LAS VEGAS - Everyone has waited to see how DeMarcus Cousins would react when someone sought to irritate him.
Cousins picked up a technical foul along with Minnesota's Greg Stiemsma during the second quarter.
It was obvious Stiemsma was trying to bother Cousins. He kept bumping into Cousins and pushing him when he could.
Kings summer league coach Mario Elie knows all about mind games. He said it's no coincidence who one of the Timberwolves' assistant coaches is when something like this happens.
"You've got to remember who's on that bench," Elie said. "Bill Laimbeer, one of the most hated guys. I'm sure Bill probably put in that guy and just said get under his skin."
So was this going to be the moment Cousins showed one those notorious "red flags" and acted immature?
Nope. He channeled his energy the right way - 22 points, 12 rebounds and five assists.
Cousins had a message for Minnesota's summer league coach Reggie Theus at halftime.
"He was like 'We got into his head,'" Cousins said. "I was like thank you coach, I'm going to kill you this half. And after the game I was like told you I was going to kill you this half. That's all that was."
Cousins did by hitting the game winning shot on a jump hook with 2.8 seconds left in the game for a 79-78 win.
As Theus exited the gym, Cousins told him "good game" showing he knows how to leave the emotions of a game on the floor.
That emotion isn't bad for the Kings. The team has lacked intensity at times on the floor. And in situations when things got tough, the Kings had no one to step and get tough in response.
Cousins is a fighter. He plays with some nastiness. Those are good things.
Elie said head coach Paul Westphal spoke to Cousins at halftime about channeling that emotion the right way and it worked.
"Great to see his emotion out there," Elie said. "He's a fierce competitor and I'm know Minnesota's probably regretting not taking him before us. We're glad to have that big boy. He's amazing."
And if you're curious as to how Cousins got his retribution on Stiemsma, check out the video below:
Here's some more Cousins:
And a little more Cousins to end the night:
John Calipari might have his third straight Rookie of the Year. This time it might not be a point guard.
Cousins could change that.