Cousins and Thomas lead Kings past Toronto 98-91

Cousins and Thomas lead Kings past Toronto 98-91
January 12, 2012, 2:37 am
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TORONTO -- DeMarcus Cousins wants to put "the silly stuff" behind him and just play basketball. So far, he seems to be doing exactly that.Cousins had 21 points and a career-high 19 rebounds, Tyreke Evans scored a season-high 29 points and the Sacramento Kings snapped a seven-game losing streak in Toronto by beating the Raptors 98-91 Wednesday night.An escalating feud with former coach Paul Westphal led Cousins to demand a trade earlier this month, resulting in him being told to stay away from the team for a game. The spat was resolved when Westphal was fired and replaced by Keith Smart, who offered Cousins his support, and a blank slate."He's a new player, man," Evans said. "I'm happy for him. He's done a great job just going out there and playing, helping us, not arguing with anybody on the team, just staying focused."He plays like that, he's an All-Star for sure," Evans added. "The way he's playing right now is unbelievable. We need that out of him every night."Cousins acknowledged that things have been more fun since Smart took over."We're just out there playing ball, playing together and having fun," he said. "We're having fun while we're working hard. That's the biggest thing."Cousins, whose previous career high in rebounds was 18, set against Utah on March 5, 2011, said he wasn't aware how many he had until teammates on the bench started letting him know."In the moment you don't even realize it," Cousins said. "Towards the end of the game they were like Get one more, you'll have 20.' I'm just out there grabbing boards. That's my job, to get everything that comes off the glass."Smart played Cousins for just over 39 minutes to build his conditioning, and his stats: The double-double was his fourth straight."He had it in him to rebound tonight," Smart said. "Because he had that, it put him in an active mode and I'm happy with that."Rookie guard Isaiah Thomas scored 12 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter and Jimmer Fredette had 10 for the Kings, who had not won in Toronto since Feb. 22, 2004.Sacramento had lost two straight and four of five coming in, but held on to record its first road victory in five tries this season."It's definitely exciting to get that first (road) win, get that monkey off our backs," Fredette said.Leandro Barbosa came off the bench to score a season-high 24 points while DeMar DeRozan and Jose Calderon each had 13 for the Raptors, who have lost four of five.With the score 63-all heading into the fourth, Toronto scored the first four points to lead 67-63. Thomas answered with a 3-pointer and, after a hook shoot by Linas Kleiza, Evans hit another 3, giving the Kings a lead they would not relinquish.Amir Johnson's alley-oop dunk cut it to 82-77 with 2:34 left, but Cousins answered with a pair of free throws and then a dunk of his own as the Kings pushed their lead to nine points, 86-77, with 1:12 left.DeRozan had a three-point play, but Evans kept the Raptors at bay by making four consecutive free throws on the next two possessions. The 2010 Rookie of the Year finished a perfect 14 of 14 from the line.Toronto lost leading scorer Andrea Bargnani to a strained left calf with 3:13 left in the third quarter. Bargnani, who did not return, finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds in 28 minutes."He's our best player for sure," Calderon said. "After they let us know he wasn't coming out again, it was tough."Kleiza, out since undergoing microfracture surgery on his right knee last Feb. 1, made his return to the lineup, coming on late in the first quarter. Kleiza scored 10 points in 14 minutes."I feel good, it's fun to be back," Kleiza said. "The game didn't end the way anybody wanted but for me personally, after a year off, it feels good to be back."Barbosa scored 12 points in the second, but Thomas had eight for the Kings, who led 41-40 at the half.NOTES: Fredette made his second straight start in place of Marcus Thornton (left thigh contusion). ... Toronto played its third game in as many nights, their only such stretch of the season. ... Raptors F Amir Johnson hit a rare 3-pointer in the third quarter, just the third of his career. ... Sacramento's 31 made free throws were a season high. ... Toronto has turned the ball over 18 or more times in three of the past four games.