DeMarcus Cousins’ first touch in a Golden State Warriors’ uniform drew an audible cheer from the Staples Center crowd but no points. He made a post move, but was stuffed at the rim.
His second touch, though, brought the house down.
On a pick-and-roll with Kevin Durant, Cousins threw down a thunderous dunk, rolling down the lane. The crowd gasped. The Warriors’ bench erupted like it was a game-winner.
Stephen Curry said:
“It was like poetry man, it was awesome.”
“I’m just glad to know I could still dunk. I never in a million years would’ve thought that would’ve been my first basket.”
Coming off a major Achilles injury, Cousins was limited to 15 minutes of action, fouling out in his first contest as a member of the Warriors (32-14), a 112-94 victory over the hometown Clippers (24-21) Friday. He looked sluggish at times, a step slow on defense and hesitant on offense. He wound up with 14 points on 5-of-11 shooting, picking up three fouls in his first four minutes before fouling out early in the fourth.
Sitting in the press conference room after the game, Cousins smiled and laughed about his performance. He said he felt like a kid on Christmas:
“It’s one of the best days of my life, just being out there on the floor again, playing the game I love.”
Cousins had butterflies all the way up until tip-off. He texted his friends and family with apprehension:
“It’s kind of like riding a bike. Once you ride it, you never forget it. I was nervous all the way up until. Stomach was tight. Once the ball went up, everything went out the window.”
It wasn’t all smooth-going. But that dunk was enough to give head coach Steve Kerr — and the rest of the NBA — a glimpse into the five-headed monster that is now the Warriors’ starting lineup. For the first time since the 1975-76 Celtics, a team put five All-Stars from the previous season on the court simultaneously.
“I thought his movement was good, strong. … All in all, considering what he’s coming back from, how long it’s been since he’s played, I was really impressed.”
Cousins was not the reason why the Warriors claimed their seventh straight win to remain atop the West. It was the usual suspects: Curry, with 28 points, and Durant, with 24, spurring a 14-2 third-quarter push that gave the Warriors separation after taking a 52-51 advantage into halftime. Curry erupted for 14 points in the third to help the Warriors open an 81-72 lead heading into the fourth.
The night, though, belonged to Cousins. Every basket, every foul, every movement lit social media ablaze. Cousins called it the “fakest love” he has ever received:
“I don’t see how guys like Steph and KD do it on the daily. I don’t like it all.”
He became more comfortable as the game went on. With Curry and Durant on the bench to start the fourth, Cousins buried back-to-back triples before fouling out, with the Warriors extending the lead to 90-72 on a 13-4 run.
Cousins was surprised he was left open from deep:
“I wonder what the scouting report is like on me right now. I can shoot. I’ll take it. It made my night a little easier.”
As he departed the game after collecting his sixth personal foul, Cousins received a rousing cheer from the crowd and a standing ovation from his. teammates on the bench — just like he did on his first basket.
“Hopefully that’s the last time we give him a ‘standing O’ after he fouls out.”
The Boogie experience — ever the adventure — is under way.
The Warriors will remain in Los Angeles over the holiday weekend, as they take on the Lakers at Staples Center on Monday. Golden State is in the midst of playing seven of eight games on the road.
Kevin Durant passed Clyde Drexler for 31st on the NBA’s all-time scoring list with his 14th point on the night. Drexler had 22,195 career points. … The Warriors recorded 10 turnovers, improving to 9-0 when turning the ball over 10-or-fewer times. … Golden State also had 31 assists, recording more than 30 assists in seven of the last nine games.