SALT LAKE CITY - DeMarcus Cousins hadn't pulled punches lately with some of his postgame comments.
He'd said he couldn't keep blaming himself for the Kings losing and seemed to take shots at coach Keith Smart because he "had all the answers."
Smart said he did not thing any comments made by Cousins were a sign he had a setback in his progress to mature.
"Guys are going to say things," Smart said. "And when you're losing games, and you're not playing well, you take any news article around teams that are losing some games you're going to have some conversation.
"But the bottom line is players have to play on the floor and they've got to perform on the floor. I can put them in position but I can't do anything for them as far as scoring, passing and not turning the basketball over. I thought the way he played in New York, he played. I thought the way he set on this game, I thought he was ready to play.
"You've got to back up what you're going to say and move on."
Cousins looked more engaged than he had lately before he was ejected at halftime. The Kings eventually lost, 98-91, Monday night to the Utah Jazz at EnergySolutions Arena.
"When DeMarcus went out that was huge for us because he was active, he was really active early on," said Utah guard Randy Foye.
Here was Cousins' explanation of what happened when he was called for his second technical foul at halftime.
Cousins said he was simply doing what the officials tell players to do - ask them what's wrong if there is a problem:
"Before that, (the referees) tell us if you have a problem with them, come talk to them. They give us permission to do that. I tried to wait until the play was over. I waited until the play stopped, I went up to the ref...he kept telling me, 'Don't talk to me, don't talk to me, I don't want to talk to you.' So I waited until halftime. He said the same thing...he was saying, 'Don't talk to me.' So my response was, 'You don't have to act like an effing
female.' I shouldn't have said that. That's about it."
Here was Cousins on the first technical foul:
"I didn't understand why I got the first technical. The play was over, I was back trying to play defense, the play stopped and then I received a technical. I just wanted to know what I got a technical for. I guess that didn't work like I wanted to and I got an ejection. The play was stopped for another reason and (the referee) just ht it me with a technical. That I didn't understand. I don't even know what I did."
More from Cousins:
"Some of the techs I've received I shouldn't have got. Some of it's off reputation, some of it's off the mistakes I've made. So I've got to deal with it."
*Jason Thompson scored a season-high 23 points in the loss at Utah. But he wasn't celebrating his play.
"It was good that that I got into a rhythm but it was better that we had a lead and for the most part I felt that we controlled the game," Thompson said. "A couple shots didn't go our way ... we missed some shots in the overtime and the made their free throws."
*Chuck Hayes ended up playing the bulk of the minutes that would have gone to Cousins with part a big part of his job defending Al Jefferson.
"Obviously the situation with Cuz, we didn't plan that going in," Thompson said. "But that's what's so good about this team when someone's name is called they're ready to go. Chuck was a big lift for us."
Hayes said it wasn't hard to jump into the fray.
"It's about being a pro and being prepared," Hayes said. "I got the news at halftime that Cuz would be out. I'd watched the first half and saw where Al was getting the ball and took that away."