NEW ORLEANS (AP) — DeMarcus Cousins had 35 points and 14 rebounds, and the Sacramento Kings snapped a three-game skid with a 102-97 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday night.
Ray McCallum, starting because of Isaiah Thomas’ right thigh injury, scored 22 points. Rudy Gay also scored 22, including a momentum-swinging 3-pointer after the Pelicans had pulled within a point in the fourth quarter.
Reggie Evans grabbed 12 rebounds before his ejection for an elbow to Anthony Davis’ face on a collision that occurred as Evans went up for a close-range shot.
Davis, returning from left ankle injury that forced him to miss a start on Saturday, had 22 points. Anthony Morrow scored 23 points and Tyreke Evans 15 for the Pelicans, who have dropped two straight on the heels of their season-high, five-game winning streak.
Sacramento used a 14-6 third-quarter run to lead by as many as 12 points.
The surge started with Cousins saving the ball along the baseline and slinging a pass to McCallum, who in turn found Ben McLemore sneaking in behind the defense for an alley-oop dunk. There were two more dunks during the spurt, one by Cousins right after Alexis Ajinca had missed a tomahawk jam attempt on the other end.
McLemore, who had 14 points, ended the spurt with a breakaway dunk set up by Travis Outlaw’s steal from Darius Miller.
But New Orleans closed the period on an 8-0 run during which Evans was ejected. Officials conferred while watching a replay before calling the flagrant-2 foul on the Kings forward, who responded to the crowd’s applause of his dismissal by smiling and raising his arms as he walked to the tunnel.
Davis, who remained face-down on the court for several seconds after the foul, got up and hit both free throws. Then Morrow added a 3 to make it 80-76.
Morrow got the Pelicans as close as 84-83 with a jumper in the middle of the fourth quarter, but Gay responded immediately with a 3 from the corner, and McCallum added a pair of clutch jumpers that quickly made it an eight-point game.
New Orleans pulled to 97-93 on Morrow’s jumper with 1:21 left, but Cousins responded with a reverse layup, and the Pelicans never got closer than four points during the final minute.
Sacramento hit eight of its first nine shots in building a double-digit lead before the game was 10 minutes old.
McLemore had eight early points and his free throws made it 28-18.
New Orleans then opened the second quarter on a 17-5 run that included 10 points by Morrow on four jumpers, two from 3-point range. The surge put the Pelicans up 39-34, but Cousins snapped the run with a driving dunk as he was fouled.
New Orleans maintained a single-digit lead for the rest of the quarter, going into halftime ahead 55-53.
Notes: Sacramento had 15 offensive rebounds and finished with a 22-4 advantage in second-chance points. … The game marked the fourth meeting between Pelicans coach Monty Williams and his former assistant, Kings first-year coach Mike Malone. Sacramento won three of those games. … Jared Cunningham played 4:17 in his first game since being signed by Sacramento. He had two points and a rebound. … Jeff Withey had a career-high five blocks for New Orleans.
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