Originally posted on NBA 24/7 365  |  Last updated 2/8/12

I’ve been hearing some noise about Sacramento and DeMarcus Cousins lately, so I decided to tune in to a Kings game.  You may or may not recall how critical I was of DeMarcus and his teammates after coach Paul Westphal was canned, but anyway, I just wanted to see whether or not this team has made any progress under Keith Smart.  While it would be unfair of me to pass such a judgment based solely on one game, I can’t really say that I saw anything different as I watched DeMarcus and the Kings play the Love-less T-Wolves… and I couldn’t help but shake my head when the game ended with Cousins making a stupid play (intentionally fouled Ricky Rubio down 2 with 30+ seconds to go) and proceeding to get into a shouting match with his new coach.  Maybe I just pick the wrong Kings games, I don’t know… but eight first-quarter turnovers transitioning into a mental breakdown from Big Dummy ultimately resulting in an 84-86 loss… I wasn’t overly impressed.  I’ll tell you who I was impressed with, though; f@cking NIKOLA PEKOVIC!  I just talked about him a day or so ago, but I’ve got to talk about him some more.  This young man absolutely schooled anyone and everyone the Kings threw at him from the opening tip right through the final buzzer (23 PTS, 10 REB).  I’m not even talkin’ hustle points or scrappy buckets, either… I’m talkin’ get-this-man the-ball- in-the-post-and-let-him-work-type buckets.  Observe…

Enjoy your time on the bench, Darko… you aren’t comin’ back.  I hear that the knock on my dude Pekovic is that he doesn’t rebound or play defense, but I don’t see it.  He held DeMarcus Cousins to 10 points on 3-13.  He grabbed 10 boards.  He had 9 rebounds in his previous game, and 11 the night before.  I noticed that he had a little trouble with Andrew Bynum in a recent game against the Lakers, but so do a lot of other people.  Pek still came up with 13 points and 9 boards in just 19 minutes.  I’m telling you, he’s a producer; put him on the floor and he’s going to find the ball… make positive things happen.  The way he positions himself in the paint is pretty incredible… you can see it in the video above.  Notice how deep he seals his man, and how often he got himself in position to score an easy basket.  Also take note of the smooth hook shot over Chuck Hayes.  That’s an elite post defender in Chuck Hayes… a master of position… and Pekovic backed him all the way down to the low block to make that shot possible.  I swear I watched Blake Griffin play the Rockets like four times last year and he couldn’t do that once.  I’m all about this dude Pekovic right now.  He’s my new favorite foreigner.  He’s going to be out there playing big minutes with Kevin Love making this T-Wolves frontcourt an absolute nightmare to deal with.  The T-Wolves are better than .500 right now, by the way.  13-12.  Watch the f@ck out, they’re comin’.

Even in a game where the Warriors technically won the rebounding battle… they still lost because they couldn’t secure a rebound.  All they needed to do to both upset the Thunder and get Monta Ellis his first 50-point game was grab a single f@cking board.  One god damned rebound… that would’ve done it.  The Warriors would’ve gotten the ball back up by a point with mere seconds to play, inbounded it to Ellis, he would’ve hit both freethrows to get his half a hundred, and one of the finest contests of the season would’ve come to a magical conclusion.  Instead, the Thunder won their whateverth game of the year and Kendrick Perkins spouted off to the media about how real ballers don’t get excited when Blake Griffin throws down dunks that were previously thought to be impossible.  Via Yahoo!…

“You don’t see Kobe [Bryant] tweeting,” Perkins said. “You don’t see Michael Jordan tweeting. If you’re an elite player, plays like that don’t excite you. At the end of the day, the guys who are playing for the right reasons who are trying to win championships are not worrying about one play.

He continued…

“They also are not tweeting about themselves talking about going down to No. 2. I just feel [James] is always looking for attention and he wants the world to like him.”

And Scott Brooks chimed in…

“There are sorry defenders, the guys that don’t want to defend or the guys that run away because they don’t want to put themselves in position like that,” Brooks said. “Perk is not going to run. If it happens again, hopefully it will be a different result. But he is going to put himself in that position again.

“That’s what he is about.”

Nothing to see here, folks… just Perkins contributing in the only way he can.  Get dunked on, flip it into toughness, make some public comments to get the team fired up… that’s about all he’s good for.  That and the 2 points, 2 rebounds, and 4 turnovers he had against the Dubs.  Way to earn those millions, Perk!

Danilo Gallinari has not broken his ankle. He sprained it, and will probably miss about a month.  Turns out that the fracture that was discovered in the original tests was an old injury or some sh!t.  This is great news for the Nuggets, obviously, but they’ve got some more short-term problems to deal with.  Timofey Mozgov is still out with the ankle, Nene keeps missing games here and there with a foot problem, and they’re in danger of losing four home games in a row for the first time since ’02 as they face the Mavericks tonight.  I suppose the good news there is that it means they’re playing at home.  The bad news is that they’ve got Indiana, San Antonio, Portland, Oklahoma City, and the Clippers coming up over the next few weeks.  I’m a little bit afraid for Denver… they could be slipping.

Brandon Jennings took FOUR shots–the second-fewest he’s ever taken in his three-year career–in a 105-107 loss to the Suns.  Steve Nash, on the other hand, took 13 shots and made 8 of them… including the game winner.

How many people have ever celebrated their 38th birthday like that?  Just Steve Nash being Steve Nash… still, at the age of 38.  It doesn’t really make sense (and I mean that in multiple ways… doesn’t make sense that he can still do it, doesn’t make sense that he’s still doing it in Phoenix, etc), but I still think it’s pretty awesome.  Go Steve Nash!  As for Jennings, he’s always been an inconsistent shot maker, but never an inconsistent shot taker.  Coincidence that this happened in the same game that Stephen Jackson returned and took 11 shots?  Probably… but I dunno.  Maybe there’s something going on there.

Box Score Observations: Darren Collison exploded for 25 points on 10-14 as the Pacers edged the Jazz 104-99.  Roy Hibbert contributed 17 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 blocked shots.  Make it back-to-back 21-pointers for Reggie Williams, but make it 12 consecutive losses for the Bobcats, too.  They fell to Boston as Paul Pierce (15 PTS) moved past Larry Bird on the Celtics all-time scoring list.  LeBron James had a boring 24 points as the Heat beat the Cavaliers by 16.  You didn’t miss anything, it was in Miami.

Highlight Recap: Christian Eyenga swats the hell out of Norris Cole.  Ricky Rubio drops a between-the-legs dime.  Ricky Rubio does what he does (steals, assists), and Derrick Williams does what he does (dunks).  Wes Johnson putback slam.  Rubio to Johnson.  The Mississippi Moped scores 48 against OKC.  Alonzo Gee goes up high, comes down hard.

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