DeMarcus Cousins sits out against Rockets with sore knee, rib

ByJustin Verrier via ESPN logo
Saturday, March 18, 2017

NEW ORLEANS -- Pelicans forwardDeMarcus Cousinsmissed Friday night's game against the Houston Rockets because of left knee soreness and a right rib contusionbut said he expects to play Sunday against theMinnesota Timberwolves.

An MRI on Cousins' left knee came back negative, according to a team release.

"There's no reason to ever put anybody out there at risk," Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said before his team's 128-112 win. "It's better for him to just sit out this game. We'll obviously re-evaluate tomorrow and just see where he is."

Cousins said he wasn't sure how the pain in his knee started but that he "got some movement" on the knee during Friday's practice.

"It was kind of a scary situation," he said. "I just kind of woke up and my knee was very sore. We just did some precautionary things and went and got an MRI to make sure it's good."

Cousins was kneed in the stomach late in the Pelicans' loss Wednesday in Miami while contesting a layup attempt by the Heat's James Johnson.

"I got kneed by a black belt," he said of Johnson, a second-degree black belt who has participated in MMA and kickboxing matches.

Cousins went to the ground holding his right side and missed the final 1 minute, 35 seconds of the 120-112 loss. Johnson was assessed a technical foul on the play.

"Those kind of plays happen," Gentry said. "If it was just that, he would probably be playing."

In 10 games since being traded to the Pelicans during the All-Star break, Cousins, 26, is averaging 20.7 points, 11.8 rebounds and 3.4 assists.

The Pelicans are now 2-0 without Cousins and 3-7 when he has played since trading for him Feb. 19. At 28-41 overall, New Orleans sits 5 games behind the Denver Nuggets for eighth place in the Western Conference.