In a prediction as bold as guaranteeing San Antonio Coach Gregg Popovich’s job security, Sacramento temperamental talent DeMarcus Cousins predicted after a Dec. 12 win against the Lakers that his in-game technical foul would not be his last.
The technical foul was later rescinded. His behavior has not.
The Western Conference is handing Sacramento a chance to break a decade-long playoff drought by being only seven teams deep this season. Cousins is kicking it away like the chair he victimized on his technical foul season spree.
With a 16th technical foul (even after three rescinded ones), Cousins not only received an automatic league one-game suspension but he also will receive a one-game suspension for each pair of technical fouls thereafter this season.
The Kings overcame his absence Wednesday to beat Boston but Cousins’ 16 technical fouls in 51 appearances — the fastest suspension since the rule was added in 2005 — suggest he will not avoid suspensions for Nos. 18, 20, etc.
This season, 12 NBA teams have fewer combined player technical fouls than Cousins. His continued lack of self-control and extreme talent are a tough balance for Sacramento as it weighs whether to give the 26-year-old All-Star a five-year, $200-million contract extension this summer. Over seven seasons with him, the Kings have won fewer than 35% of their games under six head coaches.
Miami lost 10 of 11 games for a season midpoint mark of 11-30, which now is the worst NBA record ever for a team that went on a double-digit winning streak.
Miami has conflicted fans by leaving a deep draft’s top-three range with a fun winning streak. Goran Dragic reverted into the “Dragon” of his All-NBA third-team campaign in Phoenix. Hassan Whiteside is a two-way stalwart. Dion Waiters is one of the league’s best scoring bargains.
Miami already was strong defensively but the offense improved with torrid three-point shooting, which might be difficult to sustain. The improbable turnaround is a testament to Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra’s annual in-season adjustments and how the franchise identified and developed players such as Tyler Johnson, Josh Richardson, Rodney McGruber and Luke Babbitt to survive losing Justise Winslow to season-ending shoulder surgery.
Not their first rodeo
The Spurs started their annual rodeo trip on Monday, the first of eight road games over 20 days while a rodeo takes over AT&T Center.
The trip always serves the Spurs well. Since the inaugural rodeo trip in 2003, they have gone 82-35 over 14 rodeo trips with four championships during that stretch. It is a time for them to fortify chemistry and rotations and this year will be no exception with Pau Gasol expected to return from a broken finger soon.
This week in New York’s ‘Melo’-drama involving Carmelo Anthony moved from trade rumors to public shots.
In reaction to a Bleacher Report article about Anthony, Knicks President Phil Jackson tweeted, “You don’t change the spot on a leopard” in an apparent reference to Anthony.
Knicks superfan Spike Lee then told Tencent/ESPN, “I’ll pack Phil’s bags for him.”
Arise in Verizon
Washington’s 17-game home winning streak ended with Cleveland’s overtime win Monday, but the Wizards earned respect even in a loss.
The streak pushed Washington to 22 home wins, matching last season’s total, and ran from Dec. 8 to Feb. 6 with John Wall’s 14 double-doubles and Marcin Gortat’s double-double average.
At the other end of the spectrum, Brooklyn opened a four-game homestand with its 13th consecutive home loss on Wednesday.
Zack LaVine and Aaron Gordon set up the hype for this year’s All-Star slam dunk contest with last year’s epic duel.
LaVine is out for the season because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament that occurred after he declined to defend his title. That leaves Gordon as a favorite but matching last year’s creativity will be difficult.
DeAndre Jordan is the biggest name but Dwight Howard is the only center to previously win. Glenn Robinson III is another newcomer but Suns 6-foot-7 rookie Derrick Jones Jr. is the true sleeper at age 19 with 14 NBA minutes entering the weekend. Jones has been a D-League dunk highlight machine with his purported 48-inch vertical leap earning him the nickname “Airplane Mode” from Northern Arizona Suns broadcaster Jon Bloom.