Cousins helps Kings rout LeBron-less Cavaliers 103-84

LeBron James declined to speak to reporters after Cleveland’s latest loss without him. His Cavaliers teammates had another quiet night, too.

DeMarcus Cousins had 26 points and 13 rebounds and the Sacramento Kings beat Cleveland 103-84 on Sunday, handing the Cavaliers their seventh loss in eight games with James out with a strained back and sore left knee.

Cleveland has lost five straight and is 1-8 in its last nine games to drop to 19-19. The Cavaliers fell behind by 15 points in the second quarter and the Kings maintained a double-digit lead.

“They came out and punched us in the mouth. The first time we got into a double-digit deficit we just hung out (our) heads,” said Kevin Love, who had 25 points and 10 rebounds.

In addition to James’ absence, the Cavaliers are playing for a new coach, adjusting to offseason moves and the additions last week of JR Smith and Timofey Mozgov.

We’re going through a lot of trials and tribulations, a lot of changes,” Cleveland coach David Blatt said. “We’re making adjustments on the fly. Tonight was definitely not a step forward. It wasn’t a good performance, you can’t sugar coat it.”

Kyrie Irving had 21 points and had seven assists for Cleveland. Mozgov, acquired from Denver last week, had 14 points and 12 rebounds.

“LeBron being out, that’s 27 points we have to make up every game,” said Irving, who was ineffective after hitting four 3s and scoring 14 first-quarter points.

Smith struggled after scoring 27 points in his second game since joining Cleveland in a trade with New York. He had four points on 2-of-10 shooting in 30 minutes.

Rudy Gay added 23 points for Sacramento. Darren Collison had 16, and Carl Landry added 11.

It was a rare lopsided victory for Sacramento. The Kings have struggled mightily since opening the season 9-5 record. It was only their seventh win since Nov. 26.

“I know when we do play, we are pretty hard to beat,” said Collison, who had six assists and none of the team’s season-low five turnovers. “We were just talking about how we let the last game slip away. It’s a learning process. The thing that’s been it for us is being inconsistent as a team. When we commit to playing defense, then it becomes a lot easier for us.”

The Kings were at their best in the second quarter, sharing the ball and forcing the Cavaliers to take perimeter shots. Ben McLemore made a 3-pointer, and Gay and Cousins followed with baskets as Sacramento closed out the quarter with seven straight points to take a 15-point halftime lead.

“When we defend the way we can, it’s going to lead to easy offense,” said Cousins, who had three blocks. “We’ve just go to come out and be consistent every night if we want to be a defensive team.”


Cavaliers: James was on the floor with his teammates and shooting Saturday at practice and again prior to the game. Blatt said there is a possibility that James could practice Monday. Cleveland’s five-game West Coast trip concludes Friday night against the Clippers.

Kings: The Kings led 59-44 at the half. They shot 54 percent and had only one turnover in the half. … Former baseball player and manager Dusty Baker, who grew up in Sacramento, was among the boisterous crowd.


Cavaliers: Visit Phoenix on Tuesday night.