of those guys in the first half," Malone said. "Unfortunately, those other guys that were able to play didn't respond. We got our (tails) kicked tonight and we're a no-excuse team ... so the fact that we guarded no one tonight has nothing to do with them not being able to play in the second half."
Derrick Williams scored 22 points with 11 rebounds and Isaiah Thomas added 20 points for the Kings.
Houston led by 15 points entering the fourth quarter and padded its lead with Harden and Howard relaxing on the bench in their warm-up shirts.
They used a 15-3 spurt in the first 4½ minutes of the fourth to make it 103-76. Sacramento missed eight shots, including three layups in that span, and its only points came on free throws by Williams.
The Rockets were up by nine points early in the third quarter before scoring 10 straight points to stretch their advantage to 65-46. Chandler Parsons and Patrick Beverley both had 3-pointers in that stretch.