DeMarcus Cousins' ability to fight inner Boogie more vital than ever

DeMarcus Cousins' ability to fight inner Boogie more vital than ever

There is a play in my head called The Agonies Of DeMarcus Cousins, and it’s a one-actor show full of interior dialogues, tortured expressions, runs of frustration from one side of the stage to the other, and from the orchestra pit to the back of the hall.

And now we have to edit in his first official groinal seizure, in which an actor playing Buddy Hield of the New Orleans Pelicans thinks the best way to get around a Cousins screen is to levy a punitive tax on his delicates.

It was a fairly brazen act, the sort that had been a feature of the 2016 season but had been nearly unseen this year. But Cousins endured the indignity while Hield was ejected for a flagrant two (I will now leave you to use the number two for your own insensitive humor), and finished the game, a 105-99 victory over the Seabirds that moved the Kings back to within a game and a half of the one thing that we have waited for all these many years.

A first-round series against the Golden States.

The effects of the Hield seizure came and went, and Cousins finished the game (28 points, 14 rebounds), his progeny assembly undamaged. He and the Kings now go to Los Angeles to face the Lakers, and then back north to Oakland for their final game before the All-Star Break.

That is, if he can avoid picking up his 18th technical foul for the second time this season between now and then.

Cousins just finished serving a one-game suspension for getting his 16th technical last week against Chicago, which was actually his 18th because two of them, against Brooklyn and the Lakers, were later rescinded by the NBA office.

But he regained his 17th last night when Haywoode Workman saw him swing an errant arm at Pelican Donatas Motiejunas, and he had to adjourn to the Kings locker room by his own choice to regain his equilibrium.

In short, his next technical will result in another suspension, re-re-re-re-re-re-re-rekindling the debate about whether Cousins is good or bad for the Kings. It's a drama, based on history, but it is also a perfectly weird play because it is Boogie’s fate to forever split the audience.

But while the race to 16 was achieved in record time, it still took 52 games. Now, with suspension reduced to an every-alternate-T incident, and his career record of one technical for every 4.4 games. He is seventh on the list of active players with 105 technicals, and every player ahead of him on the list has played at least twice as many games, some (Dirk Nowitzki and Paul Pierce) three times as many.

So the rest of his season, and that of the Kings, hinges on the day-to-nature of Cousins’ fractious relationship with the officials. There’s a weight in that reality that sometimes energizes Cousins, sometimes enrages him and sometimes even enervates him.

Inner turmoil always plays well.

The Kings have given him an exceedingly wide berth to cope with this individual battle, but the Kings are close enough to their first playoff berth in 11 years (only Minnesota has been absent longer). More to the point, the Kings would almost certainly be an eight-seed, which means that owner Vivek Ranadive could finally engage his personal bête noire 90 miles to the southwest.

External turmoil plays well, too.

In short, Cousins’ ability to restrain his inner Boogie is now more vital than ever. He cannot so freely indulge his need to rage against the whistled machine . . . well, okay, he can, but he desperately wants to win this fight with himself because he hates losing more than he hates officials and the league office for which they serve.

Now if this isn’t a play, then you’re an illiterate. Better still, the idea of “Hamilton” being supplanted in Broadway by “Boogie Agonistes” is frankly the best thing 2017 could provide us. And yes, we know that is a low bar to clear.

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.

Joerger faces tough decision with Bogdanovic out vs Pistons


Joerger faces tough decision with Bogdanovic out vs Pistons

SACRAMENTO -- It’s time for some home cooking. The Sacramento Kings open a six-game homestand Monday night at Golden 1 Center. They’ll host a struggling Detroit Pistons team that has lost three straight and seven of their last eight.

The Kings battled the Utah Jazz all the way down the wire Saturday evening at Vivint Smart Home Arena, before falling in the final minute. Buddy Hield put up 20-plus points for his third straight game to lead Sacramento.

Detroit looked like a playoff team for much of the season and then the wheels fell off their bus. They have plenty of talent, but so far, they are struggling to find chemistry since acquiring All-Star Blake Griffin at the deadline.

Pistons by 3.5

Skal Labissiere vs. Blake Griffin -- The Kings have struggled to contain Griffin throughout his career. Whether he starts or not, second-year big Skal Labissiere is likely to see plenty of time against the high-scoring power forward. Labissiere is averaging 11.6 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 27 minutes a game in March. He needs to move his feet and avoid foul trouble against Griffin.

Kings: 23-48, fourth place in Pacific

Pistons: 30-39, fourth place in Central

Kings: SG Bogdan Bogdanovic (left hamstring soreness) out, SG/SF Iman Shumpert (knee rehab/plantar fasciitis) out, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out for the season.

Pistons: PG Reggie Jackson (ankle) out, PF Jon Leuer (ankle) out.

Decisions, Decisions -- With Bogdanovic out for the evening, Dave Joerger has a tough choice to make. Does he elevate Hield into the starting lineup and disrupt his bench unit? Or does he start veteran Garrett Temple alongside De’Aaron Fox. Hield has earned a look with the starters, but he’s on fire with the second team.

Keep Fighting -- Plenty of fans want the Kings to lay down and preserve their spot in the NBA’s Draft Lottery. The Kings are trying to build a winning culture around a group of young players. They are developing an identity as the season heads towards its conclusion and there is no reason to let up.

Shoot the 3-ball -- The Kings trail only the Golden State Warriors in 3-point percentage. They hit 14-of-21 from behind the arc against the Jazz, but that’s not enough. The goal should be 30 threes per game from here on out. The team has the shooters, they just need to hoist it up more often.

The Pistons lead the season series 1-0 and are looking for the sweep. Detroit holds a 134-119 advantage over the Kings all-time and a 37-26 edge during the Sacramento-era.