NBA Basketball

Cousins back for more as Warriors play shorthanded Lakers

The NBA's most intriguing 15 minutes of the past week belonged to DeMarcus Cousins, who made his Golden State debut like only he could.

Cousins and the Warriors now head into a Monday matchup at the Los Angeles Lakers coming off a 112-94 victory Friday night in the same building against the Clippers.

Out for just shy of a full year because of an Achilles injury, Cousins used his small window of time on the court to show the Warriors he is ready to deliver exactly what they wanted.

No-nonsense-yet-determined play on the inside? Check, as Cousins did not shy away from the action, committing six fouls in his 15 minutes.

Long-range shooting to fit into the Warriors' identity? Check, as Cousins went 3-of-4 from 3-point range, including consecutive 3s at the start of the second half.

Cousins finished the game with 14 points and afterward there were smiles all around.

"It's been a long journey ... I've said it plenty of times," Cousins said.

"This was probably one of the best days of my life, just being out there on the floor again, playing the game that I love. My teammates were great. They supported me through this entire process. The organization has supported me through this entire process."

Smiling has not come so easy of late for the Lakers, who have been without LeBron James for the past 13 games because of a groin injury that happened on Christmas Day at Golden State.

The Lakers are just 5-8 without their superstar leader, but things have looked much better of late with the Lakers defeating the Chicago Bulls at home last week before winning at Oklahoma City. On Saturday, they went to Houston and took the Rockets to overtime before falling 138-134.

The better news for the Lakers is that James was cleared to practice in full Sunday, although he reportedly will not play Monday against the Warriors.

The injury news was not completely promising, though.

Point guard Lonzo Ball suffered a Grade 3 left ankle sprain in the third quarter at Houston and is expected to miss 4-6 weeks, the team announced Sunday. With Ball not available for most of the second half against the Rockets, Los Angeles failed to hold on to what was once a 21-point lead.

Kyle Kuzma has stepped up for the Lakers as James recovers. He has averaged 23 points in the 11 games he has played since James has been out, up from his 19.3 season average. And he scored 32 points in each of the past two games.

But the Lakers will have to find somebody to set up his scoring opportunities. In addition to Ball, fellow point guard Rajon Rondo remains out with a hand injury.

The Warriors are healthy outside of center Damian Jones, who is out indefinitely with a pectoral injury.

--Field Level Media

Updated January 20, 2019

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