New ownership has rejuvenated the Sacramento Kings, and DeMarcus Cousins wants to continue doing his part on the court.
Cousins will try to build on a spectacular season debut and help the Kings to their best start in 10 years Friday night against the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Kings (1-0) are still in Sacramento thanks to an ownership group led by Vivek Ranadive, who bought a controlling stake in the club from the Maloof family in May.
While the purchase thwarted a potential move to Seattle, it's also provided the Kings with a new energy that was on display during Wednesday's 90-88 win over Denver.
"It's a sense of relief," coach Mike Malone said after winning his debut. "Opening night and there was so much hoopla going into this game, rightfully so for our fans, for our mayor, for our owner. It was a great way to celebrate. To win on this night was great for the fans most importantly and for our players."
A win Friday would give the Kings back-to-back victories to start a season for the first time since 2003.
Cousins will likely play a major role after ownership pegged him as the cornerstone of the franchise with a $62 million, four-year contract he signed in September.
The center appeared to be worth the investment in the season opener, finishing with 30 points, 14 rebounds, two steals and two blocks to help Sacramento end a nine-game losing streak against the Nuggets.
"That's the old Kings," Cousins said. "We're not really worried about the past."
That mantra could be useful against the Clippers (1-1), who have won nine of the last 11 meetings, including three of four last season while allowing 106.5 points per game.
Cousins has averaged 13.4 points and 9.7 boards in 11 career games against Los Angeles. His best performance against the in-state rival came in the most recent meeting April 17 when he scored 36 points and grabbed a career-best 22 rebounds with three blocks in a 112-108 win at Sleep Train Arena.
Like Cousins, Greivis Vasquez is coming off an impressive performance against Denver. The guard scored 17 points while going 6 of 9 from the field after being acquired in a trade from New Orleans over the summer.
The Clippers are also looking for consecutive wins after beating Golden State 126-115 on Thursday, two days after falling 116-103 to the Lakers in their opener.
Chris Paul came within one point of his career high with 42 points, got the offense moving with 15 assists and added six steals against the Warriors.
"It was a total team effort from us and a good win for us going into a back-to-back," Paul said. "Coach (Doc Rivers) challenged us, we watched a lot of film, but it's a long season. Even after tonight we can't get too hot."
Paul could be in for another big performance after averaging 20.2 points, 10.9 assists and 3.5 steals over his last 10 meetings with the Kings. He had 25 points and 11 assists at Sacramento on April 17.
Blake Griffin, though, was limited to seven points and four rebounds in that contest after totaling 47 and 17, respectively, over the previous two.
The forward, who may find himself matched up with Cousins, is coming off a 23-point, 10-rebound effort Thursday. He hit 9 of 12 from the floor, three of those baskets coming on consecutive alley-oops from Paul over a 30-second span of the third quarter.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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