There was plenty of griping about the officiating from both teams during the Kings’ 142-119 win over the Phoenix Suns on Saturday at Sleep Train Arena.
Three technical fouls were called, and Phoenix center Tyson Chandler was ejected after only one technical foul.
But the Kings’ first technical foul was on coach George Karl, with 1:05 left in the second quarter. And it led to one of the lighter moments of the day when DeMarcus Cousins went over and slapped five with his coach, who was called for the tech by J.T. Orr while never getting out of his seat to complain.
Any time there’s public interaction between Cousins and Karl, there is heightened interest because of their icy relationship last summer.
But when a team is winning, usually everything is good.
“I’ve told y’all before, honestly, it’s not about that,” said Cousins when asked how he was getting along with Karl. “As long as we’re on the same page and have the same goal on a nightly basis, that’s all that matters. It doesn’t matter if we’re friends or whatever the case may be. It’s about winning games; that’s all that matters.”
Cousins’ only complaint about Karl’s technical foul was tongue-in-cheek.
“I actually told him we didn’t need it (Saturday) we needed it (Wednesday) in the Philly game,” Cousins said. “But it’s good to know your coach has your back.”
Chandler was tossed with 6:03 left in the third quarter after one technical foul from Orr.
“I wasn’t expecting that quick of a trigger,” Chandler said. “... That might be a first-ever, to get two technicals for the price of one. As soon as I started arguing, he threw me out.”
The Suns were down 75-71 when Chandler was ejected, and that began their demise in the third as the Kings went on to score 44 points in the period, their season best for a quarter.
“I’ll take blame for this whole game,” Chandler said. “You can put it on me.”
Welcome back – Kings rookie center Willie Cauley-Stein returned to the lineup Saturday, playing the final five minutes of the blowout win.
Cauley-Stein had been out since Dec. 3 after suffering an open dislocation of his right index finger during the Kings’ loss to the Boston Celtics in Mexico City. He missed 12 games.
The rookie tallied four points, five rebounds and an assist.
Karl has said Cauley-Stein is a player he thinks can play 15 to 20 minutes, and expected his playing time to increase before the injury.
He had been a starter. After the injury, Karl put Omri Casspi in the starting lineup.
The Kings improved to 5-7 when starting Rajon Rondo, Ben McLemore, Rudy Gay, Cousins and Casspi.
Cauley-Stein has started 14 of the 21 games he’s played.
Passing it around – The Kings had 30 assists Saturday. It’s the third time they have had 30 or more assists in a game this season. The Kings did that three times all of last season.