"We've been playing with our backs against the wall all year," said Darren Collison on possible game suspension for Cousins
A horrible start to the game, calls that didn’t go their way and another loss.
The Kings had plenty reasons to be mad Monday night, and barring a reprieve from the NBA, the anger that boiled over will cost them DeMarcus Cousins for Wednesday’s game after he was ejected from the Kings’ 112-107 loss to the Chicago Bulls at Golden 1 Center.
Cousins was tossed from the game with 1.1 seconds to play after being called for his second technical foul, which was his 16th of the season and triggers an automatic one-game suspension.
If the NBA rescinds one of Cousins’ technical fouls, he would be able to play Wednesday when the Kings host the Boston Celtics.
Cousins left the locker room Monday night without speaking to the media.
Cousins was angry a foul was not called on his late 3-point attempt with the Kings down 111-107. He was called for his first technical foul at the start of the fourth quarter after getting involved in an altercation with Bulls assistant coach Jim Boylen, who had come on the floor to restrain Chicago forward Taj Gibson and got into it with Cousins and Matt Barnes, who was also called for a technical foul.
Barnes also left the locker room without speaking to the media.
The events that led up to Cousins’ ejection have been typical of the Kings’ season. It was predictable in the sense that coming off their biggest win of the season, stunning Golden State in overtime on Saturday, that the Kings would look disengaged to start against the Bulls, who were playing without All-Star Jimmy Butler because of a heel injury.
Before the midway point of the first quarter the Kings were already down 20-5.
“It was a slow start — very slow start — that’s probably an understatement,” said Kings guard Darren Collison. “Inexcusable. If we don’t put ourselves in that hole we probably get a better shot to win.”
The Kings trailed 27-11 after the first quarter and fell behind by 27 in the third quarter and were booed by the home fans during the third. The Kings have trailed by at least 20 points in 13 games this season are are 1-12 in those games.
“We didn’t play with enough pace, we didn’t’ play with enough force,” Collison said. “And when we started playing with a lot more pace things started to click for us.”
The Kings found their pace in the fourth quarter, tying the game at 107 on a layup by Cousins with 30.8 seconds to play.
Then for the second time this season, Dwyane Wade was the Kings’ undoing.
Wade scored the Bulls’ final seven points, including the go-ahead bucket over Barnes on a 20-foot fadeaway jumper to put Chicago up 109-107, with 13 seconds to play.
Wade then stole Barnes’ inbounds pass out of a timeout and finished with a dunk to put the game out of reach.
Cousins’ was trying to cut the lead to one with 3.9 seconds to play when he felt he was fouled and turned to yell at official Tyler Ford, who tossed him from the game.
Lawson led the Kings (20-32) with a season-high 22 points to go with seven assists. Barnes had 19 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Cousins had 18 points, 14 rebounds and five assists.
Wade had a game-high 31 points and Michael Carter-Williams had 21 points.
Nights like Monday make the Kings’ playoff talk sound like wishful thinking. If they cannot beat a Bulls team without its All-Star at home, what’s the point of talking playoffs?
The Kings are 3.5 games behind Denver for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
“This was a big game,” Lawson said. “This stretch right here I think is going to make our season, eight of nine at home, we can make up a little ground in the standings.”
To do that, the Kings need a better showing Wednesday against the Celtics led by for King Isaiah Thomas, who is an MVP candidate, likely without Cousins.
Lawson said his message to his teammates is simple.
“Stay focused,” Lawson said. “Do what you need to do to get your head together ... and be ready for the Boston Celtics.”