The Kings announced center DeMarcus Cousins will not play this weekend because of a viral infection, following a trip to the hospital Tuesday night.
Cousins has missed the past three games with what had been called a virus after he woke up sick last Friday in San Antonio.
The Kings host the Indiana Pacers on Friday and the Orlando Magic on Saturday. Cousins is expected to be healthy and back on the court when the Kings host Utah on Monday before playing the Lakers in Los Angeles on Tuesday.
Cousins participated in the morning shootaround Tuesday and tried to warm up prior to the game against Toronto before he was overtaken by fever and headaches, and he was taken to Kaiser Permanente in Sacramento for rest and treatment.
Cousins posted a message from his Twitter account – along with a picture of himself at the hospital – Wednesday afternoon that read: “Back home from the hospital finally! Thank you for all the messages and prayers.”
The illness also forced Cousins to postpone his annual Christmas giveaway for local children, which was scheduled for Wednesday evening.
While Cousins is on the mend, the Kings have to figure out how to win without their leading scorer, rebounder and shot-blocker.
The Kings are 0-3 this season without Cousins and 0-14 over the past two seasons. Overall, the Kings are on a season-worst four-game skid.
“We want him to get healthy and get back as soon as possible, but as I told our guys after the game (Tuesday), we have enough players, enough talent, enough character in this locker room to step up and find a way to start winning some games,” Kings coach Michael Malone said after practice Wednesday. “A lot of people will be quick to say we haven’t won without DeMarcus last year or this year, but I think it’s time for that to come to an end.”
Malone said Cousins being hospitalized did not give him extra reason for concern.
“I think it was more precautionary,” Malone said. “By no means am I doctor. I didn’t stay in a Holiday Inn, so I really can’t divulge all that stuff. The fact that he tried to warm up and play speaks to his competitive nature, but he all of a sudden took a turn for the worse with a fever, headaches. They just wanted to be safe.”
Not having Cousins available has affected the Kings at both ends of the floor. Offensively, the Kings lose one of the NBA’s best low-post players who is tied for sixth in the league at 23.5 points per game.
Cousins leads the NBA with 12.6 rebounds per game. The Kings missed that badly Tuesday, when Toronto came up with 11 second-chance points in the fourth quarter. He’s also been the defensive anchor for the Kings as he’s improved a lot in that area.
The Kings also are trying to figure out how to play without him.
“We play a certain style of basketball when he’s on the court,” said guard Darren Collison. “We’re more of an inside-out team, and now we’ve got to find a way when he’s not there of how we’re going to play. Find ways to play more of a perimeter style of play, drive and kicking, but we’ll be fine. We’ve just got to figure it out.”
Malone spoke to Cousins on Wednesday morning as he was leaving the hospital and planned to visit with him later following practice.
Meanwhile, as coaches do, Malone put the best spin on the situation.
“When he gets back, we’ll be a better team for it, but in the meantime other guys have to step up and we have to collectively find a way to start defending and get back to wining basketball games,” Malone said.
The Kings’ record over the past two seasons gives many reasons to believe the team is in trouble this weekend, even against two teams that are below .500. Rudy Gay sees more double teams, and it’s harder to create good looks for teammates without the double teams Cousins attracts.
“The thing about the NBA is one guy goes down, another guy has to step up,” Collison said. “We’re a good ballclub. We’re great with him, but we’re a good ball group without him, so we’ve got to find a way to win.”