Kings

Cousins benched in fourth quarter over 'coach's decision' in Pelicans win

Cousins benched in fourth quarter over 'coach's decision' in Pelicans win

BOX SCORE

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Anthony Davis didn't seem fazed that fellow All-Star DeMarcus Cousins was sitting on the bench during crunch time.

Instead, he just took over.

Davis scored 46 points and grabbed 21 rebounds Saturday night, leading the New Orleans Pelicans to a 125-122 victory in overtime against the Charlotte Hornets. He had 15 points in the fourth quarter and nine more in overtime, including a three-point play on an offensive rebound to put the Pelicans ahead for good with 1:11 left in the extra period.

The Pelicans won despite Cousins not returning to the court after picking up his fifth foul with 9 1/2 minutes left in the fourth quarter.

Cousins declined interviews after the game.

"It's Coach's decision," Davis said. "All that matters is that we won. All that other stuff, it doesn't matter. No one cares about that. We're just trying to get wins. Whatever it takes."

When asked about pairing Cousins with Davis on the floor, Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said: "What we need is time to make it work."

New Orleans had hoped to make up ground in the Western Conference standings, but came in just 2-6 since acquiring Cousins in a blockbuster All-Star weekend trade with the Sacramento Kings.

Cousins seemed frustrated most of the night grappling with scrappy Hornets center Cody Zeller, who dunked over Cousins on a fastbreak after Cousins turned the ball over in the front court on a bad pass.

Cousins picked up his third foul with 4 1/2 minutes to go in the second quarter, forcing him to the bench. He got his fifth when he appeared to lose his cool early in the fourth quarter when he blatantly threw his elbow at Zeller and was called for an offensive foul.

With Cousins out, Davis went on a tear.

He made three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and finished 18 of 31 from the field, including 4 of 5 from beyond the arc.

"The movement that he had and the spacing he created I thought was the way he got most of his shots," Gentry said of Davis. "He was very good creating and going quickly and not giving them an opportunity to double him. When he does that and he gets into space and he's feeling good about his shot and what he's doing, he's very difficult to guard."

After a turnover by Charlotte's Nic Batum and a missed 3-pointer, Davis drove the lane and made a floater to put the Pelicans up by 5 with 20 seconds left in overtime. Batum scored on a layup to cut the lead to 123-120, but Holiday added two free throws and it appeared the game was over.

But after a layup by Marco Belinelli, Holiday was called for traveling in the backcourt with 1.8 seconds left giving the Hornets a chance to send the game into double overtime. However, Walker's long 3-point attempt was off the mark at the buzzer.

The Hornets had a chance to win at the end of regulation after Davis missed a baseline jumper with 8 seconds left.

TIP INS

Pelicans: Jordan Crawford had 19 points and Holiday added 15 points and 13 assists. ... Davis started despite injuring his wrist in Wednesday night's 94-87 loss to the Toronto Raptors.

Hornets: Attempted 46 3-point shots, making just 13.

ZELLER: COUSINS A TOUGH COVER

Zeller had nothing but positive things to say about Cousins after the game.

"He's such a talented player that you just try to make it tough on him, try to take away all of his easy ones, keep him off the free throw line, the offensive glass," said Zeller, who limited Cousins to 11 points on 4-of-11 shooting.

WILLIAMS BIG NIGHT

The Pelicans' win offset an impressive night from Marvin Williams, who had a season-high 27 points to go along with 10 rebounds for Charlotte. Kemba Walker had 24 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds and Batum also scored 24 points.

"He's been huge for us all season, especially how he organizes us on defense and stuff that fans that don't necessarily notice," Zeller said.

UP NEXT

Pelicans: Return home to host Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday night.

Hornets: Play at home Monday night against the Chicago Bulls, a team they are chasing for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Kings adamantly disagree with perplexing foul call at end of loss to Rockets

Kings adamantly disagree with perplexing foul call at end of loss to Rockets

SACRAMENTO -- Every time the Houston Rockets tried to pull away, the Sacramento Kings answered Wednesday night in the team’s home opener. It was a heavyweight contender throwing body blows at a 100-to-1 underdog riding a huge home crowd advantage.

And then the ref called the fight.

With the Kings trailing 98-95 with 26 seconds remaining, the Rockets attempted to inbounds the ball and George Hill made a play. From the video replay, it appeared that the ball tipped off the fingertips of Houston's Eric Gordon and the nearest official called Kings ball.

Hill and teammate Garrett Temple celebrated the turnover and the sold out crowd went crazy.

The play went under review and not only was the call overturned, but Hill was assessed a personal foul. Gordon went to the line and hit two freebies to give the Rockets a 100-95 lead and effectively ended Sacramento’s chances.

In the confusion of the moment, it turns out that an official on the opposite side of the court called a personal foul and the replay wasn’t to check on possession, but to determine which Kings player would be assessed a personal foul.  

The Kings can’t call shenanigans on the officials, the league has stiff penalties for that. But they seemed just as confused as everyone else in the building when asked about the call during postgame interviews.

“I could have swore that the refs pointed out of bounds, our ball, but they said they called a foul, so it is, what it is,” Hill said following the game.

Hill avoided digging himself a hole with the league and a potential fine as reporters tried to dig deeper. 

Head coach Dave Joerger gave an account of what the officials said following the call, but he too seemed perplexed by the play.

“That was a foul,” Joerger said of what the officials told him on the sidelines. “I adamantly disagreed. They said they called it at the time, which I didn’t see. So that was more my argument than whether it was a foul or not.”

Sacramento continued to compete in the final seconds, but they were forced to foul intentionally down the stretch and the Rockets were able to hold them at bay to come away with the 105-100 victory.

Gameday: Can Kings slow down Rockets from beyond the arc?

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AP

Gameday: Can Kings slow down Rockets from beyond the arc?

Sacramento rebooted the franchise at the trade deadline last season and begin anew this season with veteran additions Vince Carter, George Hill and Zach Randolph to compliment a bevy of young players. 

Houston reloaded in the offseason, adding nine-time All-Star Chris Paul and a veteran defenders P.J. Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute. They put on a show against the Warriors and look like one of the best the Western Conference has to offer once again. 

BETTING LINE 

Rockets by 8

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Kings defense vs. The 3-pointer -- Houston launched an incredible 180 3-point attempts versus Sacramento last season, hitting a robust 75 (41.7 percent) of those shots. It’s a new-look roster for the Kings, but they’ve had very little time to develop defensive chemistry. Dave Joerger and his staff will game plan to slow the Rockets perimeter game, but Mike D’Antoni has a deep group that comes at you in waves.

WHERE THEY STAND 

Kings: 0-0

Rockets: 1-0

INJURY REPORT 

Kings: SG Bogdan Bogdanovic (right ankle sprain) out, PF Zach Randolph (tooth) out

Rockets: PG Chris Paul (bruised right knee) questionable

SERIES HISTORY 

The Rockets swept the Kings last season 4-0, including a 135-128 victory in the final week of the season. Houston leads the all-time series 124-88 and they hold an 83-42 advantage during the Sacramento-era. 

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

THE ROOKIES - The Kings walk into the 2017-18 campaign with five rookies on the roster, four of which should see time early in the season. De’Aaron Fox is the headliner, but don’t be shocked if Justin Jackson, Frank Mason and Bogdan Bogdanovic play important roles on this team.

ROTATIONS - With 10 new faces on the roster, Joerger needed more than an abbreviated training camp and six preseason contests. Expect the coaching staff to try different looks throughout the first 20 games of the season as they search for answers.

BALANCING THE ROSTER - Joerger has five veterans and 10 players with two years of experience or less. If he goes with the vets, fans will call for the rookies. If he plays the rookies and the losses stack up, fans will call for his head. It’s an unenviable position that will require patience and a little faith.

QUOTE

“I’m expecting a high-paced game. I feel like our fans are going to come out, they’re going to give us a lot of energy, playing a team as good as Houston is.” -De’Aaron Fox