SACRAMENTO, Calif. - DeMarcus Cousins missed Friday night's game with an illness but recovered quickly. Then he made the Knicks sick.
The undermanned Knicks fell behind by 14 points with 8:50 left in regulation Saturday night against the Kings but fought back and forced overtime. Then Cousins spoiled their hopes of earning their second victory in the last 18 games.
Cousins had a monster game, finishing with 39 points and 11 rebounds to lead Sacramento to a 135-129 overtime win. In the opener of their three-game West Coast trip, the Knicks lost for the seventh straight time and fell to 5-27.
"The effort was there,'' Jose Calderon said. "We gave everything we had. We just didn't get it. We just came up a little short.''
Carmelo Anthony tried to will the Knicks to the win, contributing 36 points, 11 rebounds and six assists in nearly 46 minutes. But all the pounding took a toll on his troublesome left knee, putting Anthony's status for the two remaining games on the trip up in the air.
The knee bothered Anthony as the game wore on and he spent extra time in the trainer's room getting treatment. He could sit out the Knicks' game against the Trail Blazers (24-7) Sunday night in Portland.
"It's tough," he said. "It's tough for me physically right now to know that we have another game and try to do what I have to do to muster up something overnight, in the morning and leading up until the game. Just see what I can do and what my body can take right now. See what happens.
"At this point I don't know how my body is going to react."
The Knicks already were depleted with only nine available players against the Kings. Amar'e Stoudemire, J.R. Smith, Andrea Bargnani, Iman Shumpert and Cleanthony Early all sat with injuries. Quincy Acy served his one-game suspension for his flagrant foul 2 against John Wall on Thursday.
Stoudemire's health has become a concern. He has soreness in his right knee that could sideline him for all three games on this trip. He has a history of knee trouble and has had his right one scoped multiple times. Stoudemire said he might undergo tests when the Knicks return home next week to see if it's more than soreness.
Stoudemire said he won't play Sunday night and isn't sure about Wednesday night's game in Los Angeles against the Clippers. It will depend on how his knee feels then.
Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 19 points, including a fast-break layup that tied the score at 117 with 20.2 seconds left in the fourth quarter, and starting center Cole Aldrich scored 18 points, shot 8-for-9 and had seven rebounds before fouling out early in overtime. Shane Larkin had 14 points and five steals.
But Cousins proved to be too much. He scored 20 of his points in the last 10:49 of regulation and overtime, including nine of the Kings' 18 points in OT. Rudy Gay added 29 points and Darren Collison had 27 points and 10 assists for the Kings.
The Knicks took their first lead of the game with 2:55 left in overtime as Larkin's steal and layup made it 124-122. They took their last lead at 126-124 on Calderon's jumper with 2:16 left.
After Cousins tied it with two free throws and Calderon missed twice on the next possession, Cousins fed Collison for a three-pointer that put the Kings up 129-126 with 1:22 to go. After the Knicks misfired again, Cousins drove baseline around two Knicks and threw down a ferocious dunk with 52.6 seconds left to make it 131-126.
"Cousins is an All-Star-caliber player,'' Derek Fisher said. "He just forced the issue in overtime.''
The Kings extended the lead to nine before Hardaway hit a three-pointer with 4.6 seconds to play.
Cousins was dominant the whole game, and the only thing that slowed him down was foul trouble. He had played only 18:08 when he re-entered the game with 9:06 left in the fourth quarter.
In regulation, the Knicks went on a 17-6 run and drew within 105-102 with 4:31 left on Hardaway's two free throws.
Cousins' follow made it 111-102, but Hardaway and Anthony connected on three-pointers on the Knicks' next two trips. Cousins then hit two straight jump shots to give the Kings a 115-108 lead with 1:45 to go.
Aldrich's hook shot made it 115-112 with 1:02 left, but Cousins hit two free throws with 45.6 seconds left for a five-point lead.
Anthony missed inside and couldn't convert the follow, but Aldrich got the rebound and was fouled as he went up. Cousins blocked his shot, but the officials reviewed it and called goaltending on Cousins. Aldrich completed the three-point play to make it 117-115 with 38.3 seconds to go.
A steal by Larkin led to a fast-break layup by Hardaway with 20.2 seconds left that tied it. Anthony forced a turnover, giving the Knicks a final shot in regulation with one second left, but out of a timeout, Gay blocked Anthony's three-point try to send the game to overtime.
"I think we put forth the effort," Anthony said. "There's no reason to hang our head after a game like this. To fight back and never give up and send this game to overtime and have a chance to win, you got to take your hat off to the effort."