Kings Blog

Cousins plays through the pain and leads Kings to victory over Jazz

Sacramento Kings forward DeMarcus Cousins (15) finishes a steel with a basket as he's defended by Utah Jazz forward Derrick Favors (15) on Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015 at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento.
Sacramento Kings forward DeMarcus Cousins (15) finishes a steel with a basket as he's defended by Utah Jazz forward Derrick Favors (15) on Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015 at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento. hamezcua@sacbee.com

DeMarcus Cousins doesn’t want to make excuses, but your eyes aren’t lying if you watched him at times Tuesday night and it looked as if he was laboring to move up and down the court.

“I’m dealing with a little tendinitis in my feet,” Cousins said. “It’s kind of taken away from explosion. It’s something I’ve just got to work through.”

Cousins might not have been moving like himself, but he was still too much for the Utah Jazz to handle as the Kings ended a three-game losing streak with a 114-106 victory at Sleep Train Arena.

Cousins had been mired in a shooting slump but had 23 points on 8 of 14 shooting, 12 rebounds and six assists.

Cousins recently missed three games with a lower back strain. He missed four games earlier in the season with a strained Achilles.

It seems as if the aches won’t cease anytime soon, especially for a player whose style is more physical than finesse.

“I think he has got a back and an ankle that are sore,” said coach George Karl. “I tell him all the time, you’re probably at a stage in your career and maybe life like men like me. If I woke up without pain, I’d be dead. It’s just the process of being a big guy in this league, and the way he plays and the way he bangs.”

For a banged-up player, Cousins was effective. But it was obvious at times that getting up and down the court was uncomfortable at best for him.

“It’s just a little situation I’ve got to get through,” Cousins said. “I’m sure I’m not the only player going through some type of pain throughout the season. I’m just trying to get through it and trying not to make an excuse.”

And what Cousins does not want to do is sit out anymore games.

It’s hard to keep Cousins out of the lineup. When he’s been injured this season, he’s wanted to return sooner, only to have medical staff say no.

And for the most part, when Cousins has played, he’s played at an elite level.

“I’ve played well when I’ve been hurt; it’s a different toll on my body,” Cousins said. “It’s just something I’ve got to get used to.”

The Kings rely on Cousins to do so much to be successful. He’s the first option on offense, the leading rebounder and also is expected to anchor the defense.

Defense, which has been the Kings’ biggest problem most of the season, remains a priority.

“My biggest things is trying to be a defensive anchor,” Cousins said. “My impact on the game can be in a lot of different ways, not just me scoring and putting up big numbers. I have a huge impact on the game a lot of different ways. It’s just realizing that, and when I do have off nights trying to be effective in another way.”

Regardless of how he feels, the Kings will count on Cousins to produce when he’s on the court.

It helps that the Kings’ schedule lightens up over the next week. Sacramento hosts New York on Thursday and Houston next Tuesday.

The rest should help Cousins be ready to carry the burden that comes with being the franchise player.

“I think when you have the responsibility to deliver 25 (points) and 12 (rebounds) every night, people don’t understand how hard that is,” Karl said.

Cousins delivered Tuesday. So did Rudy Gay (23 points) and Rajon Rondo (17 points, 13 assists) in helping the Kings end their losing streak.

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Sacramento (8-15) got off to a good start and led by 16 in the first half. The Jazz rallied, cutting the deficit to one point in the third quarter and two at 86-84 in the fourth quarter before the Kings answered with a 16-6 run.

“It was needed; time to get back on track,” Cousins said of the win. “Get that losing out the door and get a little momentum going forward.”

Video: Jason Jones' three takeaways from the Kings' victory against the Jazz.

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

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