DeMarcus Cousins was 'the happiest he's looked' after breakthrough vs. Hornets

DeMarcus Cousins was 'the happiest he's looked' after breakthrough vs. Hornets

With Kevin Durant taking a break from his recent hot stretch and Stephen Curry shooting lower than 30 percent for the first time in five weeks, the Warriors were looking for somebody to fill the void.

At precisely the same time, DeMarcus Cousins was looking for a game that would remind him of the player he once was.

Both the team and the man got what they needed Monday night.

After being abused on defense in the first quarter, Cousins returned in the second quarter and went on to play perhaps his best game as a Warrior in a 121-110 victory over the Hornets at Spectrum Center in Charlotte.

“He’s had a couple other good ones, but this is the happiest he’s looked,” coach Steve Kerr told reporters in North Carolina. “He looked the most comfortable tonight. He made a couple moves around the hoop where he showed great agility.

“This is the best he has looked.”

Cousins scored a season-high 24 points and also grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds, completing his fourth consecutive double-double -- the first Warrior to accomplish that feat since David Lee in February 2014.

Moreover, Cousins was able to flex his muscles and flash his skills for 31 minutes, the most he has played since being activated on Jan. 18 after nearly a year to recover and rehabilitate in the wake of rupturing his left Achilles' tendon.

“I’m happier about that than the actual game,” Cousins said. “I’m going to make sure I give Steve a big hug after this.”

Cousins has been pleading for more minutes, with sports medicine director Rick Celebrini and Kerr playing it cautiously.

“He has been hoping to (increase) his minutes,” Kerr said. “He’s told me that and I am well aware of that. And he played really well tonight, so we were very comfortable with the rotation and the way it worked out.”

This was quite the tonic for Cousins, who lit into himself after a poor performance in a loss to Houston on Saturday night in Oakland. The Rockets targeted his defense and thrived, forcing him to acknowledge his confidence was rattled.

So what did the Hornets do? They did what any other NBA team is going to do, at least for the foreseeable future. They targeted Boogie, putting him the pick-and-roll early and often. It worked splendidly early -- Cody Zeller scored 12 of his career-high 28 points in the first quarter -- and was successful at times afterward.

But Cousins, after faltering in the opening minutes, found his comfort zone in the second quarter and maintained it for much of the game, giving as good as he got. He worked over the Hornets on offense, using pet moves to go 9-of-15 from the field and finish plus-10 for the game.

“K has been cussing me out (saying) ‘stop thinking about it and just go play’ my game,” Cousins said, referring to Kevin Durant. “JC (assistant coach Jarron Collins) has also been in my head about just going out and being aggressive.”

Cousins generally has been aggressive. The problem was that there were too many occasions when his aggression overtook his judgment, resulting in fouls or turnovers. After giving it up six times against Houston, Cousins had one turnover against Charlotte.

“It was huge for him, more so for him to get his legs up under him, see the ball go in the rim and get back to making the moves that he normally makes,” Durant said.

This was a night when neither Durant (7-of-15, 20 points) nor Curry (5-of-18, 16 points) scorched the nets. There will be more such nights because that’s the way of the game. Klay Thompson came through with 26 points -- solid, but not indicative of a breakthrough.

[RELATED: Steph stresses Dubs 'cannot lose the joy' as they struggle]

That might be what Cousins did, practically diving into the gap and busting out with the kind of game that brought back a few memories.

“It feels good to get a good one under my belt,” he said. “I hope this one carries over to the next game.”

Mychal Mulder shares details of night Warriors offered 10-day contract

Mychal Mulder shares details of night Warriors offered 10-day contract

On Feb. 25, 2020, former Warriors guard Jarrett Jack made a free throw with one second remaining to lift the Sioux Falls Skyforce to a 100-99 win over the Austin Spurs in an intense G League battle.

Sioux Falls shooting guard Mychal Mulder did not have a memorable performance -- 11 points (4-for-12 overall, 2-for-10 3s), nine rebounds, one assist, two steals and two turnovers in over 32 minutes of action.

But his life changed forever later that night when he got a call from Kent Lacob of the Golden State Warriors.

"We just got done playing a game maybe a couple hours before, and I had a couple of my teammates at the house," Mulder explained to SportsByline. "We were just hanging around playing "UNO" (the card game) -- normal decompression stuff like that. Just hanging out, talking about the game -- it was close. Jarrett Jack actually game'd it for us -- winning on a free throw.

"And we're all just sitting there talking about that, and my phone rings from a number I didn't recognize so I didn't answer it. And then I got a text that was like, 'Hey Mike. This is Kent (Lacob) from Golden State. Sorry to call you so late but it's time-sensitive so give me a shout when you can.' Obviously I picked my phone up immediately and called.

"He's like, 'I have some good news for you.' And I just started smiling immediately because him calling my phone already is good news to me. There couldn't have been any negative aspect to that. So when he said they were ready to offer a 10-day (contract), that was something that was really satisfying for me -- a moment that I had been waiting on since I turned pro.

"To have it be with the Golden State Warriors -- it couldn't have been a better fit. Me and my teammates were in the house yelling and getting excited. And then I got to call my parents and tell them I finally got the call. That was special and I don't think I'll ever forget that."

Mulder certainly made the most of his opportunity.

After a non-descript NBA debut vs. the Los Angeles Lakers on Feb. 27, he averaged 14.4 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.6 assists over the next five games, while shooting 40 percent from 3-point territory.

The 25-year-old was rewarded with a contract through the remainder of the season -- plus non-guarantees in 2020-21 and 2021-22.

[RELATED: Paschall refuses to bash Kerr when baited by Jefferson]

Unfortunately, the NBA season was suspended just before the Warriors were about to play road games against the Toronto Raptors and Detroit Pistons. Mulder grew up just outside the "Motor City."

"He finally made it and we were getting ready to play games in Toronto and Detroit -- where he was gonna have tons of family -- and celebrate his accomplishments," coach Steve Kerr said two weeks ago. "He was having the time of his life."

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Eric Paschall won't trash talk Steve Kerr when Richard Jefferson baits

Eric Paschall won't trash talk Steve Kerr when Richard Jefferson baits

Former Warriors forward Richard Jefferson tried to get Golden State rookie Eric Paschall into some trouble.

How do we know that?

Because this hit Twitter on Tuesday afternoon:

Here's the transcript:

Jefferson: "Is Steve Kerr as annoying as he seems?"

Paschall: "What you mean?"

Jefferson: "He just seems really, really annoying."

Paschall: "Why you say that?"

Jefferson: "I've just never liked him. I played against him as a player -- in the NBA Finals when he was with the Spurs. Then he was the head coach of the Warriors -- and just to me, he seems super, super annoying."

Paschall: "I don't think he's annoying. I think he's a great dude."

Jefferson: "Really?"

Paschall: "(laughter) Yo, you're not gonna try to play this game with me (laughter)."

Jefferson (after erupting with laughter): "Steve Kerr -- he's an Arizona guy. That's my Wildcat brother. I was just messing with you (laughter)."

Paschall: "Yo, this man trying to get me to say something crazy (laughing). I ain't falling for the okie-doke (laughter)."

Jefferson: "It was a test and you passed!"

Just last week, Paschall explained why he loves playing for Kerr.

"He's very laid back. Knows the game. I think that he was a player himself helps out a lot because he understands what we are going through in every type of way.

"Having somebody like him as our coach is great, and I appreciate everything he's doing and done for me so far."

Kerr played at Arizona from 1983 to 1988 -- helping the Wildcats reach the Final Four his senior season.

Jefferson played at Arizona from 1998 to 2001 -- helping the Wildcats reach the national title game his junior season.

[RELATED: Dubs' Paschall misses hoops, posts video dunking on Harden]

Lastly, here's a random Arizona tangent:

Sorry, Channing. Had to do it.

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