It turns out the Kings never saw the Rockets coming.
Houston (39-18) won for the 10th time in its last 11 games, taking a 42-17 lead after the first quarter and never looking back en route to a 129-103 demolition of the Kings (20-37).
The Rockets held the Kings—who had their modest two-game winning streak snapped—to 19 percent shooting, 4-for-21, in the first period. James Harden, who finished with a season-high 43 points, outscored Sacramento by himself in the first quarter, pouring in 22 points.
It took Houston less than six minutes to push their lead into double digits, taking a 19-8 lead on a 3-pointer by Donatas Motiejunas just 5:51 into the game, and Sacramento never got that close again.
DeMarcus Cousins wasn’t around for the end, picking up two technical fouls in a span of less than two minutes in the third period. He was ejected with 8:21 remaining in the third quarter and left with 16 points and six rebounds in only 20 minutes. Cousins picked up his second technical after he was called for his fifth personal foul and had to be restrained by coaches and teammates as he screamed at official Courtney Kirkland during a timeout.
Cousins now has 15 technicals this season and will be facing an automatic one-game suspension if he received another. The league has had to rescind technicals in each of the last two seasons to prevent Cousins from hitting the threshold of 16 that triggers a suspension.
It was a disastrous night all around for Sacramento, which gave up a season-high 129 points, surpassing their defensive ineptitude in a 125-117 loss at Denver on Jan. 26.
Harden also had eight assists and three steals for the Rockets, while Dwight Howard finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds. Jordan Hamilton chipped in with 12 points, Terrence Jones and Jeremy Lin each had 11 and Chandler Parsons scored 10.
Rudy Gay led the Kings with 25 points and six assists. Cousins had 16 points, Ben McLemore had 15—on 4-of-16 shooting— to go with four steals, Isaiah Thomas was held to 12 points on 4-of-14 accuracy while registering three ssteals and Derrick Williams scored 10 points. Reggie Evans grabbed eight rebounds before fouling out in 24 minutes.
Houston shot a sizzling 41-for-72 (56.9 percent) overall, 11-for-22 (50 percent) from 3-point range and 36-for-42 (85.7 percent) from the free-throw line. Sacramento was 36-for-90 (40 percent), 5-for-18 (27.8 percent) and 26-for-31 (83.9 percent).
The Kings head to L.A. on Friday night for a meeting with the Lakers. Sacramento is 0-2 against the Lake Show this season, including a 100-86 loss in their last trip to the Staples Center on Nov. 24.