"I was super nervous coming in", said Cousins to the AP.
In the end, Cousins got what every returning King not named Spencer Hawes or Jason Terry receives, and that's an overwhelming ovation when he was introduced as the starting center for the New Orleans Pelicans Thursday night at Golden 1 Center.
Cousins, who heard a mix of boos and cheers in pre-game introductions, shot 14-of-23 and came within one of his career high for rebounds.
Cousins had 37 points and 13 rebounds during his first time hosting his team last season, prior to the end of the Pelicans season, becoming only one of four players to have 35-plus points in his first two games against his former team.More news: Luke Shaw makes huge transfer admission in sly dig at Jose Mourinho
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Cousins, the fifth pick in the 2010 National Basketball Association draft, is the Kings' second all-time leading scorer behind Mitch Richmond and the top rebounder in the franchise's Sacramento era. "But, you know, I guess being stubborn or loyal, I wanted to make things work".
For the fourth time this year, Fox managed 14 or more points in no more than 30 minutes. "And that's what you should expect", Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry said.
"We're a team with no excuses", Cousins said. "I've got nothing but love for this city". Cousins also made three NBA All-Star appearances for the Kings and won an Olympic gold medal with USA Basketball in 2016. Sacramento managed only 36 second-half points after exploding for 70 in the first half.
The Kings saw similar big games from Cousins, who averaged 21.1 points and 7.8 rebounds in 491 games. The Kings, however, held a lead by as much as 19 points before holding a 70-56 halftime lead. A Cousins dunk after a pass from guard Jameer Nelson gave New Orleans a comfortable 112-106 lead with 1:15 left.