Cousins-led Kings visit Philly for makeup game
PHILADELPHIA -- The Sacramento Kings will make the next-to-last stop of an eight-game road trip Monday night, when they face the Philadelphia 76ers in a game rescheduled from Nov. 30.
The game was postponed on its original date due to moisture on the court in the Wells Fargo Center.
The Kings (19-28) began the trip with two losses but won for the third time in four games on Saturday, beating the Charlotte Hornets 109-106 behind the 35-point, 18-rebound, four-assist effort of center DeMarcus Cousins.
"DeMarcus is leading us," forward Anthony Tolliver told the Sacramento Bee. "Obviously he's always been a beast, but I think he's taken multiple steps in the right direction as far as maturity down the stretch in games. He's making better decisions, relying on his teammates to help him out.
"He's an amazing player, and obviously we're just trying to help him out as much as we can."
Cousins, fourth in the league in scoring (28.1 points per game) and 12th in rebounding (10.5 per game), dropped in the go-ahead layup with 14.3 seconds left against Charlotte. His teammates were just as impressed with other aspects of his game.
"This is the best I've seen him pass the ball," guard Darren Collison told the Bee. "He's normally a good passer, but he's making more of a conscious effort to get guys involved and get it where they need it, too. Not a lot of bigs can do what he can; not a lot of bigs get double-teamed like that. DeMarcus is doing exceptionally well at getting us involved, and it's our job to knock down the shots."
The Kings have been forced to adjust after losing forward Rudy Guy last week due to a season-ending torn Achilles. Gay was Sacramento's second-leading scorer at 18.7 points per game, so Cousins knows he must help compensate.
"I think guys are starting to understand a lot better that when the ball is in my hands, I'm attracting two or three people at a time," he told the Bee. "I think my teammates trust and know that I'm going to make the right play or find the open man. It's just us learning each other better, and I think our chemistry is starting to click."
It is unclear if Joel Embiid, the Sixers' rookie center, will face Cousins and the Kings on Monday. Embiid is listed as questionable due to a sore left knee, and he said after scoring 32 points Friday in Philadelphia's 123-118 loss to Houston that doctors diagnosed him with a bone bruise.
He missed three games before returning against the Rockets, and he also was held out Sunday in the 76ers' 121-108 loss at Chicago. Forward Ersan Ilyasova notched a season-high 31 points for Philadelphia (17-29) against the Bulls.
Embiid and Cousins engaged in a spirited battle when the Kings edged the Sixers 102-100 on Dec. 26 in Sacramento. Cousins finished with 30 points, including the go-ahead 3-pointer with 20.9 seconds left, and he blocked Embiid's potential game-winning 3-pointer in the closing seconds.
Embiid finished with 25 points.
Sixers backup center Jahlil Okafor dressed but did not play Sunday against Chicago. He has been held out of 10 of the last 14 games, most recently because of a sore right knee.