Gameday: DeMarcus Cousins returns to Sacramento

Gameday: DeMarcus Cousins returns to Sacramento

SACRAMENTO -- The return of DeMarcus Cousins. After spending most of his NBA career as the face of the Sacramento Kings’ franchise, the All-Star forward returns for his first game at Golden 1 Center as a member of the visiting team. He’ll face a Kings team that’s lost two straight and looking for a little love on their home floor.

Bogdan Bogdanovic made his NBA debut Monday against the Phoenix Suns and came out hot. The Serbian wing hit 5-of-7 from the field for 12 points in the first half, before running out of gas after the intermission. He played well alongside fellow rookie De’Aaron Fox and veteran Garrett Temple in a small-ball lineup off coach Dave Joerger’s bench.

The Pelicans come in limping. Cousins will anchor the squad, but he might be without his star running mate, Anthony Davis, who underwent an MRI on Wednesday and is listed as questionable.

OPENING LINE

Pelicans by 2

MATCHUP TO WATCH

DeMarcus Cousins vs. His emotions -- Very few players wear their emotions on their sleeve like Cousins. After six-plus seasons with the Kings, Sacramento fans will likely give the big man a standing ovation when he’s announced as a starter for New Orleans. He’s spent his entire career playing with a chip on his shoulder, but Thursday night’s game will have extra value for the 27-year-old.

Prediction: Cousins will either have a huge game against his former team or struggle to stay in the court due to foul trouble. There is no middle ground here.

WHERE THEY STAND

Kings: 1-3, fourth place in Pacific

Pelicans: 2-3, fourth place in Southwest

INJURY REPORT

Kings: PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out.

Pelicans: C/PF Anthony Davis (questionable), Alexis Ajinca (knee) out, Omer Asik (crohn's disease) out, Solomon Hill (hamstring) out, PG Rajon Rondo (hernia) out, Frank Jackson (right foot) out.

SERIES HISTORY

The Kings won the season series against the Pelicans last season, with both wins coming at Golden 1 Center. New Orleans holds a 42-39 lead in the all-time series between these two clubs.  

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

WHO GUARDS COUSINS? -- The 3-time All-Star is a tough guard for every team in the league, but the Kings don’t really have a player that can stick him both on the perimeter and when he goes to work in the post. Zach Randolph, Willie Cauley-Stein and Kosta Koufos will draw the cover, but it will take a team effort to slow Cousins.

COMING OUT COLD -- Sacramento has gotten off to slow starts in each of the team’s previous two games. It likely cost them a win in Phoenix and it was a topic of conversation at media availability both Tuesday and Wednesday. If the issue persists, Dave Joerger will likely have to evaluate the starting group moving forward.

YOUNG PLAYERS CHOMPING AT THE BIT -- Joerger has been consistent so far with his rotation, but he has a couple of players pushing for a boost in minutes. De’Aaron Fox looks like a star in the making, Bogdan Bogdanovic impressed in his debut and Skal Labissiere is showing major signs of growth in year two. Balancing the minutes on this team is only going to get tougher for Joerger.

QUOTE

“I’m excited to play in front of the fans and see their reaction, but as far as it being just a revenge game or anything, I’m past it,” --DeMarcus Cousins to Marc Spears on his return to Sacramento.

NBA fines Pelicans C DeMarcus Cousins for incident with fan

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USATSI

NBA fines Pelicans C DeMarcus Cousins for incident with fan

Former Kings center DeMarcus Cousins is in trouble with the league office again.

The NBA fined the Pelicans big man $25,000 for "directing inappropriate language towards a fan" during the final minutes of the team's season opener on Wednesday night against the Grizzlies.

The referee's heard the exchange between Cousins and the fan, and assessed a technical foul to Cousins. That technical foul was rescinded as part of the league's announcement Saturday.

After Wednesday's game, Cousins offered this explanation of the incident:

"That was pretty bogus, man. The ref, he sat there and heard (the fan) speaking to me in a very nasty way. I shouldn't have responded to it, but I'm a human being and I'm also a grown man. I'm not going to let another person just disrespect me. I felt (the ref) should have handled it, he decided not to, but he handled my end of it. I look forward to speaking to the league," Cousins told reporters, according to USA Today.

Cousins makes his first trip back to Sacramento since being traded by the Kings on Thursday, Oct. 26.

Gameday: Draymond Green vs Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins

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AP

Gameday: Draymond Green vs Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins

Programming note: Warriors-Pelicans coverage starts tonight at 6:30pm with Warriors Pregame Live on NBC Sports Bay Area.

After blowing a 13-point fourth-quarter lead in the season opener Tuesday night, the Warriors will try to wipe away those memories with a win over the Pelicans on Friday night at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans.

The Warriors will have forwards Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala to help their cause in the home opener for the Pelicans.

History will be on the side of the defending champions, who have won 10 of their last 11 games in New Orleans.

BETTING LINE

Warriors by 8.5

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Draymond Green vs. Anthony Davis: Coming off his injury scare, Green surely expects to be tested by Davis and his teammates. Green tends to thrive on even the slightest challenge. If he and his teammates can keep Davis under control (under 25 points, below 50-percent shooting), the Warriors will have won the battle.

INJURY REPORT

Warriors: F Draymond Green (L knee strain) and F Andre Iguodala (back strain) are listed as available. F Omri Casspi (L ankle spain) is listed as out. G Quinn Cook will be activated, while C Damian Jones and F Kevon Looney will be healthy inactives.

Pelicans: C Alexis Ajinca (R knee injury), C Omer Asik (illness), F Soloman Hill (L hamstring tear), G Frank Jackson (R foot fracture) and G Rajon Rondo (L core muscle injury) are listed as out.

SERIES HISTORY

The Warriors have won seven in a row and 17 of the last 18 meetings.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

THE BIGS: Whereas the trend in the NBA is to go small, a strategy the Warriors often use, the Pelicans play two traditional big men. In addition to Davis, who has 6-foot-10, they also start 6-11 former Kings C DeMarcus Cousins. Though both are listed as forwards (as Cousins prefers) both also spent time in the post. Expect the Warriors to use their small lineups in hopes of speeding up the game. Will it work?

DEPTH FACTOR: While the Warriors are relatively healthy, the New Orleans is coping with the absences of Rondo, Hill and backup centers Ajinca and Asik. Warriors coach Steve Kerr is unafraid to go deep into his bench. If the Warriors are prepared, in terms of conditioning, to set the fast pace they desire they’ll have a chance to wear down the Pelicans late.

ANGER MOTIVE: The Warriors were displeased with themselves after losing the season opener at home. Iguodala notes they tend to respond to poor performances by examining their mistakes and making corrections. They haven’t opened a season with two consecutive losses since 2009 and want no part of a 0-2 start.