Former University of Kentucky star DeMarcus Cousins already had the ninth triple-double of his career — 15 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists — and the New Orleans Pelicans were closing in on defeating the Houston Rockets when the big man went down with an left Achilles injury late in his team’s 115-113 victory on Friday night.
Cousins and the Pelicans, which improved to 27-21 on the season, were left to find out whether he will be able to play again this season.
“It’s his Achilles,” Coach Alvin Gentry said. “He’ll get an MRI. We’ll know the severity of it tomorrow.”
According to reports, including by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Cousins had already been diagnosed with a torn Achilles before the MRI. Wojnarowski’s sources said the MRI confirmed that diagnosis, and that Cousins’ recovery time would be between six and 10 months.
A fourth straight victory and seventh victory in eight games coming against one of the NBA’s top teams should have been reason to celebrate, but there was a lot of concern immediately about Cousins, who could not put any weight on his left foot as he was helped to the locker room with less than 15 seconds left.
“We were just getting it and just figuring everything out,” said Anthony Davis, who added 27 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and five blocks for the Pelicans. “That’s the tough part. … We just have to keep going.”
Jrue Holiday scored 21 points and unconventionally sealed the victory by purposefully missing a free throw with 1.8 seconds left, causing time to run out as players fought for the rebound.
Former Mason County and UK star Darius Miller hit six three-pointers, including one with 1:52 left to give the Pelicans a five-point lead, and finished with 20 points.
“We’re just waiting to see what’s going on (with Cousins), honestly,” Miller said after the game. “It was a great win for the team, but that’s a huge piece of the team. That’s one of our brothers.”
Another former Cat, DeAndre Liggins, supplied his trademark tough defense and contributed eight points and two assists in 19 minutes for the Pelicans. He was 2-for-2 from three-point range.
“We’re happy about the win, but at the end of the day we lost one of our soldiers, one of our leaders,” Liggins said of Cousins. “It’s a bad deal, but injuries are part of the game. All we can do is pray for him, which we did.”
Chris Paul scored a season-high 38 points before fouling out in the final seconds and nearly led Houston back from a 21-point, third-quarter deficit. James Harden had 23 points and 11 assists, and Eric Gordon scored 27 points.
Former Kentucky stars and other players and media around the NBA were quick to offer their support for Cousins: