DeMarcus Cousins stopped short of throwing a tantrum late in the Warriors’ 117-107 win over the Suns on Friday night, perhaps because Rick Celebrini, the team’s director of sports medicine, stepped in before it reached that point.
With the Warriors leading 101-94 and 5:46 remaining, Cousins had reached his 25-minute limit and coach Steve Kerr was ready to plop the big man on the bench.
Cousins wasn’t ready to sit. Didn‘t want to sit. He’s tired of sitting, even though he’s still working on his timing and conditioning after a one-year layoff to recover from surgery to repair his ruptured left Achilles’ tendon.
He wanted to play, so he let Kerr know.
“I just wanted to try to finish the game out strong,” Cousins told Warriors sideline reporter Kerith Burke. “We’re trying to stick to this minutes restriction. I’m like a defiant child right now when it comes to it.”
The Warriors, however, are trying to be careful. They want to keep Cousins’ playing time at about 25 minutes for now, with the plan to increase it in the weeks after the Feb. 14-20 All-Star break.
But the game was in the balance and Draymond Green, who often closes games at center, was unavailable after being ejected late in the third quarter.
So, it was Boogie Time.
“I was going to take him out at the six-minute mark,” Kerr told reporters in Phoenix, “and he said, ‘Please, do not do this.’ I asked Rick, and Rick said he’s good to go.
“I played him a couple more minutes, and then I didn’t feel comfortable extending him more than that eight-minute run. But by that time, he had done his job.”
When Cousins left the game with 3:45 remaining, after a season-high 27 minutes, he was replaced by Kevon Looney. The Warriors had a six-point lead.
“I just want to be out on the floor and help my team win games,” said Cousins, who in his ninth game as a Warriors finished with 18 points, five rebound and four assists. “So they let me play a couple extra minutes.
“I’m just happy to get a win.”