A three-game winning streak has the Kings still very much in the playoff race, behind the two teams that just made a trade. The streak began on Wednesday with a game against a good team in which DeMarcus Cousins was suspended (for picking up his 15th and 16th technical fouls on Monday), and depth continued to be a key over the weekend. In fact, the Kings have the league's best aggregate bench NetRtg in February (plus-15.7 points per 100 possessions), as Matt Barnes and Anthony Tolliver have shot well (combined 24-for-57 from 3-point range) and Willie Cauley-Stein has provided more than just highlight dunks.
Look who just beat Golden State, Boston and Atlanta in one week. Also, look! It’s Willie Cauley-Stein! (video at link)
The Kings were trailing by 11 points Sunday night at home when New Orleans' Buddy Hield was ejected for his groin strike on DeMarcus Cousins. The hosts outscored the Pels 66-49 thereafter to quietly secure their third successive win amid the understandable panic spawned by Cousins reaching suspension territory -- 16 technical fouls -- before Valentine's Day. The playoff-starved Kings have to be on edge knowing that Cousins will be suspended for every other technical he accrues over the season's final 27 regular-season games. Especially when Boogie happens to be one of only three players league-wide averaging at least 20 PPG, 10 PPG and 5 APG since Jan. 1, alongside Westbrook and Jokic. Click here, meanwhile, from some long-awaited goodness from Willie Cauley-Stein as chronicled by our own Zach Lowe.
Three wins, two over Eastern Conference playoff teams has them back within 1.5 games of the 8th seed. That's a better run than the teams behind them, so they wind up here. Willie Cauley-Stein deserves credit for not getting down when he was out of the rotation and just keeping his work ethic up. He's been back to doing the great rim running he's capable of. He's going to be a good player in this league.
DeMarcus Cousins has already been suspended one game for reaching 16 technicals in one season and now gets another missed game every second technical he picks up — and he got one Sunday night (he made incidental contact to the face of Donatas Motiejunas, it was a fair call he did catch the guy in the face). The Kings need him on the court to have a shot at the playoffs, and the owner wants them in it — which could lead to a short-term thinking move at the trade deadline. Don’t be shocked.
Mean Ranking: 18.8
So you're saying there's a chance!