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The Sacramento Kings beat the Phoenix Suns 94-89 to capture a home winning streak of two for the first time all season. DeMarcus Cousins had his best game as a pro, racking up 28 points, eight rebounds, six assists and one helluva swag fourth quarter. Cousins played the entire fourth as the Kings came back from a 13-point deficit with eight minutes left. Cousins scored 13 points in the quarter, with the Suns' new center -- and someone thought to be a really solid defender -- Marcin Gortat guarding him the whole time.
It's impossible to understate how tough Cousins was throughout. Consider that Beno Udrih played just 15 minutes and Tyreke Evans shot 2-12 with four turnovers and sat the final eight minutes. Carl Landry was 3-11. Jason Thompson fell off a bit and was 4-10. And the Kings won! Against a team at least considering a playoff run.
Omri Casspi and Francisco Garcia were great in supporting roles. El Flaco was a fireball, and finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds. Casspi came up big off the bench, hitting 4-6 on threes and picking up 10 big rebounds.
The fourth quarter was dicey. Evans, who had been really ineffective all game long, left the game with eight minutes left, leaving Pooh Jeter with Garcia, Casspi, Landry and Cousins. The Kings traded baskets with the Suns for a few minutes to keep the margin around 10 -- it looked as if Sacramento didn't have enough steam to make a real push. But inside of five minutes to go, Jeter pushed the ball after a Suns miss and drove through Steve Nash for a lay-up attempt. It missed, but Garcia crashed the weakside glass for a putback lay-up to bring the Kings to within single-digits for the first time in the fourth.
After another Suns miss, Jeter set up Cousins on the left post. Phoenix sent a quick double, but Boogie turned and fired the ball to Casspi in the right corner for an open three. Swish. The Suns missed another three, and Jeter got the ball quickly to Garcia, who found space on a quasi-fast break for an open two-point jumper to bring the Kings to within three.
After a timeout, Vince Carter drove the lane to set up Gortat for a bucket. Jeter missed a shot on the other end, but an offensive rebound by El Flaco led to a second chance, and Jeter shook Nash and nailed a 17-footer. Another Suns miss gave the Kings the ball down three with two minutes left. Gortat blocked a short bunny by Cousins, but it went out of bounds. On the reset, Cousins hit a righty lay-up while falling down after being mauled by Gortat. Boogie hit the free throw to tie the game.
The next defensive possession for the Kings might be been the team's best 24 seconds of the night. Jeter and Casspi hassled Nash and Pietrus out at the top of the circle until the two-time MVP pulled out a high screen-roll with Gortat. Cousins played it beautifully, meeting Nash out near the arc and forcing a tough pass to Gortat near the top of the circle. The shot clock wound down, Casspi picked up Nash in the lane, and it was a 24-second violation.
The teams traded misses. After a Vince Carter brick, Jeter set up the offense, quickly hit Casspi on the right elbow extended with a bounce pass. Omri nailed the three to put the Kings up 92-89 with 25 seconds left, the crowd exploded and the Kings needed just one stop more stop (which they got on a Pietrus airball from the right corner with Omri all up in his face). Just a beautiful run. The Suns scored two points in the final five minutes, 30 seconds. The Kings scored 17.
After the game, Paul Westphal said that Evans insisted the unit that won the game for the Kings stay on the floor. He was out there celebrating with the team, and definitely showed no consternation with turning the keys over to Cousins.