The Sacramento Kings trailed the Houston Rockets 42-17 after the first quarter. Then the game got worse. Poor effort, bad decisions, ejections, and a waived off 3/4 court buzzer by Ray McCallum. The Rockets won 129-103, but it wasn't actually that close.
Jimmer Fredette was inactive for Tuesday's game, and the Kings roster found various ways to honor him and say goodbye. In a heartwarming Jimmer tribute, Jason Thompson played just 5 minutes despite having played well in previous opportunities this season.
Other members of the team opted for a sign of solidarity, often playing with a lack of effort, as though only four men were on the court, as though they expected Jimmer to be there. DeMarcus Cousins was so upset by Jimmer's absence that his emotions boiled over, resulting in him being ejected from the game. Some might criticize the team, but I was moved by these acts of tribute.
But let's put Jimmer aside for a moment, and focus on the specifics of the game. The big story of the night was DeMarcus Cousins. Cousins was ejected in the third quarter, putting him at 15 technical fouls for the season. One more this season will result in a mandatory one-game suspension.
Cousins received the first technical for jawing at the refs after what Cousins felt was a ticky-tack foul call. We don't know what Cousins said specifically, but on the replay he was laughing as he made his comments. Despite the laughter, it drew the technical, catching Cousins by surprise.
A few minutes later, during a timeout, Coach Michael Malone was talking with the refs when Cousins charged into the conversation and was clearly swearing out the official. Cousins had to be held back by Corliss Williamson, as well as other players and coaches. I will not be the least bit surprised if Cousins earns himself a healthy fine for his actions.
A lot gets made of Cousins and his tendency to pick up technical fouls. It's important to note that the technicals aren't really an issue. Blake Griffin has 13 on the season, but you don't hear much about it. The issue with Cousins is how he earns his technicals. At first glance the first tech seems undeserved, but it was the result of Cousins constantly chirping at the refs. He'd been complaining to the refs for several minutes leading up to the call. And after the call, Cousins fell apart. He was staring down refs during game action. Swiping at players. Pouting. Complaining. And the way he charged at the ref, when Malone was clearly arguing on Cousins' behalf, was ridiculous. A player can lead a team and still have plenty of technical fouls over the course of the season. But Cousins cannot lead the team while earning these kinds of techs.
Worth noting, the Kings had cut the Rockets lead to 15 when Cousins was ejected. It was the closest the Kings had been to Houston since the opening minutes of the first quarter. The game unraveled for good after the ejection.
After the game, Cousins apologized via Twitter:
Disappointed with the way I acted out on the court tonight. I want to apologize and say sorry to my team and the fans for letting them down— demarcus cousins (@boogiecousins) February 26, 2014
Our own Blake Ellington also got some quotes from Cousins' teammates after the game.
Isaiah Thomas on the Cousins ejection: "He knows he can't act like that but at the same time, I mean, I can't blame him."— Blake Ellington (@BlakeEllington) February 26, 2014
Rudy Gay on DMC: "..you got to put your hand in the fire to realize how hot it is...Sooner or later he's going to figure out how hot it is."— Blake Ellington (@BlakeEllington) February 26, 2014
If you DVR'ed the game, don't bother watching. It really was a pathetic showing. One player I'd single out for praise is Rudy Gay. He started the game 0-5, but went 10-11 the rest of the way, finishing with 25 points. Gay was the leader on the court. He attempted to calm Cousins after the first technical. He worked to get the team re-engaged after Cousins' ejection. He led the team in effort, particularly in the second half.
Isaiah Thomas did not have a good night, but also stood out as giving effort and not giving up even when the game was clearly out of reach. Isaiah finished with 12 points, but went 4-14 from the field. He also added five assists.
For the opponent's perspective, be sure to visit The Dream Shake.