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