SACRAMENTO, Calif. — DeMarcus Cousins didn’t sugarcoat it: It felt good to get a win. Cousins led all scorers with 29 points and added 15 rebounds as the Sacramento Kings beat the Los Angeles Lakers 108-101 on Sunday at Sleep Train Arena.
“Honestly I don’t even really care how we did it as long as we did it,” Cousins said. “We can correct the other stuff later on, but it just feels good to get a win.”
After parting ways with head coach Mike Malone last Monday, frustration for the Kings mounted as their season-long losing streak reached five games, and it looked like it was going to continue as the Lakers built a 79-63 lead midway through the third quarter.
“I wanted to settle the guys down and make sure that we got something going on offense,” Kings interim head coach Tyrone Corbin said, referring to why he called a timeout at that moment in the game. “(The Lakers) made some shots in that stretch, but I thought that after we got settled down we did a great job on offense.”
The Kings promptly went on a 15-0 run, punctuated by a Ben McLemore fast break dunk. He finished with 23 points and eight rebounds.
“I’ve been feeling great,” McLemore said. “Taking care of my body, getting some extra shots, working on my game and stuff like that. So just going out on the court and just performing.”
The offensive burst gave the Kings the momentum they needed and were able to seize and extend their lead late, thanks to a clutch 3-pointer by forward Rudy Gay in the closing minutes.
Cousins, who recently missed 10 games due to viral meningitis, was the difference-maker in the game.
“He’s such a competitive guy,” Corbin said of Cousins. “He wanted to be out there tonight more than I ever had in my life.”
The game featured a tug of war, as both teams seized momentum several times throughout the contest. The Kings (12-15) jumped out to a 22-12 lead in the opening minutes, shooting 55 percent from the field. The Lakers (8-19), on the other hand, struggled to find a rhythm on offense, making only 39 percent of their shots.
Led by Nick Young, the Los Angeles reserves got the Lakers back into the game. Young paced the bench with 26 points, including four 3-pointers, and helped spearhead a 37-point second quarter.
The Lakers grabbed a 60-52 halftime lead, which grew to 79-63 in the third quarter as Kobe Bryant started making shots.
The game reached a standstill in the fourth quarter, as neither team could establish any sort of rhythm on offense. The Lakers, especially, went ice cold in the final frame, and the Kings put the game out of reach with tough defense and clutch shooting.
“We just stopped running our offense, started standing around,” Lakers head coach Byron Scott said. “And we got so many counters and things, but I don’t know if guys forgot or whatever the case may be. But we just stopped playing, basically.”
Bryant could never quite get going offensively as he finished shooting 8-of-30 from the field. He finished with 25 points, five rebounds, three assists and a game-high nine turnovers.
“Kobe is a great player–he’s a Hall of Fame guy,” Corbin said. “He’s going to take some tough shots, and he’s going to make some tough shots. We wanted to make him work for everything that he got, and I thought that Rudy Gay did a great job on him. … (Kobe) didn’t see a lot of openings and gaps, so it made it hard for him to get everything that he got.”
It seemed as though fatigue settled in for Bryant in the fourth quarter.
“It’s fatigue and just general soreness–you know, joint soreness, body soreness, things like that,” Bryant said.
The Lakers shot 40 percent from 3-point range as they made 10 of 26 attempts.
Rudy Gay added 24 points, six assists and two blocks, and Darren Collison contributed 19 points, three assists and two steals in the winning effort.
The Kings’ next game is Monday against the Golden State Warriors in Oakland.
The Lakers will have a day off then host the Warriors on Tuesday.
NOTES: In the teams’ only prior meeting this season, the Lakers won 98-95 in Los Angeles on Dec. 9. … The Kings wrapped up a stretch in which they played 10 of 11 games at home. They were 3-8 (3-7 at home) over that span after Sunday. … In his previous 15 games against the Kings, Lakers G Kobe Bryant averaged 32.7 points. … Sacramento C DeMarcus Cousins was in his second game back after being sidelined for 10 games due to viral meningitis. … Kings F Omri Casspi (left knee bone contusion) missed his seventh game in a row. … Lakers F Wesley Johnson played despite tweaking an ankle Friday against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
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