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Cousins' big game helps Kings beat Raptors

The SportsXchange

TORONTO - Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins says he has had difficulty finding his rhythm this season.

Don't tell that to the Toronto Raptors.

Cousins had season highs with 31 points and 20 rebounds and the Kings defeated the Raptors 105-96 on Friday at Air Canada Centre for their second win in a row.

The loss snapped a three-game winning streak by the Raptors, who have won eight of their past 10 games. The Kings (13-20) have won four of their past five games.

"I had a good night tonight, but I'm still really trying to find my rhythm," Cousins said. "So I am kind of selective with the shots I take now. But we came out with a win and that's all that matters."

Kings head coach Keith Smart said Cousins is "the guy who makes it work for us."

"I thought he had the right energy to start the game," Smart said. "He had the right mindset of not trying to score 50 but trying to let his teammates play and obviously trying to move the ball out of double teams because we know over the past couple of games teams have tried doubling him and he's done a great job of moving the basketball."

"We were flat as a pancake," Raptors head coach Dwane Casey said. "We did not have an answer for DeMarcus Cousins. We did not play with any zip. We were missing free throws -- only 67 percent from the free throw line. We had too many turnovers (15). You name it, we had it. This team scared me from the beginning with their size and talent."

John Salmons added 20 points and four assists for Sacramento, while Jason Thompson scored 14 points with six rebounds, and Isaiah Thomas had 11 points and six assists. Cousins' rebounding total equaled his career best.

Toronto's top scorers were reserves, with Kyle Lowry scoring 24 points and Alan Anderson adding 20 after coming off the bench.

DeMar DeRozan chipped in with 14 points, while Jose Calderon had 13 and

Ed Davis 11 for the Raptors.

"A loss always makes you understand what you have to work on," DeRozan said. "Tonight just wasn't our night at both ends. We weren't making shots and we weren't making stops and we were not getting rebounds."

The Kings took a 19-point lead into the final quarter after a 28-point third period. Salmons' 21-footer had Sacramento up by 22 with 10:11 to play.

Forward Amir Johnson, who has provided a spark for Toronto coming off the bench in recent games, fouled out with 8:16 to play in the fourth and finished with no points and one rebound.

Anderson cut the lead to 13 with a 3-pointer with just under six minutes to play. But Sacramento opened up again, and when Calderon hit a 3-pointer with 3:25 left, the Kings led by 14. Lowry's 3-pointer whittled the lead to nine points with 18 seconds left.

But the Raptors shot only 38 percent from the floor while the Kings hit 53 percent and were able to coast home.

"We're coming together," Cousins said. "We're playing some good team basketball. What we have been preaching is this: Let's try and make each other better every night, try to make your teammate better."

Sacramento scored the first 12 points of the second half after leading by one at the intermission. The Kings led 66-53 on a tip-in by Cousins with 7:18 to play in the third quarter after Thompson missed with a turnaround hook shot.

DeRozan scored Toronto's first second-half points on a four-footer with 6:58 to play in the third to cut the lead to 11.

The Kings stretched their lead to 19 on Thompson's pull-up jumper with 1:31 remaining in the third. The quarter ended 82-63. The 10 points scored by the Raptors represented their worst third quarter of the season.

Early on, the Kings led 23-22 on a layup by Thomas in the final second of the first quarter. The Raptors led by eight points with 6:33 to play in the second quarter and still led by seven with 2:03 left, but the Kings came back to take a 54-53 lead into halftime after Thompson's 18-foot jump shot with 6.9 seconds left.

Notes: Kings guard Tyreke Evans (sore left knee), who missed his 14th game in the past 18, rejoined the team in Toronto on Friday to continue treatment and rehabilitation after seeking a second opinion. He is expected to play during the Kings' five-game homestand that opens Monday against the Memphis Grizzlies. He worked out twice Thursday and again Friday. "We want to build his cardio up," Smart said. ... Kings' guard Marcus Thornton (sprained left ankle) did not play Friday and is expected to be out for two or three more days. ... Toronto forward Linas Kleiza (sore right knee) missed his third consecutive game on Friday. ... Forward/center Andrea Bargnani (right elbow) and center

Jonas Valanciunas (right ring finger) continue to be out for the Raptors. ... The

Kings defeated the Raptors 107-100 in Sacramento on Dec. 5. ... The Raptors

next game is at home Sunday against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Sacramento

plays again Saturday against the Nets in Brooklyn to complete a four-game road

trip.
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