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TORONTO (CP) — The bulldozer that was DeMarcus Cousins smothered all the positive vibes building around the Raptors, and perhaps served as a reminder of how far Toronto still has to go.
The Kings centre poured in 31 points and grabbed 20 rebounds to lift Sacramento to a 105-96 victory over the Raptors on Friday, handing Toronto its first loss at home in six games.
Kyle Lowry scored 24 points to top the Raptors (12-21), who’ve lost just twice in 10 games.
“We were flat as a pancake. We had no answers for Cousins inside, we had no answer double-teaming. . . whatever it was,” said Raptors coach Dwane Casey. “We didn’t play with the zip, the bounce that we had, we were flat, missing free throws, turnovers, you name it we had it.”
Alan Anderson added 20 points, DeMar DeRozan finished with 14, Jose Calderon had 13 points and just three assists, and Ed Davis had 11 points and a team-high 13 rebounds.
The game was a sloppy affair for a Toronto team that was coming off one of its most solid performances this season just two nights earlier in a 102-79 victory over Portland.
For all the good feelings around a team that had been digging out of its early-season hole with hustle and teamwork, the Raptors seemed to be able to do little right Friday, shooting just 38 per on the night, making just 68 per cent of their free throws and coughing up 18 points on 15 turnovers.
They were hammered inside all night long, outscored 52-32 in the paint, thanks to Cousins.
The 23-year-old Davis, a stick-thin six foot 10 and 228 pounds — took a beating from the 6-11, 270-pound Cousins, who’s been strong in his five games since he was suspended Dec. 23 for “unprofessional behaviour and conduct detrimental to the team.”
The suspension came after Cousins and Kings coach Keith Smart had exchanged words in the locker-room during halftime of a game against the Los Angeles Clippers.
“He’s tough down there, he’s big, physical, we did a bad job of guarding him today,” Davis said. “Just getting him out of his comfort zone, he was getting pretty much everything he wanted.”
Cousins, who was drafted fifth overall in 2010, was also suspended by the league for hitting O.J. Mayo in the groin on Dec. 10. A month earlier, he was suspended two games without pay for confronting the San Antonio Spurs announcer in a “hostile manner.”
“He’s in a good spot as a basketball player right now and he’s only going to get better,” Smart said of Cousins.
Davis was left without much help against Cousins after Amir Johnson and Aaron Gray got in foul trouble, with Johnson fouling out of the game in the fourth quarter with zero points and just one rebound.
While the Raptors have been on a hot streak, the Kings have as well, winning six of their last nine games.
“This team scared me from the beginning with their size and talent,” Casey said of the Kings.
Toronto had an eight-point lead in the second quarter and trailed by just a point at halftime, but the wheels fell off in a third quarter that saw the Raptors outscored 28-10. They trailed 82-63 heading into the fourth in front of a disgruntled Air Canada Centre crowd of 17,824 that had developed a taste for winning.
The Raptors pulled to within 13 points with six minutes to play on back-to-back three-pointers from Calderon and Anderson, but the Kings padded their lead to 18 with two-and-a-half minutes to play.
John Salmons added 20 points for the Kings, who won for just the third time on the road this season.
Casey had cautioned against getting too excited over Toronto’s recent success too soon.
“We’re still 12 and 20, I’m not jumping up and down and throwing snowballs,” he said before the game.
“A loss always makes you understand what you have to work on,” DeRozan said. “Tonight just wasn’t our night on both ends. We weren’t making shots, we weren’t getting stops, we weren’t getting rebounds.”
Both team were missing some key players as Sacramento played its 10th straight game without Tyreke Evans (knee injury).
The Raptors have played 10 straight without forward Andrea Bargnani, and fourth without rookie forward Jonas Valanciunas. Linas Kleiza sat his second straight game with a sore knee.
Cousins had nine points and four boards as the Kings led for a good chunk of the first quarter — but never by more than six points. The visitors took a 23-22 advantage into the second.
The Raptors went on a 17-5 run early in the second to take an eight-point lead, but the Kings headed into the locker-room at halftime up 54-53.
Cousins continued to pound Toronto — to the tune of 10 points and eight rebounds — in the third quarter as the Kings outscored the Raptors 28-10 and took a 82-63 lead into the fourth.
NOTES: Sacramento took the first meeting between the two teams 107-100 on Dec. 5. . . The Raptors host Oklahoma City on Sunday. . . The Blue Jays’ Jose Bautista and Adam Lind chucked autographed balls up into the crowd during a timeout.