Despite Cousins' explosion, Wizards' defensive game plan succeeds


The array of difficult shots from DeMarcus Cousins seemed to have no bounds. He made them in traffic, through contact and on stepbacks while blanketed by the 6-11 Marcin Gortat. The Sacramento Kings' big man won the night in terms of the higlight reel, but they lost the game 101-95 in overtime with Cousins needing 34 shots to score a game-high 36 points. 

In a way, that was the game plan though it had hiccups. 

"It's hard for me to say this because Cousins had 36 and 20 (rebounds) but Marcin did a great job on him," Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. "It took 34 shots to get those 36 points, and probably four or five were just like, 'Are you kidding me?' Couldn't do anything better than what we did, but he made them.. ... Marcin battled him throughout the game, made his catches and shots tough and made him miss 18 shots."

The Wizards led 88-80 with 5:12 left in the fourth quarter as the game began to slip away. Then Cousins took over yet again. There was a 17-foot turnaround jumper, a layup, a 14-foot turnaround and two more layups. The final one, scored with 10.9 seconds left, tied the score at 92 and would force overtime. 

Gortat was on an island as he received very little help trying to defend a 6-11 big with ball-handling skills and moves of a much smaller player. The Wizards opted to go the more disciplined route and not overhelp to create open shots on the perimeter for Rudy Gay (1-for-4 from three), Arron Afflalo (0-for-3), Matt Barnes (0-for-3), Garrett Temple (1-for-3) or Darren Collison (0-for-1).


"Not many fives can do that, put the ball on the floor, shoot threes, dribble the length of the floor," Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal said. 


Sacramento knocked down 13 three-pointers in a win at the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday. The Wizards, who have been porous on three-point defense, effecitvely took that away. It was a high risk that produced rewards in the extra session. While Cousins shot 6-for-9 in the fourth, he was 0-for-3 and the rest of the Kings were out of snyc because they hadn't been involved in the offense. 

"A couple times he had some easy looks but other than that, a lot of shots were tough," said John Wall, Cousins' teammate for one season at Kentucky where they played in 2009-10 before turning pro. "We tried to do as much as we could to double-team because he can pass to his guys. We didn't want anybody else to get in a rhythm."

The Kings shot 3-for-21 from three-point range overall, with Cousins missing 5 of 6 attempts. Gortat only had 10 points and seven rebounds as he was drawn to the perimeter regularly, but also got three blocked shots in the process. 

Unlike when the Wizards last played the Kings, on March 30 last season when they allowed 120 points, only Gay scored in double figures (18 points on 16 shots). They weren't allowing Cousins to get 29 points on just 16 shots like he did in that playoff-hope crushing loss while getting five other teammates in double-figure scoring.

They held them to 25 fewer points and got them their third win in four games.

"He got to where he wanted to get to," Beal said of Cousins' command in what became a one-dimensional offense. "In a case like that, when somebody does have it going, you have to stop everybody else."