SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — DeMarcus Cousins had 29 points and 14 rebounds in his second start since returning from a serious illness, and the Sacramento Kings snapped a five-game losing streak with a 108-101 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.
Rudy Gay scored 24 points, and Ben McLemore added 23 points and eight rebounds to help the Kings pull away late. Sacramento had lost 10 of 12 games — going 2-8 while Cousins recovered from viral meningitis — and fired coach Michael Malone last week.
Tyrone Corbin won for the first time in three games as Sacramento’s interim coach.
Nick Young scored 26 points, and Kobe Bryant had 25 for the Lakers, who have lost six of eight. Bryant shot just 8 of 30 and had five rebounds and three assists.
In what has been a trying time for both franchises, the Kings finally found a way to break through.
Cousins is still working his way back into shape but was as animated as ever, often talking to himself between plays and overpowering defenders during them. He shot 9 of 19 and had three blocks, two assists and two steals.
The Lakers still gave the Kings trouble most of the way.
Young started a four-point play while getting fouled by Gay near the top of the arc, lifting the Lakers to an 89-83 lead in the fourth that quickly evaporated. Gay followed with a 3-pointer, and Derrick Williams had a tying three-point play the next time down.
The teams traded baskets before Sacramento’s finishing burst put the game out of reach.
Cousins highlighted the decisive run when he came up a defensive rebound and threw a bounce pass ahead to Darren Collison, who took a couple of dribbles before tossing a no-look alley-oop to McLemore that put the Kings up 99-91 with 4:02 remaining.
It was the only big lead that lasted.
The Kings went ahead by 10 points in the first quarter behind Cousins and an up-tempo, ball-movement style that often had Los Angeles lost in transition. But the Lakers closed the quarter on an 11-4 spurt with Cousins getting a reprieve, and they kept the momentum going for most of the second.
The Lakers led 60-52 at the half.
Bryant put on a dazzling display of post-ups, pull-ups and perimeter shots to put Los Angeles ahead 79-66 in the third. But as has been the case most of the season, he couldn’t carry the Lakers alone.
The Kings closed the quarter on a 15-1 run. They led 81-80 entering the fourth.
The Lakers have three more games within the week, hosting Golden State on Tuesday, Chicago on Christmas, and Dallas on Friday.
Lakers: Los Angeles beat Sacramento 98-95 on Dec. 9 at Staples Center in their first matchup. Cousins sat out the game. … The teams play two more times this season.
Kings: Former franchise center Vlade Divac sat next to Kings owner Vivek Ranadive near center court. … Gay thanked fans before the game for their support and wished them happy holidays.
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