Game Preview: Kings at Celtics
DeMarcus Cousins never has shied away from speaking his mind, and his latest bold statement challenged his Sacramento Kings teammates in the midst of a rough stretch.
The Boston Celtics aren't exactly pleased with their play lately, either.
Sacramento looks to end a six-game losing streak in Boston while looking to deal the Celtics a fifth consecutive defeat Wednesday afternoon.
Cousins is averaging 28.2 points while shooting 55.1 percent in five games since missing 10 with viral meningitis. He scored 24 and grabbed 13 rebounds Monday in the opener of a four-game road trip, but the Kings (13-18) fell 107-99 to Brooklyn.
Rudy Gay finished with a game-high 25 points as Sacramento lost for the eighth time in 10 games. Cousins wasn't impressed with the Kings' effort, though he didn't call anyone out by name.
"I'll put it like this. When you go through situations like this and things get tough, you start to see people's true colors," Cousins said. "You're going to see who's really in it and who's really not. As bad as this may seem, it's also a good thing because you're going to know who's ready to go to battle with you every night."
The Kings are just 2-5 since Tyrone Corbin replaced fired coach Mike Malone on Dec. 15. Though Cousins also said Sacramento needed to "act like we cared," he relented a bit.
"(Monday's loss was) frustrating, but as bad as we played, we still had a chance to win the game," Cousins said.
The Kings have lost five straight on the road, and they haven't won in Boston since Jan. 19, 2007. Cousins scored 31 points and added 16 rebounds in Sacramento's last trip to TD Garden on Feb. 7, but Jared Sullinger matched those exact numbers in the Celtics' 99-89 victory.
Gay scored 22 to help overcome 29 from Jeff Green as Sullinger sat out with a concussion in the Kings' 105-98 home win Feb. 22 over Boston, which has gone 1-4 since trading Rajon Rondo to Dallas.
The Celtics (10-18) were outscored 44-34 in the paint in a 101-88 loss at Washington on Saturday. Green scored a game-high 23 and Sullinger added 12 for Boston, which was outrebounded 48-36.
"Teams are just coming out and smacking us in the mouth," Sullinger said. "People feel like we're sweet, we're soft. We've just got to play tough."
Coach Brad Stevens said that will be especially true if the Celtics plan to contain Cousins. Boston's average of 47.4 points allowed in the paint per game ranks 29th in the NBA.
"He's up there," Stevens told the team's official website when asked where Cousins ranks among NBA big men. "He can score on the block by overpowering you, he can score with skill on the block, and he can score with skill out on the perimeter.
"When it's all said and done, they're still going to the big fella on the block, at the top of the key, off pick-and-rolls, off duck-ins, off whatever the case may be."
Sullinger, who twisted his ankle against the Wizards but said it wasn't serious and expects to play, could draw the assignment of guarding Cousins.
"That's one talented big man over there," Sullinger said. "He can pass it. He can shoot it. He scores in a variety of ways."
Boston has won five of seven at home.