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Kings take locker room frustration out on Pistons

One game after team meltdown, Sacramento shines on court

POSTED: Nov 12, 2015 9:13 AM ET

By Scott Howard-Cooper

BY Scott Howard-Cooper


Pistons vs. Kings

DeMarcus Cousins scores 33, Rajon Rondo has a triple-double as the Kings take down the Pistons.

— This was their rare opportunity to exhale, to make a statement that didn't have to be crafted and distributed to the media, to hold a different kind of team meeting.

Wednesday night's Kings win at Sleep Train Arena was the biggest Sacramento win in months, probably even longer, and not just because it was one of the few wins. Only the second in nine tries, yes, but an emotional venting more than anything as bad news piled up around them and threatened to turn 2015-16 into the organization's latest farce.

The six-game losing streak was over, for sure, thanks to the 101-92 victory over the Detroit Pistons. The talk of another coaching change was slowed, for now. The dysfunctional feel of a franchise that can't get out of its own way is not going anywhere, but these last few days were the Kings' chance to reboot the season that fishtailed away from them with such ease and speed that it was a surprise even with their penchant for calamity.

I'll take the hit. If it results in this every night, I'll take the hit. I'll be the scapegoat.

– Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins

There was the race to the bottom of the standings and the injuries, especially to All-Star DeMarcus Cousins and key reserve Darren Collison. And player frustration over an unpredictable rotation. And Cousins returning Monday against the Spurs, then declaring after the latest loss, "We got some issues in house we need to figure out," around the same time owner Vivek Ranadive had the brilliant idea it was a good night to parade rapper Drake around the locker room.

That was followed by reports Cousins cussed out coach George Karl in front of the players, another story that Karl wanted Cousins suspended for the outburst but did not get support from the front office, and the team meeting Tuesday that all sides said was a positive for the chance to clear the air.

There was no immediate word whether Drake concurred.

All the while, many minority owners have grown increasingly frustrated with Ranadive's inability to steer the ship, management began to question whether 64-year-old cancer survivor Karl was physically capable of the job -- eight months after being hired by Ranadive -- and the season was quickly slipping away at 1-7.

Given the chance to dismiss the idea he wanted Cousins suspended, Karl declined comment Wednesday. At least Cousins apologized, or his representatives told Cousins he was apologizing in a statement released to Yahoo Sports: "It's no secret that we are all frustrated by losing -- me more than anyone. I let my frustrations get the best of me in the locker room following the loss to San Antonio -- that is my bad. For the record, my frustration is not about any one person or player or coach. There is no one to blame. All of us are accountable. My frustration is that we are 1-7, simple as that."

And to the Kings front office, Cousins' tirade a couple nights earlier was frustration firing off in every direction and not specifically directed at Karl, thus the absence of discipline.

That made Wednesday night against the Pistons the team's latest new fresh start.

"I thought yesterday our meeting, not only me and (Cousins), but I think made a step and a connection," Karl said. "In a 1-7 stretch, I think it's always sometimes good to kind of open up the door and listen to people. I think that was done yesterday."

Then followed by a first half Karl called the best the Kings have played this season.

"It was a good win, something this team needed," Cousins said. "We had some adversity. We came together, overcame and will try to build from this."

I thought yesterday our meeting, not only me and (Cousins), but I think made a step and a connection.

– Sacramento Kings coach George Karl

He added a couple minutes later, when asked about the best thing to come out of the team meeting the day before: "The win. I'll take the hit. If it results in this every night, I'll take the hit. I'll be the scapegoat."

Cousins doesn't have to worry about that. There's plenty of blame to go around.

For a night, though, Sacramento turned ever so slowly back in a good direction, to be followed by the next big moment of seeing whether they can harness the positive mood into Friday night against the Nets. The Kings improved to 2-7 and all felt a little more right in their world.

For now.

Scott Howard-Cooper has covered the NBA since 1988. You can e-mail him here and follow him on Twitter.

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