It was all about the clapping.
The Kings’ latest victory was about good shooting, strong bench play and DeMarcus Cousins putting up another good offensive effort – until there were 6.7 seconds left in Sacramento’s 120-111 win over the Washington Wizards Wednesday night at Sleep Train Arena.
It was the Kings’ 30th win of the season, surpassing last season’s total. The Kings won 38 games in the 2007-08 season, the closest they’ve been to .500 in 10 years.
The team’s 30th win at the end of March was nothing players celebrated. But the end of the game left many wondering what went haywire late.
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What happened was a flurry of whistles from referee Marc Davis that led to Rajon Rondo’s ejection and Cousins’ 16th technical foul, which means he will be suspended for Friday’s game against the Miami Heat.
It would be the second time in Cousins’ career he’s missed a game for reaching 16 technicals in a season.
It all began after Rondo was called for an inbound violation and a turnover with 6.7 seconds to play. Cousins and Rondo were clapping after the call and Davis called a technical foul on both.
Davis followed that up with a second technical foul on Rondo and he was ejected from the game.
“It was a good night until towards the end,” Cousins said. “It was unfortunate that it happened. I really don’t know what to say. I don’t know.”
It was a good night until towards the end. It was unfortunate that it happened. I really don’t know what to say. I don’t know.
DeMarcus Cousins, on picking up his 16th technical foul with just 6.7 seconds to go
The Kings had planned to rest players for Saturday’s game in Denver. Cousins said he would not be playing in Denver even after missing Friday’s game.
Kings coach George Karl was stumped as to why Rondo was ejected more than the initial technicals called on Rondo and Cousins.
“Marc Davis said from halfcourt that Rondo was walking up the sideline (on the second technical foul),” Karl said. “I don’t see that. Obviously there’s some history there. The call and of course, clapping is probably a legit technical foul.”
Rondo was ejected from a playoff game with Boston in 2012 for bumping Davis and was suspended for a game.
Davis has had issues with the Kings in the past, too, and that has some players wary of him. Former Kings coach Michael Malone was fined $25,000 in Jan. 2014 by the NBA for calling Davis a coward after a controversial call late in a game that the Kings lost at Memphis.
Rondo was careful with his words as he did not want to be fined by the NBA for criticizing an official.
“I don’t understand how he can make that call,” Rondo said. “There are two refs beside me and it seems like déjà vu (from his last ejection) because again the cross-court official farthest on the court made the call. That’s all I can say.”
Added Rondo: “Sometimes the game is not about the players on the court, it’s about, fill in the blank.”
The Kings were in control of the game most of the night after Washington (36-39) had a good first quarter.
Sacramento shot 56 percent and had six players score in double figures, led by Cousins with 29 points. The Kings also had two players with double figure assists in Rondo (11) and Darren Collison off the bench with 10.
The bench was strong all night, with Omri Casspi (15 points) and Kosta Koufos (12 points) also being productive. Collison also had 13 points.
The Kings have won three of four and appear to be playing much looser and having fun.
“Now with maybe the release of the stress of we’re not going to make the playoffs we’re playing more ‘we’ basketball, more ‘together’ basketball,” Karl said.
That the Kings are playing well now is what makes this season so frustrating.
“I’m encouraged because of how we’re playing, but discouraged because I wish, you know, it’s unfortunate we didn’t play like this all season long,” Collison said.
Because the Kings aren’t in the mood to applaud themselves for this season.