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DeMarcus Cousins earned high praise from Kevin Garnett for his efforts Friday.SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- It's no surprise that Kevin Garnett and DeMarcus Cousins got under each other's skin a bit during the Kings' 120-95 throttling of the Celtics Friday night at Power Balance Pavilion. What's more noteworthy might have been the praise that Garnett heaped on Cousins following the game.
Cousins chipped in 20 points on 9-of-17 shooting with seven rebounds and four assists over 25:30. He earned a technical foul for being a little too amped after a putback over Garnett and Paul Pierce, but was a pest for Garnett all night.
While Garnett is often limited in his praise of younger players, especially ones that tend to spar with him on the floor (say, Chicago's Joakim Noah), Garnett was highly complimentary of both Cousins and the Kings as a whole after Friday's loss.
"Man, you know, he’s crafty," Garnett said of Cousins. "He’s better. His antics and all that stuff, that come with him, it's just part of the game. He was aggressive, he got looks with being aggressive. The times when he had a chance to score, he took advantage of them.
"Collectively, I thought [the Kings] played well tonight. I probably watched their last four or five games [before Friday's visit] and they weren’t playing this together. When the first option broke down, they went individual. They weren’t rebounding like this. They’re not a defensive team, but they do and can put up points. Tonight they played more collectively together. They looked like a unit and played like a unit."
Garnett finished with 10 points and nine rebounds over 27:46, one of his quieter efforts recently since moving to the center position.
Traveling violation: C's trip gets more daunting
The degree of difficulty for Boston's season-long, eight-game road trip is about to jump up, at least in terms of travel. Starting with Friday's loss in Sacramento, the Celtics are playing four consecutive games in four different time zones. Boston visits Denver Saturday for the tail end of a back-to-back, before hop-scotching back across the country with visits to Atlanta, Milwaukee, and Philadelphia.
"[The trip] has not been that bad so far, let's hope that continues," Rivers said before Friday's game. "The travel hasn't been bad. I think playing the first two games in the same city [Los Angeles], that absolutely helps. We haven't left the state. That's not bad either."
The Celtics spent the better part of four days in Los Angeles before flying up to San Francisco Tuesday night in advance of Wednesday's game against the Warriors. The team endured a mere two-hour bus ride to Sacramento (the traffic tempered by a pit stop at In-N-Out Burger) on Thursday before Friday's game against the Kings.
But Friday brought a postgame flight to Denver for a back-to-back with the rested Nuggets. The Celtics will sandwich days off around a visit to Atlanta before closing with a back-to-back in Milwaukee and Philadelphia.
Loose Balls: Talk about the weather
* Garnett summed up Boston's play nicely, comparing it to the dank weather in Sacramento. "[The Celtics played] like it was outside today: Gray, muggy, slow."
* The Kings hired former Celtics assistant Clifford Ray as a big-man consultant earlier this month. Rivers thinks he'll do well, particularly working with Cousins. "[Ray] does a great job, he works with the bigs, he’s going to give them a lot of energy," said Rivers. "He’s a great fit for Cousins. Obviously, he’s going to work with all the bigs, but I think DeMarcus, he’s the reason he’s here. He’s a wealth of knowledge."
* Pierce on the lopsided loss: "We gotta understand who we are, we’re a defensive group. I think we sorta tried to play [Sacramento's] game. ... We settled a lot for perimeter jumpers, which allowed them to get out on the break. They took advantage of their speed and quickness, that’s why they had 18 fast-break points in the first half. Then, once that happens, you got the ball inside, it opened up things on the outside for [Marcus] Thornton."