SACRAMENTO -- Raw emotion. Love him or hate him, DeMarcus Cousins lives in the moment, even when it’s to his own detriment.
The Sacramento Kings’ star center gave everyone a look into his world Tuesday evening as his team snapped a seven-game losing streak to the Portland Trail Blazers, coming away with a dramatic 126-121 victory at Golden 1 Center.
On the floor, Cousins was otherworldly, scoring 55 points on 17-of-28 from the field, 16-of-17 from the line and 5-for-8 from behind the arc. He threw in 13 rebounds and three huge blocks in 41 minutes of action. Portland threw everything they had at the 26-year-old center and still couldn’t stop him.
But the numbers don’t tell the whole story for Cousins.
There was the bizarre ejection, followed by an instant technical recension. There was a run out from the locker room to a crowd going bonkers, a postgame rant on the floor and then an even stranger locker room interview where the impulsive big opened with, “Hi friends!”
The Sacramento Kings have long been stranger than fiction, but Tuesday night may have been the wildest sequence of events in recent memory.
“You know, kind of a crazy game,” Dave Joerger opened his postgame press conference.
He didn’t need to say any more. It was a barnburner that featured incredible offense, porous defense, technical fouls, flying mouthpieces and a whole lot more.
The drama is only magnified by the fact that with the win, Sacramento tied the Trail Blazers in the loss column and now sit just a game outside of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Boy don’t they wish they had that Dallas game back.
In the final minute of the game, Cousins found himself in hot water for what seems like the millionth time this season. After scoring a late basket over Mason Plumlee, Cousins’ mouthpiece flew out of his mouth near the Trail Blazers bench and he was ejected from the game for garnering his second technical foul.
Cousins quickly ran off the court and into the locker room, only to have the technical rescinded. PA announcer Scott Moak had the call of the night, when he announced over the soundsystem, “Someone go get DeMarcus Cousins!”
“I just saw the mouthpiece fly,” veteran Anthony Tolliver said. “I assumed he wouldn’t throw his mouthpiece. I think the referee heard the bench say that he threw it and reacted quickly and called a technical, but then got more information and found out it flew out of his mouth. At the end of the day, they got it right, I believe. He was able to come back and help us finish it.”
Cousins returned to the court to an overwhelming ovation from the crowd at Golden 1 Center. He knocked down the free throw to give Sacramento a three-point lead. On the other end of the court, he came away with a huge block on Damian Lillard and the Kings were able to salt away the game at the line.
Cousins wasn’t the only one to come up big for Sacramento. Tolliver, Ty Lawson, Arron Afflalo, Garrett Temple and Willie Cauley-Stein all played huge minutes off the Kings’ bench, outscoring their counterparts 49-23.
“Our guys stuck together, it was a good team win,” Joerger said following the game. “Different guys stayed ready. Ty Lawson was fantastic. Arron Afflalo has had a couple games where he hasn’t played a lot, and he stepped out and did a nice job. Guys stayed together. If you are going to win at any level, it’s going to be different guys on different nights. You have to cheer for those guys because it might not be your night, next night might be yours, and if everyone is pulling in the same direction then we can do something.”
Lawson put on a show against the powerhouse backcourt of Lillard and C.J. McCollum, finishing with 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting. He added eight assists and three rebounds, but maybe more importantly, he made adjustments on defense that helped slow the Blazers star players.
Afflalo and Tolliver have been the odd men out on plenty of nights this season, but with Rudy Gay (hip flexor) and Omri Casspi (illness) sidelined, the duo got an opportunity to shine. Afflalo went into the post and scored 11 points over Portland’s backcourt. Tolliver got it going from long range, hitting 3-of-4 from downtown on his way to 11 points.
Cauley-Stein added six points on a perfect 3-of-3 from the field in six minutes of action.