Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins returns to action in Team USA win

DeMarcus Cousins wasn’t 100-percent tonight in Team USA’s match up against the Dominican Republic, but he was effective.

Hoping to prove he is healthy enough to play in Spain at the World Cup later this month, Cousins finished with just two points, but  a game-high eight rebounds in 16 minutes on Wednesday night in New York.

Led by former King Francisco Garcia, the Dominican Republic was an incredible 37.5 point underdog coming in.  Unfortunately for Domincan fans, Team USA had no problem covering the spread, coming away with a 105-62 victory.

Additional observations and analysis of Wednesday’s game are down below.

  • Neither Cousins, nor Rudy Gay started, but they came off the bench at the 5:14 mark of the first quarter together.  It appears that Kzryzewski is looking to capitalize on the pair’s familiarity as part of the second unit.  It didn’t take long for the duo to hook-up in this one when Cousins hit Gay for a lay-in.
  • Gay looked comfortable with Cousins, but he also played well with former Toronto Raptors teammate DeMar DeRozan.  The two wings played a total of 51 games together over two seasons in Toronto and they are very close off the court as well.  With Derrick Rose missing time with knee ailments of his own, there is potential for DeRozan to steal a spot on the team.  Gay and DeRozan finished with 13 points each to lead Team USA on the night.
  • Coming off a right knee injury, Cousins took a while to get loose.  He looked slow in his rotations early and camped out in the lane in his first few possessions on the floor.  Once he was warm, Cousins moved better and had no problem dominating the glass.  But he is still playing defense with his hands more than his feet.
  • In his time with the Sacramento Kings, Gay showed a strong ability to play in the post, which was not something that he consistently showed in either Memphis or Toronto.  Gay has no problem playing the power forward position in international play and he may even steal some minutes as a stretch four in Sacramento this season.
  • Cousins played the four alongside Andre Drummond for a stint in the second half tonight.  The Detroit Pistons budding young star had a tremendous game, finishing with 12 points and five rebounds, while shooting 6-of-10 from the field.  Drummond was impressive on both ends of the floor, but is it too little too late?
  • Starting for Rose, Cavs point guard Kyrie Irving was impressive.  The 22-year-old dropped in 12 points on 5-for-5 shooting and added five assists and four rebounds in 16 minutes.  If Rose can’t play major minutes, Irving appears ready to take the lead in Spain.
  • Kenneth Faried looks like he has locked up the starting power forward spot alongside Anthony Davis.  The 24-year-old Denver Nuggets big man will be asked to do the dirty work, while the rest of the starters fire away.
  • Krzyzewski played 12 of the 16 players remaining in the USA Basketball pool. Kyle Korver, Chandler Parsons and Mason Plumlee all sat out due to coach’s decision on Wednesday night, while Rose missed the game to rest his knees.

Quotes of the Game

Coach K on what is next for Team USA (via USA Basketball):

(We are) real pleased.  This has been a great group of guys.  When we do eventually make decisions on the 12 (that will travel to Spain for the World Cup), it will be very difficult.

Jerry Colangelo on the final cuts that are coming in the next few days:

We’ve been trying to put it off as much as we could to give everyone a fair shot and they’ve all lived up to their billings.  They really have.  They’re a great bunch of guys.  They’ve worked really hard.  They deserve credit.

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About: James Ham

James Ham is co-owner and senior editor of Cowbell Kingdom, providing extensive Kings coverage through news analysis, in-depth interviews with players and staff and daily coverage of breaking news. Along with providing original content for the site, including the Cowbell Kingdom Podcast and his weekly Sunday Musings column, James also provides game day coverage for NBA.com and is one of the producers behind the award-winning, independent documentary "Small Market, Big Heart".