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

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USATSI

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.

Instant Replay: Second quarter kills Kings in loss to T'Wolves

Instant Replay: Second quarter kills Kings in loss to T'Wolves

BOX SCORE

SACRAMENTO -- Adjusting to life without DeMarcus Cousins is proving more difficult than the Kings thought. For the second straight game, Sacramento struggled to score the ball, falling to the Minnesota Timberwolves by a final of 102-88 Monday night at Golden 1 Center.

Karl-Anthony Towns continued his strong play. The second-year big is quickly becoming one of the best bigs in the game and at age 21, the sky's the limit. Towns dropped in 29 points, grabbed 17 rebounds and blocked three shots as the Timberwolves improved to 24-36 on the season.

Andrew Wiggins had a big night as well. He got off to a slow start, but once he started playing the passing lanes it opened up everything for Minnesota. The talented 22-year-old finished the night with 27 points on 10-for-22 shooting and added four steals.

Ricky Rubio chipped in nine points and dished out 11 assists. Nemanja Bjelica added 10 points and 12 rebounds in the win.

Kosta Koufos overpowered the Timberwolves in the post. The Kings starting center scored 14 points and grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds.

Ben McLemore drew the tough assignment of guarding Wiggins and held his own early. But once the high-flying wing got going, McLemore had no answer. On the offensive end, he finished the night with 14 points on 5-for-10 shooting.

Willie Cauley-Stein scored 14 points, grabbed six rebounds and dished out five assists. Ty Lawson went for 11 points and nine assists, while Tyreke Evans picked it up late, scoring 13 points on 5-of-12 shooting.

STANDOUT PERFORMER:
Wiggins and Towns put on a show. Give these two a couple of seasons and they might be the best duo in the game.

TURNING POINT:
The Kings looked completely lost in the second quarter and the Timberwolves ran them off the floor. After a competitive first 12 minutes of action, Minnesota outscored Sacramento 40-19 in the quarter to take a 60-44 lead into the intermission. Game over.

INJURY UPDATE:
Arron Afflalo missed his third straight game with a sore hamstring. Garrett Temple and Malachi Richardson sat again with varying degrees of hamstring issues. Temple is out for another few games with a left hamstring tear and rookie Richardson is out 4-6 weeks with a right hamstring thickness tear, but hopes to return before the season is finished. Rudy Gay is out for the year with a torn left Achilles.

WHAT'S NEXT:
The Kings continue their homestand Wednesday when the Brooklyn Nets swing by Golden 1 Center.

 

1-on-1 with Cauley-Stein: Finally having a good time in Sacramento

1-on-1 with Cauley-Stein: Finally having a good time in Sacramento

SACRAMENTO -- Anointing Willie Cauley-Stein as the savior of the Sacramento Kings is a mistake. One player cannot replace the incredible impact on the floor of the departed DeMarcus Cousins. Placing that type of pressure on a young player can do more damage than good.

The second-year big man came out hot in the team’s first game without Cousins, scoring a career-high 29 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. He backed that up by struggling against the Charlotte Hornets, posting just two points and two rebounds as Steve Clifford had his club clog the middle and take away the pick-and-roll.

Cauley-Stein is neither the superstar that sunk the Denver Nuggets, nor the player that struggled against the Hornets. He is somewhere in between and the Kentucky product has plenty of time to carve out his own path.

It will take a team effort to replace Cousins and even then, Sacramento will have to add more pieces in the offseason. For now, Cauley-Stein will get an opportunity to earn his paycheck. There are plenty of minutes of the 23-year-old 7-footer who sat down with CSN California this week to discuss his increased role with the Kings.

JH: What has this experience been for you, not only getting 35 minutes, but getting 22 shots attempts, How big is this opportunity for you?

WCS: It’s brand new, but it’s what you want, you know. It’s a situation you want to come to. Now it’s just all about believing - believing it’s consistent. Staying in an assassin's mind frame of just, come in, do your dirt and get out and hopefully you can compete enough to get the win. I can’t stress enough about how I’ve just got to be locked in, because I want that, I want this, I want this opportunity, I want to capitalize on it. (I want to) start getting some clout in the league.

JH: You’ve been known as a defensive-minded player your entire college career. How do you change people's mind and make them see that you can be something different?

WCS: You know, you never will, you never will. People want to see you how they want you. And I went a few years now trying to change people’s perception of what they think you should be. It’s what you want to be. I no longer care about what my critics say. How are they going to tell me what my game is and what I work on and what I don’t work on? You’ve just got to believe in your work, believe in your path. At this point, I’m really in-tune to what I’m trying to do.

JH: Does it help you that you’re surrounded by young players, as well as veterans? With these young players, you’re on the same path and the veterans are there to support you.

WCS: It’s great because, you know, being a young guy and getting to play with guys that you’re in a platoon with and you grind with everyday - it’s special, because you see each others work get put on the big stage. It’s cool to see the success start to happen, because it’s bad when you’re grinding, you’re grinding, you’re grinding and nothing’s happening and you’re just grinding. And then you finally get that break and then it’s like those three months you were going through while you were grinding, it’s like they don’t even exist in your head anymore and it’s wild once you get just a lick of success.

JH: I’ve seen you in the past not aggressively attacking the glass. And now we see you hammering these putbacks. Everything at the rim is aggressive and forceful. When did the light switch get hit for you? Now you’re just attacking.

WCS: That’s just what they ask me to do. Before, I had a backburner role. So playing 15 minutes, you’ve got to really good to get double-digit boards, especially when your scouter is saying - “don’t let him get boards, the only thing in this game he is going to do is get boards.” That’s just the way it was set up for us to do and now the scouting report has just gotten so much bigger, it’s like, you can’t take away all my strengths and that’s where it becomes big.

JH: Again, you came into the league as a defensive player, but you’ve had some struggles there as well. Do you think that’s going to come to you now that the aggression is there, you’re in the mix, you’re getting longer stretches to read people and know their tendencies?

WCS: For sure, definitely by just being aggressive, it’s going to come. At this point, a lot of our success is going to depend on how I’m playing. So if I stay at least consistent on defense like that, then there’s no problems if you’re not giving up anything. I’m blessed, I can do that.

JH: Are you having a good time?

WCS: (smiling) Finally, yeah, yeah I am.

JH: Does that have to do with the opportunity or does it have to do with the change in culture and the change in atmosphere around here?

WCS: It’s the change in everything and getting to be a part of it - a big part of it. It’s cool just to feel that love and that support from our upper management and the rest of our team, so that’s special, which is also going to fuel me on the floor. It’s a double-win.