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DeMarcus Cousins bests Anthony Davis as Kings beat Pelicans 105-99 in Sacramento

AD-Cousins, Jrue Holiday-Darren Collison two great pairs of ballers

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Sacramento Kings Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans lost to the Sacramento Kings 105-99 Sunday night despite the best efforts of some late Anthony Davis shot-making and sloppy Kings turnovers.

Davis finished the night with 32 and 10 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals against fellow former Kentucky star DeMarcus Cousins. Cousins himself had 28 points, 14 rebounds and 7 assists and was, as usual, the center of the action at all times, even after whistles or when he wasn’t even on the floor. Darren Collison played nearly even-up with former UCLA teammate Jrue Holiday, notching 20 points, 6 rebounds and 8 assists; Jrue had 16, 11 assists, 6 rebounds and 5 steals.

Playing without Terrence Jones and E’Twuan Moore, the Pelicans were a little more short-handed than normal and it turned out that a Cousins flail led a sequence of events that would cost the Pels another spot on the roster.

In the 1st quarter, Cousins battled with Donatas Motiejunas under the hoop and in an attempt to break away and beg for a call against DMo, Cousins’ swung his arm hitting DMo right in the face.

Maybe the Kings and Pelicans aren’t friends after all...

Anyway, the hand-to-the-face resulted in a technical being called on Cousins, his 17th of the year — tonight’s game was just his second after serving a 1-game suspension from earning 16 techs. After the call, Cousins headed to the lockerroom, apparently to settle himself down.

Meanwhile, New Orleans had taken a lead for most of the quarter and were up 29-23 after 1. AD was cooking and Solomon Hill made some shots and just like that, the Pels were had their biggest lead of 50-37. Soon after that, with the score at 50-39, Buddy Hield tried to navigate around a Cousins screen but instead of grabbing Cousins’ hip as a pivot point, he grabbed something else.

Cousins is a big, strong dude and used to watching opponents of his get calls against him by acting out ridiculous flops. In his heart of hearts, he’d rather not do the same, but knows that flopping has value. There’s no honor among thieves. So after having already earned that technical in the 1st quarter, Cousins immediately went after the refs screaming for a technical to be called on Hield; it doesn’t take an expert lip-reader to watch him yell “he grabbed my balls!”

After a long delay, Buddy Hield was assessed a flagrant-2 and immediately tossed. Hope you’re ready, Tim Frazier!

My argument here is that were it not for Cousins’ technical in the first quarter, Hield likely would not have been tossed. Hield certainly didn’t mean to grab Cousins’ “midsection” but Cousins had the right reaction: you called a T on me for something similar, you’ve got to even the score. And they did. Did the play itself warrant a good-natured rookie getting tossed? No way. If Hield would have just been given a personal foul, Cousins surely would have spontaneously combusted.

Don’t even get me started on make-up calls.

It went from being 50-39 in favor of the Pels to a 10-point deficit at 56-66 in the third quarter after the Buddy expulsion. Ben McLemore, Arron Aflalo and Cousins hit a few shots, while Solo stopped shooting and Davis started committing every type of turnover there is. Somehow, though, Nola was down just 3 entering the fourth.

From there, the guys played mostly even with Sacramento and the Kings got enough shots to go down from Collison, Anthony Tolliver and Cousins’ free throws to put it away. The Pels did offer a nice “last-stand” type gameplan with time dwindling away by sending a full court and double team press at Collison, who committed a couple of turnovers and left the light on for New Orleans, but it was too little, too late.

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We have to talk about Anthony Davis more as we see what his game really is. The Brow is a tremendous two-point jump shooter and driver. He will search out just a little contact in hopes of garnering free throws attempts and has floaters from all spots on the court. But he also had 6 turnovers tonight and, especially compared to Cousins, doesn’t have the ball-handling and vision to support high-end playmaking that could one day complement his scoring; you can see his on-ball game aging into a more athletic version of Dirk Nowitzki very easily. It’s really hard to complain about a young star like Davis, but considering his talents, he and the team pretty obviously don’t know what position he really plays. He looked overwhelmed by Cousins in the post and he readily admitted on national TV that he wants to play the 4. Centers Omer Asik and Alexis Ajinca didn’t work out, so who will?

Guess we’ll figure that out later!

#sunspelicans Monday night, y’all!

Geaux Pelicans!