Cousins looks ready for comeback

OAKLAND (California) • The Golden State Warriors would not put a date on when DeMarcus Cousins could make his debut with the team, but it looks like it might not be much longer.

Just ask Kevin Durant.

The two stars took part in a lighthearted game of one-on-one at the end of practice on Friday, taking turns receiving entry passes from assistant coach Bruce Fraser.

On what turned out to be the final possession of the duel, Cousins took the ball in the high post, dribbled into the restricted circle, faked Durant into leaping, then pivoted toward the rim and dunked. Right on Durant.

Video of the play quickly went viral, and Durant conceded defeat to the media.

"He beat me today," he said. "He beat me today, but I live to fight another day."

Cousins has not played since suffering a torn Achilles tendon on Jan 26, while he was a member of the New Orleans Pelicans.

The Warriors signed him as a free agent this off-season and have taken their time with getting him onto the court - assigning him earlier this month to their G-League affiliate, the Santa Cruz Warriors.

While all is looking good for Cousins' recovery, the Houston Rockets were prepared for the worst after Chris Paul suffered a left-hamstring injury.

The point guard will, however, miss just two to three weeks, club general manager Daryl Morey said on Friday.

An MRI exam revealed a Grade 2 strain, a day after the veteran was injured in the second quarter of the Rockets' 101-99 defeat in Miami.

Paul is averaging 15.6 points, 8.0 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 2.1 steals a game this season for the Rockets. Morey said the injury would be reevaluated in two weeks.

Houston were on a five-game winning streak for the campaign when Paul went down.

They are 0-5 without him this season, scoring 9.4 fewer points a game than rivals in those situations, and have dropped nine games in a row without him going back to last season's play-offs.

That was when he suffered a right hamstring strain and Houston fell one win short of reaching the NBA Finals.

Paul, who signed a new four-year contract worth US$160 million (S$220 million) before the season began, has helped the Rockets go 77-22 when he is in the line-up but has been nagged by hamstring injuries throughout his career.

In all, he has missed 19 games with five prior hamstring injuries.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 23, 2018, with the headline 'Cousins looks ready for comeback'. Print Edition | Subscribe