February 19, 2015

The Boston Celtics have been long rumored to have an interest in acquiring DeMarcus Cousins.

With performances like he had in his return to the Sacramento Kings, it's easy to see why.

The Kings will try to continue their success this season with Cousins in the lineup Thursday night when they take on Boston in Mexico City as part of the league's Global Games events.

Trade rumors began to swirl concerning Boston's interest in Cousins ahead of their most recent meeting last February. General manager Danny Ainge was then reportedly pushing to get a deal done during the offseason after it seemed coach George Karl and Cousins couldn't co-exist.

The Celtics weren't able to pull it off and the All-Star center remains with Sacramento, though he, Rajon Rondo and Karl are still trying to work out their differences. Cousins had a verbal tirade on his coach earlier in the season, but the three had a productive meeting near the end of a 2-3 trip.

Cousins missed the finale of that road swing and the next two games with a lower back strain before finishing with 31 points, nine rebounds and six assists in Monday's 112-98 win over Dallas. Rondo had 21 points and Rudy Gay added 20 as Sacramento avoided a third straight loss.

Cousins is averaging career highs of 28.2 points while leading the Kings to a 6-5 record in the games he's played. They haven't been the same without him, dropping seven of eight.

"I hate being out and I hate having to sit to watch my team going to battle without me when you know you could be in helping them,'' Cousins said. ''It's a terrible feeling to be sitting out. But you have to put those games behind you and move forward.''

Rondo hopes to put up a similar performance to the first time he faced Celtics after getting traded to Dallas in the middle of last season. The All-Star, who spent his first eight-plus seasons in Boston, had 29 points and hit 5 of 7 from 3-point range in Dallas' road win Jan. 2.

Sacramento and Boston have split the season series in each of the past three seasons, with the home team winning each time. That won't be the deciding factor at Mexico City Arena.

"We're thrilled to participate in this game here," Celtics coach Brad Stevens told the team's official website. "As much as we're focused on this task and focused on the game itself, I think we recognize how blessed we are to get a chance to play all around the world, and certainly here in Mexico City."

Stevens' club is seeking some consistency on the defensive end after splitting the Florida portion of its five-game trip with Monday's 105-95 win at Miami. The Celtics have limited opponents to an average of 89.7 points in 10 victories but have surrendered 107.3 in eight defeats.

Avery Bradley led six double-digit scorers with 25 points Monday, while Jared Sullinger added 17. Isaiah Thomas scored 16 with nine assists but shot 5 of 17 from the field.

Thomas, averaging a team-high 20.8 points, has scored a combined 43 in his two trips back to Sacramento after spending his first three seasons with the Kings.

Sullinger has only played in two of the past four meetings but has totaled 51 points and 27 boards.

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