Mutual admiration between Cousins, Jordan: 'We’re basically two goofballs'

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Mutual admiration between Cousins, Jordan: 'We’re basically two goofballs'

SACRAMENTO -- There is bad blood between the Kings and Clippers. There has been for multiple seasons and it’s not likely to get better anytime soon. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a ton of mutual respect as well, and maybe even a few friendships behind the scenes.

DeMarcus Cousins, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin - they love to hate each other. It’s a war of words for 48 minutes and sometimes it’s more than that. But Cousins and big man DeAndre Jordan have developed a bond that goes beyond the jerseys on their backs.

“It’s always something, I’m kind of the mediator,” Jordan told CSN California prior to the Clippers taking shootaround at Golden 1 Center on Friday. “DeMarcus is a competitor, man. So is Chris, so is Blake, so am I. None of us wants to lose once the ball tips up.”

Paul has struggled with a hamstring injury, but returned to play in the Clippers 108-96 win over the Kings on Friday night. Griffin is out for a while with a knee injury, but his frontcourt mate is always ready for a heavy dose of the big fella.

“That’s my guy,” Jordan said. “He’s a hell of a player, I love playing against DeMarcus, I know every time it’s going to be a challenge on both ends of the floor.”

Jordan finished ahead of Cousins at the center position in voting for the All-NBA first team, pushing the Kings big man to the second team. He always looks forward to battling against another one of the best bigs in the game.

“He’s so talented, man,” Jordan said of Cousins. “He’s so talented. He’s a really good basketball player. One of the top bigs in our game. It’s always a challenge and a great time whenever we face off.”

Jordan spent time this summer playing alongside Cousins with Team USA and had nothing but glowing things to say about the two-time All-Star.

“I think he’s a really great teammate,” Jordan said. “Honestly, he’s super competitive and he loves the game of basketball. It was cool playing with him this summer.”

The feeling is mutual. Cousins and Jordan share an agent, which has helped them develop an even tighter bond. Cousins said that the two have spent time off the court together, including dinner at Jordan’s home with his family.

“He’s a fun loving guy,” Cousins told CSN California following the loss to the Clippers. “He’s a great energy to be around. He always has a positive vibe to him, you just enjoy being around people like that. I think the feeling is mutual.”

The two weren’t friends once the action started on Friday evening. Cousins tried to draw Jordan away from the basket and attempted to beat him off the dribble. He battled Jordan in the post and tried to pick up fouls on the defensive-minded big.

Cousins finished the night with 25 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists and three steals, but it was Jordan’s team that came out on top.

The Clippers star center hit the glass and patiently waited for Paul to set him up for alley-oop dunks. He finished the night with 20 points and nine rebounds in the win.

The contrast in style between the two bigs is huge, but according to Cousins, they have a lot in common off the floor.

“We’re basically two goofballs,” Cousins said. “We like to joke around, we like to have fun - me and DJ are very similar in those aspects.”

When it comes to gametime, they are ready to put their friendship aside and go to battle. While they are stylistically different, they both play a physical game.

Basically, it’s two giants pounding on each other from start to finish.

“Hell yeah, that’s a big ass dude, man,” Jordan said with a smile when asked if he’s sore after playing against Cousins. “I hope that he would say he’s sore after playing against me too.”

At the end of the day, it’s just a basketball game. There is a ton of respect between the two centers. Once the final score is posted, they have the ability to take a deep breath and get back to being friends.

“We’re trying to do everything we can to win a basketball game,” Jordan said. “After that, we’re dapping each other and having a good time talking trash and laughing. But those 48 minutes, we’re trying to win a basketball game - it’s all about the competition.”

The Clippers hold a 2-0 advantage in the season series with Sacramento. The two bigs will have to wait until March to face off again and then they’ll finish the season against one another on April 12.

Young Kings' inexperience rears ugly head in loss to Jazz

Young Kings' inexperience rears ugly head in loss to Jazz

SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings showed their age Wednesday night at Golden 1 Center. They couldn’t buy a basket early. They could do no wrong in the second and third quarters. And when the chips were down, they couldn’t stop a charging Utah Jazz team from pulling away for the 112-82 blowout.

Utah led by as many as 20 in the first quarter and it looked like it was going to be a long night. The Kings shot just 31.6 percent in the game’s first 12 minutes and they allowed the Jazz to knock down 5-of-11 3-pointers early.

“We started off slow and in a hole and tried to come back,” Willie Cauley-Stein said.

The Jazz pushed the lead to 24 in the opening minutes of the second quarter and then Ben McLemore happened. The fourth-year guard went off for 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting in the second as the Kings cut Utah’s lead to just seven at the intermission.

“It’s nice to see him back in there and getting rhythm and feeling good about himself,” Dave Joerger said of McLemore. “He is able at his size to get off of people that are holding. With his athleticism, he can be an effective cutter and he can be an effective pin down player.”

The 24-year-old wing finished the night with 22 points on 9-of-12 shooting, but he was one of just three Kings players to notch double-figure scoring as the ball movement dried up for long stretches.

Utah made adjustments in the second half to slow McLemore and the Kings did a poor job of responding. They over dribbled the ball, leading to just 14 assists on the night.

The Jazz on the other hand looked like a finely oiled machine. With big man Rudy Gobert anchoring the post, they made cuts at the rim and found open shooters all around the perimeter.  

“They hit shots, a lot of shots, a lot of threes,” Willie Cauley-Stein said. “That breaks the game wide open when you’re hitting threes and a lot of stuff is going in.”

Sharpshooter Rodney Hood dropped in 5-of-5 from long range, scoring 18 points in just 24 minutes of play. Gordon Hayward knocked down 3-of-5 from deep for a team-high 20 points. Overall, Utah outscored the Kings 39-6 from 3-point range.

Despite the rough start and the barrage of 3-point makes by the Jazz, Sacramento cut Utah’s lead to just two midway through the third quarter. And then the playoff bound Jazz dropped a 52-24 run on Sacramento to finish the night off.

Joerger allowed his core of young players plenty of time on the floor. Skal Labissiere played a team-high 33 minutes in the loss, coming away with nine points and seven rebounds.  

“I’m definitely learning a lot,” Labissiere said. “It’s the best way to learn to be out there against guys like that. Whenever I’m out there, I’m always learning something. I just try to give my best.”

Rookie Georgios Papagiannis added eight points and three rebounds in 20 minutes and Buddy Hield struggled for one of the few times in a Kings uniform, scoring just two points on 1-for-7 shooting.

It’s a process. With the playoff chatter over and done with, the Kings are bound to have a few more night’s like this in the final seven games of the season as they transition to a full youth movement.

 

Instant Replay: Kings fight back, but succumb to Jazz

Instant Replay: Kings fight back, but succumb to Jazz

BOX SCORE

SACRAMENTO -- After winning two straight, the Sacramento Kings came out flat and the Utah Jazz made them pay. The Jazz quieted the crowd early, pushing their lead to 24 points in the second quarter, but the Kings bounced back to make it a game. In the end, Utah had too much firepower, coming away with the 112-82 victory.

All-Star Gordon Hayward used his height advantage at the wing to punish the Kings. Hayward scored 20 points on 8-for-14 shooting and added seven rebounds in the win.

Rudy Gobert pounded the Kings in the paint, finishing the night with 16 points and 15 rebounds.  

Rodney Hood knocked down 5-for-5 from behind the arc on his way to 17 points. Shelvin Mack shot 5-of-8 from the field for 14 points and Joe Ingles finished with 12 points and five assists off Quin Snyder’s bench.

There is no quit in Ben McLemore. The fourth-year guard has an uncertain in Sacramento after this season, so he made sure to put on a show for anyone who might be interested in his services. McLemore dropped in 17 of his 22 points in a wild first half run that got Sacramento back into the game.

Darren Collison was one of the few Kings to find success early as the Jazz built their big lead. The veteran point  guard finished the night with 12 points and one assist.

Willie Cauley-Stein didn’t back down from Gobert. The second-year 7-footer managed to score seven points and grab a team-high eight rebounds in the loss.

Ty Lawson came off Dave Joerger’s bench to score 11 points and dish out three assists. Skal Labissiere shook of a slow start to score nine points and grab seven rebounds, while rookie Georgios Papagiannis chipped in eight points.

STANDOUT PERFORMER:
McLemore caught fire. He singlehandedly stopped the Kings from getting blown out in the first half with his 7-of-8 shooting performance before the intermission.

TURNING POINT:
Sacramento managed to make it a game in the third quarter, clawing all the way back to within one point. The Jazz responded to take a 78-67 lead into the fourth and then put the Kings away.

INJURY UPDATE:
Garrett Temple and Kosta Koufos sat for scheduled rest. Arron Afflalo missed the game due to a personal matter. Rookie Malachi Richardson is officially out for the season with a right hamstring thickness tear. Rudy Gay is out for the year with a torn left Achilles.

WHAT'S NEXT:
The Kings travel to New Orleans where they’ll face DeMarcus Cousins and the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday evening. They’ll fly to Minnesota following the game to play the Timberwolves as part of a back-to-back.