DeMarcus Cousins benched for second half for Kings after argument with coach

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We told you there was plenty of friction in the Kings locker room

DeMarcus Cousins was left in the Kings locker room for the second half of the team’s loss to the Clippers Friday following a halftime argument with coach Keith Smart.

Smart wouldn’t get into specifics after the game, saying Cousins was benched for, “”conduct detrimental to the team and I’ll leave it at that” reports the Sacramento Bee. Smart said he would decide later on any future punishment for Cousins.

The Kings broadcast showed Cousins and Smart arguing on the bench between the first and second quarters. Apparently that spilled over into the locker room at the half.

Cousins apologized after the game, again via the Bee:

“What happens in the locker room stays in the locker room but I was wrong. But what happens in the locker room stays in the locker room.”

Cousins was then asked what he could do to avoid further situations where attention was on his actions off the court.

“Don’t talk back. That’s the thing. I shouldn’t have responded back. Should have accepted what was said and stayed quiet.”

There are a couple of things in play here. As our own Aaron Bruski told you this week, there is friction and frustration in the Kings locker room with Smart and his rotations. And with reason, the guy is fixated on players like Aaron Brooks and doesn’t seem to be developing a team for the future.

But this is still Cousins — a guy who consistently lets his emotions of the moment get in the way of his judgment and game. A guy who holds himself back because he can’t hold himself back sometimes — like when he got suspended for going to argue with a Spurs broadcaster over something said on their broadcast. Cousins clashed with all his coaches in Sacramento now, Smart was the one that seemed to have a better relationship with him. But even that has soured.

When Cousins was part of the USA Select Team, practicing against Team USA headed off to the London Olympics, Kobe Bryant was asked about Cousins (who had a little tiff with Jerry Colangelo, head honcho of USA Basketball):

“All he has to do is continue to work, continue to keep his level head. That’s all he has to do. That’s all he has to do…” Kobe said. “He gets in trouble when he starts letting his emotions get the best of him, now people start talking about that as opposed to his game.”

And we are right back there again.

Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns out 4-6 weeks with calf strain

Minnesota Timberwolves v Washington Wizards
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It’s not good news, but it looked like it could have been much worse.

Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns is out for weeks with a right calf strain, the team announced Tuesday following an MRI exam. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports it is likely 4-6 weeks.

The injury occurred midway through the third quarter Monday when Towns started to run back upcourt and went to the ground without contact, grabbing his knee and calf. It looked scary — Achilles scary — and he had to be helped off the court.

Towns has averaged 21.4 points and 8.5 rebounds a game, and while his numbers are down this season — just 32.8% on 3-pointers — the team has struggled at times without him, particularly lineups with Rudy Gobert and Anthony Edwards together, an -11.8 net rating (in non-garbage time minutes, via Cleaning the Glass).

Kevin Durant on chasing MVP: ‘Not really, I’ve been there, done that’

Orlando Magic v Brooklyn Nets
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Kevin Durant carried the Nets to another win Monday night, scoring 45 points on 19-of-24 shooting, plus seven rebounds and five assists.

If you’re having an MVP conversation a quarter of the way into the NBA season, Durant has to be part of it: 30 points per game on 54.8% shooting (and a ridiculous 65.9 true shooting percentage), 6.6 rebounds and 5.5 assists a game, plus playing solid defense and being the anchor of the Nets. After his 45-point outing to get Brooklyn a win over Orlando, Durant was asked about MVP chants and the chase for the award and was clearly not interested.

Durant has MVP numbers, but so do Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum and others. If Durant is going to move to the front of the conversation, the first thing that has to happen is Brooklyn has to win a lot more games — 11-11 is not going to cut it when Tatum’s Celtics and Antetokounmpo’s Bucks have the two best records in the NBA. Winning games and finishing on a top-three team in the conference matters to some voters (and traditionally is one measure of an MVP).

Watch Herb Jones inbound off Pokusevski’s back, seal win for Pelicans

Oklahoma City Thunder v New Orleans Pelicans
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With 2.3 seconds left in the game and the Thunder down 2, they needed to steal the inbounds pass from New Orleans to have a real chance. That’s why when Aleksej Pokusevski walked on the court it looked like he was going to guard the inbounder, Herbert Jones.

Instead, Pokusevski turned his back to Jones, putting himself in position to step in front of anyone cutting to the ball to catch the inbounds. Except, Jones made the clever play to seal the game.

Pokusevski fouled Jones, who sank both free throws and sealed the 105-101 Pelicans win.

The Pelicans got 23-8-8 from Zion Williamson and picked up a win without CJ McCollum or Brandon Ingram in the lineup. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continued his dominant start to the season and scored 31.

Watch Lakers fan drain half-court shot to win $75,000

Indiana Pacers v Los Angeles Lakers
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It might have been the loudest the crypto.com Arena was all night.

Between the third and fourth quarters, Lakers fan Jamie Murry of Downey won $75,000 draining a half-court shot — and he got to celebrate with Anthony Davis.

Murry’s celebration is the best part — with Anthony Davis coming out to celebrate with him (and seeming a little shocked by the hug).

One other big shot fell at this game, but Lakers’ fans didn’t like it as much — Pacers’ rookie Andrew Nembhard drained a game-winning 3-pointer as time expired.