Cousins leads Kings past Jazz 112-102 in OT

Sacramento blew a big lead in the fourth quarter and the Kings’

began to show that look of defeat.

”You saw it on everybody’s face. It was like `Here we go

again,”’ Isaiah Thomas said. ”But I just told guys, `Let’s just

stick together. Win or lose, let’s stick together this time.”’

Thomas noticed his teammates started keeping their heads up. He

saw something different in their eyes.

”We stayed together and fought hard. We fought until the end,”

said Thomas, who scored 23 of his 26 points after halftime to help

the Kings snap a six-game skid with a 112-102 overtime victory

against the Utah Jazz on Saturday night.

”I just wanted to be aggressive and make some plays. I saw some

openings and took what the defense gave to try and get myself

going. That set up everything else,” Thomas said.

After early foul trouble, DeMarcus Cousins finished with 28

points, dominating the paint in overtime.

”We stayed poised. Usually when we get in those situations, we

kind of get in a panic mode and make the situation worse,” Cousins

said.

Trey Burke gave the Jazz their final lead at 102-101 with a

3-pointer, but the Kings scored the final 11 points of overtime.

Burke finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds.

Thomas clinched it when he stole the ball from Alec Burks and

got a return pass from Cousins for a layup to give the Kings a

110-102 lead with 57 seconds left.

”It was a big play. I didn’t think Burks was going to pass it,

so I helped more than I usually would,” Thomas said. ”I got my

hands on it and then DeMarcus made a good play by throwing the ball

ahead.”

Kings guard Ben McLemore made a 3-pointer with 3.2 seconds left

in regulation to tie the game at 97-97.

”Isaiah was telling me after the huddle that I was going to hit

a big shot,” McLemore said. ”And I thought I was going to make it

even though I had missed a couple of 3s earlier.”

Thomas added, ”He knocked down the biggest shot of his NBA

career so far.”

Gordon Hayward had 22 points for Utah, but didn’t score in

overtime. The Jazz were missing injured starters Derrick Favors and

Marvin Williams.

Thomas made two free throws to cut the Jazz lead to 93-92 with

37.9 seconds remaining. Burke and Burks each converted two free

throws apiece in the final 18.2 seconds around Cousin’s inside shot

before McLemore hit his big 3.

”We’ve been waiting on one of those from Ben,” Cousins

said.

Burke’s runner at the regulation buzzer bounced off the back of

the iron.

Burke scored five points to spark a 16-0 Jazz run in the fourth

quarter that erased Sacramento’s nine-point lead. Hayward capped

the run with back-to-back jumpers and a free throw to make it 91-84

with 2:59 to play.

”It hurts. We had the game,” Hayward said.

The Jazz and the Kings entered the night tied with Milwaukee for

the fewest wins (4) in the NBA. Four of the defeats in the Kings

six-game skid were by a combined 11 points and they looked ready to

turn a corner. McLemore followed his career-high 20 points in Los

Angeles with 15 points and nine rebounds against the Jazz.

All the losing precipitated an impromptu team meeting at a Salt

Lake City hotel Saturday morning. Sacramento coach Mike Malone

asked his players for input on how they could change course.

”I said we need to be tougher to guard,” Thomas said.

”Everybody spoke on it and Coach accepted it. And it worked. We

ran a couple different plays to get DeMarcus the ball and it opened

the floor.”

Cousins overcame early foul trouble and was extremely efficient

in 28 minutes, going 10 of 15 from the field. Favors, a potential

foil for Cousins who had started all 21 games this season for the

Jazz, sat out with a sore lower back.

”We got their bigs in foul trouble. We caught a little bit of a

break with Favors not being healthy, so we wanted to establish

DeMarcus in the post, feed off of him,” Malone said.

NOTES: Cousins committed two fouls in the first minute of the

game and Utah’s Mike Harris had five fouls before halftime. Harris

and Jeremy Evans both fouled out in regulation and Enes Kanter

fouled out in overtime. … In the first quarter, the Kings twice

intentionally fouled Andris Biedrins, a career 50 percent free

throw shooter. Biedrins made 1 of 6 from the line. … Cousins lost

his trademark headband late in the fourth quarter on a hard foul by

Kanter.