Golden State Warriors center DeMarcus Cousins is still trying to regain his form, 13 games since returning from an Achilles injury that kept him out for almost one year.
Per ESPN.com's Nick Friedell, Cousins vented his frustration after Saturday's 118-112 loss to the Houston Rockets:
"It's tough. Obviously, I'm in like a gray area when it comes to that, trying to get back to being myself and also knowing guys are coming at me. Nobody in this league is going to feel sorry for me and I know that, so I'm going to go out and battle as much as I can and do what I can. But it still is a process for me; it's no excuse."
Head coach Steve Kerr also addressed the frustration Cousins is experiencing, per Friedell:
"Think about what DeMarcus has been through with the yearlong injury and the frustrating free agency. So, it's not an easy thing, a very difficult injury to come back from. After the first couple weeks, the excitement, the adrenaline, the wear and tear begins, and that's where you really got to be able to rely on execution. So, we'll work with him. He can do better; he knows that."
Kerr told reporters coming out of the All-Star break that Cousins would no longer be under a minutes restriction but that his playing time would also depend on matchups and rotations.
Cousins didn't play in the last six minutes against Houston, though he finished the game with 27 minutes.
After the Warriors' narrow victory against the Sacramento Kings on Thursday, Warriors forward Draymond Green noted Cousins' limited playing time "is probably starting to piss him off," per The Athletic's Anthony Slater:
"Sometimes I think [coaches] have to protect us from ourselves. Coming back from the All-Star break they really don't do much during the week and for him he would go out there and play 35 minutes. But, is that good for his long-term health to come back already not doing much for a week and then playing 35 minutes? Probably not."
Slater noted Cousins "stormed to the end of the bench and fumed" after being removed in the third and fourth quarters against the Kings.
Cousins hasn't played more than 28 minutes this season. The four-time All-Star is averaging just 14.1 points per game on a career-worst 42.3 percent shooting.
Golden State has a 1.5-game lead for the top seed in the Western Conference playoffs. Kerr and the coaching staff want to ensure Cousins is healthy and playing his best basketball heading into the postseason as the Warriors chase their third straight championship.