Ex-Cats

Ex-Cat Cousins making most of his new year

Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins, right, shoots as Los Angeles Lakers center Roy Hibbert defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016, in Los Angeles.
Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins, right, shoots as Los Angeles Lakers center Roy Hibbert defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016, in Los Angeles. AP

DeMarcus Cousins is dominating every opponent in the Sacramento Kings’ path during a remarkable January run that has Coach George Karl calling him the best center in basketball.

For the third time this season, Cousins and the Kings were far too good for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Cousins, a former University of Kentucky standout, had 36 points and 16 rebounds, and Rajon Rondo, another ex-Cat, added 11 points and 17 assists in the Kings’ sixth consecutive victory over the Lakers, 112-93 on Wednesday night.

Cousins continued his tear through 2016 with another brutally effective performance, scoring at least 29 points for the eighth time in nine games during the new year. He had 10 in the fourth quarter, leading the Kings on a game-ending 21-6 run after Los Angeles trimmed their lead to four.

DeMarcus has shown at a high, high level that he’s an All-Star. Is there a better center playing basketball right now in the NBA? I don’t think there is.

George Karl, Kings coach

“DeMarcus has shown at a high, high level that he’s an All-Star,” Karl said. “Is there a better center playing basketball right now in the NBA? I don’t think there is. He’s helped us at both ends of the court. … I don’t know anybody that’s playing at this level right now, and I hope the NBA recognizes it and gives him an opportunity to play in Toronto (at the All-Star Game).”

When asked if he’s the best center in the game, Cousins was calmly confident.

“That’s not even a question,” he replied. “It’s not even about that. I feel I can still improve in so many ways. I feel I can improve a lot on the defensive end. … I feel like I can make the pass more than I have. Still a lot of areas I need to improve. It’s not about that. It’s about playing the right way and helping this team get to the next level.”

The Kings have won three straight and six of nine. Sacramento had the Western Conference’s eighth-best record at 18-23 entering Thursday night. The Kings have never made the playoffs or won more than 29 games in Cousins’ first five NBA seasons, but they’re clearly a postseason contender this year.

“It feels good, but I’m not satisfied,” Cousins said. “We shouldn’t be satisfied as a team. I don’t think it’s just about making the playoffs. I think we have a chance to make some noise this year.”

DeMarcus Cousins’ stats

2015-16: 26.2 points, 11.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.3 blocks, 1.3 steals

Career: 19.5 points, 10.7 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.1 blocks, 1.4 steals

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