Originally published on SacramentoPress.com on Jan. 30, 2011
Kings rookie DeMarcus Cousins engineered another solid game Saturday night in Arco Arena, leading the Sacramento Kings to a 102-96 victory over the red-hot New Orleans Hornets.
Cousins had 25 points, 12 rebounds and career-high seven assists as the Kings snapped the Hornets' 10-game win streak. The win gave the Kings their first consecutive game win streak since winning the home opener on Nov. 1.
The Kings got off to a quick start, shooting 55% from the field in the first quarter to take a 24-22 lead. Cousins and Kings guard Tyreke Evans led the Kings with 10 and nine points, respectively.
“Coach said 'we just came from beating the world champs', so we were trying to come out and jump on them early, and that's what we did,” said Evans, who finished with 18 points, two rebounds and six assists in limited minutes due to foul trouble.
The Hornets tied the game early in the second quarter, but the Kings countered with a 12-0 run en route to a 56-46 lead at halftime.
Kings head coach Paul Westphal had to turn to his bench when Evans picked up two quick fouls in the early goings of the third quarter. Guard Luther Head replaced Evans and gave the Kings some quality minutes while scoring five points and picking up an assist to give the Kings a 76-67 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
The Hornets were able to cut the lead to just two when David West made a shot with 1:43 that made the score 96-94 with 1:43 remaining in the game.
The Kings responded and took a 100-96 lead when Kings guard Beno Udrih made two free throws after being tossed to the ground by Hornets guard Chris Paul with :31 seconds left. After seeing his teammate tossed to the ground, Cousins had a few words for Paul.
“I know I'm the rookie, but I can't sit there and let him hurt my point guard,” said Cousins about defending Udrih. “It's nothing against Chris Paul, I'm just being a teammate. I go to battle with these guys every night.”
Cousins was coming off of a strong effort in the Kings' win against the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night, where he finished with 27 points and 10 rebounds. Cousins has averaged 17.2 points and 7.75 rebounds per game in the month of January.
“We witnessed DeMarcus Cousins back-to-back now, really play dominant games. He was just fantastic tonight,” said Westphal after the game. “He is intelligent, he learns. I think he is learning what works and what doesn't. He has really been working and it shows.”
Cousins' teammates are also enjoying his elevated play, and are excited at what they see in the 20-year-old big man.
“He is being aggressive. He is making tough shots for us and that's what we have been missing,' says Evans. “I try to find him every chance I get. When he is at his best, I don't think he can be stopped.”
The Kings hope to continue their win streak on Feb. 1, when they take on the Boston Celtics for the second of their six-game home stand.