SACRAMENTO -- This was no time for Sacramento Kings coach Keith Smart to be picky.
He and his team needed a victory, so although there was no domination, holding on for a 124-118 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday night was just fine.
An announced crowd of 12,194 at Sleep Train Arena watched DeMarcus Cousins lead the Kings with 26 points, 14 rebounds, six assists, three blocked shots and two steals. Marcus Thornton scored 20 off the bench, Tyreke Evans had 18 and reserve Jimmer Fredette added 16.
"When you're struggling to get a win," Smart said, "you'll just take what you can get. Our team did a good job (Monday), and we got that win. Now we have a little breathing room, and we have another game to play Wednesday (against Washington)."
The play of Cousins impressed Cleveland coach Byron Scott.
"He's a beast down there," Scott said of Cousins around the basket. "He's tough. He's been playing well. I've been watching some of the box scores when they play, and he's been averaging around 20 points and 12 rebounds a game, and (Monday) was no different."
Cousins had to survive a second-half incident in which it looked as if he might get ejected. While battling for a loose ball, he was whistled for a foul on Tyler Zeller, and he received a technical foul. Referees Tony Brothers, Mike Smith and Derek Richardson huddled and looked at the play on a TV monitor.
The play was ruled a flagrant foul 1, and Cousins continued to play.
"I've come to expect the worst every game," said Cousins, who was ejected after he was called for a flagrant foul 2 on Thursday in the Kings' overtime loss to the Dallas Mavericks. "I didn't think there was anything there but a foul. But I'm just telling myself, 'Let's not make this situation worse.' I just kept playing. My thought was every bad play, let's make a good play. So that's what I did. I wanted to get the momentum back in our favor."
Smart was pleased by the way Cousins handled the situation.
"He knows that everything he does is going to be viewed, discussed and talked about," Smart said. "I think when he plays in the heat of battle, you can see how quickly he gets himself back in control. That's growth for him to get himself under control quickly and communicate with the officials in the right way."
Rookie Dion Waiters scored a career-high 33 points for Cleveland (9-31).
Sacramento (14-24) ended its four-game losing streak thanks to balanced scoring. Six Kings players reached double figures, as the offense produced the victory. The Kings surrendered a season-high 128 to the Miami Heat in a loss Saturday night. Cleveland entered the game averaging 94.4 points.
The Kings did a solid job on Cleveland's second-year point guard Kyrie Irving, who was limited to 15 points on 6-of-19 shooting.
Defending Waiters was another story. The fourth pick of the 2012 draft was close to unstoppable no matter the defender. Waiters made 12 of 18 shots from the field, including all three of his 3-point attempts.
His ability to use his dribble to the basket as well as clear space for jump shots proved an unsolvable dilemma for the Kings.
Waiters had five teammates score in double figures.
Cleveland forward Tristan Thompson contributed 17 points and a game-high 15 rebounds. He made the most of his seven offensive rebounds, turning the second chances into put-back buckets.
The Kings established a double-figure lead late in the second quarter. Cleveland remained close thanks to Waiters and Thompson, but the Cavaliers never could get over the hump.
NOTES: Kings 2012 first-round draft choice Thomas Robinson entered the game having grabbed 10 or more rebounds in each of his past three games. He had his first double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds against Miami. Robinson finished with 12 points and seven rebounds Monday. ... Cleveland forced 22 turnovers in each of its two previous games, at Denver and at the Los Angeles Lakers, but the Kings gave the ball away just 11 times. The Cavs rank fourth in the NBA in opponents' turnovers (15.8 per game). ... Evans, who had been slowed by a sore left knee, rejoined the starting lineup. He last started Dec. 16 against the Denver Nuggets. ... Kings guard Aaron Brooks was in uniform after missing two games with the flu, but he didn't play again. ... Waiters will be coming off the bench for the next two or three weeks, according to Cavs coach Byron Scott. "We look for him to give us scoring off the bench, as well as work on some things he needs to improve. We think we can put the ball in his hands a little more with the second unit," Scott said before the game.