9:00 PM ET, November 20, 2013
US Airways Center, Phoenix, AZ
Cousins overcame a sore shoulder to score 19 points and grab 12 rebounds, leading the Kings past the Phoenix Suns 113-106 on Wednesday night.
"To be honest, I didn't ask him once (about the shoulder) during the game," Sacramento coach Michael Malone said. "The way I am, if you ask someone about it, they're going to start thinking about it. I wanted to play him as much as I could and if he got hurt, fell on it, obviously big picture, we'd get him out, protect him and put someone else in."
The Kings took control in the third quarter, turning a five-point halftime lead into a 14-point advantage. They finished off a back-to-back sweep after beating Phoenix at home on Tuesday night.
The Suns lost their fourth straight game.
Defense, especially in the third quarter when Sacramento held Phoenix to 12 points, was what stood out to Malone.
"Which was great, because we gave up 44 in that fourth quarter so we bought ourselves a little bit of time," Malone said.
Cousins dislocated his left shoulder in Tuesday night's game, though he said afterward it wasn't separated. Malone said the big center got injured when he was fouled, but he continued to play that night and started Wednesday, playing 27 minutes.
Cousins absorbed some contact at the 9-minute mark of the first quarter and grabbed his left shoulder, grimacing in pain. He shot only 4 of 14 but was a force on the glass at both ends of the court.
"It's pretty sore," Cousins said. "It usually is the day after (the injury). Found a way to play through it and we came out with a big win."
Isaiah Thomas came off the bench to score 23 points and hand out four assists. He was also pesky on defense as the Kings scored 20 points off Phoenix turnovers.
The Kings (4-7) held the Suns to 44.7 percent shooting, outrebounded them 42-37 and forced 17 turnovers to Sacramento's 10.
"It's going to take a group effort every night on both ends," Malone said. "Guys are playing for each other on both ends of the floor, which I think is the beginning of us truly changing the culture here in Sacramento."
Point guard Goran Dragic got off to a strong start, scoring the first 11 points of the game for the Suns. The first eight all came on drives to the basket; the last three on a 3-pointer with 7:40 left in the first quarter.
Dragic made 10 of 20 shots for the game and ended up with 31 points.
"They outmuscled us. All the guys were pretty strong and we couldn't find a solution for their toughness," Dragic said.
Gerald Green went 6 for 8 on 3-pointers and tied a season high with 23 points for the Suns. He also matched a career high for 3s, but scored 20 of his points in the first half.
Green started in place of injured guard Eric Bledsoe, who was a game-time decision and did not play. Bledsoe is dealing with a bruised shin and has missed the past two games.
"It's still early. It's not like it's March or February," Green said. "We are still trying to figure things out. We can easily lose four games in a row and we can easily win four games in a row."
Phoenix (5-6) trailed by as many as 10 points in the first half. The Suns fell behind 81-64 after Kings reserve Travis Outlaw sank a 3-pointer and a long jumper on successive possessions early in the fourth quarter.
The Suns cut it to 95-88 with 3:10 to play on a 3-pointer from Marcus Morris, who finished with 13 points off the bench.
The Kings took a 62-53 lead with 6:41 left in the third quarter on consecutive baskets by forward Jason Thompson.
"We just were talkative," Thomas said of the team's third-quarter defense. "We wanted to protect the paint and I think we did a good job. I'm the smallest player on the court, so I have to do something on the defensive end."
Cousins scored 10 in the first and the score was tied at 27 going into the second quarter.
Sacramento took a 53-43 lead with 2:01 to play in the first half on a basket and free throw from Luc Mbah a Moute. But the Suns closed the half on a 7-2 run, with Green hitting a 3 with 1.7 seconds left.
The Kings improved to 25-79 in Phoenix. ... Sacramento has won four straight meetings. ... It was the first time this season the Suns didn't hold a lead in the fourth quarter. ... Phoenix made a season-high 15 3-pointers.
PHOENIX, AZ - NOVEMBER 20: General view outside of US Airways Center before the NBA game between the Sacramento...(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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MVP: Isaiah Thomas (23 points) was the best player on the floor for the Kings. The Suns had very little rim protection and Thomas took advantage of that, driving to the basket and scoring in the paint at will.
X factor: In a high-scoring affair, a 12-point third quarter proved to be Phoenix's undoing. The Suns' offense struggled in the period, forcing the team to try to erase a double-digit deficit for most of the second half.
That was ... déjà vu: Phoenix played a home-and-away against Sacramento and came away with the same result in each game -- a loss. It should be noted that Eric Bledsoe missed both games with a bruised shin. Phoenix could have used him.
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