LOS ANGELES – Less than a minute after his first game as a member of the LA Clippers, DeMarcus Cousins maneuvered his way around Enes Kanter, capitalized on an offensive rebound for himself and scored on a throwback right in front of the delighted owner of the Los Angeles. Clippers, Steve Ballmer. .
Debuting with the team after signing a 10-day contract on Monday, Cousins ’seven points, four rebounds and two assists in seven minutes during the Clippers’ 133-116 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday at the Staples Center.
“It was great,” said Paul George, who made six 3-pointers and finished with 36 points. “He’s an All-Star. He’s still one of the most skilled greats in the league. He can finish, he bounces back. I thought you saw a bit of everything from him tonight, and he showed he still has a lot to give.”
The Clippers are Cousins’ last stop since serious injuries threatened his All-Star game. Cousins tore his Achilles tendon in 2018 with the New Orleans Pelicans and had a lengthy rehab before returning. He then suffered a quadriceps tear during the first round of the playoffs with the Golden State Warriors in 2019. He came back and played in the NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors and later joined the Los Angeles Lakers, only to tear his anterior cruciate ligament. before 2019- Season 20 started.
After missing all of last season, Cousins returned and played in 25 games for the Houston Rockets this season before being released. It has been a long and tiring way back.
“I’ve worked so hard to get to this place,” Cousins said. “I feel great, my body feels great. I’m probably in the best shape I’ve ever been in my entire career. At this point, it’s about going out and putting it all together and trying to keep showing that I’m healthy and I’m here to play this game at a high level.
“I understand the situation I find myself in. Whatever opportunity is given to me, I plan to make the most of it, just control what I can control.”
Cousins provides the Clippers with much-needed depth at center with Serge Ibaka (back) missing his 12th straight game. Cousins set up screens, knocked down two offensive rebounds and fouled to go to the line four times in his first game since Feb. 17.
“Cousins was good,” Clippers head coach Ty Lue said. “[It’s] just hard because he doesn’t know that many plays right now, so we’re limited offensively. But it’s a problem [for opponents]. He’s a big load, he can post, he can shoot the 3, he can pass the basketball. … Just get him in shape and acclimatize him to what we’re trying to do offensively and defensively, but we already know he’s a great talent. “
Cousins is also familiar with this Clippers team. He is a former teammate of the recently acquired Rajon Rondo and played with George on the 2016 US Olympic team and Patrick Patterson in college in Kentucky.
Cousins said he doesn’t see many weaknesses in the Clippers, who have won two in a row with losses over the Lakers and Blazers.
“They obviously have a two-headed snake in Kawhi [Leonard] and PG, “Cousins said.” And obviously everyone else’s job is to make it easy for them. I think this is probably one of the most complete teams in the league. I just bring everything I can to help this team and elevate it. I really don’t see that this team is lacking much. “
George said he hopes to see Cousins regain his All-Star form with the Clippers.
“He can still play at a high level,” George said. “So I’m looking forward to him getting into a rhythm, seeing the court and being a great teammate for us.”