The reigning NBA champion Golden State Warriors had dropped five of their last eight games prior to beating the Denver Nuggets on Friday, with center DeMarcus Cousins taking his fair share of blame for the slide.
Cousins responded with one of his strongest outings to date as a Warrior in Golden State's 122-105 victory. His teammate, Draymond Green, acknowledged afterward how unfair it was to single out the 28-year-old big man when the Warriors weren't playing up to par as a group.
"Everybody wants to talk s--- about DeMarcus' defense," Green said, according to ESPN's Nick Friedell. "I told y'all last game, we haven't played with energy - or at practice. Everybody wanna (say), 'It's a problem when DeMarcus is out there.'
"Yet everyone picked the energy up, all of a sudden no one is talking about DeMarcus' problems defensively. Now it's a good matchup for him. That's bulls--- to me."
Cousins just missed out on a rare 5x5 line against the Nuggets, finishing with 13 points, six rebounds, six assists, three steals, and six rejections in 28 minutes of action. Friday marked just the second time that the Warriors had outscored their opponent with the four-time All-Star on the floor since Feb. 21.
"I think it pissed him off," added Green of the criticism. "He's a competitor. He's one of those guys that's been misunderstood his whole career because he competes and he wears his emotions on his sleeve.
"And saying that, like I said before, our entire team played better defense. Everyone wants to single one guy out, but yet our entire team defense was horrible the last two weeks. And so everybody picked that up tonight, and obviously he shined on that end as well, but everyone picked it up."
Cousins made his debut with the team on Jan. 18 after missing nearly a year of action with a torn left Achilles.