If the Dallas front office has its way, this will be the first of many wins that DeMarcus Cousins seals for the Mavericks.
The Mavs are among a handful of teams that would love to take the talented but troubled big man off the Kings’ hands. It appears unlikely that Sacramento (or Seattle) will deal Cousins before the trade deadline with the franchise’s ownership situation in flux, but his actions with the game on the line offer yet another glimpse of why the Kings might want to get rid of him eventually.
His production to that point (29 points on 9-of-14 shooting, nine rebounds) was a reminder of why he’d be worth the risk to the Mavs, who would have to take back a bad contract or two to get Cousins, who has one season remaining on his rookie deal.
While Cousins won’t admit it, it sure looked like his temper got the best of him once again in the final minute of overtime.
Shawn Marion came up with a steal after the Mavs swarmed him in the paint while Dallas was protecting a two-point lead. Cousins’ immediate response was to “accidentally” drive his forearm into Vince Carter’s face, resulting in a flagrant 2 foul that sent Carter to the free throw line and Cousins to the showers with 41.9 seconds remaining.
That play allowed the Mavs to make it a two-possession game and put Cousins at risk of being suspended by the NBA for the third time this season, in addition to a suspension by the Kings.
“I’m pretty sure that my reputation will come into play with the decision, but hopefully they realize that it wasn't intentional,” Cousins said, according to the Sacramento Bee.
The oopsy-daisy defense didn’t work for Cousins after the last Mavs-Kings game. The NBA suspended Cousins for one game due to a punch to O.J. Mayo’s groin that Cousins claimed was accidental.
If the Mavs manage to deal for Cousins, he’d be a major challenge for coach Rick Carlisle and the Dallas staff, including team sports psychologist Don Kalkstein. But the 22-year-old is so gifted that he’d be well worth the risk for the talent-starved Mavs.
“Cousins is a phenomenal player,” Carlisle said, commenting on Cousins’ performance against the Mavs, not any trade rumors. “I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a guy that’s that big that has the diversity that he has to his game. He does things off the dribble with such force and speed. He is really a unique player.”
The Mavs would love to acquire Cousins’ unique talent. His unique trouble might give them a chance to do so.
A few more notes from the Mavs’ second win in 12 games:
1. Dirk dead tired: Dirk Nowitzki played a season-high 40 minutes in the overtime win.
“It felt like it was 80, so I didn’t really have much going for the team, but I kept battling out there,” Nowitzki told reporter after scoring 17 points on 7-of-21 shooting and grabbing nine rebounds. “My legs were heavy.”
Nowitzki logged 33 minutes in the previous night’s loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. This was his first back-to-back as a starter this season.
“I guess back-to-backs are still a battle for me,” Nowitzki said. “The good thing is now I don’t think we have a back-to-back for two weeks. We’re home for a while, we don’t have to travel. [Sniffs loudly.] Get over this frickin’ nasal congestion for once and look forward to getting some home cooking and playing well at home.
“We haven’t really given our home crowd much to cheer for, so hopefully we can start playing better and win some games.”
2. Salute to Sarge: Bernard James had played a grand total of one minute over the previous three weeks, but the rookie center was ready when Carlisle called his number Thursday night.
The 6-foot-10, 240-pound James played 12 minutes, all in the second half, providing a spark in the win over the Kings. His numbers (four points on 2-of-2 shooting, one rebound, two fouls) weren’t special, but the Mavs outscored Sacramento by six points with James on the floor, in part because of his tough defense.
“Sarge gave us a big lift, just energy-wise and battling Cousins,” Nowitzki said.
Starting center Chris Kaman played less than a minute after halftime. He was 2-of-10 from the floor and the Kings had a 28-14 advantage in points in the paint during the first half, prompting Carlisle to go with defensive upgrades Elton Brand and James.
3. Welcome to Mavs, Mike: It took three days for Mike James, the 37-year-old point guard who signed a 10-day deal this week, to get crunch-time minutes with the Mavs.
James subbed in for starter Darren Collison with 8:37 remaining in the game and played until Collison replaced him with 3.7 seconds left on the clock. James had two points, one rebound and no assists in 15 minutes against the Kings, but the Mavs were plus-13 in his first extended action in a Dallas uniform.
“He’s experienced,” Nowitzki said. “He’s going to give us some savvy. He’s been around the block obviously and just goes in there and plays under control, plays hard, competes. He’s very vocal, pushing the guys in the right position and stuff. I think he’s just going to get better as he gets more comfortable around the guys.”