SAN JOSE – As bad as it looked Thursday night for Zaza Pachulia, who often seemed helpless against Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins, the new Warriors center says it will get better.
That while Cousins, scoring 20 points in 21 minutes, surely won this round, it’s a preseason round and therefore mostly irrelevant.
For Pachulia, it was a chance to test his defense, for the first time as a Warrior, against the most talented offensive center in the NBA.
“Just play smart,” he said. “I’ve done it before. I’ve played against him before. He’s obviously a super-talented guy, but you just try to make it tough for him. He’s obviously going to hit shots, from inside and outside, but you have to make him work at both ends of the floor.”
Cousins seemed to ramp up his offensive game each time he was defended by Pachulia, who replaced Andrew Bogut as the starting center for the Warriors. Whereas Bogut is longer and better at protecting the rim, Pachulia has to rely on guile and strength.
Those elements too often were not enough, as Cousins alternated between driving around Pachulia and shooting over him.
Asked to break down his work against Cousins, Pachulia politely declined.
“I’m not going to tell you everything, (as far as) what else you have to do,” he said. “I want to keep it for next game.”
That doesn’t come until Jan. 8 in Sacramento. In the regular season, which gives Pachulia plenty of time to tweak his strategy and a game that means something.