NEW ORLEANS — Nearly twenty minutes after watching his youthful team outplayed, Monty Williams sauntered out of the home locker room, jacket off but wearing a frustrated look across his face.
A quick look at the statistics told him everything he needed to know about Monday night’s game at the Smoothie King Center.
And it told you everything you needed to know about why he appeared downtrodden.
“I think they were putting their hands on us in a way that had us on our heels a little bit,” Williams said of the Kings’ players. “But the rebounding – they wanted the ball more than we did on shots.”
New Orleans finished the game with a 17-rebound deficit and came up five points short in the end in a 102-97 loss to Sacramento, the Pelicans’ second-straight loss after winning five consecutive.
“They outrebounded us by 17,” Williams said. “They had 15 offensive rebounds against our team. We just didn’t have a great level of sustained effort tonight.”
Two Kings (26-48) in particular reflected Sacramento’s effort.
DeMarcus Cousins finished with 35 points, including 9 of 12 from the foul line, and a game-high 14 rebounds. Time again, he was double-teamed. Time and again, he barreled right through the New Orleans players.
Reggie Evans, meanwhile, picked up 12 rebounds only 23 minutes. He could have had more, but after ducking his left shoulder to get underneath New Orleans’ Anthony Davis, he leapt into the Pelicans’ second-year star, knocking him to the floor when his arm hit the forward under the chin.
An official review determined the foul to be a flagrant-2 and he was ejected from the game.
Still, the Pelicans were outrebounded in the final quarter 14-9.
“We dominated,” Cousins said. “We did a good job on the boards tonight. That was one of our key points going into the game tonight. Whichever team really controlled the boards we thought would be the victory of tonight’s game.”
Davis finished with 22 points, eight rebounds and four blocked shots. Anthony Morrow added 23 points off the bench.
But the energy that marked the Pelicans’ five-game win streak was missing Monday night. Cousins was the beneficiary.
“He draws so much attention. He’s probably the best in the NBA in my opinion,” Morrow said. “He puts so much effort in the way he plays.”
Now the Pelicans embark on a stretch in which they travel for five of the next six games.
To do well, they’ll have to find a way to regain the energy.
“I don’t think it’s a secret or anything, we don’t have a lot of girth but we have to bring energy from all over to make up for that,” Morrow said. “We have tomorrow to bounce back. We have to watch the film and get back to work.”