By Ben Golliver
For whatever reason, March has been loaded with absolutely brutal poster dunks. Kings center DeMarcus Cousins joined DeAndre Jordan and LeBron James in that department when he threw down a vicious right-handed slam over Nuggets forward Anthony Randolph during Denver's 101-95 home win on Saturday.
With a little less than two minutes remaining in the third quarter and the Nuggets leading 65-64, Cousins made JaVale McGee pay for being a bit too over-aggressive with his perimeter defense. Attacking the paint hard with McGee out of the picture, Cousins spied Randolph coming over from the weakside to provide help, and simply opted to go up and over him for a right-handed spike dunk. The force of Cousins' approach sent Randolph flying backwards, but the referees called a defensive foul on the play, as Randolph's feet were on the protected circle. And-one.
The third-year Kings center finished with a game-high 24 points (on 10-for-16 shooting), 15 rebounds, three assists and five blocks in 36 minutes. Analysts always talk about the gift and the curse with Cousins, one of the most promising young big man prospects in the game who regularly undercuts his progress with emotional outbursts and unnecessarily physical plays. This dunk was a spectacular gift from a player who has delivered plenty of curses in a year that has seen him subjected to suspension after suspension after suspension and multiple ejections (here, here, here, and here).
Denver, the West's No. 3 seed, claimed its 15th straight victory to improve to 49-22 on the season. Danilo Gallinari led the way for the Nuggets with 19 points (on five-for-12 shooting), eight rebounds, four assists and three steals. Sacramento dropped to 25-45.
Cousins enters the “Dunk of the Year” conversation, which also includes: Jordan over Knight; James over Jason Terry; Kobe Bryant over Josh Smith; Bryant over Kris Humphries and Gerald Wallace; Michael Kidd-Gilchrist over Greg Monroe; DeMar DeRozan over Timofey Mozgov; Nick Young over Larry Sanders; Kevin Durant over Marcin Gortat; Gerald Henderson over Dwight Howard; Byron Mullens over LaMarcus Aldridge; Jeff Green over Al Jefferson; and Harrison Barnes over Nikola Pekovic.