There is ample evidence suggesting that the Raptors were not flat until Cousins flattened them. Nominal starter Aaron Gray had two fouls in five minutes; the Raptors’ best option at centre, Amir Johnson, fouled out in just over nine minutes. The Raptors relied on going small as they won eight times in nine games, and Cousins rendered that strategy impotent. Ed Davis, a tough-yet-lithe power forward had to log 41 minutes of action. Little-used Quincy Acy had to play 12 minutes. It was hopeless.
He was plainly annoyed when it was suggested to him post-game that his team overlooked Friday night’s opponents, the Sacramento Kings, in their rush to get to the more glamorous Thunder on Sunday. “No, no, no,” Casey said with unusual force. “We have no right to look forward to anybody. We have to play like a desperate team every night. To think about anybody but Sacramento today is criminal.”
Davis was by no means perfect himself but he played 41 minutes and stayed out of foul trouble despite often being left to fend for himself against the monster, DeMarcus Cousins. He also had a double-double with 11 points and 13 rebounds, and threw in three blocks for good measure.
In three of the four games that Kyle Lowry has come off the bench, the reserves have significantly outperformed the starters. That was the case again tonight. I would be far more concerned about tonight’s result if the Raptors had given a complete effort, put their best foot forward with a healthy lineup and still lost by nine or more.
“If someone was playing at a high rate or shooting the lights out, averaging 30 or 28 points a game before they went out and playing at a high level (Bargnani averaged 16 points on dismal 39.8% shooting and just 4.3 rebounds in 21 starts before injuring his elbow vs. Davis’ 12.4 point, 7.1 rebound, 58.9% shooting and far better defence over his past 10 contests), (or if) we were winning, then you can make the case for that, but right now, the way things have evolved for us, I don’t think you can make the case for an injury getting you back in the starting lineup just because of how well Jose has played or how Eddie Davis has played.”
“We’re still 12-20, I’m not jumping up and down and throwing snowballs,” he said before the Raptors took on the Sacramento Kings on Friday.
Toronto, one of the NBA leaders in taking care of the ball, looked off from the opening tip. The team committed four quick turnovers and seven by the half and 13 through three, more than the full game totals in seven of the past nine games.
After dropping a line of 31 points, 20 rebounds, four assists and two steals (on 11-for-18 field goals and 9-for-12 free throws), Cousins was the answer for the Kings. He was also the big man that the Raptors didn’t have any kind of answer for.
Once again, it was all DeMarcus Cousins tonight for the Sacramento. The Kings big man has really responded since returning from suspension and the Raptors had no answer for him. Cousins finished with a season-high 31 points and tied his career-high 20 rebounds in the win. More than the points or rebounds, the former Kentucky star is getting his teammates involved early in game.
Ever since coming back from his “indefinite” suspension, Cousins appears to be a changed man. Gone is the surliness. Gone is the drama. But most importantly, Cousins is playing great basketball. Tonight he added to what has already been a great week with a 31 point, 20 rebound, 4 assists and 2 steal effort in just 33 minutes. He was the best player on the floor and Toronto had no answer for him no matter who they threw at him.
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