DeMarcus Cousins still day-to-day with left-leg injury, could miss Sunday vs. Lakers

DeMarcus Cousins chats with fellow Kentucky alums Nazr Mohammed & Marquis Teague of the Chicago Bulls. (Photo: Steven Chea)

DeMarcus Cousins is still recovering from the collision with Mike Dunleavy Jr. during last Sunday’s loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.  The Sacramento Kings center gave practice a shot, albeit briefly, on Friday afternoon.  His availability for their next game against the Los Angeles Lakers remains up in the air.

“He came out and gave it a shot to see what he can do,” Kings head coach Keith Smart told reporters yesterday. “And obviously, it’s still a little tender for him to run up and down the floor right now.”

Cousins is suffering from a left quad contusion.  The Kings have listed the third-year big man as day-to-day.  Smart believes it would be a “bonus” if Cousins could play on Sunday.

“I’m planning for our basketball team to move how we have been with the roster we have,” Smart said.  “And if he goes and can go, then it’ll just be a plus that we have rather than trying wait and see what might happen…”

According to Smart, Cousins tested his mobility yesterday, but his lateral movement was limited by the injury.  The Kings head coach said that the next step for Cousins in his recovery is “trying to get that muscle to fire again”.

“We’ll give it another day of treatment and things like that and see what happens as we come in tomorrow,” Smart said.

Cousins has been a model of durability and health in his three NBA seasons.  The 22-year-old center has rarely missed games due to physical constraints.  Until Wednesday’s contest against the Chicago Bulls, Cousins had missed just one outing due to illness or injury.  He sat out a 99-98 win over the New Orleans Hornets after suffering food poisoning last year.

Patrick Patterson spaces floor for Kings at the four

Patrick Patterson started for Cousins in the 121-79 shellacking of the Bulls on Wednesday.  The new Kings power forward is expected to remain in the starting lineup if Cousins is unavailable against the Lakers.

As a power forward with range, Patterson has added a new dimension of spacing to the Kings’ lineup.  This season, the 24-year-old big man is shooting 48.4 percent from mid-range and 41.4 percent from the corner 3.

His ability to keep defenses honest with his jump shot has opened up the interior for Jason Thompson.  The Kings big man, who slid over to center in Cousins’ absence, has a refined post game and is afforded space to operate in the paint when he’s played alongside Patterson.

“If he’s spaced out in maybe the opposite corner, then the other big has to respect his jump shot,” Thompson said following yesterday’s practice.  “Especially when he’s making a few two or three 3s in a game.

“If we’re doing high pick-and-rolls and I’m screening and rolling to the basket, the paint is real wide open,” he added.

Tyreke Evans played one of his finest games of the season when Patterson started Wednesday.  He scored eight of his 26 points in the first 12 minutes of the game, playing alongside Patterson for the bulk of that first quarter.  Evans sees his new teammate’s ability to create space as a means of opening up driving lanes for him.

“He finds a corner, he hits the open shot,” Evans said of Patterson.  “So when his man is in the paint, he hit a couple shots and you gotta get out there and stick him on the perimeter.  And that helps out for us to get out to the basket.”

Additional Notes

James Johnson did not practice yesterday and continues to be away from the team tending to personal matters.  The Kings don’t expect to have their fourth-year forward back for Sunday’s contest against the Lakers.

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About: Jonathan Santiago

Jonathan Santiago serves Cowbell Kingdom as senior editor specializing in writing, podcasting and video production. He also handles the majority of CK’s day-to-day beat coverage of the Kings.