DeMarcus Cousins is strong. But he still feels the sting from slaps to his arms, body or head during a game.
Cousins has taken his share of hits and had his share of falls this season, and lately he’s been doing his best to contain his frustration. Instead of venting to the referees, he gets up and continues playing.
His coaches and teammates have commended Cousins for his tact in the last two games, where opponents have roughed him up with bigger defenders. But maintaining his composure hasn’t been easy.
“I don’t understand it,” Cousins said about not getting calls. “I don’t know what I have to do. ... I have to play through a lot; I’m not really rewarded for it. Just trying to stay mentally strong. Don’t want to say too much. You know how that goes.”
Public criticism of officials can result in a fine from the NBA, which probably would argue Cousins is being compensated for the abuse he takes. Entering Saturday, he was averaging 10.7 free-throw attempts, third in the NBA behind the New Orleans Pelicans’ Anthony Davis (11.3) and the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Russell Westbrook (10.9).
Still, there are times Cousins takes a whack to the head that leaves his headband askew and the whistle does not blow.
“It does appear that he is getting hit a lot,” coach Dave Joerger said. “And the guy has kept his head down and just gone on to play the next play. I’m really proud of him.”
After Friday’s overtime loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, Joerger praised Cousins for keeping his cool. Joerger was asked about Cousins’ recent demeanor, then said he would not use the media to try to earn the officials’ favor.
“Lobbying, trying to get calls, I’m not going to do that,” Joerger said. “I’m just saying the way he’s conducting himself and handling his business (has been good). He draws a lot of contact because he’s a physical player and he’s playing for the next play.”
Guard Garrett Temple acknowledged Cousins gets beat up “a lot” in the paint but said he’s focused on remaining composed. Temple said he’s talked to Cousins about the situation but would not take credit for his restraint.
Temple said not worrying about the officiating is a team-wide effort.
“We’ve all talked about it,” Temple said. “The coaching staff, everybody, myself, Matt Barnes, anybody. We don’t need to worry about the referees, how they go. We’ve just got to make sure we focus on the task at hand. If we’ve got to play against eight (five players, three referees) one night, we’ve got to play against eight. If we’re getting calls good, then we’ve got to continue to play.”