It is shaping up to be a night of returns Saturday for the Sacramento Kings and the Minnesota Timberwolves.
DeMarcus Cousins will be back from suspension for the Kings while the visiting Timberwolves could have Nikola Pekovic and former Sacramento first-round pick Kevin Martin available.
Cousins will return after missing Friday’s 126-122 road loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. He was suspended for punching Houston Rockets guard Patrick Beverley in the stomach in the first quarter of a 129-103 loss Tuesday and fined $20,000 as part of the incident in which he verbally abused official Courtney Kirkland and failed to leave the court in a timely manner.
The power forward posted on Twitter following the game: "Disappointed with the way I acted out on the court tonight. I want to apologize and say sorry to my team and the fans for letting them down."
Cousins leads the league with 15 technical fouls this season and will be suspended one game by the NBA if he gets another one.
Minnesota (28-29), meanwhile, could see the returns of its second- and third-leading scorers in Martin and Pekovic, respectively.
Martin averages 19.0 points and has missed the last seven games with a broken left thumb. Pekovic, averaging 18.0 points, has missed the last 13 with an injured right foot.
Both were back at practice Thursday and could be back in action, with Pekovic a likely candidate to match up in defending Cousins.
Martin spent nearly his first six seasons with the Kings. He has won all four games he has played as a visitor to Sleep Train Arena, where he scored 2,903 points with Sacramento to rank seventh all-time.
While Cousins is tied for fifth in the league with 34 double-doubles, Minnesota’s Kevin Love continues to lead in that category with 48. Love has averaged 34.3 points and 12.0 rebounds in his last six games since missing one with a bruised left quadriceps.
Love just missed his second triple-double in three games Tuesday as he had 33 points, 13 boards and nine assists in a 110-101 win at Phoenix.
”I think when we were up 10 they told me that if I can get an outlet here, you get your triple-double,” Love said, ”but at the point I just wanted to secure the rebound and get to the free throw line, get the lead up a little bit more so we wouldn’t have to worry about much. Nine assists again, I have been there a few times.”
Love had 27 points and 11 rebounds the last time these teams met and Cousins had 20 and 11, but Rudy Gay’s game-high 33 points may have proved decisive in Sacramento’s 111-108 road win Jan. 15.
That contest marked Derrick Williams’ first game against the team that drafted him second overall in 2011. Williams, traded Nov. 26 to Sacramento (20-38) for Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, scored 16 points off the bench.
Mbah a Moute will face the Kings for the first time since that trade. He’s started five of nine games for Sacramento this season, totaling 40 points and 27 rebounds.
Gay scored 32 points Friday and is averaging 29.7 in his last three games. His 20.9 average against the Wolves is his highest against any team.