The Kings could stand not to see the Charlotte Hornets again. Fortunately for them, they won’t see their Eastern Conference nemesis again in the regular season.
For the second time this season, the Kings fell apart against the Hornets. This time, the breakdowns ended their season-long five-game winning streak, 129-128 in double overtime, Monday night in Sleep Train Arena.
Former University of Kentucky star DeMarcus Cousins set a franchise record for scoring with 56 points before fouling out. Chris Webber held the previous record of 51, set Jan. 5, 2001.
“I don’t care,” Cousins said of the record. “I’m trying to win a game.”
The Kings blew a 22-point lead in a loss at Charlotte on Nov. 23. This time they wasted a 17-point first-half lead, surrendering a Charlotte record 20 made three-pointers in a record 44 attempts.
The final three was from Troy Daniels, who made a 27-footer in the second overtime to win the game.
But the Kings’ problems began in the second quarter and continued in the third, when Charlotte went on an all-out barrage from beyond the arc.
The Kings gave up 30 points in the first seven minutes of the third quarter. The Hornets would score 42 points in the quarter, shooting 61.5 percent (16 for 26) and scoring 13 points off five Kings’ turnovers.
The Hornets made nine of their 12 three-point attempts in the period, and made seven in a row in one stretch.
“They came out with some energy,” Kings Coach George Karl said. “It became a shootout. … Get beat by a kid making a 30 footer, you feel like (trash) you feel like throwing up. It’s a different type of failure, but it’s still a failure.”
The Hornets used the same formula many teams have used against the Kings. They made three-pointers, won the hustle aspects of the game and capitalized off Sacramento turnovers.
The Hornets scored 23 points off 23 Kings’ turnovers and had a 19-6 edge in second-chance points.
It’s the way the Hornets had to play. Because of injuries, they had just 10 healthy players and were down to seven by the end of the game after Spencer Hawes, Marvin Williams and Tyler Hansbrough fouled out.
“The guys obviously fought so hard,” Charlotte Coach Steve Clifford said. “We got off to a tough start (down 31-16) and then in the second quarter we were better and in the third quarter we obviously made a bunch of threes.”
Cousins took the blame for the third quarter as the man he was defending, Hawes, made all four of his three-point attempts.
“I think it was more on me,” Cousins said. “I let Hawes get some momentum in the game and he hit a couple threes in a row. That’s what kind of changed the game and gave them some life.”
Cousins also had four assists, a game-high 12 rebounds and a game-high seven turnovers.
Cousins’ previous career high for scoring was 48, set Saturday against Indiana.
Rajon Rondo had his 30th game of the season with at least 10 assists, finishing with 20 to go with 10 rebounds and seven points. That tied Reggie Theus for second most in a season in Sacramento history.
The Kings (20-24) finished the game without Rudy Gay, who left in the second overtime with a scratched left eye that was swelling before he left the court.
Gay’s status for Tuesday night’s game at Portland is uncertain. He finished with 20 points and nine rebounds and two blocked shots in his first game back after missing two with a left heel contusion.
Darren Collison scored 15 points off the bench for the Kings and Omri Casspi had 13 points and eight rebounds.
Daniels led the Hornets (22-23) with 28 points off the bench. Williams had 21 and Jeremy Lin had 20 points and 11 assists. Kemba Walker finished with 24 points and eight assists. Hawes added 18 points.
Player of the Week
DeMarcus Cousins has been dominant in January, and the Kings have played their best basketball of the season.
The NBA recognized Cousins’ recent performances, naming him Western Conference Player of the Week on Monday after he led the Kings to a 3-0 record. Cousins averaged 36.0 points, 14.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.0 block in 37.7 minutes per game.
He had double-doubles in all three games, including a career-high 48 points and 13 rebounds in a 108-97 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Saturday. In a 112-93 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday, Cousins had 36 points and 16 rebounds. And in a 91-88 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday, he had 24 points and 15 rebounds.
Cousins has won the weekly honor four times overall and twice this season. He also is the first player in the franchise to have at least 108 points and 44 rebounds in a three-game span since Oscar Robertson had 109 points and 44 rebounds in 1961-62 with the Cincinnati Royals.
“I think it’s deserved, no question about that,” Coach George Karl said. “I think his desire right now is to get the All-Star berth. I’d be kind of shocked if he doesn’t get the votes of the coaches. He’s been so impressive and doing it with a winning team, with a much more mature, emotional balance. Good stuff all the way around.”
The NBA will announce All-Star Game reserves Thursday. Cousins is expected to be on the Western Conference team after being added as an injury replacement last season.
It wasn’t a surprise that Cousins received the weekly award. The Kings entered Monday’s game against the Charlotte Hornets in Sleep Train Arena on a five-game wining streak and were 8-3 in January.
Karl, however, admitted he was not keeping tabs on when the award would be announced.
“I’m always happy and hopeful for those things,” Karl said. “But you have to understand, during the season I don’t even know when those things come out. Today’s Monday, right? We’re playing Charlotte tonight. That’s what day it is.”
Charlotte’s Kemba Walker won the Eastern Conference Player of the Week honor. He averaged 34.8 points, 6.0 assists and 6.0 rebounds to lead the Hornets to a 3-1 week.
Charlotte Coach Steve Clifford could not recall an instance where both conference Players of the Week faced off the day the award was announced.
“I would think it’s pretty unique, to be honest,” Clifford said.