SACRAMENTO -- Win or lose, emotions in California’s capital city are running high.
Sunday night's win over the Suns included three defining moments involving franchise player DeMarcus Cousins:
- Cousins was presented with his All-Star jersey in a pregame ceremony
- Cousins delivered a game winning shot at the buzzer
- Cousins delivered an impassioned, yet brief postgame diatribe.
“No, I’m not pumped up – I’ve just got a lot on my mind,” Cousins said. “And the crazy thing about it, I’ve got a question for y’all: ‘How are you gonna stop God’s plan? How you gonna do that?’ I’ve been put through so much and I’ve stayed loyal to it (the city) the whole time. I just wanna know: ‘How you gonna stop God’s plan?’ God gives his hardest battles to his strongest soldiers. The marathon continues.”
The passion is understandable, even with Cousins draining a 19-footer at the buzzer to beat the Suns 85-83.
Cousins' frustration is boiling over due to reports that his representation is providing obstacles to the franchise hiring George Karl.
Entering Sunday, the Kings (18-32) had lost 11 of their last 12 games and rumors are rampant that Kings coach Tyrone Corbin may be out.
“Our guys have been on the edge,” Corbin said. “When you don’t play your best game, and you lose games, and you’re hearing all kinds of talk about what’s going to happen—well, I told these guys that the only thing you can control is your play on the floor.”
Sacramento snapped a six-game home losing streak with the win over the Suns (29-24), who were lead by former King Isaiah Thomas, who scored 26 points including 12 in the fourth quarter.
Both teams were without two starters -- Rudy Gay and Darren Collison for the Kings and Alex Len and Eric Bledsoe for the Suns.
Ramon Sessions, who started for the injured Collison at point guard, was solid - scoring 10 points, dishing out six assists and securing seven rebounds.
“For me, being one of the older guys that’s been around for a little bit, it’s easier for me because I’ve been in these situations before on a lot of different teams,” Sessions commented regarding the distractions surrounding the team. “With situations like this it’s tough but as professionals we’ve got to come in and try to just work hard every day and give it what we’ve got.”
The Kings are now 7-19 under Corbin after Michael Malone was jettisoned after an 11-13 start to the season.
In a tough spot, Corbin, a veteran of the NBA as a player and coach, offered sage advice.
“Speculation will be around as long as you’re in this league,” said Corbin. “You have to try and find a way to fight through those things and play. I thought that the way they did it tonight was great for them.
"Who knows what will happen, but for them to get a victory like this tonight and stay together through these conditions is good for them.”
DeMarcus Cousins’ game-winning jumper and 32nd double-double of the season -- 28 points and 12 rebounds.
Sessions had another solid night in 31 minutes of action, scoring 10 points on 4-for-5 shooting from the floor while dishing out six assists and only committing two turnovers. The 6-foot-3 point guard also secured seven rebounds.
The Kings' inability to put Phoenix away entering the fourth quarter with a 14-point lead.
For the Kings, even winning at this stage of the game cannot remove the stigma of speculation surrounding the team.
A decision on the coaching situation, either way, will be a relief.