Goran Dragic helped the Heat sink the New Orleans Pelicans 120-112 in his first game back since suffering a right orbital contusion. The loss was the Pelicans' seventh in 10 games with Cousins in the lineup. The Pelicans lost three consecutive games after adding the demonstrative big man. He was suspended for the fourth matchup. Cousins earned his 19th technical foul of the season Wednesday. If he gets another, he'll see an additional ban.
Pairing Cousins with All-Star Anthony Davis was meant to be a nod to old school basketball pundits. A twin towers constructed in the paint to deter wily ball handlers who dared to step inside. It also had some college basketball fans wonder, what if? What if Cousins had stayed at the University of Kentucky for when Anthony Davis came to town two seasons later for a National Championship run?
Cousins took some time to talk about the Wildcats' chances this postseason after Wednesday's setback.
"Hopefully they win it all man," said Cousins, who scored 19 points and had nine rebounds.
Cousins' much-hyped 2009 Wildcats team featured John Wall, Eric Bledsoe, Patrick Patterson, DeAndre Liggins, and Darius Miller. The No. 1 seed fell to second seeded West Virginia that year in the East Regional Final in the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament. Da'Sean Butler, Kevin Jones, and Devin Ebanks led the Mountaineers. Only Ebanks and Jones appeared in NBA games, averaging a combined 3.3 points in 10.8 minutes per game in three seasons.
Davis, who scored 27 points and had eight rebounds Wednesday, had a fairytale ending to his Wildcats career. The phenomenal freshman earned the Wooden Award, Naismith Player of the Year, and was a consensus All-American en route to the school's eighth basketball banner. Davis' team featured Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Terrence Jones, Doron Lamb, Marquis Teague, Kyle Wiltjer, and Miller.
Those stacked squads have often led Cousins and Davis to spat over which was better. Was it Cousins' underperforming unit or Davis' decorated and dominant crew? But Davis and Cousins have been mum lately about that argument, as they find their groove in the same frontcourt.
"We haven't [talked about it lately]," Cousins said. "We used to argue about it in the past, but since I've been here we haven't had that conversation, no."
Cousins earned his third All-Star nod before joining the Pelicans last month. Davis, known for his billowing unibrow as much as his dominant defense, has earned four All-Star selections.
"It's not everyday you get to team up with a talent like him, so I feel like he feels the same way," Cousins said. "We are excited to play with one another. We are growing each and every game. Our chemistry is coming along. It's just a matter of time until we really, really start clicking."
Davis is proud of the Pelicans' tough defense, which took a hit against the Heat.
"There are not really moral victories," Davis said. "We turned the ball over down the stretch, gave up some open looks. We can't afford to do that. We missed a lot of shots in the paint, free throws. We get a good look, we just got to convert them. Defensively, 120 is too many points against our defense. We are top-10 defensively; we can't afford to give up 120, even though that team is playing very well. We got to take pride in our defense and hold a team to way less than 120."
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra also noted just how special Cousins and Davis can be on the same team.
"They are both super unique," Spoelstra said. "You don't see front lines like this anymore that often. What makes it potentially work is they are both so skilled. They both can play on the perimeter. They both can play inside. You saw last night. They can make plays to each other wherever they are."
"Probably the most underrated, or maybe not underrated, about the two of them is they can really put you in foul trouble. Between the two of them they can shoot upwards of 20 free-throw attempts a game with their ability to attack, put the ball on the floor, and their technique. Everything has to be on point otherwise they will live at the line and you will be deep into your rotation."
While Kentucky prepares for its first round matchup at 9:40 p.m. against Northern Kentucky Friday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Cousins will attempt to corral his on-court temper. He said he spoke to referee Tony Brothers at halftime Wednesday and plans to get his technical taken off the books.
"I actually talked to Tony about it at the half," Cousins said. "He said he made a mistake and he plans on rescinding it...I really don't know what I did wrong."
Cousins is averaging 4.3 personal fouls per game this season, the most of his career. He has led the league in personal fouls three times during his NBA tenure. He has ranked in the top-5 in the NBA in technical fouls every season since 2011. Cousins averaged 3.2 personal fouls per game during his only season at Kentucky, but fouled out just twice. His 122 fouls that season were the most on the team by 34 fouls.