Don't look so shocked, DeMarcus. (AP/Rick Bowmer)
With 2:23 left in the first half of Monday's matchup with the Utah Jazz, Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins received a technical foul for what looked like carping to the referees after missing a shot at the rim on which he thought he was fouled by Paul Millsap. At the time, the Kings trailed Utah 40-32 and were hanging in there with the West's No. 7 seed; Cousins was a large part of that, leading Sacramento with eight points, five rebounds and two steals in 17 minutes.
Upset at the T, Cousins walked across the court to ask why referee Tre Maddox had rung him up; teammate Tyreke Evans walked over and wrangled his big man, and nothing came of the interaction. After the halftime buzzer, though, Cousins re-engaged Maddox, and the outcome was a bit more volatile:
The second tech, issued by referee Scott Foster, was Cousins' 12th of the season and ensured his third ejection; both lead the league. As a result, Kings coach Keith Smart didn't have his leading scorer and rebounder available for the balance of a game that went into overtime, an extra frame in which the Jazz doubled up Sacramento to come away with a 98-91 win.
After the game, Cousins explained what happened during the just-before-half chat to reporters, including Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee:
Cousins was put off by the fact that Maddox didn't explain the first technical against him with 2:23 left in the second quarter.
"He was saying, 'Don't talk to me,' " Cousins said. "So my response was, 'You don't have to act like an effing female.' I shouldn't have said that. That's about it."
With that, Foster tossed Cousins.
I mean ... yeah, of course he did.
Like, even accepting that "female" shouldn't be an insult, it was clearly intended as one in this context, and it's not exactly breaking news that just going up to a ref and insulting him isn't really the wisest move. This is especially true when you're a player who's developed a reputation for being a hothead on the court and has done precious little to start earning the benefit of the doubt from officials, what with all the groin-punching and throat-forearming.
I'm sympathetic to the notion that Cousins often gets a bum rap for his on-court displays of emotion, but there's a difference between getting confusing suspensions because someone somewhere thinks you're a malcontent and entirely justifiable penalties coming as the result of thoughtless actions that, midway through your third professional season, you can reasonably be expected to avoid. It's one thing to get in trouble because your reputation precedes you; it's quite another to keep getting in trouble because you keep adding to the body of evidence confirming that reputation. By continuing to act recklessly in his on-court interactions — and doing so in a game that was televised on NBA TV, one of the relatively few times this year that a Kings game was broadcast for a national audience — Cousins is only increasing the likelihood that calls and public sentiment will go against him in future situations.
It's not as if the Kings were bereft after halftime without their 22-year-old center — they came out strong from intermission, outscoring the Jazz 23-18 in the third quarter behind 11 points from forward Jason Thompson, who responded to increased run in Cousins' absence with a season-high 23 points and 10 rebounds. But Sacramento didn't have enough in the tank to outpace a Jazz team that featured six double-digit scorers — including shooting guard Randy Foye, who scored six of his team-high 20 points in overtime — and Kings point guard Isaiah Thomas thought the outcome might've been a bit different if Cousins had just maintained his composure, according to Jones:
"I feel like we probably could have won if we had him, and he has to be a smarter basketball player when it comes to letting it go and going on to the next play," Thomas said.
"They're going to miss calls. They might officiate bad here and there, but he's costing himself and the team. He has to be a lot smarter."
With every outburst and "shouldn't have said that" interaction, unfortunately, the distance between Cousins and that moment of clarity seems farther and farther away.
If the clip above isn't rocking for you, please feel free to check out Boogie getting the gate elsewhere, thanks to @cjzero.
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