SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins and coach George Karl agreed on at least one thing Wednesday night: The Kings' 101-92 victory over the Detroit Pistons was desperately needed.
The victory ended a six-game losing streak for the Kings and came two days after Cousins blistered Karl in a postgame rant that led players, coaches and front-office staff to air their grievances in a series of meetings Tuesday that swept more turmoil through the franchise.
"I don't care what type of team you're on, a new team, a veteran team, a losing streak is heavy," Karl said. "My analogy – I don't know whether I stole it from somebody – there is a weight. I call it, 'Kill the monkey.' There is like a monkey hanging on your back."
Asked if he agreed with Karl's monkey analogy, Cousins said: "Nah, I don't refer to it as a monkey. We got some extra weight off our back."
Cousins' and Karl's issues date back to this offseason when the coach said he was open to trading the All-Star center. Cousins was bothered by the comments, and Karl later apologized.
After missing four games with a sore Achilles tendon – all of which Sacramento lost – Cousins returned Monday during a 106-88 defeat to the Spurs. When Cousins exited the game for good down 100-80 with 3:28 remaining, he was frustrated and told Karl, "It's not always about you," a source told Yahoo Sports.
In the locker room after Monday's game, Cousins popped off for several minutes in front of the team, coaches and front-office executives and unleashed a profanity-laced tirade at Karl, a source said. Kings general manager Vlade Divac and assistant coach Corliss Williamson tried to calm down Cousins.
"He cussed out Coach Karl," a source who witnessed the locker-room altercation told Yahoo Sports, confirming an initial Big Lead report. "… George just took it and was confused to what Cousins was mad about."
Another source in the Kings' locker room told Yahoo: "There were a lot of expletives tossed to Karl, but there was a method to Cousins' madness. He made a lot of points."
Cousins apologized for the incident in a statement given to Yahoo before Wednesday's game against the Pistons.
"It is no secret that we are frustrated with losing, me more than anyone," Cousins said in the statement. "I let my frustrations get the better of me in the locker room after the San Antonio loss, that is my [fault]. For the record, my frustration is not about any one person or coach. All of us are accountable. My frustration is that we are 1-7, simple as that."
Divac said he was "OK" with Cousins' rant and didn't think it was solely directed at Karl. Divac also said he still believes in Karl, who has a 13-26 record as coach of the Kings.
"Yes," Divac said. "Nothing has changed, really."
Karl, 64, is in the second year of a four-year, $15 million contract. He is a two-time cancer survivor and also has sore knees and a hip, but said he is still physically able to coach.
"I have more energy now than I've ever had," Karl told reporters at Wednesday morning's team shootaround. "I'm the lightest I've ever been, I eat better than I've ever eaten. I feel great. My style of coaching has gone [to where] after my second cancer, I delegate a lot more. But I believe in that, and I think it's starting to work at a high, high level."
The Sacramento Bee reported that Karl wanted Cousins suspended for two games. The Kings did not discipline Cousins. Divac declined comment on whether he considered fining or suspending Cousins.
"As a [former] player, I know how it's frustrating," Divac told Yahoo. "It's better to say something and show that guys care."
Kings point guard Rajon Rondo said his message during Tuesday's meeting was to stop blaming one another.
"We've made a lot of mistakes that other teams have capitalized on," said Rondo, who added that he is on the same page with Karl. "It's no one individual. It's our entire team. We got to be a lot more unselfish, and that's not just about passing the ball."
A meeting that included the front office staff and the coaches followed the players-only meeting on Tuesday. Cousins said the meetings were "very positive" and "every issue we had was covered." He added that the Kings did what families do, "sit down and talk their problems out."
"The most important thing that we had after the meeting was we were on the same page, bottom line, on how to improve," Divac said. "That's positive stuff."
When asked what best came out of the meetings, Cousins said: "Just win. [Expletive], I'll take the hit. If the result was this every night, I'll take the hit. I'll be the scapegoat."
Along with Cousins' injuries, Kings backup point guard Darren Collison has missed three straight games with a left hamstring strain. Third-string point guard Seth Curry has missed two straight games with a right ankle sprain, but might return Friday against the Brooklyn Nets. The Kings' schedule also has been tough: Six of their losses have come against teams that made the Western Conference playoffs last season.
"I still have high hopes for this team," said Rondo, who had 14 points, 15 assists and 11 rebounds while playing all 48 minutes against Detroit. "People blame it on our schedule, but I don't believe in that. I don't make any excuses. We are where we are. We got to dig a lot deeper and continue to get ourselves out of this hole."
Cousins had a game-high 33 points, nine rebounds and four made 3-pointers to spark the Kings in the victory over the Pistons.
"It's a good win, something this team needed," Cousins said. "We had some adversity, came together and overcame. It's time to build from this."
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