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DeMarcus Cousins made his much-anticipated debut as a Golden State Warrior on Friday and though the game against the Los Angeles Clippers was played at night, the veteran big man felt as if it were played in the morning.
Christmas morning, to be exact.
“Felt like a kid on Christmas,” Cousins told reporters altering scoring 14 points and adding six rebounds, three assists and making three 3-pointers before fouling out in 15 minutes in the 112-94 romp at Staple Center. “It’s been a long journey. This is probably one of the best days of my life.”
— NBA TV (@NBATV) January 19, 2019
Cousins, who suffered a torn left Achilles’ tendon during a game at Houston last Jan. 26, shot 5-of-11 from the floor and finished with a plus-21 rating. Booed the first time he touched the basketball, the big man received a standing ovation from the Golden State fans who were still present when he fouled out with 51 seconds to play in the game.
“Man, probably the fakest love I’ve ever received in my life. I’m just going to keep it a million,” Cousins said through a laugh. “I honestly don’t see how guys like Steph (Curry) and Klay (Thompson) do it on the daily, where there are cameras around them all day. I don’t like it, at all. So hopefully, this is the last day of this.”
Though he said he felt out of rhythm, the four-time All-Star scored Golden State’s first bucket on a one-handed dunk on a drive down the lane.
Cousins then presented his trademark scowl and walked/strutted back down the court.
“I’m just glad to know that I can still dunk,” Cousins said. “It felt good. I never in a million years thought that would be my first basket playing ball again.”
Cousins praised his teammates for making his return “as smooth and easy as possible.”
“They all love him,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr said. “He’s a really good teammate. He’s an emotional guy but he’s loved because he cares about us.”
And the Warriors feel the same way about their new big man.
“This is not the end of the story,” Kerr said. “It’s the middle and there’s a long way to go.”
Cousins made three of the four 3-pointers he hoisted, including back-to-back bombs early in the fourth quarter. According to Zach Kram of The Ringer, every other starting center for the Warriors since 2001 had combined for exactly two made 3-pointers.
Kevin Durant had 24 points, seven boards and five dimes for the Warriors and came away impressed by Cousins’ debut performance for the two-time defending champions, who have now won seven consecutive games and nine of their last 10.
“He was great tonight,” he said. “I like that he gonna keep people on us at the 3-point line. I like that he was running the floor, he set a screen. I mean he just played his game… 15 minutes, he had 14 and six. You turn that to 25 minutes, that’s an easy 20 and 10. I like where he’s going, good first step, and hopefully he keeps moving forward.”
Surrounded by the likes of Curry, Thompson and Durant, Cousins had wide-open looks from deep, something that rarely happened during his years with the Sacramento Kings.
“Yeah, man, I wonder what the scouting report is on me right now?” Cousins quipped. “I mean, I can shoot.”
When reporters suggested Clippers big men Marcin Gortat and Montrezl Harrell may have been trying to bait him with physical play Friday night, Cousins took the high road.
“Man, y’all lucky this is my first day back,” Cousins said. “I will tell you how I really feel about buddy, but I’m gonna be cool and stay on this straight line, right now.
“Wait until I get in midseason form.”
Though it was only one game, Cousins said a pregame text he received helped keep things in perspective for him.
“My girl sent me this picture,” he said. “It was like the day I had my surgery, [and] I was sitting in a wheelchair in LA, staring out at the sunset.
“She said think about where you are now. And where you came from.”