NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- When Sacramento coach Michael Malone was ejected in the second quarter, DeMarcus Cousins helped steady the Kings.
Cousins had 22 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and three steals, leading Sacramento to a 99-89 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday night.
Omri Casspi also scored 22 for Sacramento, which has won three in a row. Casspi, who made his first start of the season in place of the injured Rudy Gay, was with New Orleans for a brief stretch this offseason before being released in a salary-cap move.
Malone was tossed after coming to mid-court to argue with official Eric Lewis.
"We had a little adversity at halftime with the whole coach situation, got a couple of calls that didn't go our way. It would have easily went their way with the momentum," Cousins said. "So I just tried to come out and be aggressive, hit them in the mouth early and get our team rolling."
Malone said he wasn't trying to get thrown out, adding that his assistants did a good job of getting the Kings (9-5) through the second half. He also praised Cousins for his work.
Casspi scored nine straight points after the Pelicans (7-6) tied it at 57. He was 9 for 14 from the field and 3 for 4 at the line.
"I'm not trying to be someone that I'm not," Casspi said. "We played good offensively. We ran the floor."
New Orleans forward Anthony Davis was held to 14 points after he scored 28 in a victory over the Kings last Tuesday. He also had nine rebounds and blocked two shots.
Davis had 12 shots for his lowest total since taking 13 on Nov. 14. Tyreke Evans, meanwhile, scored 22 points on 17 shots.
"We have to understand that Anthony is our best player and he has to get more opportunities to help us be a good team," New Orleans coach Monty Williams said.
The Kings played without Gay, who was sidelined by a right Achilles tendon injury, and Darren Collison, who sat out with a left quadriceps issue. The two have combined to average 37 points and 10 assists per game.
Playing in place of Collison, Ramon Sessions had 15 points and six assists.
The Kings still played great defense, holding New Orleans to 41.8 percent shooting. The Pelicans also turned the ball over 11 times, which Sacramento turned into 17 points.
Evans also had seven rebounds and five assists for New Orleans, which was 3 for 17 from 3-point range. Reserve Ryan Anderson had 20 points.
Cousins said the Kings learned from mistakes that cost Sacramento a win against New Orleans previously.
"They had two specific plays at the end of the game that killed us and I think we did a great job of defending that this time around," he said.