Cousins: Embiid may become best big man in NBA ... 'after I retire'

Cousins: Embiid may become best big man in NBA ... 'after I retire'

SACRAMENTO -- The future of the NBA center position is in good hands. DeMarcus Cousins, arguably the best big man in the game, showed up big Monday in the Sacramento Kings’ 102-100 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers.

But so did rookie Joel Embiid.

The two giants clashed all the way until the final whistle when Cousins swatted Embiid’s 3-point attempt that would have given the Sixers a one-point lead with 3.8 seconds remaining.

It was a good, clean fight and Cousins came away impressed.

“I like that kid a lot - I don’t give a lot of people props, but I like that kid a lot,” Cousins told CSN’s Kayte Christensen following the game. “I think he’s got a great chance of being the best big in the league...after I retire...”

Cousins struggled to find a rhythm early against a young 76ers frontline, but in the final 6:10 of the fourth quarter, he posted 12 of his game-high 30 points. But Embiid and his gritty teammates refused to go away.

“He’s terrific,” Joerger said of the Sixers prized rookie. “It should be illegal to be that big and that skilled at the same time. He’s got a terrific future.”

Embiid finished the night with a team-high 25 points on 8-of-17 shooting. He added eight rebounds, two steals and a pair of blocks, although he turned the ball over eight times in 29 minutes of action.

“That kid’s special - all jokes aside, I really think he’s a good player, we were joking a little bit,” Cousins said. “This is my first time ever interacting with Embiid, and also feeling how physical he is as well.”

Early in the game, Cousins swatted Embiid on the backside after schooling the rookie in the post. Embiid returned the slap, which of course Cousins returned again. The two giants continued to smack each other all way to the other end of the court in a comical, yet telling moment of what is to come over the next few seasons between the two.

“I appreciate them just letting us play,” Cousins said with a smile. “That was a good matchup. That was a fun battle. It was good.”

To keep Cousins fresh, coach Dave Joerger used veteran Kosta Koufos and second-year big Willie Cauley-Stein to guard the the 7-foot Embiid. Koufos picked up five personal fouls in just 15 minutes of action and Cauley-Stein needed just 12 minutes to record three personals.

Down the stretch it was Cousins vs. Embiid in an epic battle of bigs. The Kings ran the ball through Cousins on nearly every possession late and he stuffed the stat sheet with seven rebounds, five assists, three steals and two blocks.

“I thought I did pretty good when I was guarding him,” Embiid told reporters after the game. “He’s good obviously, so he scored the ball when it mattered. But I thought it went pretty good overall.”

Embiid wasn’t overpowered, but it was Cousins that led his team to victory. This is the first of many battles between these two big men. Embiid is only going to get better as he learns the game and improves his overall fitness level.

With the win, the Kings improved to 14-17 on the season as they head to Portland to face the reeling Trail Blazers on Wednesday night. The Blazers lost their sixth straight Monday night and have fallen back to the tenth spot in the race for the Western Conference playoff race, trailing Sacramento by a full two games.

Vince Carter 'very humbled' to pass Patrick Ewing on all-time scoring list

Vince Carter 'very humbled' to pass Patrick Ewing on all-time scoring list

SACRAMENTO -- Half man, half amazing. Vincanity. Air-Canada. V.C.

Vince Carter has plenty of nicknames on his bio. He also has plenty of achievements over his long NBA career. On Monday night in Sacramento, he added a new one.  

With his seven point performance in the Kings’ 106-90 loss to the Detroit Pistons, the 41-year-old forward surpassed a former teammate on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.

“It means a lot, because in my days in Orlando, I played with Pat Ewing and know him very well,” Carter said following the game.

Carter came into the night needing five points to tie Ewing’s 24,815 mark for 22nd place on the all-time scoring list.

In the early second quarter, Carter stole a pass from Andre Drummond at the top of the key  and flew down for a breakaway jam to move within three points of Ewing.

“It’s fun for everyone, just to show I can still do it,” Carter said of the dunk. “I think I’ve proven I can, but it’s still fun. I told James Ennis on the way, I said, ‘stay back, don’t foul me.’”

Ennis likely couldn’t have caught Carter either way, but the slam got the Kings crowd going.

At the 4:12 mark of the second, Carter drilled a 12-footer to move within one point of Ewing and with 29.5 seconds remaining in the third, Carter knocked down a 26-foot 3-pointer that rattled around and tried to spin out.

That was the last bucket of the evening for Carter, giving him 24,817 for his 20-year career. He now sits alone in 22nd place, two points ahead of the former New York Knicks star center.

“That’s crazy,” 20-year-old De’Aaron Fox said. “That’s a lot of buckets. Top-25, that’s huge - a lot of guys won’t get close to that.”

Carter now sits just 375 points behind legendary Laker, Jerry West for 21st place and 462 shy of Reggie Miller for a spot in the top 20.

“When you talk about (being) in the top 25 in scoring all-time, you just look at the list of the greats and elite players and the best of the best that still play, and to be in that group, I’m very humbled and thankful for it,” Carter told the media scrum surrounding his locker.

Carter was away from the team over the weekend dealing with a death in the family. He returned to Sacramento to play on Monday, but did so with a heavy heart.

For most of his life, the basketball court has been his place to escape. After two decades as a pro, it still has that effect.

“I just still love it, it’s been great to me, it gives me an opportunity to be around the younger generation and still be around the game I love and accomplish things like this,” Carter said.

He’s played sparingly for Sacramento this season, but his impact on the bench, in practice and behind the scenes as a leader and mentor to the young Kings has been immeasurable.

Carter hasn’t committed to retiring following the season. He will weigh his options, but there is a possibly he will look for one last run at an NBA championship.

Carter passes Ewing on all-time scoring list


Carter passes Ewing on all-time scoring list

SACRAMENTO -- Moving on up. Vince Carter came into Monday evening’s matchup against the Detroit Pistons needing just five points to surpass Patrick Ewing for 22nd place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. He got that and a little more.

Carter, 41, picked off a Pistons pass in the second quarter and hammered down a breakaway dunk to score his first two points of the evening. He knocked down a jumper in the lane before halftime to get within one point of Ewing and then moved ahead of the 7-footer with a 3-pointer in the third quarter.

The 20-year NBA veteran now sits at 24,817 points. He is 375 points behind the great Jerry West’s 25,192, who currently sits in 21st place on the all-time list.