Why DeMarcus Cousins failed in Houston, where Rockets go now – The Athletic

It would be basketball malpractice to make bold claims off one play, or even a few, but the downside of the DeMarcus Cousins experience could be summed up in a particular second-quarter sequence against the New Orleans Pelicans on Feb. 9 — ironically the place where Cousins spent his final days as one of the NBA’s elite big men.

With about four minutes remaining until halftime, Cousins was matched up against Pelicans center Steven Adams around the basket. Adams had momentarily backed off from Cousins, essentially gifting him an uncontested layup. Four years ago, that would have been two points. Instead, at age 30 and after years of injuries, Cousins lacked the explosion or lift to convert it.

Then, on the next possession, Cousins found himself matched up against Pelicans guard Eric Bledsoe near the top of the key. Bledsoe seemed indecisive as he held the ball — until Cousins’ presence made the easy choice for him. Most, if not all, scouting…