Nov 20, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (15) watches from the free throw line in the first half of the game against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center. The Kings defeated the Suns 113-106. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

DeMarcus Cousins: Opponents’ Talk Doesn’t Bother Him

Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins has a reputation of being something of a hothead and that’s something opponents are apparently trying to use against him—not in a court of law, but rather on the court of basketball.

Cousins told the Sacramento Bee that he sees it as a “compliment” when opponents try to annoy him.

Tonight at Sleep Train Arena will be a little reunion with the Los Angeles Clippers and their point guard, Chris Paul, who apparently was quite “complimentary” when the teams last met at Staples Center last Saturday afternoon.

Paul questioned Cousins’ maturity after the Kings’ center pulled teammate Isaiah Thomas away from the All-Star, who was offering a postgame handshake after the Clippers’ 103-102 win. Paul also said Cousins wasn’t thinking when he picked up a technical foul for taunting in the teams’ first meeting at Sleep Train Arena on Nov. 1.

But every team has someone who either takes it upon themselves or acts upon instructions to try to goad Cousins into losing his temper. That could translate either to technical fouls or personal fouls.

Cousins has four technicals this season, tied with three other players—Andrew Bogut of the Golden State Warriors, Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Dwight Howard of the Houston Rockets—for the most in the NBA.

Sacramento’s coaching staff keeps an eye on things, particularly since Cousins picked up his last two technicals in the Kings’ last two games—losses to the Clippers and Lakers in Los Angeles last weekend.

“It’s a constant conversation,” Kings coach Michael Malone said. “I told him after that one [against the Lakers] in the huddle, ‘Let’s maintain our poise and composure and not let anything take us out of being poised right now.’”

Cousins led the NBA in technicals with 16 last season and was second with four ejections. He had 12 techs in 2011-12 and 14 as a rookie, the year he was ejected three times—tied for the most in the NBA.

But personal fouls can also be an issue for Boogie. In the Kings’ meeting with Golden State on Nov. 2, Cousins picked up his third personal foul reacting to Bogut’s physical play during the first half.

Cousins is doing better, according to Malone, but there’s still work to be done.

“It’s a work in progress and he understands,” Malone said. “But at the same time, he’s such a competitor. He understands, but when you’re in it, it’s hard. So we’re trying to help him and he’s trying as well.”

Cousins’ play has certainly been better this year. His 21.3 points per game is more than four points better than last season and more than three points more than his career high of 18.1 that he had in 2011-12. He is also averaging 10.5 rebounds, 1.7 steals (a career-high pace) and 1.2 blocks, while averaging the same 30.5 minutes he has averaged in each of the last two seasons. His player efficiency rating is 24.5 (15 is average), which is far ahead of his career-high of 21.7 from 2011-12.

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