Cousins steps up for Warriors in win over Rockets

HOUSTON — DeMarcus Cousins played the best game of his short Golden State Warriors tenure in Wednesday night’s 106-104 win over the Houston Rockets.

The big center scored 27 points, grabbed eight rebounds and dished out seven assists in a performance he said was the most in-rhythm he’s felt all year.

“I think we need to remind ourselves that he’s still pretty early in the process,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “I don’t know how many games he’s played for us, 20? We’re all learning. Me too. I got to learn how to use him better. I thought we used him better tonight. I thought he did a phenomenal job just getting down on the block and controlling the game down there. It’s a good win for us. We got 15 games left to continue to figure out how to use everybody. The combinations and all of that stuff. This was a good night.”

After being blamed by both fans and media for the Warriors recent woes, Cousins, who declined to speak to reporters over the last few days, brushed off the criticism postgame, acknowledging that he appreciated his teammates publicly defending him.

“I mean it’s cool,” Cousins said. “But we’ve all been in this business long enough to know how it goes. And I’ve been around this team to know how things go around here. You’re always looking for something to make a story about. I mean. … I could care less. I know … y’all gotta do your job and I gotta do mine. Y’all looking for a story. It is what it is.”

Cousins compared the season with his new team to being in the middle of a soap opera.

“Oh, it’s something every day,” Cousins said. “It’s like my grandmother, when I was younger, she had this show she used to watch. I’m sure y’all heard of it — “As The World Turns.” She called it her story. “I gotta watch my story.” I used to watch it with her; and every episode, it was something. That’s what this has turned into — “As The World Turns.”

As the Warriors try to chase down their third straight NBA championship, both players and coaches have grown tired of some of the questioning they have to deal with on a daily basis, so Warriors forward Draymond Green had no problem agreeing with the soap opera comparison.

“The NBA is a soap opera in itself,” Green said with a smile. “It’s probably the best soap opera in the world. If you want to put it in those terms then yeah, I’m sure it is. Because you got the NBA which is a soap opera and then you got this team which is right in the middle of that entire soap opera. And then he get thrusted into that team that’s right in the middle of it. So…it’s interesting.”

On top of Cousins performance and the ease he had at times down low against the Rockets, the Warriors were just happy to come away with a victory after Sunday night’s embarrassing loss to the Phoenix Suns. Playing without star forward Kevin Durant, who sat out with an ankle sprain, the Warriors played some of their best defensive in recent weeks while riding Cousins and a combined 54 points from Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry.

The joy that Kerr wants his team to play with was on display both during and after Wednesday’s win as smiles permeated throughout the Warriors locker room. Durant proudly waited in the tunnel to greet his teammates and give them a hug on the way back to the locker room.

“It’s a good stepping stone for us,” Kerr said. “It’s more about the team than it is about any one individual. DeMarcus has had big games for us already. Just figuring out how the game has to feel. It’s different with him. We haven’t had this kind of an option before. Sometimes we’ve played a little bit too fast and shot too many quick bad shots instead of letting him get down on the block and controlling things. We’re still learning. This was a really good effort and a good example of how it should look.”

Kerr and his players were happy to see Cousins enjoying the moment against a team they had failed to beat in three previous games this season and a team they may face again in the postseason.

“We made a concerted effort to try to feed him in the post because of the way they played defense,” Curry said. “He’s DeMarcus Cousins — I know he’s been through a lot this year and has had some ups and downs since he’s been back, but nothing he does out there should surprise anybody. It’s just building that consistency, and he’s done an amazing job of that, and it’s only gonna get better for us.”

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