SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Another late Sacramento comeback in the second half — a large chunk of which came with DeMarcus Cousins on the bench — left the three-time All-Star feeling pretty good about things.
Cousins just wishes the Kings would avoid falling into those early holes.
Darren Collison drove past Dennis Schroder and made a layup with 3.5 seconds remaining to cap a big second-half rally in the Kings’ 108-107 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night.
“Our fight and our heart is undeniable,” Cousins said. “With that being said, we can’t keep putting ourselves in that position. We have to make these games easier for ourselves.”
Nothing has come easy this season for the Kings or Cousins, who was playing in his first game back after serving a one-game NBA suspension.
Sacramento’s emotional forward had another up-and-down night, but came back to score seven points over the final 2:10 to help fuel the Kings’ comeback.
“We got going and found our rhythm a little bit,” Sacramento coach Dave Joerger said. “I’m partly surprised but yet I’m not surprised with this group because they won’t lay down.”
Sacramento trailed almost the entire game and didn’t take its first lead until Matt Barnes scored on an offensive rebound to put the Kings up 102-101 with 1:14 left.
The teams then traded the lead five times before Collison’s high floater banked in for the winner.
Collison finished with 22 points on 8-of-16 shooting, Cousins added 22 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists and Ben McLemore also had a season-high 22, helped by a career-best six 3-pointers. Overall, the Kings made a franchise-record 18 3s.
“I was just going out there, doing what I’ve got to do,” McLemore said. “It’s just all about confidence for me.”
Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 28 for Atlanta, but had a shot blocked by Barnes in the paint as time expired. Paul Millsap scored 25 points, Schroder finished with 20, and Dwight Howard added six points and 11 rebounds before fouling out in the fourth quarter.
“It’s not always a pretty game for (the Kings), but they can take you out of your rhythm with the antics and all that,” Millsap said. “I thought we could have controlled our composure better, but that’s the type of basketball that they play.”
Cousins had an uneven game while matched against Millsap most of the night.
Sacramento’s three-time All-Star grabbed a defensive rebound, then went coast-to-coast and finished with a one-handed dunk midway through the first quarter. Cousins also missed four of six free throws during one stretch in the second, crashed hard to the floor after getting hit hard by Atlanta’s Kent Bazemore while driving to the basket later in the same quarter and then sulked off the court during a timeout in the third.
“It was just a matter of us getting our heads (right), starting with me,” Cousins said. “Just a lot of things going through my head, wrong place, wrong time but my teammates pulled me along.
The Kings trailed 71-49 early in the third going on a big run in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 93 on Cousins’ banked 3-pointer with 4 minutes remaining.
Hawks: Atlanta dropped into fifth place in the East with the loss, one that’s sure to be painful to watch. The Hawks did everything right in the first half, but fell apart down the stretch after leading by seven with 3:18 left. Howard, who was hit with a technical foul in the second half, scored all of his points on dunks.
Kings: Barnes had a rough night. He was whistled for a technical in the second quarter after being fouled following a steal, then had to be separated from Hardaway when the two started exchanging words near midcourt at halftime at the end of the second quarter. … Joerger picked up a technical foul of his own three minutes after Barnes. … Ty Lawson did not play because of a hamstring injury.
Hawks: Travel to Portland to play the Trail Blazers on Monday in the first of two games between the two teams this season.
Kings: Host New Orleans in the finale of a six-game homestand on Sunday. Sacramento beat the Pelicans earlier this season after losing all four games between the teams last year.
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