DeMarcus Cousins Crowns Sacramento Kings With 41 Points and 23 Rebounds In Return
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Sacramento, Calif. – The last time three-time NBA All Star DeMarcus Cousins appeared in a Sacramento Kings uniform at Golden 1 Center was against the New Orleans Pelicans on Feb. 12, 2017.
The Kings won the game 105-99. Cousins led the Kings with 28 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists. Eight days later, Cousins was traded to the Pelicans, ending his nearly seven years with the team that drafted him No. 5 overall out of Kentucky in 2010.
It was the man they call “Boogie” first time back in Sacramento for a televised match on TNT. All he wanted to do was to play the game. The Kings and Pelicans came in with 1-3 records and it quite evident that both parties had something to prove.
With equal importance, Cousins and the Kings fared well during their encounter, but the Pelicans won 114-106, without Anthony Davis, after being down by 19 points in the first half. Cousins laid down 41 points, 23 rebounds, six assists, one steal and one blocked shot for the Pelicans.
“I was super nervous coming in. The anticipation was like through the roof and I couldn’t really wait until the ball went up in the air so we could actually get to the basketball game,” Cousins said among a sea of reporters after the game. “But I’m just glad to get a win, honestly. I think we grew from our last game. We stayed calm and stayed poised.”
DeMarcus Cousins before tipoff against his former team, the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center on Oct. 26, 2017. Publicity Agents photo art by T. Ray Harvey.
Rookie De’Aaron Fox came off the bench to lead the Kings (1-4) with 14 points, five assists, and two rebounds. Zach Randolph had 13 points, nine rebounds, three assists, and a blocked shot. Willie Cauley-Stein and Buddy Hield each had 12 points.
“That was a good game,” Kings head coach Dave Joerger said. “Certainly a tale of two halves. We made a lot of defensive mistakes in the second half. We gotta do a better job of staying in front of the ball individually.”
Jrue Holiday had 18 ppoints, six assists, and made four 3-point shots for the Pelicans (2-3). Jameer Nelson, nearly 36 years of age, had 18 points, six assists, and also made four treys for New Orleans.
“I thought they did a great job,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said of Holiday and Nelson. “I thought Jrue played more like Jrue. Then Jameer, he hadn’t many practices. So some of the plays that I called he looked at me like I’m crazy.”
Cousins, who got a grand-standing ovation by the fans of Sacramento scored the first basket of the game, but the Kings countered with an 11-0 run. Cauley-Stein got it going for the Kings in the first quarter by scoring eight points on 3 of 3 shooting from the floor. The Kings started the second quarter with a 40-27 gap.
Joerger allowed 10 of his players to check in the game in the first quarter, 11 total in the first half when Vince Carter entered the contest in the second quarter. The Kings biggest lead was 19 points in the first 24 minutes. Sacramento led 70-56 at the half.
Cousins had 20 rebounds, nine rebounds, five assists, one steal, and one blocked shot in the first half. He made eight of 17 shots from the floor. The Kings were up by 15 points early in the third quarter, and then the situation drastically changed.
Holiday, who had four points in the first half, caught fire and scored 13 of the Pelicans 24 points to help New Orleans take a 80-79 lead late in the third quarter. The lead bounced back and forth the rest of the way, though the Pelicans were up 88-87 to start the final quarter.
Cousins and company built up a 98-91 margin nearly four minutes into the fourth quarter. The Kings fought back to regain the lead 106-105 on two consecutive baskets by Cauley-Stein, the second an alley-oop from Fox.
Cousins made a 25-foot 3-pointer on the next possession and then the Pelicans closed the game out with two free throws by Holiday and a two-hand dunk by Cousins. It was an ending the young Kings did not want, but Cousins been on this rodeo and knows when to buck off the saddle.
“We knew coming they would be juiced,” Cousins said of the youthful Kings. “This is just as big a game for them as it was for us. So we knew they would be juiced. They’d come out swinging and that’s exactly what they did. They’re a young, energetic team. So with that being said we just knew we had to stay poised and fight that game out.”
Cousins was pretty much balanced the whole night, before and after the game. He did lament a few days ago about the trade that sent him packing to the deep south.
Cousins had told ESPN’s Undefeated sports writer Marc Spears that he should have “moved on” when George Karl was named the Kings coach in February 2015.
He said he “was a fool” for staying in Sacramento, an expression the 27-year-old unleashed during the interview as he felt the Kings management had misled him about his future two weeks before the trade.
Off the court, Cousins was a gem in the Sacramento community. He sponsored basketball clinics, he bought Sacramento Charter High School a state-of-the-arts scoreboard, and he paid the funeral expenses for a member of the Grant Union High School football team, who was shot and killed.
Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry knows what Cousins was doing during his stay in Sacramento. After the initial shock of getting traded, during the All-Star played in New Orleans, Gentry said Cousins eventually came to grips the trade, and then pushed his community service efforts to the Crescent City.
TNT sideline reporter Rosalyn Gold-Onwude interviews DeMarcus Cousins after the New Orleans Pelicans road victory. Publicity Agents photo art by A. Ray Harvey.
Cousins received the the inaugural Offseason NBA Cares Community Assist Award last week, the award honors an NBA player for his exceptional work and impact in the community from the end of the regular season to the start of the following season.
“It was emotional when he left here. I was there (in New Orleans) when he got on the plane,” Gentry said. “I think some people don’t realize that. Sometimes they look at these guys as something other than a 22-, 25-, 27-year-old kid. That’s what they are. They have the same emotions as everyone else has. It’s tough because it wasn’t his decision to leave. It stings. It hurts. But we really appreciate everything he brings to the table community-wise.
Sacramento was his home and he treated the city that way. Cousins love for Sacramento was deeply in contrast with his explosive attitude on the court. He clashed with referees, opposing coaches, players, fans, and his own coaches in the Kings locker room.
When Skal Labissiere was drafted late in the first round out of Kentucky in 2016 by the Kings, he heard of Cousins’ reputation of being a hardnose individual. Like many others who learned about the DeMarcus Cousins, Labissiere saw his good side in the Kings locker room.
“He treated me pretty well and treated his teammates pretty well,” Labissiere said of Cousins. “Some of the stuff I heard about him I didn’t really see it. He did a lot for this team.”
As Cousins and the Pelicans move on to play the Cleveland Cavaliers on Oct. 28 in New Orleans, he can take another memory from Sacramento with him. Sacramento’s welcome home party is one he’ll never forget.
“I have nothing but love for this city,” Cousins said of Sacramento. “I came here as a kid. Left here as a man. As I stated many time, I have people here I consider family. These fans have been great to me throughout the years and love will always remain the same.”
By T. Ray Harvey | PA Public Information Officer and Photographic Artist
Twitter: Tony Ray Harvey @PublicityAgents
T. Ray (Antonio) Harvey is a Public Information Officer and Photographic Artist for Publicity Agents. Harvey is also the author of The HOMICIDAL HANDYMAN OF OAK PARK: MORRIS SOLOMON JR.