Kings rally to squeak past Timberwolves
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Barring a change of heart from the league offices, Sacramento center DeMarcus Cousins has played his last game of the season.
He definitely went out with a bang.
Cousins recorded his eighth straight double-double with 35 points and 15 rebounds but picked up his 16th technical foul of the season late in the fourth quarter of the Kings’ 106-103 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday night.
By NBA rules, Cousins must sit out Sacramento’s final regular season game at home against Phoenix on Wednesday.
"I’m not going to talk about it," said Cousins, who had sat for several minutes in front of his locker with his head hung low.
Kings coach Mike Malone was willing to discuss it and said the team might contact the NBA to get the technical removed, citing Cousins’ most recent behavior. The technical was his first since Feb. 25 and ended the longest stretch of his career without one.
"I feel for him," Malone said. "He has made a concerted effort to handle his emotions and not get that last tech. We’ll try to do whatever we can to get that rescinded but it’s disappointing because I know it meant a lot to him."
The Kings trailed by 11 in the third quarter and were down 82-81 before going on an 11-2 run to go in front for good. Cousins started the surge with a thunderous dunk and McCallum followed with consecutive 3-pointers, one from the left corner and the other from the right.
The Timberwolves pulled to 100-98 with 1:13 left to play on three free throws by Kevin Love after Cousins was charged with the technical foul. Cousins then drove the baseline and dunked with 24.2 seconds remaining, helping Sacramento end a five-game losing streak while evening the season series with Minnesota.
"We’re still a team trying to grow and find ourselves," said Cousins, breaking his silence. "I think we took steps forward today. We’ve been in those situations a couple times this season. Sometimes it went well, sometimes it didn’t. We did a pretty good job tonight of handling the situation and overcoming adversity."
J.J. Barea missed a 3-pointer and Love was off on a 16-foot jumper in the final 20 seconds for the Wolves.
Love had 43 points and 11 rebounds for Minnesota after sitting out Friday’s 112-110 win over Houston because of a hyperextended right elbow.
"Our defense just wasn’t good enough in the second half," Love said. "Offensively we were fine, but they kind of went on a run and never looked back."
The Timberwolves lost after leading 62-51 with eight minutes left in the third in what might have been former Kings coach Rick Adelman’s final appearance at Sleep Train Arena. The 67-year-old Minnesota coach remains a beloved figure in the state’s capital, having guided the Kings from 1998-2006. Sacramento made the playoffs in each of his eight seasons and haven’t been back since.
Adelman clearly has fond memories of those glory days in Sacramento and he’s been back numerous times as a visiting coach as well.
This game, however, might hold special significance since it might be Adelman’s last. He has taken time away from coaching each of the past two years to take care of his wife, Mary Kay, who has had health problems. Speculation around the NBA now is that Adelman will step away for good at the end of the season.
"I’ve always said that the eight years here were a tremendous experience," Adelman said. "We had a lot of fun, we had really good team and the fans during that run were terrific."
Minnesota trailed by 11 early before going on a 12-0 run in the second quarter capped by Dante Cunningham’s three-point play that put the Wolves up 40-32.
Love finished the half with 13 points, including two free throws to give Minnesota a 52-47 halftime lead.
The Timberwolves extended their lead to 62-51 with 8:03 left in the third, then Sacramento went on its big run.
Notes: Kings F Rudy Gay (lower back strain) sat out for the third time in four games. . . . Cousins moved past Vlade Divac for eighth on Sacramento’s career scoring list.