DeMarcus Cousins is a far different player now from what the New Jersey Nets saw of him as a rookie.
The second-year forward is putting together his best stretch of basketball and will try for a career-best sixth straight double-double Saturday night when the Sacramento Kings host the Nets.
Cousins was bypassed by New Jersey (18-35) in the 2010 draft, falling to Sacramento (18-33) at No. 5. The Nets used the third overall pick on Derrick Favors, who is no longer on their team and missed all 13 shots for Utah on Friday.
That contest featured another dominant performance by Cousins, who had 27 points and 14 rebounds for his fifth straight double-double as the Kings ended a four-game slide with a 104-103 win over the Jazz. Cousins had a tying three-point play with 2:20 left and made the eventual game-winning free throw with 3.8 seconds to go.
"It feels good, especially playing through the type of adversity we played through (Friday),'' Cousins said. "It was definitely a big win for us.''
Cousins is averaging 28.0 points and 15.0 rebounds over his last five games. His two games against New Jersey last season came within the first 11 of his career. The inexperience showed, as Cousins averaged 10.0 points on 31.3 percent shooting, though he did post 7.0 rebounds per game.
His toughness has been his trademark, with more proof of it Friday. Cousins suffered a gash in a physical third quarter and was whistled for a technical foul as he left the court for stitches before coming back.
"I prefer a guy with fire,'' Kings coach Keith Smart said. "We have guys that you've got to pump up and put air in them to make them play hard and play with passion. (Cousins) is going to grow out of that and know how to manage. He'll settle down and his skills will continue to develop.''
Friday's Sacramento victory came without guard Tyreke Evans, out because of back spasms. Evans' status is uncertain for Saturday. He's averaging 20.5 points in two career home wins over the Nets.
New Jersey has dropped 11 of its last 12 visits to Sacramento, but has been better on the road than at home all season. The Nets rallied from 19 points down in the second half Friday to win 102-100 at Golden State.
Deron Williams had 20 assists - matching the NBA season high by Boston's Rajon Rondo against New York on March 4. Gerald Wallace finished with 24 points, 18 rebounds and six steals, and scored 10 points over the final 6 minutes as the Warriors crumbled down the stretch.
"The future looks good, if we had everybody healthy," Wallace said. "We have an elite point guard, we have one of the up-and-coming centers ... so our future looks great."
Wallace, who has a player option with New Jersey in 2012-13, was drafted in the first round by Sacramento in 2001 and spent his first three seasons with the Kings. He's averaging 19.9 points on 53.1 percent shooting against the Kings - career highs against any opponent.