LOS ANGELES (AP) – DeMarcus Cousins couldn’t wipe the smile off his face.
The usually scowling big man was back on Friday night after being sidelined for nearly a year. He scored 14 points in his Warriors debut, a 112-94 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.
“I felt like a kid on Christmas,” Cousins said. “This was probably one of the best days of my life being back on the floor playing the game that I love.”
His new teammates were glad to have him, too, even if he lasted just 15 minutes before fouling out.
They gave him a standing ovation when he got whistled for his sixth foul at 8:51 of the fourth. Cousins smiled and high-fived his way to the bench. Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant cracked up.
“Probably the fakest love I ever received in my life,” Cousins said.
Durant said, “Hopefully that’s the last time we give him a standing ovation when he fouls out.”
Curry led the Warriors with 28 points, Durant added 24 and Golden State won its seventh in a row and sixth straight on the road.
The Warriors shot just nine of 37 on three-pointers on a night when Curry made only three from long range. Fellow Splash Brother Klay Thompson missed all four of his three-point attempts.
The hours leading up to his first game since January 26, 2018, were the worst for Cousins. He texted friends and talked to his brother and sister who reminded him that he’s been playing basketball for years.
Still, it wasn’t until the ball tipped that the butterflies went away.
“My teammates made it as smooth and easy as possible,” Cousins said. “It’s a great group of guys. Nothing but love in the room.”
Cousins shot five for 11 from the floor and finished with six rebounds and three assists.
After rupturing his left Achilles tendon in a game for New Orleans he missed the rest of last season, including nine playoff games for the Pelicans. The Warriors signed him in July last year.
With Cousins finally in the lineup, Golden State became the first team in 42 years to start five All-Stars from the previous season.
“We haven’t really practised together,” Cousins said. “We can get a whole lot better. We’ve got a lot of potential.”
Cousins missed his first shot but came right back with a one-handed slam off Durant’s bounce pass for the Warriors’ first basket. Cousins was called for two fouls in the first three minutes and sat down.
“I’m just glad to know I can still dunk,” he said. “That felt good.”
Cousins picked up his third foul 32 seconds into the second quarter. Then he hit a three-pointer for the Warriors’ first basket of the period, bringing loud cheers from their many fans at Staples Center.
Curry scored 14 of Golden State’s 29 points in the third, including their final eight for an 81-72 lead.
Cousins went out with a bang. He got his fifth foul just 30 seconds into the fourth and then made two consecutive three-pointers – throwing up three fingers – that extended the Warriors’ lead to 87-72.
“He looked good. He looked strong and quick,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr said. “I was really impressed.”
Tobias Harris led the short-handed Clippers with 28 points in their season-worst fifth straight loss. Rookie guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander tied his career high with 24 points.