DALLAS – The major challenge for the Dallas Mavericks tonight is to try and find a way to contain DeMarcus Cousins.
The 6-11, 270-pound center for the Sacramento Kings is one of the most physical and gifted players in the entire NBA. When Cousins isn’t mauling defenders inside the paint he’s terrorizing them with his feathery jump shot on the perimeter.
“He’s going to be a handful, so we’ve got to collectively help contain him and make it really hard for him,’’ forward Shawn Marion said following Saturday morning’s shootaround. “He’s pretty athletic for as big as he is, and he’s a real physical presence inside.
“He goes after everything, and that’s what it boils down to. He sets a tone for them and you’ve got to want to take him out of the game early if you can.’’
Neither Marion (shoulder and ribs soreness) or Cousins (sprained left ankle) played when the Mavs nipped the Kings, 107-103, on Jan. 31 at American Airlines Center. But both players will be in the starting lineup when the two teams collide again tonight at 7:30 at the AAC.
Even without Cousins, the Kings (25-47) controlled the matchup in January until the Mavs (43-30) took charge with a late flurry.
“We were down 14 with two minutes to go in the third quarter at home, and they didn’t have Cousins,’’ coach Rick Carlisle said. “That’s how dangerous some teams in this league are -– even when they’re down a guy.
“Tonight I don’t expect them to be down anybody. I expect all their guys to play. Everybody loads up to play us.’’
The Mavs know Cousins will definitely bring physicality to tonight’s game. They also know he has a history of filling up the stat sheet.
Cousins is currently 10th in the NBA in scoring (22.2), fifth in rebounds (11.7), 19th in blocks (1.29) and fourth in double-doubles (45).
“We’ve got to be ready to play him physical,’’ Marion said. “He’s one of the most physical players in the league by far.’’
-- Dwain Price
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