HOUSTON DeMarcus Cousins has been criticized plenty for his defense.
Three games into the season, Kings coach Michael Malone called out Cousins for his passive effort against Golden State’s Andrew Bogut. Cousins’ defense was a complaint of previous coaches, too.
Cousins was a defensive stalwart in the Kings’ 110-106 win over the Houston Rockets Tuesday at Toyota Center.
Cousins helped limit Dwight Howard to two points in the second half after he’d gone for 13 points in the first half while Cousins had to sit early in the first quarter with two fouls.
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“I thought in that second half because DeMarcus was no longer in foul trouble I thought our physicality was a lot better,” Malone said of defending Howard. “We did our work early and made him work a lot harder and our smalls were a little bit more active to give our big guys some help.”
Cousins was able to strip the ball from Howard to force turnovers in the post and stood his ground in the post.
“Coach did a great job with the scouting report,” Cousins said. “I know what (Howard’s) go-to move is, I know where he wants to go on the court so I’m going to play to that advantage.”
Cousins also had two of his four steals in the fourth quarter and both led to points for the Kings. His first steal of the quarter set up Jimmer Fredette for two free throws that tied teh game at 90 with 6:59 to play.
Cousins’ second steal of the quarter came with 56.3 seconds to play and the Kings leading 105-104. Cousins stole the ball from James Harden and found Ben McLemore for a lay up.
*Malone had plenty of praise for how the Kings executed out of timeouts late in the game. The Kings have had problems running plays out of timeouts, but twice the Kings made key plays out of timeouts.
Rudy Gay found McLemore for a three pointer that made the score 98-95 in favor of Houston with 4:45 to play.
With 1:32 to play, Isaiah Thomas found Cousins for a lay up out of a 20-second timeout that cut Houston’s lead to 104-103.
Gay said Malone deserved the praise for the execution.
“You have to give credit to coach for that, to put everybody in the right spots and right position,” Gay said. “Without that playcall, without him setting in up and letting us know exactly where to be I don’t think we hit that shot (by McLemore). Al of that you’ve got to give it to coach.”
*Gay had 25 points and has scored 20 or more in seven of his 10 games with the Kings. Gay is averaging 19.9 points on 48.1 percent shooting as a King.
*The Kings got 30 points from the bench, but none from Derrick Williams. He only attempted on shot in 18:30 on the court, but did have two assists and a blocked shot.
*McLemore had three assists, to match his career high. The rookie had three assists in his previous four games. He also had 13 points after scoring in single digits his previous four games.