DeMarcus Cousins’ Takeover Mode. We’ve seen it at times throughout the season with mixed results. You can certainly make the argument that when Cousins tries to do too much, it hurts the team. But on Sunday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Kings and their fans gladly took the good with the bad. DMC (37 MIN, 35 PTS, 13-21 FG, 9-13 FT, 15 REB, 6 AST, 1 STL, 3 BLK, 6 TO) was the driving force behind a 106-103 victory for the Kings.
Cousins was as active as he’s been all year and literally did everything on the court. He ran point, blocked shots, popped jumpers, whipped crazy passes, drove the lane, ripped rebounds…it was his night. It reached its peak in the third quarter when Cousins was everywhere on the floor and turned the tide in a close game. His energy, while sometimes misplaced, was contagious and Cousins’ teammates rallied around him to build a lead of their own.
It seemed destined for a happy ending until a wild scrum under the Kings basket with 1:13 left in the game. With bodies everywhere and Cousins on the floor fighting for a loose ball, Travis Outlaw was whistled for a foul on Kevin Love.
The emotion of the moment got the best of Cousins. While walking away from the official, he yelled an expletive and waved his hand at the call. The referee called DMC for a technical foul, his 16th of the year which results in an automatic one-game suspension. That would take him out of Wednesday’s finale against the Phoenix Suns.
Cousins was absolutely distraught at the call. The emotional center has worked hard to keep his cool and has played nearly two months without picking up that 16th tech. He appeared on the verge of tears and really had to work hard to pull it together.
Unsurprisingly on this night, Cousins took out some of his anger on the T-Wolves, ripping a baseline dunk with 24 seconds left to push the Kings lead to four. If this is in fact Cousins’ last game of the year, he made sure it resulted in a Sacramento victory.
Aside from Cousins, it was an impressive night from Ben McLemore (39 MIN, 19 PTS, 6-11 FG, 3-6 3FG, 4-5 FT, 3 REB, 2 AST, 2 BLK, 1 TO). The rookie continued his strong finish to the season by showcasing some rarely-seen talents. He held a rusty Kevin Martin in check, showed off his insane athleticism with some terrific blocks at the rim, got his feet set on some pretty long balls and even busted out a clever, aggressive post move. If anything can be taken away from the Kings poor finish, it’s the improved play of McLemore, who is making sure he remains a prominent piece of the Kings future.
Isaiah Thomas (30 MIN, 14 PTS, 6-13 FG, 3 REB, 4 AST, 2 TO) returned from a nine-game absence and was inserted into the starting lineup. His presence was felt immediately, as he sparked the Kings offense in the early-going and reminded fans what they’ve been missing with him in street clothes. He formed a great pairing with Ray McCallum, and the two shared the court at times. Aside from Isaiah’s conditioning, it was a seamless transition. McCallum (28 MIN, 11 PTS, 5-9 FG, 3 REB, 6 AST, 1 BLK, 1 TO) came through down the stretch with back-to-back jumpers from opposite wings to keep the Kings ahead.
With the victory, the Kings matched last season’s win total, moving to 28-53 with one game remaining. Barring an unexpected rescinding of the technical, the team will face the playoff-hopeful Suns without Cousins on Wednesday night.