The way DeMarcus Cousins and Blake Griffin wrestled most of Thursday night, it looked as if they belonged in the octagon, not on a basketball court.
Cousins, however, couldn't stay on the court as much as Griffin because of foul trouble. And after their bodies hit the floor more than once, it was Griffin's Clippers that escaped with a 93-85 win at Power Balance Pavilion.
Cousins played just 18 minutes and 28 seconds, and had just eight points and three rebounds before fouling out in the closing seconds of the game.
Griffin had three fouls. Clippers center DeAndre Jordan had two fouls.
Cousins didn't attempt a free throw.
"If they're going to let it be physical, it's usually physical on both ends," Cousins said. "You saw the game, so I really ain't got to say much."
Cousins was especially annoyed by the fifth foul he picked up with 1:11 to play and the Kings down 84-83.
Cousins swiped at the ball and missed. Griffin grabbed his eye and a foul was called.
"I guess the wind from my hand hit him in the eye," Cousins said. "I guess he got fouled by the wind."
The Kings play the Clippers in Los Angeles on Saturday. When told Griffin said he wasn't worried about what happened Thursday because they would play the Kings soon, Cousins had a quick reply.
"(Griffin is) in L.A. where actors belong," Cousins said. "He's an actor, so of course he would say that."
When asked if the tussle between Cousins and Griffin went too far, Kings coach Keith Smart said it was "a great football game."
"It was two big guys playing, and these guys are physical," Smart said.
"It's going to be a great rivalry as we develop this team to be consistent at winning."
Jordan drew the defensive assignment on Cousins to start. But when the Kings went to a smaller lineup in the fourth quarter, Griffin had to guard Cousins more.
Cousins had no qualms about having to defend Griffin, who is not known for his defense, late in the game.
"I attempt to play defense," Cousins said. "That's what that is."
Smart said he went to a small lineup out of necessity.
"We needed more spacing on the floor," Smart said. "I needed something that forced them not to allow their big players to hang out in the paint."
It almost worked as the Kings (19-36) rallied to lead 81-78 with 4:11 to play. But Griffin gave the Clippers (33-22) the lead for good at 82-81 on a hook shot with 3:18 to play.
Kings forward Jason Thompson had his 13th double double of the season with 15 points and 16 rebounds. Thompson's rebounds matched his season high.
Thompson also was one of three Kings with two blocked shots. Isaiah Thomas led the Kings with 17 points.
The Clippers had their six-game winning streak snapped a night earlier and another loss would have hurt their playoff seeding further. The Clippers lost to the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday and are fighting to catch the Lakers in the Pacific Division.
By winning Wednesday, the Lakers won the season series with the Clippers, meaning the Clippers would need to finish ahead of the Lakers to win the division.
Griffin finished with 14 points and nine rebounds. Chris Paul had 13 points and eight assists.