NORTH NATOMAS — DeMarcus Cousins returned from a one-game suspension, but the Sacramento Kings still fell victims to the Utah Jazz, losing 108-99 at Sleep Train Arena on March 13 in front of 17, 023 fans.
Cousins, suspended for a verbal tirade of coach George Karl near the end the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on March 9, had 31 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, and two steals in nearly 35 minutes.
Based on his performance, Cousins was ready to play despite sitting out the game against Orlando Magic at home, which was also a 107-100 loss for the Kings.
“I’m here. I’m gonna go out every night and fight for my team,” Cousins said following the game. “I love to play this game. When the ball goes up I’m going to compete.”
The Kings are now 25-40 with 17 games left in the season. The team is 14-19 at home and has lost its last five games. The current six-game losing streak at home is the longest of the season.
The Kings trailed the Jazz (31-37) as much as 25 points before they decided to make a game of it in the fourth quarter. The Jazz burst out to a 21-7 lead in the first quarter and ended up leading 36-18 before the second quarter.
“We came out confident,” said the Jazz’s Trevor Booker, who had 10 points and eight rebounds off the bench. “A big part of it was transition defense. That’s where it started.
Omri Casspi, in a reserve role, was one of two Kings in double-digits with 20 points behind Cousins. Willie Cauley-Stein had 10 points and seven rebounds.
The Jazz are chasing a playoff spot in the Western Conference and are 11-22 on the road this season. Derrick Favors had 28 points and 14 rebounds while Gordon Hayward chipped in 27 points for the Jazz.
Sacramento turned the ball over 12 times, though the Jazz converted those miscues into 22 points. It was also the third time this season the Kings did not have a lead during the game.
“It was a terrible first half and a better second half,” Cousins said. “We got put in a lot of scramble situations in the first half and they outworked us in those situations.”
Cousins and Karl both said they have not said much to each other since the suspension. Cousins was asked if whether or not the call for his removal came for the organization, particularly Vice President of Basketball Operations Vlade Divac.
“That was no suspension from the organization,” Cousins said. “That was one from the head coach. There’s a difference.”
Karl expects to talk to Cousins about the situation, but will not give a play-by-play report. What is needed now for the Kings is unity and a victory, soon.
“The best thing for everybody, for Cousins, for me, the team, is to get a win,” Karl said. “In general I think, professionally, I’ve done my job. There will be an opportunity to talk with Cousins.”
A local article surfaced and mentioning the possibility of trading DeMarcus Cousins after the season ends. The OBSERVER asked Cousins was he concerned with the distraction.
“No, not all all,” Cousins said.
By Antonio R. Harvey
OBSERVER Staff Writer