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DeMarcus Cousins blames his slump for Kings’ struggles

Sacramento Kings forward DeMarcus Cousins (15) shoots as Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams (12) defends in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2015.
Sacramento Kings forward DeMarcus Cousins (15) shoots as Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams (12) defends in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2015. AP

The Kings are on a three-game losing streak and DeMarcus Cousins knows why.

“I’ve been playing like (crud), man,” Cousins said. “I say that’s our problem, it’s me. I’ve been playing like absolute (crud).”

Cousins misfired on 15 of his 20 shots Sunday night in a 98-95 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

He also missed six of his nine free throws, including two with 43.9 seconds to play that would have given the Kings a three-point lead.

After Cousins missed the two free throws, Kevin Durant came back with a 19-foot pull-up jumper to give the Thunder a 96-95 lead with 23 seconds to play to stop a Kings rally from 17 points down from being successful.

The Kings’ attempt to retake the lead was fumbled away when Rudy Gay had the ball stolen by Steven Adams with 6.9 seconds to play after Kings coach George Karl called an isolation play for Gay to create for himself or a teammate.

“Those kinds of situations, players have got to step up and I didn’t,” Gay said. “... You’ve got to step up.”

Cousins said the game wasn’t lost by Gay. Rather it was by him and his wayward shooting.

“I can’t be mad about that,” Cousins said. “I think it started with those free throws. I can’t lie. I can’t be mad about that possession. We should have never been in that situation.”

Cousins is shooting 13 for 53 (24.5 percent) during the three-game losing streak. He’s 2 for 11 from three-point range. He’s averaging 14.3 points, nearly 12 points below his season average.

“I’ve never been in a stretch like this, but stay positive, stay together, stay in the gym and let’s try to figure out whatever it is that’s going wrong,” Cousins said. “I know it’s a mental thing right now. It’s hard to get in that rhythm when you’re not seeing that ball go through the basket at a rate you’re used to. But you’ve got to stay positive, that’s all I can do.”

Cousins has played four games since sitting out three with a lower back strain. He had 31 points last Monday in a win against Dallas, but the last three games, all away from Sacramento, have been a struggle.

Cousins said his back is not the problem.

“I don’t want to make no excuses, but I’ve been playing like (crud),” Cousins said. “No other excuse.”

Karl said after the game there’s no health reason for Cousins to be struggling. He also credited some of the recent competition for making it tough on Cousins.

“There’s nothing that I am aware of other than in 82 games it’s difficult to be a great player every night,” Karl said. “It just doesn’t happen all the time. Matchups sometimes are poor. This team has three really good big guys and Dwight Howard is a pretty good big guy.”

Karl also said Cousins’ struggles are compounded because he is the focus of the opposing team’s defensive plan every night.

“When you’re the first priority of a scouting report, it’s sometimes tough to be great,” Karl said.

Cousins might not have needed to be great Sunday. Gay had 20 points, seven rebounds, three steals and three assists. Rajon Rondo had seven points, 10 assists, nine rebounds and three steals.

The Kings received big production from the bench with Marco Belinelli and Darren Collison each scoring 16 points.

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The Kings limited the Thunder to 40.7 percent shooting and kept their stars relatively in check. Durant had 20 points and 10 rebounds. Russell Westbrook had 19 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.

It was just the fourth time this season the Kings held an opponent under 100 points. The Kings won the previous three times in doing so.

With all that working, Cousins’ 13 points and 10 rebounds was not enough.

“I’ve just got to get my (stuff) together,” Cousins said.

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

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