Keith Smart talks about maturity and DeMarcus Cousins

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My friends say I should act my age. What’s my age again? What’s my age again?
—Blink 182

DeMarcus Cousins acts a lot like of 22-year-olds. Stretches of maturity followed by lapses in judgment. And learning lessons the hard way.

He’s been in the spotlight so long, since his days at Kentucky, that we expect more of him than to flip out at media criticism. Guys starting their fourth year in the NBA have heard it before, and criticism should roll off like water on a duck’s back.

But he had a lapse Friday night where his ego gets the better of him — having a heated conversation with Spurs broadcaster Sean Elliott after someone tells Cousins how Elliott ripped him as lacking respect and talking smack to Tim Duncan during a Spurs/Kings game. Cousins angrily confronted Elliott right after his broadcast and the league responded by suspending Cousins for two games (the first was Sunday night against the Lakers).

It seems like one step up and two steps back with Cousin’s reputation, something Kings coach Keith Smart tried to impress on Cousins.

“My thing with DeMarcus is that for every thing you’ve done extremely positive — you came back this summer, you stayed in town, you worked out and got your body in great shape, the best shape you’ve ever been — any little mark is going to knock you all the way back down again,” Smart said. “You’ve got to stay one step ahead, you’ve got to be perfect with everything that goes on. You’ve got to be a man now and accept what’s happening and then we’ve got to move on. And understand everything you do, until you are this person we all believe you can become, you have got to do things perfect. When you make mistakes, they don’t affect just you, they affect our entire team.”

The question more than one person in Sacramento is asked is how you do that?

“Constant communication, trying to keep ahead of what is going on. Like I say to my 16-year-old son — I got to stay in his ear, stay in his mind — “Son, when you leave this household, you’re still a part of this household with our name. So any mistake you make outside of our household is a reflection on us.” And that’s what I’ll keep preaching to (DeMarcus).”

Smart sounded like a father speaking of Cousins — defending him but acknowledging these kinds of things can’t happen.

We’ll see if Smart can get through, or if it is just Father Time who can do that.

NBA reacts to Suns’ Devin Booker dropping 70 on Celtics

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Devin Booker was the story of the NBA Friday night.

The 20-year-old Suns’ guard — who never scored more than 19 points in a game at Kentucky in college — dropped 70 on the Boston Celtics in a losing effort. He becomes only the sixth player in NBA history to score at least 70 in a game. At the end the Suns were fouling and calling time outs to stop the clock and get the ball back to Booker, but as Phoenix coach Earl Watson said to those who complained, “You got a problem with that? Do something. Simple as that.”

NBA Twitter exploded at what Booker did.

Booker himself responded this way.

Lonzo Ball makes expected official, declares for NBA Draft

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There was no hesitation. None was expected.

After UCLA was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament in the Sweet 16 by Kentucky, the Bruin’s Lonzo Ball — who is expected to be a top-three pick — declared for the NBA draft this June.

Ball is expected to go second or third in the upcoming NBA draft. Speaking with people around the league Washington’s Markelle Fultz is a clear No. 1, but after that if the Lakers — the team with the second-worst record in the league — have the No. 2 pick they are expected to snap up Ball. Depending on how the lottery shakes out the top of the draft, Ball could fall a little — there are teams that like Josh Jackson — but not much.

Ball is a 6’6″ point guard who averaged 14.7 points, 7.6 assists and 6.1 rebounds a game for UCLA last season. He has fantastic passing vision, impressive shooting range (although he can take some questionable shots), and a great sense of floor spacing and how to run an offense, particularly in transition. However, his weaknesses were exposed in his final game some as De’Aaron Fox of Kentucky completely outplayed Ball. Defensive pressure took Ball (and the Bruins) out of rhythm, forced them to play in the half court (where Ball is not as strong), and it’s one of the things Ball is going to have to adapt to at the next level where everyone is more athletic. Also, he’s going to need to get more consistent defensively.

The potential for Ball to be special is there, which is why he will go high in the draft.

And no, the rantings of his father will not change that. Teams see the father as a distraction that can be handled, they aren’t going to let him get in the way of drafting talent.

Watch highlights of Shaquille O’Neal’s statue unveiling outside Staples Center

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Kobe Bryant said “Thank you. I learned so much from you as a player.”

Jerry West said he loved him like a son.

Jeanie Buss said “No one celebrates a championship like you, but please no more asking Mark Madsen to dance.”

The Lakers unveiled a new statue for Shaquille O’Neal Friday night, one flying high over a Staples Center entrance, and the stars were on hand for the event. Phil Jackson was there making Snoop Dogg jokes. Shaq and Kobe were sharing laughs. It was a big night for a big man with a big personality. And a big heart.

Check out the highlights above.

Report: Knicks’ Joakim Noah to be suspended 20 games for violating league drug policy

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Joakim Noah hasn’t set foot on an NBA court since Feb. 4, and his season was all but ended when he had knee surgery at the end of February. Last summer, Phil Jackson took a $72 million gamble on an aging Noah that has not worked at all, and left New York with an anchor of a contract for three more seasons after this one.

Tomorrow it will be official Noah is done for this season, but not because of the Knicks or his injury.

During his recovery, Noah violated the NBA’s drug policy and will pay for a 20-game suspension, reports Adrian Wojnarowski at The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Noah tested positive for an over-the-counter supplement that is prohibited under the outgoing Collective Bargaining Agreement, league sources said.

Noah, 32, is expected to serve 10 games of the suspension to finish out the 2016-17 regular season and 10 games to start the 2017-18 season, league sources said.

The National Basketball Players Association’s investigation concluded that Noah hadn’t “knowingly or willingly” violated the policy and cooperated fully with the league’s probe, league sources said.

According to reports, this is not a substance banned in the new CBA that kicks in July 1, but was covered in the previous CBA. Over-the-counter supplements could be something put in his regular workout recovery drinks that he was unaware of, although we are unsure of the details.

Traditionally, the player has to be healthy enough to play before the league starts the suspension. Noah has been out for more than a month, but if a league doctor says he is healthy enough to play the then the clock on the suspension can start. The 10 games this season is no big deal for the Knicks, he wasn’t going to play anyway, but the 10 at the start of next season could sting (depending on how they plan to use him).