Players don’t often complain publicly about officiating because it can lead to a fine from the NBA.
Usually it’s better to let others do the griping.
So after one of Kings center DeMarcus Cousins’ best games as a pro, it was his coach, George Karl, who talked about the lack of whistles in his favor.
“I still wish he’d get more respect from the referees,” Karl said after Cousins’ triple double in Wednesday’s 115-111 loss to the Rockets in Houston. “He took 25 shots and probably at least two-thirds of them were close to the basket, and he shoots six free throws. (Houston’s James) Harden goes to the basket and gets I think a lot more respect from the referees.”
When Cousins heard Karl’s comments, his response was simple.
“Tell me about it,” Cousins said. “Tell me about it. I don’t know either.”
It’s not as if Cousins doesn’t go to the line often – he averages 9.2 attempts, third in the league behind Harden and Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook – but he likely would get even more attempts and his shooting percentage might be better if more fouls were called on some of his missed shots around the rim. Cousins also figures he would have fewer turnovers if more fouls were called when he loses the ball because of contact.
Cousins had 24 points, 21 rebounds, 10 assists, six blocks and three steals in the Kings’ loss to Houston despite being grabbed and nearly put in wrestling holds by Rockets center Joey Dorsey.
“I don’t think (Dorsey’s grappling) is normal, but Joey did what he had to do,” Cousins said. “I don’t take anything away from it.”
Karl doesn’t want the Kings, who lead the NBA in free-throw attempts at 28.9 per game, to focus on officiating. But that hasn’t stopped Karl from lamenting the abuse Cousins takes around the rim when practically mauling him is considered acceptable defense.
“I think we’ve just got to fight through that,” Karl said. “I thought he did a good job keeping his emotions under control, and I think that’s important. He needs to continue to do that more and more. The better we get, the more he controls his emotions, the more respect we’ll get.”
Karl said he’s impressed with Cousins’ overall play.
“I’ve never coached a guy who can put so many things into the game,” Karl said. “He has a triple double, but he really has a quadruple double because he has six blocks, three steals, at least one charge, maybe two charges (drawn). So there’s another 10 possessions that he gave us because of his defensive abilities.”
Omri Casspi, who played for the Kings when Cousins was drafted in 2010, has seen Cousins’ growth both as an opponent and again as a teammate this season. So Cousins’ performance Wednesday wasn’t a surprise, nor was his 39-point, 20-rebound performance last Friday against the New Orleans Pelicans, the team the Kings play again Friday at Sleep Train Arena.
“He’s been playing like that; it’s nothing new,” Casspi said. “He just put everything together on both ends. The passing the ball has always been there. He just made great passes. ... He was phenomenal.”
Cousins sat out Monday’s game at Memphis to rest, but he didn’t sound like someone who wanted to take another break this season.
“I feel good,” Cousins said. “A lot of little nagging injuries, but I enjoy playing the game.”
And the way he’s been playing, it’s easy to see why he wants to be on the court. Cousins’ recent stat lines match those from the likes of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Charles Barkley.
“I’m growing as a player; just continue on that path,” Cousins said. “Those little things, clean up those small mistakes. As a team, I think we’re on the right path; just clean up those small mistakes.”
And leave the complaining to Karl as best he can.