DeMarcus Cousins’ Herculean effort alone couldn’t overcome the Pelicans in the Kings' 102-88 loss in New Orleans on Friday night.
Cousins secured his 44th double-double of the season pouring in 39 points to go along with 20 rebounds, but unlike Wednesday’s win in Phoenix in which seven Kings were in double figures, only Rudy Gay (18) and Omri Casspi (10) were in double digits at the Smoothie King Center Friday night.
The Pelicans' second team outscored the Kings reserves 29-12.
“I feel like they (Pelicans reserves) came in and did a very good job in both halves,” Kings coach George Karl told the reporters in New Orleans. “Usually our second team comes in and has done a fine job all year, but tonight (Norris) Cole came in (and) his quickness gave us issues.”
With the loss, Sacramento failed to match its longest winning streak of the season of five games and conversely, New Orleans snapped a four-game losing streak in its desperate playoff pursuit. The Pelicans remain three games behind the Thunder for the eighth and final Western Conference postseason spot.
Sacramento went on a 15-6 run to start the third quarter to secure a 57-52 lead but New Orleans responded by outscoring the Kings 22-9 the rest of the stanza to take a 74-66 advantage into the fourth quarter.
Sacramento never seriously threatened New Orleans in the final quarter.
[INSTANT REPLAY: Kings' streak snapped at hands of Pelicans]
“We just seemed to be a step behind,” Karl added. “We struggled getting our offense in a flow tonight, but credit the Pelicans and how they defended us.”
“I don’t think that we played to our advantages getting up and down,” Cousins told the media in New Orleans. “I think that we started the game off well. We didn’t get a really smooth flow to the game. (We were) kind of stagnant throughout the night.”
Anthony Davis scored 24 points and added nine rebounds for the Pelicans while Quincy Pondexter was 4-for-8 from 3-point range en route to 16 points. But it was former King Tyreke Evans leading the way for New Orleans scoring 25 points and dishing out 10 assists.
“I thought he did an excellent job,” Karl said. “He was under control all night and didn’t rush anything. When he stays under control he’s hard to stop. Tonight was the best demeanor I’ve seen him have. He was content with taking what the defense gave him.”
Cousins was also impressed with his former teammate.
“A tough guy to guard,” Cousins added. “It’s tough enough keeping him out of the lane. If he is shooting jump shots, he’s top in the league. He took advantage of that tonight and matches up well against us.”
Cousins’ prodigious production of 39 points and 20 rebounds was easy in the Big Easy.
Lack of support from the supporting cast for Cousins and Gay as the Kings' reserves were outscored 29-12 by the Pelicans' bench.
The Kings need more than Cousins to win and even though Rudy Gay added 18 points, Gay expended a lot of energy at the four spot guarding Anthony Davis.
Despite the loss, the Kings now 8-11 under Karl are 5-5 in their last 10 games.