SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Center Zaza Pachulia knocked down one of two free throws with 6.5 seconds left, lifting the Milwaukee Bucks to a 108-107 victory over Sacramento and spoiling the return of center DeMarcus Cousins to the Kings’ lineup Thursday at Sleep Train Arena.
Pachulia grabbed the offensive rebound on guard Jerryd Bayless’ missed 3-pointer, and he was fouled by Cousins. He hit the first of his free throws.
After a timeout, Cousins’ step-back jumper from 20 feet at the right wing clanked off the front rim.
Cousins finished with a game-high 27 points in his first action since Nov. 26 at Houston. He played 33 minutes, made his first four shots and finished 8-for-12 from the field with 11 rebounds and five assists.
However, Cousins and his teammates couldn’t overcome Milwaukee’s hot shooting. The Bucks made 13 of 23 3-pointers after entering the contest averaging only 6.4 made threes per game, the fifth-worst average in the NBA.
Guard Brandon Knight scored 20 points to lead the Bucks. Guard O.J. Mayo and forward Jared Dudley each added 19, and the Bucks (14-13) won for the first time since losing rookie forward Jabari Parker to a season-ending knee injury.
Parker, the top pick in June’s NBA draft, tore his left anterior cruciate ligament in the Bucks’ loss at Phoenix on Tuesday. Without him at Portland, the Blazers lost 104-97 on Wednesday. Parker started Milwaukee’s first 25 games, and the Bucks won 13 of them, only two shy of their win total for the entire 2013-14 season.
Forward Rudy Gay had 20 points and nine rebounds for Sacramento (11-15), which lost a season-high fifth game in a row. Kings guard Ben McLemore had 22 points on 8-for-10 shooting.
Tyrone Corbin coached his second game since being appointed the interim replacement for Michael Malone, whom the Kings fired on Sunday. The coaching move was supposed to mark a change from a defensive emphasis to a high-octane strategy.
However, Sacramento managed just six points on the fastbreak. On the other end, Milwaukee saw plenty of wide-open shots, especially from the outside. The Bucks made 10 of their first 13 3-pointers, shot 52 percent from the field overall and scored at least 100 points for the 10th time in their past 12 games.
NOTES: The 10-game absence by Kings C DeMarcus Cousins (viral meningitis) marked the longest of his career. The Kings went 2-8 without him and averaged 98.3 points while giving up an average of 103.4. … Bucks rookie F Jabari Parker, the second overall pick in June’s NBA draft who is now out for the season with a knee injury, was averaging 12.3 points and 5.5 rebounds, second and third, respectively, among the NBA’s rookies. … Milwaukee also played without F Ersan Ilyasova (nasal fracture). … Kings F Omri Casspi (left knee bone contusion) missed his sixth consecutive game. … Sacramento committed 21 turnovers, the sixth game in a row and 11th in 12 that it gave the ball away at least 15 times. The Kings are 5-2 when turning over the ball fewer than 15 times, 6-13 otherwise.
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