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Cousins redeeming himself
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - If only sending misbehaving children to their rooms was this effective.

That's essentially what Sacramento Kings coach Keith Smart did with center DeMarcus Cousins; he exiled the 22-year-old to his room for two games. Cousins clearly doesn't want to go back.

The Kings center has played his best basketball of the season in the five games since his two-game suspension ended.

His latest conquest was a 31-point, 20-rebound game Friday night at Toronto. Cousins shot 11-of-18 from the field and 9-of-12 from the free-throw line, handed out four assists and had two steals in the game.

It was Cousins' fifth straight double-double. He's averaging 19.4 points, 14 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 2.2 steals during the streak.

Those numbers more closely resemble Cousins' production in the final 21 games last season, when he averaged 21.6 points, 11.2 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 1.0 blocks per game.

Coming off that grand finale, Cousins was drafted at an ADP of 25.1 in Yahoo! leagues, but he failed to live up to expectations in the first quarter of the season. He only shot 41.4 percent from to field and averaged 16.6 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.3 steals and 0.6 blocks in the first 23 games this season.

Those are still strong numbers in a vacuum, but we drafted Cousins for his potential to improve upon last season's numbers and unfortunately the only potential he has met this season is his potential for lunacy.

The latest suspension was actually his third of the season. The first came after he got into a post-game argument with Spurs announcer Sean Elliot over comments Elliot made about Cousins during the game. Cousins was informed of Elliot's comments after the conclusion of the game and waited in full uniform to confront the announcer. He was put on the sidelines for two games for that incident.

Cousins was also banned for one game in early December after intentionally hitting Mavericks guard O.J. Mayo in the groin while Mayo was defending him on the block. Mayo wasn't too happy with Cousins' act, saying (according to ESPNDallas.com) "that guy has some mental issues, man. He's a talented player. He has an opportunity to be the face of that organization, but I don't think he wants it. He's immature, man. Big maturity problem. Hopefully, he'll grow up out of it and become great."

He didn't immediately learn from that suspension, however, because he was back in hot water with the organization several weeks later after getting into an argument with Smart during halftime of a game on Dec. 21. That led to reports that the Kings were shopping the mercurial big man. However, plans to move him may be on hold considering how well he has played recently.

Fantasy owners shouldn't fret about the potential return of Tyreke Evans during Sacramento's upcoming homestand. While Evans certainly commands the ball, Cousins' numbers when the guard was on the court last season were still impressive. Per 36 minutes, Cousins averaged 20.6 points on 45 percent shooting with 12.8 rebounds in 1492 minutes with Evans last season compared to 24 ppg and 13.4 reb with Evans on the bench.

This season, the stats are closer -- 19.5 ppg and 11.5 reb with Evans on the court compared to 20.4 and 12.5 with Evans on the bench (per 36 min). And Cousins actually has attempted 2.2 more field goals per 36 min and shot a better percentage when Evans has been in the game this season.

Obviously, Cousins is no less likely than before his most recent suspension to have an outburst, but fantasy owners don't have to like the guy, they just have to like his production. And right now that is better than it has been all season.

It's unclear if Cousins has learned from his transgressions or if he is sorry for arguing with his coach, but as long as he keeps churning out double- doubles, fantasy owners will keep forgiving him.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Thomas J. Harrigan at tharrigan@sportsnetwork.com.

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