SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Huge deficits on their home floor have been as commonplace for the Sacramento Kings this season as the sight of DeMarcus Cousins picking up a technical foul.
Against the Atlanta Hawks, neither trend proved to be disastrous.
Cousins stayed out of trouble and Darren Collison’s driving layup that kissed off the top of the glass with 3.5 seconds left capped Sacramento’s rally from a 22-point second-half deficit in a 108-107 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night at the Golden 1 Center.
Collison finished with 22 points. His last two capped a wild final 75 seconds that featured seven lead changes.
Atlanta led 71-49 with 7:02 remaining in the third quarter after Dennis Schroder canned a 3-pointer, but the Kings outscored the Hawks 59-36 in the final 19 minutes to post consecutive home victories for the first time since December.
Cousins, in his first game back after receiving a one-game suspension for picking up his league-leading 16th technical foul on Monday, scored 12 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter, grabbed 11 rebounds and added seven assists. He did not pick up a technical foul.
“We’ve been pushing and pushing (for better starts), but we let it happen again,” Cousins said. “It’s all good at the end of the day, but we have to understand that when we play upper-tier teams, if we want to be a playoff team, it’s going to be a lot tougher. We need a focused approach. We can’t keep putting ourselves in this position.”
The Kings, only four nights removed from nearly erasing a 27-point second-half deficit in a loss to the Chicago Bulls, have been plagued by slow starts and big deficits at home all season. But they also have played ferociously down the stretch at home, and this win was no different.
“It would be great not to be in a big deficit,” Kings coach Dave Joerger said. ” … We’ve got a real competitive spirit about us, and guys care about each other, and it was fantastic.”
Ben McLemore also finished with 22 points, his best offensive effort of the season, and Anthony Tolliver added 15 points on just seven shots.
McLemore hit six 3-pointers and Tolliver added five for Sacramento, which made a franchise-record 18 (on 36 shots) from long range.
Each hit key 3’s as Sacramento whittled away Atlanta’s lead in the fourth quarter.
“They started making some shots,” Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer said. “They just found a little bit of a rhythm there to finish the third quarter. We weren’t good enough, and then it was a ballgame going down the stretch.”
Tim Hardaway Jr. finished with a game-high 28 points for Atlanta. He converted a three-point play on a driving layup and canned a 3-pointer on successive possessions to give Atlanta a 101-94 lead with 3:17 left.
The long-range shot came after a Cousins turnover, one of nine that he committed on a night Sacramento had 18.
But Tolliver nailed a 3-pointer, and after a Kent Bazemore miss for Atlanta, Cousins made a 3-pointer. Cousins then stripped Hardaway Jr. on a drive to the basket and Barnes picked up Tolliver’s 3-point miss amid a bunch of Hawks and put back the rebound for Sacramento’s first lead.
Schroder converted two free throws on Atlanta’s next possession and Cousins matched those two after Dwight Howard’s sixth foul.
Schroder canned a jumper for the wing for a 105-104 Atlanta lead, but Cousins forced his way through a double-team down low and converted his own missed layup to put Sacramento ahead 106-105 with 20.8 seconds left.
Cousins then nearly stripped the ball from Milsap, but the Hawks veteran recovered and hit a pull-up jumper on the left-key wing for a 107-106 lead with 7.9 seconds left, setting the stage for Collison’s heroics.
“They did a good job of knocking down their shots,” Milsap said. “But when you’re up 20 points, you should have control of the game.”
Milsap finished with 25 points and Schroder scored 20 for Atlanta.
NOTES: Kings F DeMarcus Cousins will be suspended one game for every second technical foul he receives the rest of the season. Cousins, who has hit 106 technical fouls since entering the league in 2010, reached the 16-technical threshold for suspensions in 52 games, the fewest in league history since the NBA instituted the rule in the 2005-06 season. The rest of the Kings have combined for 13 technical fouls. … Hawks G Thabo Sefolosha hasn’t played in seven games since Jan. 27 because of a groin injury. The Hawks, who give up 100.9 points per game with Sefolosha in the lineup, were allowing an average of 112.5 points in the previous six contests without him. … Kings G Ty Lawson missed the game with a strained left hamstring and remains day to day. … F Omri Casspi, who had been pushing for Friday return, remained sidelined with a calf tendon strain. … Hawks co-owner Grant Hill received the NCAA’s Gerald R. Ford award for showing significant leadership in advocating for college sports and donated the $25,000 honorarium to Atlanta’s Morehouse College, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.