Kings snap Hornets' streak with 102-96 win

January 30, 2011, 5:21 am
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) Consideringthat Sacramento has the second worst record in the Western Conference,it was hard to imagine the Kings sweeping the Los Angeles Lakers andstreaking New Orleans Hornets in consecutive nights.
REWIND: Shocker at Staples -- Kings upset Lakers, 100-95
Yet, led by brash rookie DeMarcus Cousins, the Kings managed to win both games in impressive fashion.Cousins followed up a huge effortagainst the Lakers on Friday with another big game, finishing with 25points, 12 rebounds and seven assists to help the Kings snap theHornets' winning streak at 10 games with a 102-96 victory Saturday.Sacramento (12-33) never trailed inwinning consecutive games for the second time all season. The last timethe Kings won back-to-back games was Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, the third andfourth games of the season."We've shown great strides in bothfocus and poise," Kings coach Paul Westphal said. "We had some hardknocks early in the season, helping us deal with the bumps in theroad."Cousins was again instrumental in abig win. He scored 27 points and had 10 rebounds in the 100-95 win overthe Lakers and played just as well in tormenting the Hornets inside andalso on the perimeter."(DeMarcus) is intelligent, helearns," Westphal said. "He's learning what works and what doesn't.He's changed some habits offensively."Cousins is playing confidently andalso isn't afraid to speak his mind. He had some harsh words for theHornets' Chris Paul after the All-Star guard committed a hard foul latein the game that sent Beno Udrih to the floor.Cousins quickly confronted Paul and told him to "clean it up.""I'm know I'm the rookie, but Ican't sit there and let him hurt my point guard," Cousins said. "It'snothing against Chris Paul, I was just having my teammate's back."Fouled-plagued Tyreke Evans had nineof his 18 points in the fourth quarter for the Kings, who have wonthree of four games. Samuel Dalembert had 16 points and Udrih added 14.David West scored 21 points for theHornets, who were looking to set a franchise record with 11 straightvictories. Paul had 19 points and seven assists, Marcus Thornton had 16points and Emeka Okafor 15."When you win this many games youhave a target on your back," Hornets coach Monty Williams said. "Wedidn't play their record. Young teams like that pick it up about now(this time of the season). We've just got to turn the page, but notwithout learning some of these lessons."A goaltending violation gaveThornton a basket and West followed with a medium-range jumper at the1:43 mark, pulling the Hornets to 96-94. The Kings responded once againwith Dalembert tipping in a missed shot and Udrih making two freethrows for a 100-94 lead with 31 seconds remaining."We've lost a lot of chippy gamesthis year," Cousins said. "This was another big win for us, anothermomentum boast. Hopefully we can keep it going."Trailing by nine to start thefourth, the Hornets cut it to 89-87 on Okafor's two free throws at the5:45 mark. But Evans scored off a drive and passed off to Omri Casspifor a layup, helping Sacramento build the lead to 94-87."We were supposed to handle thisteam," West said. "We just came out with the wrong attitude. Wecouldn't guard them and we didn't stop them enough. We didn't stop themnearly enough to win the game."The third quarter didn't start outwell for the Kings. Evans picked up two fouls in the first 3 minutesand walked dejectedly to the Sacramento bench with five fouls.Yet the Kings stayed in front 76-67heading into the fourth with some unlikely players leading the way.Dalembert had seven points and seldom-used Luther Head, subbing forEvans, scored five.The Kings went to Cousins early andthe rookie center delivered. He had 19 points, six rebounds and fiveassists in the first half when the Kings led 56-46. Sacramento led theentire first half and built a 17-point lead, but the Hornets closed thesecond quarter with a 9-2 run."I just thought Cousins had his way with us," Williams said. "We put up no resistance. The defense wasn't there tonight at all."NOTES: Cousins scored 10 points andEvans had nine in the opening quarter when the Kings led 24-22. ...Paul hasn't missed a game this season after playing in just 45 lastseason. ... Kings starting forward Jason Thompson left the game with asprained right ankle in the first quarter and didn't return... TheHornets had beaten the Kings by a combined seven points in two earliermeetings, including a 75-71 win in Sacramento.