HANG TIME SOUTHWEST — “It wasn’t intentional,” DeMarcus Cousins pleaded after his latest recklessness during the Sacramento Kings’ disappointing overtime loss to the Dallas Mavericks.
Nothing ever is intentional for Cousins, whose heat-of-the-moment forearm to the face of Vince Carter with 41 seconds left in OT and the Kings down two, was reviewed, elevated to a Flagrant 2 and a subsequent automatic ejection. It was Cousins’ sixth foul anyway and as the 6-foot-11 center dragged 29 points, nine rebounds and four assists to the locker room, his team, which had led by 17 points, was left for dead — again.
Now Cousins will await a predictable fine from the league office, which reviews all flagrant fouls. The league office, of course, is quite familiar with the recurring troublemaker. He’s already been suspended twice this season.
“I’m pretty sure that my reputation will come into play with this decision,” Cousins told reporters afterward, slumped at his locker. “But hopefully they realize that it wasn’t intentional.”
It never is. When the Kings and Mavs played in Dallas a month ago, Cousins, jockeying for position, swung his fist in a backward motion and landed a direct shot in the groin area of O.J. Mayo. Cousins claimed that, too, was unintentional. Mayo disagreed and said Cousins has “mental issues.” The league disagreed and suspended Cousins for one game.
This time, “Boogie” turned himself into the victim.
“I swear, no matter how hard I try, some type of way it happens,” Cousins said. “It’s frustrating. Like no matter how hard I try, they find a way.”
The answer made little sense in response to a question posed about not allowing this incident to become a setback after he’s put up monster numbers over the last couple of weeks, and just as trade rumors swirl.
This is what the Kings are grappling with on a daily basis, an undeniable talent who is irrevocably immature. It’s darn near getting impossible to live with him, yet life without the potential cornerstone leaves the franchise with what? He’s 22 and he’ll figure it out eventually, right?
A follow-up question came to Cousins: Are you frustrated with yourself?
“I wouldn’t say with myself because I know I’m trying my best,” Cousins said. “I mean I can’t sit here and point the finger at other people, and I know some of these decisions, I got to make better decisions.”
This poor decision came well after the Kings had already imploded in the fourth quarter and were lucky to be in overtime thanks to Isaiah Thomas banking in a game-tying 3 at the buzzer. With a chance to tie late in the OT, the ball went into Cousins in the paint and three Mavs collapsed on him. Cousins was stripped, the ball bounced around, squirted out the side and was recovered by Dallas’ Shawn Marion.
As Cousins rose up — sandwiched between Mayo behind him and Carter in front — he shoved his right forearm into Carter’s chin. As Carter (who might have embellished just a bit) started to fall backward, it was almost as if it clicked inside Cousins’ head that this was not good, and he quickly cradled Carter to the floor as if tucking him into bed.
The foul was then reviewed and upgraded.
“But come on, like, give me a break,” Cousins said. “I just know that wasn’t intentional. Come on, man.”
The officiating crew, after viewing multiple replays, thought otherwise. Just guessing that the league office will, too.