The Los Angeles Lakers exchanged DeMarcus Cousins‘ roster spot for Markieff Morris back in February. In Cousins’ first game against his former team Sunday, he and Morris got in a testy exchange of their own.
Neither player ended up finishing the game.
Morris and Cousins were called for double technical fouls with 2:15 remaining in the first quarter of the Houston Rockets‘ 120-102 loss to L.A. for getting into a shoving match after Morris’ flagrant foul 1 on Jae’Sean Tate, which sent the Rockets’ forward sprawling to the ground.
Morris was ejected for the infraction after he retaliated against Cousins’ body check that made him fall to the floor by charging at Cousins to push him while he was helping Tate up.
Not long after that, Cousins also was ejected early in the second quarter when he was called for a flagrant foul 2 for hitting LeBron James in the head. The shot appeared to be incidental, as Cousins was attempting to strip James of the ball as the Lakers’ star drove to the basket. However, the referees ruled that Cousins’ wind-up and follow-through merited a flagrant 2 call and automatic ejection. Cousins has been ejected twice over the Rockets’ last four games. He was called for two technical fouls in a span of two minutes, 53 seconds to get ejected in Monday’s loss to the Dallas Mavericks.
“I thought [Cousins] was sticking up for his teammate on the first part, the first technical, and I’ll support him 100% when he’s sticking up for his teammate,” Rockets coach Stephen Silas said. “He was sticking up for Jae’Sean. He wasn’t going to allow anything to happen to his rookie, and I think that’s admirable.
“The [flagrant 2], when he hit LeBron in the face or whatever, that’s a judgment call. Or I don’t even know if it’s a judgment call; it comes from the replay booth. You’re just going to have to live with it. But him sticking up for his teammate shows a lot of who DeMarcus Cousins is.”
The Lakers signed Cousins in the summer of 2019 to try to recreate the frontcourt success he had teaming with Anthony Davis on the New Orleans Pelicans, however, the former All-Star center never played a game for L.A. after tearing the ACL in his left knee during a pickup game.
Cousins was waived in February in order to open up a roster spot to sign Morris, who reached a buyout agreement with the Detroit Pistons and was on the market.
Morris was instrumental during the Lakers’ championship run, ironically playing his most effective ball in the second round against Houston when he scored 16 points in Game 2 to knot the series 1-1 and 16 points again in Game 5 to close the Rockets out.
Even though Cousins was not on the Lakers’ playoff roster, his name was still etched into every Lakers championship ring. The Lakers plan to present Cousins with a championship ring when they host the Rockets at Staples Center later this season, league sources told ESPN.
“Everyone, I mean Markieff even said it to him as well, everyone is genuinely happy to see him back on the floor,” Anthony Davis said of Cousins after the game. “He’s a guy who’s a great talent and also a nice guy off the floor, and guys are happy, especially on the side being his teammate last year and me personally in New Orleans for a couple years. Guys are happy to see him back on the floor and playing the game that he loves.”
ESPN’s Tim MacMahon contributed to this report.