Wall, Cousins lead rookies to win

Rookie team’s John Wall of the Washington Wizards holds up the MVP trophy after the Rookie team beat the Sophomores during the Rookie Challenge as part of NBA All-Star weekend in Los Angeles, California, February 18, 2011. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

Rookies 148, Sophomores 140

Wall racked up a record 22 assists to win the MVP award, Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins had 33 points and 14 rebounds, and the rookies rallied to beat the sophomores 148-140 at the NBA’s All-Star weekend Friday night.

Blake Griffin scored 14 points for the rookies in front of the high-flying Clippers forward’s ecstatic home crowd, sticking to his commitment to play in the game even after making the West team for Sunday’s All-Star game.

It should be noted that the Sophs were at something of a disadvantage since they lost Griffin, 2009’s #1 pick, to a season-ending knee injury last season, so now he’s considered a rookie.

There was virtually no defense being played, as the Rookies shot 64% from the field while the Sophs shot almost 55%. James Harden led the Sophs with 30 points while DeJuan Blair chipped in with 28 points and 15 rebounds. Just four of the game’s 18 players failed to score in double digits (Taj Gibson, Brandon Jennings, Derrick Favors and Eric Bledsoe).

Check out this crazy alley-oop from Wall to Griffin:

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DeMarcus Cousins expected to be suspended after altercation with teammate [video]

FanHouse has the details about the altercation that DeMarcus Cousins had with teammate Donte Greene after the Kings’ loss to the Thunder on Saturday night.

Kings rookie forward DeMarcus Cousins was removed from team plane bound for Phoenix after an altercation with teammate Donte Greene on Saturday night, according to two sources close to the organization.

The incident, which was first reported by FanHouse, immediately followed a loss to Oklahoma City. Cousins, who had overcome early-season struggles of the performance and personality variety recently, is expected to be suspended for at least one game.

According to the sources, Cousins (whose postgame interview can be seen here) was furious at the last play in which Tyreke Evans missed a three-pointer in the final seconds of regulation that would have won the game. Cousins, who had been calling for the ball in the post in the final possession, watched angrily as Greene in-bounded the ball to Evans for the final shot.

After the buzzer, Cousins let his opinion be known to Greene as he blew by him in the tunnel leading into the locker room. According to the sources, Greene and Cousins began exchanging words inside the locker room. The situation then escalated when Cousins accused Greene of being too “scared” of making what Cousins thought was the right play and with both players taking swings at each other before they were separated.

Here’s the play in question. Watch as Green inbounds the ball to Evans instead of Cousins, and then watch Cousins’ reaction after the game ends.

FanHouse looks at the bigger picture:

There is certainly a bigger picture to consider for the Kings, though, as their volatile 20-year-old who was taken fifth overall in the June draft clearly has no plans to keep quiet about what ails the team. The situation has become nothing short of a power struggle between the rookie and the reigning Rookie of the Year, with Cousins’ improved play of late giving him the gumption to question the way in which Evans is so often given carte blanche control of scenarios such as these.

This is not how the Kings wanted this to go, but when a team is 13-38, the frustration is going to pile up. Sacramento was hoping that Evans and Cousins would make a great 1-2 punch, and they still may, but clearly Cousins isn’t afraid to vent his frustration when he isn’t being utilized in late-game situations.

One thing I noticed about the video is that Cousins didn’t react negatively until the play was over. He didn’t snap his hand down in frustration (like Kobe does ALL THE TIME) when Greene didn’t pass him the ball and he fought for the rebound until the buzzer sounded.

In the game, Cousins was 5-of-14 for 14 points, while Evans was 11-for-22 with 30 points, so this may not be the battle that Cousins needs to fight. Evans was 0-for-2 from long range before he missed the potential game winner, so maybe he should have instead taken the ball into the paint to try to tie the game up at home.

Over the last 10 games, Cousins is averaging 18.1 points and 9.8 rebounds, and is shooting 48% from the field, so he has it in him to be great. But, fair or not, with his reputation he’s under a microscope and he can’t be getting into physical altercations with teammates after a loss. He needs to channel that frustration into getting better — if he does, he could become one of the all-time greats. He’s that good.

The state of the T-Wolves — not that bad?

ESPN named the Minnesota Timberwolves as this season’s Team Turmoil.

But Benjamin Polk says that things aren’t so bad:

It’s fashionable at the moment to ridicule Kahn as an abrasive, unqualified hack. It’s clear the man has had some awfully low moments this summer and that he and Rambis haven’t yet found that transcendent player who will give meaning to their long-suffering franchise. And it’s equally clear that the Wolves are going to lose a lot of games this season.

But if you scan this lineup — Kevin Love, Nikola Pekovic, Wes Johnson, Martell Webster, Corey Brewer, even Darko Milicic and Michael Beasley — you’ll find a lot of young, smart, athletic, hungry players. These are players who want to learn, who want to run, who want to move the ball and play defense. Aren’t these just the type of players who would seem to fit well into Rambis’ up-tempo-and-triangle offense? And when you consider the Wolves have roughly $10 million in cap space, doesn’t the picture look a lot less ridiculous than this chaotic offseason might have suggested?

Am I just being naïve? Is it wrong for Wolves fans to hold on to even these tiny shreds of optimism? Let me tell you a story.

For the three years beginning with their six-game Western Conference finals loss to the Lakers in 2004 and ending with the Kevin Garnett trade of 2007, the Wolves slowly melted down. With very few exceptions (KG among them), the team became a nightmare of ball-hogging, extravagant contract demands, intentionally careless defense and mediocre effort. As the front office hemorrhaged draft picks, this collection of aging jump-shooters and corrosive personalities contributed to the firing of both Flip Saunders and Dwane Casey and helped hasten the KG era’s sad, pathetic end. What I’m saying is: We’ve seen turmoil and this isn’t it.

I don’t know that arguing your currently mismanaged team isn’t as bad as your previously mismanaged team really gets you anywhere. Things are bad in Minnesota, and they’re probably worse than they were in KG’s final years because at least at that point fans had a superstar to rally around.

As for Kahn, the guy is a joke right now, and seriously needs one of these moves — be it Ricky Rubio, Wes Johnson, the acquisition of Michael Beasley or the re-upping of Darko Milicic (yes, this guy is depending on Darko Freaking Milicic) — to give him some credibility in the world of NBA general managers.

No disrespect to Johnson, but if you know you’re going to move Al Jefferson, why pass up a talent like DeMarcus Cousins? He’s a true center and would have been a solid fit alongside Kevin Love on the front line. Throw in the fact that Kahn passed on Stephen Curry and Brandon Jennings twice in last year’s draft (while trading away arguably the next-best PG in the draft, Ty Lawson) and this T-Wolves roster could look a lot better.

And it’s not like Kahn has kept a low profile. While sitting in with color commentator Chris Webber during one of the summer league games, he compared Milicic’s passing ability favorably to Vlade Divac and suggested that Webber’s career path was somewhat similar. When C-Webb understandably took umbrage, Kahn went on the radio a few days later and called him a schmuck. Let’s just say that the guy doesn’t seem too savvy.

Maybe Ricky Rubio will eventually come and save the day, or Beasley will suddenly fulfill his considerable potential, but until that happens, Kahn is going to have a big fat bull’s eye painted on his chest.

Kings hire Cousins’ high school coach

June 24, 2010 - New York, NEW YORK, USA - epa02221131 DeMarcus Cousins of Kentucky after after being the fifth overall pick by the Sacramento Kings in the 2010 NBA Draft in the WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York, New York, USA, on 24 June 2010.

Per NBA.com…

Hughley had coached at LeFlore High School in Mobile, Ala. for seven years (2004-2010), guiding the Rattlers to six straight regional appearances and a 6A state title in 2007. While at LeFlore, he coached current Kings center Demarcus Cousins. Before coaching at LeFlore, Hughley was an assistant coach at several universities, including Wright State, Liberty and Southern. Hughley’s experience also includes coaching for the league’s NBA China program and working over 10 years at Pete Newell’s “Big Man Camp.”

This a low downside move. The Kings are just trying to do everything they can to create an environment for DeMarcus Cousins to succeed. If that means bringing in his high school coach to mentor him, then so be it.

Cousins has the ability to be an All-NBA big man, so it’s worth the investment.

Chad Ford’s Mock 7.0

Chad Ford just released the seventh iteration of his mock draft, and he seems pretty confident in the first eight picks:

1. John Wall, Wizards
2. Evan Turner, Sixers
3. Derrick Favors, Nets
4. Wes Johnson, T-Wolves
5. DeMarcus Cousins, Kings
6. Ekpe Udoh, Warriors
7. Greg Monroe, Pistons
8. Al-Farouq Aminu, Clippers

Barring trades, which are always the toughest to predict, that sequence seems pretty reasonable. Udoh seems to be going a bit high, but Monroe apparently had a bad workout with the Warriors. Some teams place too much emphasis on a one-day workout instead of looking at a player’s overall body of work, but each team has its own method of evaluating prospects.

The mock starts to get dicey around #9 where Ford says that the Jazz have a load of options, but appear to be leaning towards UNC’s Ed Davis.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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