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Amid coaching rumors, Kings top Suns at buzzer

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — If this really proves to be Tyrone Corbin’s final game as the Sacramento Kings’ head coach, he exited with some luck on his side.

As for the Phoenix Suns, they can’t seem to escape the buzzard’s luck that haunts them at the final buzzer.

So it went Sunday, when Kings center DeMarcus Cousins capped a 28-point, 12-rebound night by making a jumper from just inside the top of the key at the buzzer, lifting Sacramento to an 85-83 victory over the Suns at Sleep Train Arena.

“We needed it bad,” Cousins said. “We’ve been through a lot.”

The Kings, who have not won consecutive games since a three-game roll from Nov. 20-25, snapped a six-game home losing streak, their longest in seven seasons. They also won for just the second time in 13 games overall, despite playing without injured forward Rudy Gay (sore ankle) and guard Darren Collison (hip flexor strain).

Whether they won for the final time with Corbin walking the sideline remains to be determined officially. The Kings played amid reports that they are in discussions with George Karl to become their next head coach.

Karl, 63, coached 25 seasons in the NBA. He led the Denver Nuggets to a 57-25 mark in 2012-13, his last season on the bench. USA Today reported Sunday that one of the obstacles to such a decision is whether Cousins and his camp are on board.

“I just got a question for y’all,” Cousins said, chiding reporters about the gossip. “How you gonna stop God’s plan. This city done put me through so much, and I stayed loyal to it the whole time. … God gave his hardest battles to the strongest souls. The marathon continues.”

Cousins’ game-winner gave Corbin his seventh win in 26 contests coaching Sacramento. The Kings hired him on an interim basis after firing coach Michael Malone on Dec. 15 after an 11-13 start, then announced two weeks later that Corbin would finish the season.

The Kings’ next game is Tuesday against the Bulls in Chicago.

“Who knows what’ll happen,” Corbin said. “For the guys to win tonight under these conditions, with everything that’s going on, it’s good for them.”

Cousins’ shot hit the back iron, then bounced three more times on the rim before falling through. It was a familiar sight for the Suns, who lost at the buzzer for the fifth time this season.

This one came after they erased 73-59 deficit entering the final quarter and took an 83-81 lead on forward Markieff Morris’ short jumper with 1:21 left.

“Those hurt,” Suns guard Isaiah Thomas said of the tight defeats. “We fought back. We didn’t play a good game, but we fought back and gave ourselves a chance to win, and (Cousins) made a good, crazy shot.”

Thomas, who scored 12 of his team-high 26 points in the fourth quarter, is averaging 15.3 points per contest against his former team.

The Suns (29-24) also were short-handed. Guard Eric Bledsoe, Phoenix’s leading scorer (16.9 points per game) and passer (5.9 assists per game), missed the game to attend the birth of his child. Center Alex Len sat out his second straight contest with a sprained ankle.

Without them, the Suns were held to a season-low scoring output while shooting just 36.3 percent from the field. Guard Goran Dragic scored 13 points for Phoenix, but twin forwards Markieff Morris and Marcus Morris combined for only 13 points on 5-for-28 shooting.

After Cousins’ layup amid a crowd tied the game 83-83, Morris missed a 10-foot jumper, and Phoenix center Miles Plumlee missed two putback attempts. That set the stage for Cousins, who hit his final shot over Markieff Morris’ outstretched arms.

NOTES: Playing without F Rudy Gay (foot) and G Darren Collison (hip) cost the Kings an average of 31.7 points per game. Collison scored in double figures in 22 straight games before sustaining his injury against the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday. Gay was 3-for-21 shooting in his past two contests. … Without G Eric Bledsoe (expectant father) and C Alex Len (ankle), the Suns were missing a combined 24.2 points and 11.1 rebounds per game. Bledsoe was 8-for-13 from 3-point range in his previous five contests. … Kings C DeMarcus Cousins, who totaled 59 technical fouls in his first four seasons, picked up his sixth late in the first half. Cousins, who never has finished with fewer than 14 technical fouls, was five behind Suns F Markieff Morris, Los Angeles Clippers F Matt Barnes and Oklahoma Thunder G Russell Westbrook, all of whom were tied for the NBA lead before Sunday. … Phoenix, which is 15-6 against the Eastern Conference, closes out the first half Tuesday at home against the Houston Rockets, then plays six of its first nine after the break against Eastern Conference foes.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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