DeMarcus Cousins had 29 points and 11 rebounds and the Sacramento Kings beat the Phoenix Suns 116-94 on Friday night.
It was a rare home victory for Sacramento, which had dropped seven straight at Sleep Train Arena since defeating Denver nearly five weeks ago. The Kings entered the game having lost two straight and 9 of 11.
Rookie Willie Cauley-Stein had a career-high 26 points for the Kings, who broke the game open in the third quarter.
“I ain’t put 19 shots up in my whole life so that was cool,” Cauley-Stein said. “That was different but I like that though.”
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Cauley-Stein also had six rebounds, three steals and two blocked shots.
He scored on dunks but also showed nimble footwork working against defenders.
“I’ve been drilling it and drilling it for months now and to get a chance to put it in a game setting, and use it at game speed, and a defender’s playing you, you’ve got to read a defender,” Cauley-Stein said. “Just putting it all together is what you work for and that’s why it’s fun to play like that.”
Playing time has been up-and-down lately for the rookie, but Cauley-Stein’s teammates encouraged him to be a scorer against the Suns, whose depth in the frontcourt was hindered by injuries.
“When your teammates are telling you to score, shoot threes when you ain’t shot a three in your whole life, so that’s cool,” Cauley-Stein said. “That just makes you feel really good, like all the work you put in, they’re telling you to show what you’ve been working on. I’m really thankful for them.”
Kings Coach George Karl liked Cauley-Stein’s energy Friday night.
“He’s worked real hard on his game, and it was good to see him have an offensive game where he could take some chances, take some opportunity,” Karl said. “I think it will help him see what he can do in this game now, his work has paid off a little bit.”
Rudy Gay had 15 points, Quincy Acy had 14, Seth Curry had 12 and Darren Collison had 11.
Devin Booker led Phoenix with 26 points but also committed nine turnovers, including eight in the first half. Alex Len had 14 points, Mirza Teletovic had 12 and John Jenkins added 11 points and seven assists.
Rajon Rondo, the NBA assist leader this season, had 12 assists and passed Reggie Theus’ Sacramento-era single-season franchise assist record that was established in 1985-86.
On Rondo’s most spectacular assist, he tossed a court-length pass that Curry caught in stride and converted with a reverse layup. Later in the quarter, Rondo found Gay open for a three-pointer to pass Theus with his 789th assist this season.
The Kings took a 10-point lead into halftime and built the lead to 89-67 by outscoring the Suns 31-19 in the third quarter.
The Suns had a strong first quarter and led 27-25, but they shot poorly the rest of the game and were sloppy with the ball, turning it over 22 times and shooting 37 percent.
Suns: Booker got called for a technical foul in the second quarter after battling Cousins for a loose ball near the Kings bench. … Tyson Chandler missed his second straight game with back spasms. … The Suns played without second leading scorer Brandon Knight, who had an upset stomach prior to game time.
Kings: Curry was a surprise starter, making the first start in his NBA career. He missed 4 of 5 shots in the opening quarter, but had 10 points in the second half. … The Kings converted 29 of 39 free throws, while the Suns went 15 for 23. … Reserve Marco Belinelli had a sore right heel and went scoreless in 10 first-half minutes.