Cousins delivers best game of season in Kings' win Sunday
DeMarcus Cousins has experienced a rocky road in his rookie season with the Sacramento Kings, typified by emotional outbursts and a tendency to commit silly fouls that send him to the bench.
Cousins avoided those pitfalls against Phoenix on Sunday night, scoring 13 of his season-high 28 points in the fourth quarter to rally the Kings from 14 points down in a 94-89 victory over the Suns.
Selected fifth overall out of Kentucky in last year's draft, Cousins shot 11-for-17 from the field and 6-for-6 from the free-throw line, and had eight rebounds and a season-high six assists. He was also tough on defense against the Suns, clogging the middle, helping out on double teams and blocking one shot.
Cousins remained a huge factor in the fourth despite picking up his fifth foul with 7:31 remaining.
"I always want the ball in my hands and be able to make decisions in crunch time," said Cousins, who has been in and out of the starting lineup this season due to his bouts of immaturity and inconsistent play. "I want to help my team make plays."
Former Louisville star Francisco Garcia had 20 points and 11 rebounds for the Kings, who closed with a 19-2 run.
"Two weeks ago we would probably have 10 turnovers down the stretch and they would have shot 90 percent," Cousins said.
Sacramento won for the second time in three games and improved the NBA's worst record to 7-25.
"It was crazy to be able to do that (19-2 run)," Kings Coach Paul Westphal said. "Our guys just kept playing hard. We were shooting 30 percent for most of the first half, something had to give."
■ Also on Sunday, former Kentucky star Patrick Patterson played extended minutes for the second straight game, leading the Houston Rockets in rebounding with 10 in a 100-85 loss at Portland. The rookie also had five points and two assists.
James, Wade power Heat past Bobcats
LeBron James scored 38 points, Dwyane Wade added 31 and the Miami Heat dominated the second half to beat the short-handed Charlotte Bobcats 96-82 on Monday for their 11th straight road win. Playing for the first time against Paul Silas, his first NBA coach in Cleveland, James scored 26 of his points in the second half and added nine rebounds. Charlotte played without starting forward Gerald Wallace (ankle) and center Nazr Mohammed (knee) the same day tests revealed backup big man DeSagana Diop is lost for the season with a ruptured Achilles' tendon.
Ex-Cat Webb officially joins Rangers
The Texas Rangers will have a former Cy Young Award winner wearing No. 33 after all next season — Brandon Webb instead of Cliff Lee. Three weeks after losing Lee in free agency, the AL champions on Monday finalized a $3 million, one-year deal with the 2006 NL Cy Young winner, who hasn't pitched since the 2009 season opener after shoulder surgery. Texas also completed a $3.9 million, one-year contract with 41-year-old reliever Arthur Rhodes. Webb, who starred at Ashland Blazer and the University of Kentucky, can earn $5 million in bonuses.
Webb was one of the NL's best pitchers before shoulder surgery in 2009, and his rehabilitation included pitching four innings over 1½ weeks in the instructional league in October.
"I feel good right now, feel good where I'm at," Webb said. "I felt comfortable on the mound each time I went out there. My velocity got better and my stuff got better. Just taking it from there, I feel like I'm going to be ready for spring training for sure."
Webb already has been throwing for a couple of weeks in preparation for spring training. "Right now, there's no limitations at all for me," Webb said. "I expect to jump right in. ... This year should be the year I feel back to normal."
Webb was 16-8 with a 3.10 ERA the year he won the Cy Young Award, then improved his victory total in each of the next two seasons when he was also an All-Star. He was 18-10 with a 3.01 ERA in 2007, then 22-7 with a 3.30 ERA in 2008 for the Diamondbacks, the team that drafted him in the eighth round in 2000.
Webb, who wore No. 17 in the past, is switching to No. 33 to honor former Kentucky teammate Jon Hooker, who was killed in the 2006 Comair plane crash in Lexington on the day after getting married.
■ Pitcher Tim Redding agreed to a minor-league contract with the Dodgers. The right-hander, who turns 33 next month, spent last season in the minor leagues with Colorado and the New York Yankees. He has a career record of 37-57 with a 4.95 ERA.
Sports in the courts
Orioles' Simon surrenders to police
Baltimore Orioles reliever Alfredo Simon surrendered to police Monday to face an involuntary manslaughter charge in a fatal shooting New Year's Eve. His lawyer said he was firing celebratory shots in the air. The Dominican pitcher is suspected of killing Michel Castillo Almonte, 25, and wounding his 17-year-old brother in the northeast coastal town of Luperon. The dead man is Simon's cousin, according to the player's lawyer.
Police initially said a murder charge would be filed against Simon, but prosecutor Victor Mueses said witness accounts and evidence support an involuntary manslaughter charge instead.
"The version that we have is that there was a dispute between two women and he tried to dissolve it, fired a shot that ended up wounding a young person in the arm and that same bullet lodged in the chest of the deceased," Mueses said by phone.
■ Two massage therapists sued Brett Favre on Monday, saying they lost their part-time jobs with the New York Jets after complaining about sexually suggestive text messages from the veteran quarterback. Claiming they were subjected to sexual harassment and job discrimination, Christina Scavo and Shannon O'Toole are seeking unspecified damages from Favre, the Jets and a Jets massage coordinator. The team declined to comment. Favre's agent didn't immediately return a telephone message.
ESPN pulls announcer off bowl coverage
ESPN pulled announcer Ron Franklin from its radio coverage of Saturday's Fiesta Bowl after he reportedly berated a female colleague. Sideline reporter Jeannine Edwards wrote in an e-mail to USA Today in response to Internet reports that Franklin called her "sweet baby" in a condescending tone Friday. When she objected, he used a derogatory term. Edwards said a colleague reported the incident to ESPN officials. Franklin said in a statement released by the network: "I said some things I shouldn't have and am sorry. I deserved to be taken off the Fiesta Bowl."
Flyers waive playoffs hero Leighton
Most teams don't have the luxury of having two healthy, starting goaltenders in today's NHL. The Philadelphia Flyers were an exception. They actually had three. Until Monday. The Flyers waived goaltender Michael Leighton, meaning Philadelphia, tied for first place in the Atlantic Division with Pittsburgh, will go with Brian Boucher and Sergei Bobrovsky the rest of the way. Leighton, who helped lead Philadelphia to the Stanley Cup Finals last June, underwent October back surgery and had only played in one game this season, a 7-4 win over the Kings in Los Angeles last week.
The last word
Despite having a 7-9 record, the Seattle Seahawks are in the playoffs and have a home game to boot. Now they get the chance to prove they belong against the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints on Saturday in the first-round of the playoffs. Said Seattle Coach Pete Carroll:
"We battled like crazy for this, as did the other teams in our division, as did the teams in other divisions. So we're the last guys standing here. We're proud of that and we're going to go represent and hopefully do something really special with our opportunity and see how far we can go."