SALT LAKE CITY — For some reason, there’s never a dull moment when the Utah Jazz and Sacramento Kings play.
Bad basketball? Sure, there’s plenty of that.
But these two teams have a habit of playing tough games against each other, and often with tense and tight endings — and, yes, technicals and tossings for DeMarcus Cousins.
That was the case yet again Monday night at EnergySolutions Arena, where the Jazz eked out a 98-91 overtime win over the Kings.
Randy Foye scored 20 points, Al Jefferson had 15 with 12 rebounds and Paul Millsap and Alec Burks each contributed 14 points to lead the Jazz. Four of the teams’ six games before this OT battle were decided by three or fewer points.
“I’m going to take it, brother. I’m going to take it,” Jefferson said. “To be short-handed and to play with low energy throughout the whole game, we found a way to come out and win, so I’m going to take it all day long.”
Millsap scored four points and had a key blocked shot in the final 1:30 of overtime, and Foye drained four free throws in the last 14.3 seconds of overtime to clinch the win.
The Jazz improved to 27-22 overall and 18-5 at home.
Jason Thompson led the Kings with 23 points and 10 rebounds. Tyreke Evans had 20 points.
Sacramento, despite leading by seven points with under five minutes remaining in regulation, dropped to 17-33 with its fourth consecutive loss at the end of a six-game road trip.
“I have to tip my hat to our guys,” Sacramento coach Keith Smart said. “Based on the game we played a couple of nights ago (120-81 loss at New York), it looked like the wheels were falling off, but this group has been great for me all year on bouncing back and showing they can do it.”
The Kings were forced to play the final two quarters and overtime without Cousins, who had 10 points and six rebounds before getting ejected at halftime.
Cousins increased his NBA lead in technical fouls by getting one with 2:23 left in the second quarter after getting physical with Jefferson in the lane.
That was Cousins’ 11th tech of the season. His 12th came minutes later.
While both teams headed to their locker rooms for the break, Cousins approached referee Scott Foster to discuss the first T. It didn’t take long for the official to make a motion to the locker room as he ejected the upset Sacramento center.
“(The ref) was saying, ‘Don’t talk to me,'” Cousins said. “So my response was, ‘You don’t have to act like an effing female.’ I shouldn’t have said that. That’s about it.”
This was the second time this season that Cousins was tossed in a game against the Jazz and his third ejection overall this year.
Even with Cousins in the locker room, the Jazz found themselves down 82-75 with less than five minutes to play. Utah quickly turned that around with an 8-0 run that was started by a Foye 3-pointer followed by two free throws and a shot-clock-beating trey by Marvin Williams.
Referees reviewed Williams’ 3-pointer and confirmed that it was behind the line, giving Utah an 83-82 lead with 2:40 remaining.
Jefferson put the Jazz up 84-82 by splitting two free throws, and Evans tied it with two foul shots with 58.9 second remaining.
Each team had a chance to win in regulation, but Evans missed on a drive and Jefferson airballed a 3-point attempt at the buzzer.
In overtime, Foye hit a jumper on the Jazz’s first possession and Utah never trailed after that.
“We’re working some things out with the rotation and some personnel,” said Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin, who’s missing Mo Williams, Gordon Hayward and Earl Watson with injuries. “But they all hung in there, they stayed together and as a result we were able to tough out a win here.”
Former BYU standout Jimmer Fredette, playing 40 miles north of his college, had a rough outing. The Kings’ backup guard had two points on 0-of-5 shooting from the field while playing in front of many BYU fans and his college coach, Dave Rose.
The Jazz shot 52.8 percent from the floor but struggled, as usual, against the athletic and physical Kings.
Coming into this one, four of the past six games between Utah and Sacramento were decided by three points or less.
NOTES: Hayward has been limited to doing cardio and receiving treatment on his sprained right shoulder since injuring himself 10 days ago. “I have not shot,” he said. “I’m getting anxious to.” Utah’s swingman said he doesn’t have a timetable for his return. The Jazz are also missing Williams (thumb surgery) and Watson (leg bruise, stress fracture). … Fredette had a surprise waiting for him in Salt Lake City when his team flew in from New York on Sunday: his wife, Whitney. They ended up watching the Super Bowl with his sisters in Utah. “I was happy for Dennis Pitta, a BYU guy,” Fredette said with a smile, referring to the Ravens tight end who caught a touchdown pass in Baltimore’s 34-31 win. … Fredette on his return to Utah, where he became a household name with his sensational scoring at BYU. “It’s always fun. I always have a great time coming back, seeing friends and family and familiar faces, just with the BYU crowd and people that you have learned to love the last four years that I was in college.” … Having finished off a six-game road trip, the Kings have four days off to recuperate before hosting the Jazz on Saturday night. … Sacramento averaged 80.7 points in its previous three games coming into Monday’s contest.