Explosive DeMarcus Cousins dunk sparks Warriors in win over Lakers

ByOhm Youngmisuk ESPN logo
Sunday, February 3, 2019

OAKLAND -- Stephen Curry was in a drought, the Golden State Warriors were sleepwalking through the start of the second half and Oracle Arena felt like it was lifeless.

Then,DeMarcus Cousins, coming off a high pick and roll, took a pass from Kevin Durant and drove toward the rim. Kyle Kuzma slid over in an attempt to take a charge only to watch Cousins rise up and dunk on the Lakers forward with the foul, electrifying Oracle Arena and the Warriors.

Cousins stood above Kuzma and glared, drawing a technical foul. But it would end up being the Los Angeles Lakers who paid, as Cousins' ferocious dunk sparked a 30-10 run that lifted the Warriors to a 115-101 win over the Lakers.

"I thought his dunk brought the arena to life," Golden State coach Steve Kerr said. "It brought the team to life. We were searching for energy and emotion up until that point. This was a typical game where you let your guard down a little because the other team's best player is not playing.

"There's no life in the building. Our guys weren't generating any energy. That play changed all of that."

In his seventh game back since returning to action, Cousins had his first double-double, with 18 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and two blocks in 24 minutes.

Cousins' biggest regret was the technical foul that came with the dunk and stare.

"I wished it never happened," Cousins said. "I need that tech back. [Andre Iguodala] tried to pull me away kind of last second, but part of the new NBA: no staredowns."

The Lakers played without LeBron James, who was held out due to "load management" after he logged 40 minutes in his first game back from a groin injury in an overtime win against the Clippers on Thursday. But with Curry shooting 0-for-8 through the first three quarters, Luke Walton's team held an 81-71 lead with 6:05 left in the third, and the Warriors looked like they were going through the motions at home.

Cousins was one Warrior who was active in the third quarter. He scored nine points, seven coming from the free throw line, with his only basket of the quarter on the dunk.

"I thought I did [get over in time to draw the charge], but it's going to happen," Kuzma said of being dunked on. "When you play defense, you're going to get dunked on sometimes. I got a tip-dunk on him, too, so that counts."

The slam over Kuzma was Cousins' most explosive move since returning to the court from a torn Achilles on Jan. 18. It was during that game against the Clippers that Cousins started his comeback with a dunk.

"You've watched me play for a long time, you know I'm not really much of a dunker," Cousins said when asked if a dunk like this can be big for him mentally in his comeback. "But I think that's more for satisfying you guys [in the media] than anything."

"It feels good to be able to finish," Cousins added. "Obviously, I haven't been finishing the way that I would like; that's still a process that I am trying to get through. Just finding my touch and balance around the rim, it was a good finish, I am happy about that."

Cousins says he's still adapting to being on a minutes restriction and trying to get used to the officiating, as well.

"Man!" an exasperated Cousins said when asked how difficult it is for him to get used to the way he's being officiated now. "It's tough man. We'll figure it out, though. We got a lot of time to figure it out."