6:00 PM ET, March 23, 2014
Sleep Train Arena, Sacramento, CA
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- DeMarcus Cousins did something Sunday he's not usually known for: lots of smiling.
Cousins has shown increasing maturity over the last 13 games since he was called for technical fouls Nos. 14 and 15 of the season and ejected in a Feb. 25 loss at home to Houston. That left Cousins one technical from a mandatory one-game suspension.
But the emotional Cousins has put a halt to complaining to referees and hasn't drawn another technical. Against the Bucks, he was clearly enjoying a big margin of victory, a rarity this season for the Kings.
"It's always fun to win," said Cousins, who dodged a question about any new-found approach to the game. "My focus is going out and winning."
Different approach or not, Cousins clearly had his way with the Bucks. Scoring in a variety of ways, he had 14 points in the first quarter and 21 by halftime. The Bucks were never able to contain the talented Kings center.
Cousins made 14 of 19 shots, four of six free throws and added four assists and two steals.
"Now I see where he is bringing it more (upcourt) on the dribble after the rebound," Bucks coach Larry Drew said. "I was mad at my guys for not getting in his way, but you can see he looks comfortable doing it. It's just the matter of him being under control and it looks like he is and making the right plays out of it."
The Kings demonstrated early they would not be overlooking the struggling Bucks. Sacramento led by 23 points after one quarter, took a 70-44 lead into halftime, and were ahead by 34 points after three quarters.
"We can't go out there and lay down. I'm not saying we did that tonight," Drew said. "This is one of the few games we came out and laid an egg at the very beginning. We've actually been playing some pretty good basketball."
O.J. Mayo scored 13 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter for Milwaukee. Mayo consistently connected from the outside and the Bucks shot 75 percent in the fourth quarter in outscoring the Kings 37-20.
"I told our guys that any win in the NBA is something to be happy about, but I just didn't like how we played in the second half," Kings coach Michael Malone said. "We gave up 63 points, they shot 64 percent from the field in the second half. We had no discipline."
Brandon Knight came in averaging 20.1 points in March, but the Milwaukee guard missed his first seven shots and finished 2-of-12 and had six points and seven assists.
Milwaukee (13-57) has dropped 10 of 11 games overall. The Bucks have won only eight home games and have lost eight straight and 18 of 19 on the road, dating to Jan. 2. Their lone road win in that stretch was Feb. 24 against Philadelphia, another struggling team.
Milwaukee will need to reverse the losing trend quickly if it hopes to avoid a franchise-worst season. The 1993-94 Bucks had a 20-62 record.
Thomas scored 14 points and Cousins had 11 in the third quarter. Sacramento went over the 100-point mark on Thomas' 3-pointer at the 2:35 mark and was in front 104-70 after three quarters.
The Kings came out a little sluggish in the third quarter, but seemed to get inspired after Cousins grabbed a rebound and dribbled the length of the court and finished with a resounding dunk. The basket ignited a 16-3 run that put the Kings ahead 90-57.
Bucks rookie guard Nate Wolters fractured his left hand Thursday against Golden State and will miss the final 13 games. ... Royce White played his second straight game for the Kings, getting in for the final 48 seconds. ... The Bucks shot 27 percent in the opening quarter and 35 percent in the first half. ... Mayo had not played in the previous six games.
SACRAMENTO, CA - MARCH 23: Isaiah Thomas #22 of the Sacramento Kings shoots the ball against the Milwaukee Bucks...(Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
Around The Association
MVP: Isaiah Thomas found the perfect balance between scoring and playmaking Sunday. The Kings' point guard finished with 30 points, eight assists and three turnovers. Half of Thomas' assists came in the opening period during which the Kings scored 39 points.
X factor: Since the All-Star break, the Kings have had trouble moving and taking care of the ball. Coming into today's game, Sacramento had posted an assist-to turnover ratio of 17.3 to 17.9. Against Milwaukee on Sunday, the Kings played a solid game, recording 19 assists to just 12 turnovers in the victory.
That was ... a walloping. The Kings never let the Bucks see the light of day in this matinee matchup. Sacramento dropped nearly 40 points in the opening period, outscoring the Bucks 39-16 in the first quarter. The Kings also set a record for most points in a half this season with 70 before halftime of today's game.
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