Following his recent one-game suspension, DeMarcus Cousins appears to be focused on putting his energy into dominating the paint for the Sacramento Kings.
That's not a good sign for a Milwaukee Bucks team looking to win consecutive games for the first time in nearly a year.
Cousins and the Kings will try to get their longest road trip of the season off to a positive start Wednesday night against the Bucks, owners of the worst home record in the NBA.
Cousins, averaging team highs of 22.3 points and 11.6 rebounds, has gotten back to posting big numbers since returning from his suspension for punching Houston's Patrick Beverley on Feb. 25.
The fourth-year center was also fined $20,000 in the incident for verbally abusing officials and failing to leave the court in a timely manner. He leads the league with 15 technical fouls - one shy of earning another one-game suspension.
Since then, Cousins has totaled 44 points and 29 rebounds in two games. He had 23 and 12 to lead Sacramento (21-39) to a 96-89 victory over visiting New Orleans on Monday.
Isaiah Thomas contributed 22 points and Reggie Evans scored 10 with 13 boards as the Kings outrebounded the Pelicans 47-30 to snap a three-game losing streak.
While Sacramento ranks in the league's top 10 with 44.2 points per game in the paint and a plus-2.2 rebounding margin, Milwaukee (12-47) is near the bottom with 37.7 points in the paint and a minus-3.3 margin.
Cousins was suspended for a 98-85 loss in the most recent matchup in Milwaukee on Dec. 12, 2012 after striking then-Dallas and current Bucks guard O.J. Mayo in the groin area.
The Kings allowed an average of 121.0 points during their three-game skid before holding an opponent to fewer than 90 on Monday for the first time in a month. But they committed 19 turnovers for the second straight game, including six by Cousins and five from Thomas.
"Starting off against Milwaukee, can we defend at a high level over the next seven games?" said coach Michael Malone, whose squad begins a seven-game road swing. "And we continue to turn the ball over - you can't win on the road like that."
Sacramento could have a difficult time defensively if Milwaukee stays hot after shooting 56.8 percent and going 8 for 13 from 3-point range in a 114-88 home win over Utah on Monday.
Ersan Ilyasova scored a season-high 31 points on 13-of-14 shooting to lead five Bucks in double digits. Zaza Pachulia and Ramon Sessions added 14 apiece as the owners of the worst record in the league improved to 7-24 at home in front of a season-low 10,222 fans.
''It all came together tonight and that was really good to see,'' coach Larry Drew said after the most lopsided win of the season.
Milwaukee also held Utah to 39.2 percent shooting after giving up an average of 104.4 points and 48.6 from the field in the previous 10 games, during which it allowed at least 100 points each time.
The Bucks will try to continue that strong defensive play as they look to win two in a row for the first time since March 17 and 19. The Kings, however, have averaged 112.3 points and 48.2 percent shooting while winning two of three on the road.
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