It might be hard to believe, but DeMarcus Cousins had a controversial night on Tuesday.
Scoring a season-high 55 points, Cousins was simply unstoppable as he led the Kings back from a 12-point deficit to defeat the Portland Trail Blazers 126-121. Cousins shot 17 for 28 from the field, went 5 for 8 from beyond the arc and was 15 for 17 from the free-throw line. The Kings All-Star big man also collected 13 rebounds and recorded three blocks. Cousins' career high is 56 points.
Cousins' 55 is the second-most points scored in a game this season. Only Klay Thompson's 60-point explosion tops Cousins. The only other players to score 50 or more points this season are John Wall, Russell Westbrook and Anthony Davis.
But Cousins' performance was almost wiped out when he got ejected from the game with 30 seconds left. He spat out his mouthguard in the direction of Meyers Leonard and Portland's bench while talking trash, after scoring on an impressive and-1 play for his 53rd and 54th points. Cousins was immediately hit with a technical, his second of the game and was ejected.
Irate but still somewhat under control, Cousins ran straight to the Kings locker room to avoid getting in any more trouble. Cousins was in the locker room fuming and looking to tear something up, but the officials quickly called him back after they rescinded his technical, as the group came to the consensus that he didn't intentionally spit out his mouthguard:
Here's referee Brian Forte's explanation of the final tech/non-tech on DeMarcus Cousins pic.twitter.com/TxjBXoxR7a— Mike Richman (@mikegrich) December 21, 2016
Cousins came back into the game, sank his free throw to give him 55 points and then made a block on Damian Lillard that essentially sealed the victory for the Kings.
To make matters even stranger, Cousins ranted in his postgame interview using the word "ridiculous" numerous times to discuss how he felt officials are treating him. Adding more fuel to Cousins' conspiracy talk, the audio for his interview seemed to get cut off but Kings sideline reporter Kayte Christensen said the battery pack was just "jostled loose."
As you can expect, the Blazers are not taking this strange ending and Cousins' attitude in general that well. Blazers fans are creating Zapruder-esque films online to show that Cousins did spit his mouthguard. Leonard -- who always plays the Kings big man physical, which has caused a beef between the two -- sounded off after the game.
"He deserved to be out of the game for what he did," Leonard said via CSNNW.com. "He's very skilled player. Had a very good game. His antics are over the top, he's disrespectful, out of line. The list of words could go on. I can't respect someone like that. I saw some comment from him that, 'The world needs to see that this is ridiculous.' No, it's not ridiculous. He did it to himself, and that's the truth."
Leonard also told reporters that Cousins was talking to him when his mouthguard came out and said that his language was ""very vulgar [and] downright disrespectful."
While the Blazers have every right to feel violated by Cousins' actions, Portland did lose a 12-point lead because their dismal defense couldn't slow down the Kings. The comeback victory could prove pivotal in the postseason chase: Sacramento is now a game behind Portland for the eighth seed in the Western Conference.