The Sacramento Kings (11-15) lost their fifth game in a row, but they had reason to celebrate. DeMarcus Cousins returned from a serious illness to make his first appearance in 11 contests as the home team fell the Milwaukee Bucks (14-13), 108-107.
Cousins, who was diagnosed with viral meningitis, had a bounce to his step as he finished with 27 points on 8-of-12 shooting, 11 rebounds and five assists. The center did lose six turnovers, but he was a large reason why the Kings outscored the Bucks 48 to 26 in the paint.
“Well he looked good, and he actually wanted to play more,” Tyrone Corbin told the media after the loss. “I had to take him out a couple times early to try and get him some wind, and I wanted to take him out in the fourth to be able to finish with him. He wasn’t as strong, (but) he’s a competitor. He did a great job trying to will us to a win.”
Cousins missed the potential game-winning jumper with Zaza Pachulia in his face as time expired.
Not that the Kings should have let the game come so close. The Bucks saw open look after look from 3. They shot 13-of-23 from behind the arc, with the first make coming from O.J. Mayo. Mayo scored Milwaukee’s first 12 points, and ended the night with 19 points. Brandon Knight added 20 points, Jarryd Bayless recorded 17 points and Jared Dudley scored 19 points on 7-of-10 field goals.
“They shot it well early,” Corbin noted. “As I told the guys, we didn’t get many stops in a row till the last six minutes of the game. I think they were 3-for-12 in that span. Give them credit, they made a lot of shots early. They threw us off because of the lineup. We had to match up with their small guys, and change some guys around. We had to play some small guys a lot of minutes.”
The Kings backcourt did damage as well, but it wasn’t enough. Ben McLemore started the game 5-for-5 from the floor and totaled 22 points, while Darren Collison chipped in 15 points and five assists. Rudy Gay, taking a back seat tonight, collected 20 points, nine rebounds and six assists.
Sacramento shot 56.7 percent for the match, but their lackadaisical defense and sloppy control of the ball (24 assists to 21 turnovers) allowed Milwaukee to overcome their own sloppiness (16 turnovers). The Kings’ new up-tempo emphasis was nonexistant tonight, losing the fast break race 18 to six.
Fortunately for the Kings, they’ll have quality practice time to get reacclimated with Cousins. Their next game will be at Sleep Train Arena on Sunday versus the Los Angeles Lakers.
Notes and Analysis
- It’s your world DeMarcus Cousins, we are just living in it. The Kings got their big man back tonight and he delivered an incredible 27-point, 11-rebound, five-assist night in 33 minutes of action. Cousins missed the last 10 games with viral meningitis, but fought through exhaustion tonight.
- Ben McLemore looked like he had a major case of the Antetokounmpo’s tonight. The 21-year-old shooting guard was snubbed out of the rookie/sophomore game at All-Star weekend last season, despite superior numbers. Tonight, McLemore looked like a superstar, finishing with 20 points on 8-for-10 shooting. He added three assists and four rebounds in 41 minutes of action.
- For the first time in 10 games, Rudy Gay wasn’t the focal point of the offense tonight. That didn’t stop the smooth shooting wing from finding ways to help his team. Gay finished with 20 points, nine rebounds and six assists in 38 minutes.
- After a few rough games, Darren Collison returned to form tonight against the Bucks. With his big man roving the paint, Collison scored 15 points on 6-for-11 shooting and added five assists in the loss.
- Tyrone Corbin mixed and matched his lineups all night, including plenty of looks with both Collison and Ramon Sessions on the floor together. Sessions finished with nine points and five assists in 22 minutes. Against an undersized Milwaukee team, this wasn’t a bad look.
- Derrick Williams gave the Kings a lift off the bench, finishing with nine points and three rebounds in 24 minutes.
- Stat of the Night: The Kings shoot 56.7 percent and still lose on their home floor.
Quote of the Game
Tyrone Corbin on the team’s focus in practice for the next two days
“Execution I think. Just coming together, man. We got to get everybody on the same page. As I said before, it’s been a tough week for the guys. It’s been a tough week for everybody. The only way we’re going to get through this thing is to get our minds cleared, just to come in and play and make sure we plan to be as good as we can be now.”