The Kings had collectively patted center DeMarcus Cousins on the back for going 22 games without a technical foul.
But that streak ended, along with the Kings’ five-game losing streak, in a 106-103 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday at Sleep Train Arena.
The technical foul was his 16th of the season. Per NBA rules, a 16th technical foul results in an automatic one-game suspension. Unless the league rescinds the technical, Cousins will miss the season finale against Phoenix on Wednesday.
It would be the second time Cousins misses a game this season for disciplinary reasons. Cousins was suspended for punching Houston guard Patrick Beverley in the stomach in a game Feb. 25, when he picked up his 15th technical foul.
“I ain’t talking about that,” Cousins said when asked about the technical, called by official J.T. Orr with 1:13 left in the game.
Cousins was upset about a foul called on Travis Outlaw. Cousins was walking away from the basket and was demonstrative in his displeasure. Cousins, however, refused to discuss the idea of not playing in the season finale.
“I’m not talking about it,” he said.
Cousins responded to the technical by scoring four of the Kings’ final six points and blocking a shot in the final minute.
If it was Cousins’ last game of the season, his stat line was impressive. Cousins had 35 points, 15 rebounds, six assists and three blocks.
Cousins passed Vlade Divac for eighth in Sacramento history in scoring. Cousins now has 5,197 points. It was Cousins’ eighth double double in a row and 53rd this season, a Sacramento record. Kevin Martin is seventh with 5,660 points.
Cousins also passed Divac for eighth in Sacramento history with 1,793free throws attempted.
But once again, Cousins finds himself needing the NBA to allow him to play. In each of the last two seasons, the league has rescinded a technical to be able to play, including last season’s finale. The 22-game streak without a technical was the longest of Cousins’ career.
“I feel for him,” Kings coach Michael Malone said. “He has made a concerted effort to handle his emotions and not get that last technical. Obviously, we’ll try to do whatever we can to get that rescinded, but it’s disappointing. I know it meant a lot to him.”
Malone said Cousins has made progress this season and called the situation “unfortunate.”
“I just told him to keep his head up and that he should be proud of how he played (Sunday) and of the effort that he’s put into being a better citizen on the court,” Malone said. “This is just one step, and he’s going to need to be able to handle it and recover.”
Cousins channeled his emotions toward rallying the Kings (28-53) from an 11-point deficit in the third quarter with hustle on both ends of the floor and setting up his teammates.
Before the technical, Cousins might have been angriest with teammate Isaiah Thomas for not passing the ball to him enough. Thomas returned from a 10-game absence with a right quad contusion.
Thomas was cleared to play before the game after working out for Malone and proving he was able to play after being out three weeks. Thomas had 14 points and four assists.
Rudy Gay sat out for the third time in four games because of a lower back strain. Ben McLemore helped pick up the scoring slack with 19 points.
Kevin Love led Minnesota (40-40) with 43 points. Love also had 11 rebounds. Rookie center Gorgui Dieng had 21 points and 14 rebounds.