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  • Matt York / The Associated Press


    Starter: DeMarcus Cousins

    Backups: Jason Thompson, Chuck Hayes

    The skinny: Cousins has been tabbed as the cornerstone of future success for the Kings. He's one of the most talented young big men in the NBA, but he still has a lot of work to do to become an elite player. His efficiency on offense must improve, and he has to shoot 50 percent or better. Defensively, Cousins must be more of an asset than a liability or he could watch Thompson, Hayes or even Carl Landry take his minutes late in games. The Kings would love to add a defensive-minded complement to Cousins. A shot blocker who would allow Cousins to log minutes at power forward would be ideal. Without that, it will be up to Cousins to be an anchor around the rim offensively and defensively. How he buys in on both ends of the court will dictate how much the Kings improve.

  • Matt York / Associated Press

    Kings point guard Isaiah Thomas drives past Phoenix's Kendall Marshall (12) in the first half Thursday night. Thomas finished with 23 points and eight assists.

Cousins scores 34, takes his frustrations out on Phoenix

Published: Friday, Mar. 29, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Monday, Sep. 23, 2013 - 8:09 am

PHOENIX – A night after being held out the final 12 minutes, DeMarcus Cousins had the option of going back in during the fourth quarter Thursday night.

He declined. There was no need for Cousins to do any more.

Cousins had his way against the undermanned Phoenix Suns. The third-year center scored a season-high 34 points to go with 14 rebounds as the Kings bullied their way to a 117-103 win at US Airways Center.

In Wednesday night's win at Golden State, coach Keith Smart didn't play Cousins in the fourth quarter, opting to go with a defensive lineup.

Rather than seethe over what happened against the Warriors, Cousins took his frustration out on Luis Scola, Markieff Morris, Hamed Haddadi or any other Suns player that tried to stop him.

Cousins scored 17 points and had seven rebounds in the first quarter to spark the Kings' 38-point effort to open the game. It was the most points Phoenix allowed in a first period this season.

"It was definitely frustration," Cousins said. "I just try to put it behind me. It's a new day, so I just try to act like it never happened."

Cousins showed off his overall skills in going 12 for 16 from the field and making all nine of his free throws. He also made one of his two three-point attempts.

Cousins used power against smaller players and skill and quickness against stronger players that could not match his athleticism.

"The guy has a lot of talent, and you saw everything," Smart said. "From the three-point shot, he can do that, he shoots them in practice. The midrange, 17-, 18-foot shot. The drive to the basket from deep off the floor. Obviously his rebounding is still going to be his strong suit because that's what he does, and he's a very good offensive rebounder."

Smart knew Cousins wasn't happy about not playing in the fourth against the Warriors and liked how Cousins responded.

"The best way to handle anything you may be feeling is to go out on the floor and perform," Smart said. "We're all judged on the performance. And regardless of what a coach did or a player did, it's all about your performance on the floor. And tonight he created the environment that he wanted to have success in."

Cousins led the Kings to 62 points in the paint, matching the season high for Sacramento (27-46). The Kings finished with a 50-37 rebounding advantage.

"He had a helluva game," said guard Isaiah Thomas, who finished with 23 points and eight assists. "He was locked in, we were locked in as a team. We just executed what we wanted to do."

Cousins was seven points shy of tying his career high of 41, which came April 3, 2012, against Phoenix. He needed six rebounds to match his career high of 20 for the fourth time in his career.

"He gave a little nod and then he said, 'No, I'm OK. Let the other guys stay on the floor that haven't played in a while,' " Smart said about Cousins sitting out in the fourth.

Cousins said it would mean more to set career marks in a competitive game instead of piling on in a blowout.

"When you do selfish things like that, it usually results in you getting hurt," Cousins said. "Some of those guys don't get a chance to play, so let them go out there and get some tick."

Follow The Bee's Jason Jones on Twitter @mr_jasonjones and read more about the team at

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