Normally, there’d be nothing notable about this game. Two teams that won’t make the playoffs battling it out in late March with nothing to prove doesn’t always make for the most engaging basketball.
But tonight’s different because of the teams and players involved. Tonight for the first time, DeMarcus Cousins steps on to the court with the Sacramento Kings as the enemy.
It’s still pretty surreal to think about. Cousins was the cornerstone of the Kings for so long, and it’s barely even been a month since the trade. This is going to be an emotional game for him, and probably for some of the guys and staff that he’s still friends with on the team. He probably won’t be stopping by to say hi to Vlade though.
For Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans and Langston Galloway, this is a reunion as well. Buddy has done well for himself since coming to Sacramento, but the trade was still probably difficult for him as a rookie.
New Orleans didn’t become the immediate playoff contender out of the gate after the trade as the newly minted “Fire and Ice” combo of DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis took a while to mesh. The Pelicans were just 2-6 in the immediate aftermath of the trade, but have since been on a roll, winning seven of their last ten games.
One big reason for the team’s recent hot streak (aside from New Orleans and Cousins getting more comfortable with each other) has to be the addition of Jordan Crawford. Crawford was signed to a 10-day contract after not having played in the NBA for the last two seasons. He’s responded with perhaps the best basketball of his career, scoring 13.7 points a game and taking advantage of the fact that he can play off of two dominant big men to really increase his efficiency (48.8% from the field and 46.8% from three).
The Kings are also going to make things more difficult for themselves by resting the only experienced size on the roster. Kosta Koufos and Anthony Tolliver are both scheduled for plan rests tonight, as are Ty Lawson and Arron Afflalo. That means the Kings will have only Willie Cauley-Stein, Skal Labissiere and Georgios Papagiannis to throw at DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis. Should any of those guys get into foul trouble, this could be a very long night (it might be even if they don’t).
Tip-off’s at 5:00 p.m. Pacific. Go Kings!