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Can Kings afford to rest Cousins in pursuit of playoff berth?

DeMarcus Cousins on loss to Golden State Warriors

Sacramento Kings forward DeMarcus Cousins talks to media members following the teams loss to the Golden State Warriors on Sunday, January 8, 2017, at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California.
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Sacramento Kings forward DeMarcus Cousins talks to media members following the teams loss to the Golden State Warriors on Sunday, January 8, 2017, at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California.

Is DeMarcus Cousins doing too much for the Kings?

Coach Dave Joerger suggested fatigue could have been a factor after Cousins had an off-night in Sunday’s 117-106 loss to the Golden State Warriors. The All-Star center had 17 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and seven turnovers.

“He’s exhausted,” Joerger said. “He’s been carrying the torch for a long time. It seems perhaps maybe longer than just this year. Is there a night off coming or something?”

Giving Cousins a night off might help him feel fresher. But can the Kings afford to do that as they try to end their 10-year playoff absence?

10.0DeMarcus Cousins’ rebounding average, below his career mark of 10.7

The Kings aren’t the Cleveland Cavaliers or San Antonio Spurs. They aren’t even in the top eight in the Western Conference, trailing the Portland Trail Blazers by percentage points for the final playoff spot. And if the Trail Blazers regain their form of last season and the New Orleans Pelicans get healthier and more consistent, Sacramento could finish behind both.

So barring injury, Cousins might have to soldier on.

Cousins has received one game off for rest this season, Dec. 14 at Houston. The Kings, also missing the injured Rudy Gay, lost 132-98. That’s the only game Cousins has missed this season. In 2014-15, he sat out 23 games, and last season, he missed 17.

The foot and ankle issues of past seasons have not sidelined Cousins this season, even after he played for Team USA in the Olympics.

This season, Cousins is averaging 34.6 minutes, the same as last season. But he is shooting 44.9 percent, on track for his lowest accuracy since his second season, when he shot 44.8 percent.

Cousins is on pace for career highs in scoring (28.1 points), assists (3.9) and 3-point percentage (37.2). He is shooting 78.2 percent on free throws, which would equal his career high from 2014-15. His turnovers (3.1) are also down for the second consecutive season after he averaged 4.3 in 2014-15.

Cousins’ most notable drop is in rebounding. He’s averaging 10.0, which is OK but below his career average of 10.7. It also would be his lowest mark since his third season, when he averaged 9.9.

He’s exhausted. He’s been carrying the torch for a long time. It seems perhaps maybe longer than just this year. Is there a night off coming or something?

Dave Joerger, Kings coach, on DeMarcus Cousins

As long as the playoffs are within reach, nights off for Cousins appear unlikely, especially after the Kings squandered games to teams such as the Miami Heat, who have been near the bottom of the Eastern Conference all season. Sacramento went 0-2 against Miami this season.

“It hurts – both times,” Cousins said. “We have those types of games. Can’t sit here and dwell on it. We’ve got to get the next one.”

Jason Jones: @mr_jasonjones, read more about the team at sacbee.com/kings.

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