DeMarcus Cousins said he expects the worst to happen in every game.
Not that he expects the Kings to lose every game, but he doesn't expect to get the benefit of the doubt on close calls from officials.
The worst didn't happen Monday night. But for a few minutes, Cousins had reason to be wary during the Kings' 124-118 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers at Sleep Train Arena.
The win ended a four-game losing streak for the Kings.
Cousins dominated with a team-high 26 points and 14 rebounds. He also had six assists, three blocked shots and two steals.
Cousins' play was solid, but there were a couple of those "worst" moments along the way in an eventful third quarter.
With 7:50 left in the quarter, Cousins was called for his ninth technical foul of the season. Cousins is tied with Los Angeles Clippers forward Matt Barnes (Del Campo High School) for the most technicals in the NBA.
Cousins said that before he could even say much, he was whistled for the technical foul.
"I basically expect the worst every game, to be honest," Cousins said. "You never know what's going to happen."
Cousins was called for a flagrant foul 1 with 6:24 left in the quarter. He was behind Cleveland center Tyler Zeller and tried to block his shot and caught Zeller across the face.
"DeMarcus plays like a big man is supposed to play in the paint," Kings coach Keith Smart said. "And sometimes, arms and legs and everything (go) flying. But right away, when he made contact, he was trying to help him."
It was Cousins' second flagrant foul of the season and second in three games. Cousins is tied with five other players for the second-most flagrant fouls in the league.
Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard leads the league with three flagrant fouls.
Cousins was bothered by the call but maintained his composure.
"That's growth for him to be able to get himself under control real quickly, to go and communicate with the officials in the right way," Smart said.
Cousins said he's focused on turning negatives into positives on the court.
"I'm just telling myself, let's not make this situation worse," Cousins said. "I just kept playing. My thought was, every bad play, let's get a good play afterward."
Cousins came through with plenty of those, too. His steal and layup with 1:29 to play gave the Kings a 116-109 lead, and every point was needed with Cavaliers rookie Dion Waiters hot from the field.
Waiters finished with a career-high 33 points, including a three-pointer that cut the lead to 120-115 with 29.4 seconds to play, but the Cavs got no closer than three in the final seconds.
Tyreke Evans returned to the starting lineup and was perfect from the field, making all six of his shots and all four free throws for 18 points.
The bench provided the Kings (14-24) with a boost, too. After Jason Thompson picked up two quick fouls, rookie Thomas Robinson stepped in and continued his recent solid play. Robinson tied his season high with 12 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Marcus Thornton scored 20 points, and Jimmer Fredette had 16 points in 13 minutes.
The Cavs (9-31) have lost three consecutive games. Tristan Thompson and C.J. Miles each had 17 points for Cleveland. Kyrie Irving finished with 15 points on 6-of-19 shooting.
Smart said he was pleased with the Kings' defensive execution, even though Cleveland scored a season high, because of the effort against Irving.
Along with a bad shooting night, Irving had six turnovers.