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Scola key at end as Rockets hold on against Kings

HOUSTON -- The Houston Rockets kept their record clean in second games of back-to-backs. Still, it almost got a little messy in the fourth quarter.

After leading by 15 points in the second quarter and holding a 59-52 halftime edge, the Rockets needed 22 points from Luis Scola and some defense down the stretch to beat the Sacramento Kings 113-106 on Saturday night.

"It was a really hard and long week," Scola said. "We had some good and bad moments. We fought, we played hard. We can't always win pretty but tonight was a huge win for us. We needed a win."

The Rockets moved to 4-0 this season in second games of back-to-backs.

Kyle Lowry had eight assists and hit four straight free throws to ice it.

"We couldn't get it going until the last couple of minutes," Lowry said. "Me and Scola both hit some open jump shots. We finished the game strong. It took us a while to get going. The last time we played them we played sluggish and let them control the game."

The Kings played without rookie Tyreke Evans, who sprained a finger on his right hand diving for a ball Friday night in a 104-102 loss to Dallas He scored 29 points against the Mavericks and is averaging 18.2 points this season.

The Kings had six players in double figures, led by Spencer Hawes with 24 points and Beno Udrih with 18. The Rockets had five players in double figures. Trevor Ariza added 19 for the Rockets.

"I like the spirit and the effort on this team," Kings coach Paul Westphal said. "Everyone should be pleased with the way we're playing. I like the way we compete every night. I'm sorry we couldn't cash in on the effort. This team has heart but we haven't learned how to win."

With the score tied 101-all, Scola scored a go-ahead basket with 3:41 to play. He followed with two rebounds that helped the Rockets stay ahead.

The Rockets led by 59-52 to start the third quarter but the Kings came out shooting 3-pointers, two to start the period by Donte Greene.

Sacramento used an 11-0 spurt midway in the third quarter to take its first lead of the game, 71-69 on a basket by Omri Casspi with 5:40 left in the period.

"You don't give out consolation prizes but all we want are notches in the win column," Hawes said. "They executed better than we did at the end. A lot of guys stepped up tonight but we fell short."

Scola took charge from the beginning, leading the Rockets' hot start with 14 points on 6-for-10 shooting in the period. The Rockets shot 65 percent from the field in the opening period and had their biggest lead at 33-24 to end the period.

The Rockets lost to the Dallas Mavericks in the final second on Friday night.

"That's the good thing about the NBA," Ariza said. "You get a tough loss the night before and you get an opportunity to come back the next night and change the outcome. Once we lost that one, we kind of forgot about it, got on the plane and got here and we got some good rest. We game back and got a win today."

Game notes
The Rockets lost to the Kings 109-100 on Nov. 13 despite having three players in double figures, Trevor Ariza (28), Shane Battier (23) and Luis Scola (20). ... The Rockets had a three-game winning streak early in the season but since then they haven't won more than one in a row. ... Houston has won the last five games against Sacramento in Houston. ... The Kings have scored 100 points in seven of their last eight games. ... Rockets coach Rick Adelman is the winningest coach in Kings history (395-229).