LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Sacramento Kings never beat the Los Angeles Clippers in four games last season. They made sure that wouldn’t happen again with a dominant fourth quarter.
DeMarcus Cousins had 34 points and 17 rebounds, Rudy Gay added 25 points, and the Kings handed the poor-shooting Clippers their first loss in three games this season, 98-92 on Sunday.
“We definitely earned that one,” said Cousins, who was singing in the shower afterward.
The Kings rallied from a 10-point deficit in the third quarter and outscored the Clippers 28-18 in the fourth. They took the lead for good on a layup by Gay with just under six minutes to play.
“We’ve just been holding our ground,” said Darren Collison, who had 14 points against his old team. “This is definitely a confidence booster.”
Blake Griffin and Spencer Hawes both scored 17 points to lead five Clippers in double figures. Chris Paul had 16 points and 11 assists after spraining his foot early, J.J. Redick had 12 points, and Jordan Farmar added 10.
The Clippers struggled offensively for the third straight game, shooting 33 of 88. They were 9 of 31 from 3-point range, with Matt Barnes, Paul and Redick combining to miss a slew in the fourth.
“It finally caught up with us,” Paul said. “We’re getting great looks, we’ve got the right people shooting. Shots just not falling.”
Griffin took just five shots in the second half.
“I did a poor job of setting the tone early,” he said. “I missed a lot of easy ones.”
Even new Clippers owner Steve Ballmer couldn’t exhort his team to victory, his fists clenched, his face red and his lips forming the words, “Let’s go!” from his baseline seat.
The Clippers led by two early in the fourth, when their second unit got things going. But the starters returned and couldn’t make a difference.
In the third, the Clippers led by 10, but the Kings chipped away. Gay scored seven straight to whittle the Kings’ deficit to single digits.
“The empty possessions were because we went into style points,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “We had a wide-open 3-point shot; instead we flip it to J.J. and get nothing. Then we flip up a finger-roll lob and they steal it. Now it’s a different game.”
The Kings held the Clippers to 0 of 12 from 3-point range in the fourth.
Cousins scored the Kings’ first eight points of the game, and he had 11 points in the third when they cut a 10-point deficit to four heading into the fourth.
“We played great on both ends of the floor, shared the ball well, communicated well,” Cousins said. “This was a good team effort all the way around.”
Sacramento’s Ben McLemore received a flagrant-1 for pulling Griffin down from behind midway through the first. Griffin was on a breakaway when McLemore yanked on his jersey, sending Griffin to the court, where he landed at McLemore’s feet near the basket support. Cousins was trailing on the play, and the referees quickly moved in to separate the players.
Paul sprained his left foot in the first half, but stayed in the game, playing a total of 37½ minutes. He was limping afterward and groaned slightly while sitting down and getting up again.
Kings: Collison spent last season with the Clippers as Paul’s backup before leaving for a starting role and more money in Sacramento. He said it wasn’t too tough facing his old team, adding, “If I had been with them longer I probably would feel a little different.” Rivers said he knew by mid-season that Collison wouldn’t be back and there was nothing the team could have done to keep him. C Ryan Hollins followed Collison north, and the team also has former Clipper Reggie Evans.
Clippers: G Jamal Crawford had an X-ray on his sore left ribs, which was negative, but he is doubtful for Monday. He got hit by the Lakers’ Robert Sacre in the second half of Friday’s game. ... F Glen Davis missed his third straight game with a strained right groin.
Kings: At Denver on Monday.
Clippers: Host Utah on Monday in their fourth game in five nights.