Cousins scores 21 as Kings rally for 94-93 win over Jazz

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Ty Lawson turned back the clock to his younger, more explosive days and DeMarcus Cousins played the closer role from the free-throw line, helping the Sacramento Kings rally from 20 points down Wednesday night.

Cousins scored 21 points and the Kings beat the Utah Jazz 94-93.

The Kings used an 11-3 run, led by Lawson and five free throws by Cousins, to take a 91-89 lead with 25.9 seconds remaining. It was their first lead since the first quarter.

The Jazz led by 20 in the third quarter, but their defense disappeared in crunch time. Gordon Hayward was isolated against Cousins with 16.6 seconds remaining but missed a short fade-away with 5.9 seconds left that would have tied the game.

Lawson set a season high with 19 points.

“He can do so many things with the ball, to be the smallest guy on the floor and getting in the battle with the trees,” Cousins said. “He does it all for us. The bench and his performance alone tonight they won the game for us. That is plain and simple.”

Hayward led the Jazz with 28 points and 10 rebounds while Rudy Gobert recorded his ninth consecutive double-double with 17 points and 14 rebounds. He and the Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns are tied for the longest active streaks.

“We’ve been down 20 before and we’ve come back to lose by five,” Kings coach Dave Joerger said. “When you are struggling a bit and trying to find yourself, guys stayed with it.”

The Jazz used a 9-0 stretch in the third quarter to take a 62-42 lead but couldn’t hold on in crunch time. A 13-2 Kings run spanning the end of the third and beginning of the fourth quarter cut the lead to five thanks to a barrage of 3-pointers.

“We were rolling,” Hayward said. “Felt like one of those games you kind of just get up 20, push it to 25-30 and cruise to victory. That didn’t happen tonight at all. We let them kind of just chip away, chip away and now you have yourself a ballgame. Couldn’t get stops and should have never been in that situation.

“We’ve done this four or five times already this season. This one finally came back to bite us. You can’t keep blowing 20-point leads and win every single time. This one stings for sure. You can’t relax.”

TIP-INS

Kings: Omri Casspi missed his second consecutive game due to an illness. … Rudy Gay missed his fifth consecutive game with right hip strain.

Jazz: Derrick Favors (knee) returned to the court after sitting out Tuesday as part of his rehab protocol. He remains on a minutes restriction. … Boris Diaw had a season-high eight assists.

INJURIES CONTINUE

The Jazz started their 14th different lineup Wednesday due to another combination of injuries. Shelvin Mack and Joe Ingles started together for the first time with Dante Exum (knee tendinitis) and Rodney Hood (flu-like symptoms) out. George Hill missed his 11th straight game with a sprained big toe.

NO PSYCHOLOGIST

Joerger was asked if he talks to the mercurial Cousins about playing with emotion, but not letting his emotions get the best of him. Cousins received an ejection Tuesday that was reversed, hours after being fined by the Kings for his tirade aimed at a newspaper columnist on Dec. 12.

“I just talk to him,” Joerger said. “I don’t psychoanalyze it.”

QUOTABLE

“It’s really simple,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “If we don’t give up a 32-point fourth quarter defensively, to me, that’s the game.”

UP NEXT

Kings: Sacramento travels to face Towns and the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night.

Jazz: Utah hosts a Toronto Raptors team Friday night that has won 8 of 10 and is 9-3 on the road this season.
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By KAREEM COPELAND
Associated Press