At long last, Warriors' DeMarcus Cousins will get taste of postseason
OAKLAND - DeMarcus Cousins shoves off assistant coach Jarron Collins and goes hard for the basket. He swishes a 3-pointer from up top, then hits a jumper inside the arc on the right wing. Cousins drives to the hoop and makes a shot from close range, then a turnaround jumper goes in before he moves to the left side to begin the sequence again.
Long before the rest of the Golden State regulars have taken the court for pregame warmups, there is Cousins, earbuds in, meticulously focused on his preparation. In the locker room, he is one of the first to pull on his game jersey.
Cousins, who scored 21 points with 12 rebounds in the Warriors' 112-103 win against New Orleans on Tuesday night, can't wait for his first playoff chance.
“It's been a long time coming for him,” Collins said. “I definitely think he's excited and he's ready for the moment to play on the biggest stage. Obviously there's a lot that goes into it, the preparation, the dedication.”
This is why Cousins approached the Warriors last summer and asked for a chance, even though he was working back from season-ending surgery for a torn left Achilles tendon. Cousins joined the two-time defending champions for $5.3 million, a low-risk move for general manager Bob Myers that has worked out beautifully for both sides.
“I never thought this situation would happen, but it's happened,” Cousins said. “This is my team, and anybody that's followed me before this moment, you know how I fight for my team. It's the same thing. Step on them, you're stepping on me.”
Cousins patiently worked back from a nearly yearlong absence after getting hurt in January 2018 with New Orleans, calling it one of the hardest things he has gone through emotionally and physically in his career. He made his Warriors debut Jan. 18 on the road against the Clippers, showing quickly he would make a big impact on both ends of the floor.
The four-time All-Star center's shooting stroke returned in a hurry. For him, finally getting back was largely conditioning and gaining strength in the leg to handle the rigors, pace and low-post pounding of an NBA game again.
“What does he call it, the Resurgence?” Stephen Curry said. “... We like his fire. In terms of the playoffs, it's going to be amazing, it's his first run, it's going to be good.”
The 28-year-old Cousins steadily found a groove and more minutes in the rotations. He no longer glares at Kerr for taking him out of games.
“He has been so much fun to coach,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “And I wouldn't have said that before he came back when he was rehabbing; he was not that much fun to coach. He would agree with that, he was so frustrated from the injury and from not being able to play and the length of his rehab. Since he returned and since he's grown comfortable with the injury, with the comeback and since his confidence has grown, he's been amazing to coach.
“He's a fantastic human being, a great teammate. You see his frustration and his passion on the court so people automatically sort of attach labels to him. What I see is passion and emotion because he wants to win.”
Curry sprains foot in win
Curry left Tuesday's game early with a mild foot sprain.
“He's going to be fine,” Kerr said. “He tweaked it, but we weren't going to mess around.”
Curry, who played the first nine minutes of the game, did not speak with reporters but also did not appear particularly distressed as he sat at his locker signing basketball shoes and showed no signs of a limp as he left the arena.