As everyone knows by now, the compressed NBA schedule will force every team to play three games in three nights at least one this season (42 times in total). With only 66 games to stake a claim to a playoff spot or seed, how teams perform during these killer slates could have a large impact on how their seasons turn out.
With that in mind, we’re going to keep track of each of the 42 three-plays to see which teams take advantage and which teams fall apart. Up next, the Sacramento Kings, who played three straight from Jan 3-5.
Well, I daresay we won’t see a more tumultuous three-game set for any team this season, as the Kings saw a blow-up between talented but, shall we say, enigmatic forward DeMarcus Cousins and coach Paul Westphal end up with Cousins allegedly demanding a trade (since disputed/rescinded) and Westphal getting the axe after a 2-5 start. It just goes to show you a lot can happen in three games.
Game 1: Grizzlies 113, Kings 96 - Cousins was benched for the previous game against New Orleans, but made the trip with the team to Memphis, though he was held out of the starting lineup. Not sure it mattered, the Kings got waxed. -2 points
Game 2:Nuggets 110, Kings 83- Case in point – Cousins started against the Nuggets, and the Kings lost by 27. Westphal got got after this one. -1 point
Game 3:Kings 103, Bucks 100 - Just when it looked like we’d see our first oh-fer, the Kings under interim coach Keith Smart stage a huge second-half rally and tip the Bucks at the very end. Cousins had 19 and 15, for what it’s worth. 5 points
Given how things started on this trip, plus playing the Nuggets at altitude, I’m impressed the Kings dug deep and pulled the last game out. Maybe there’s fight in them left? They conclude the three-play with 2 total points.
Up next: The Atlanta Hawks are on the clock, with three games in a row Jan. 5-7: home against the Heat (which they lost in 3OT, at Charlotte, and home to the Bulls. Good luck.
People want to give DeMarcus Cousins a hard time for his attitude, but how can you not love a guy who is so self aware of the things people give him trouble for. Take this interview from the start of Kings camp over the weekend:
Last night in Arco Arena, it was loud. It was emotional. And fittingly, it was about rookie – for the next two days anyway – DeMarcus Cousins, who scored 30 points against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
And if you’re a league-leading scorer and superstar for a serious contender, I imagine you’re not used to being caught in this position.
As superstars tend to do, Kevin Durant found a way to respond, scoring 32 as the Thunder came away with the victory. But Cousins, mercurial temperament and all, came away with a career-high performance.
Missed the cut: Gilbert Arenas, Magic; Jerryd Bayless, Raptors; Mike Bibby, Heat; Jordan Hill, Rockets; Mustafa Shakur, Wizards; Luke Walton, Lakers
Team synopsis: Leave Agent Zero on the bench? Am I crazy? Maybe. But this competition wants the players currently playing the best, not who has the best resume. Arenas just isn’t playing at the same level anymore, and both Budinger and Frye are having better seasons. This is a dangerous Arizona team, with a lot of players who can fill up the stat sheet in a number of ways.