February 11, 2015

Milwaukee Bucks center Greg Monroe downplayed a big performance in win over his former team, saying he brings the same intensity regardless of the opponent.

Despite those words, he may have to take his game to another level for a matchup with one of basketball's best big men, if he is healthy.

All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins injured his back in Sacramento's last game and his availability is uncertain for Wednesday night's game in Milwaukee.

After being outscored by an average of 27.0 points during an 0-3 trip, the Bucks (6-8) bounced back with a 109-88 win over Detroit on Monday. Milwaukee had seven players reach double figures, shot 51.8 percent while making 9 of 13 3-pointers and had 30 assists.

"We're young and we're new. So we got to get used to each other," said coach Jason Kidd. " ... It's not going to happen in 10 games, it's not going to happen in 20 games. So you have to get used to each other and you can see they're starting to get used to one another."

Facing the team he spent his first five seasons with, Monroe had 20 points and 13 rebounds for his seventh double-double. The Bucks were a plus-28 in scoring with Monroe on the floor - the highest by any Milwaukee player this season.

''I am trying to win every game,'' Monroe said. ''They just happen to be my former team. No matter who comes in here, I going to come in with the same focus. That is do what I need to do to help my team win on that night. They just happen to be the only other team I have played for.''

Cousins had another huge game Monday, totaling 30 points and 11 rebounds for his eighth double-double, but wasn't able to finish. He sprained his back in the third quarter and although he had 12 points and five rebounds in the fourth, coach George Karl held him out of overtime in Sacramento's 127-122 loss to Charlotte.

''You could see it was bothering him,'' Karl said. ''He went back in. We probably should have not played him because he was never a hundred percent after that.''

Cousins appeared to be walking fine in the locker room after the game and there was no update of his status.

Before Monroe arrived in Milwaukee, Cousins had been a matchup problem for the Bucks, averaging 29.0 points and 14.0 rebounds in his last three meetings, though the Kings lost both games last season.

Though the Bucks are last in the league in rebounding at 38.2 boards per game, Monroe is one of the league's leaders in grabbing contested rebounds, averaging 4.9.

Cousins' injury only added to the disappointment Monday for the Kings (5-10), who blew a 22-point, second-half lead are trying to end this season-high five-game trip 2-3. Sacramento was outscored 38-21 in the fourth quarter and needed a Rudy Gay layup as time expired to send the game to the extra session.

''I should have substituted probably earlier and more often,'' Karl said. ''I thought we were going to win the game with the switching. We probably should have changed it up with more blitzing.''

Gay had a season-high 28 points and Rajon Rondo added 20 assists - the most by a Kings player since the team moved to Sacramento in 1985-86.

The Kings and Bucks are two of the league's top 3-point shooting teams, with Milwaukee at 38.4 percent and Sacramento at 37.7.

Cousins is surprisingly playing a large role on the perimeter, going 16 of 42 (38.1 percent) from beyond the arc after entering this season 11 of 69 (15.9) from 3-point range.

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