Cousins, Wall keys to Kings-Wizards matchup
WASHINGTON -- DeMarcus Cousins and John Wall were teammates for one dynamic college season at the University of Kentucky. The Sacramento Kings center and the Washington Wizards point guard are individually playing at a high level, though their respective teams aren't finding similar success this season.
Both teams enter Monday night's matchup with losing records, though the Kings (7-10) have won three of four. Cousins had 37 points and 11 rebounds in Sacramento's 122-105 romp over the Brooklyn Nets Sunday night. The Kings sank 13 of 23 3-pointers and outscored the Nets 34-18 in the third quarter.
"Good game for us as far as coming out in the second half," Kings coach Dave Joerger said. "We got three stops in a row 11 times tonight, which is good. ... I don't know how often we'll go 13-of-23 from 3-point line."
Expecting offensive production from Cousins is common. The big man with range made 4 of 5 from beyond the arc and finished 13 of 24 from the field.
"He's a difficult cover because he can play facing you, with his back to the basket, he can shoot a little bit, he can drive a little bit," Joerger said of Cousins, who leads the Kings with 27.8 points per game. "He creates a lot of contact and gets to the free-throw line. You look at that and you say how do you take him for granted."
Cousins knows better than to take for granted what his former college teammate provides the Wizards. Wall leads Washington with 23.5 points and ranks fifth in the NBA with 8.7 assists.
"Tough matchup with John Wall, he is a big athletic guard," Cousins said. "We have to keep the crowd around him, be there to help guards to help the guard. He really looks to get into the paint and get everybody involved. It is going to be a tough task (Monday) and if we play the way we did tonight minus some of the mistakes we will be fine."
The Wizards (5-10) saw their modest two-game winning streak, a season high, end Saturday as the San Antonio Spurs handled Washington 112-100. The Spurs were relentless getting to the free throw and attacking a Wizards defense that struggles defending the perimeter.
"They were a more aggressive team," said Wall, who had 21 points in the home loss. "They got a lot of easy shots and I think we missed some easy shots."
Bradley Beal paced the Wizards with 25 points on a night center Ian Mahinmi made his season and Wizards debut after missing the opening 14 games following knee surgery. Rust was evident, but the hope is Mahinmi, who signed a four-year, $64 million contract over the summer, can help Washington defensively against the likes of Cousins.
"He knows how to play," Wizards coach Scott Brooks said of Mahinmi. "It's going to take him some time. I'm very patient and he understands that we all are. But I like what he brings to our team. He's a tough player and he just brings a good fiber to our team. I thought tonight's game, at times he looked good (and) at times he looked rusty. That's expected. He's missed the last six weeks of the season."