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Kings C DeMarcus Cousins suspended 1 game for punch, fined $20K for verbally abusing official

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The NBA suspended Sacramento Kings centre DeMarcus Cousins for one game and fined him $20,000 on Thursday for punching an opposing player and verbally abusing an official in a game earlier this week.

The league suspended Cousins for punching Houston Rockets guard Patrick Beverley in the stomach with 9:44 remaining in the first quarter of the Kings' 129-103 loss on Tuesday night in Sacramento. Cousins was fined for verbally abusing official Courtney Kirkland and failing to leave the court in a timely manner following an ejection with 8:21 remaining in the third quarter.

Cousins will serve his suspension when the Kings visit the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night.

New Kings owner Vivek Ranadive had hoped Cousins could clean up his act when he signed the centre to a four-year, $62 million contract extension before the season. Instead, Cousins leads the NBA with 15 technical fouls this season and will be suspended one game by the NBA if he gets another one.

The last two seasons Cousins has needed to have a technical foul rescinded by the league to avoid the automatic suspension that comes when a player reaches 16 technicals.

In the Houston game, Cousins was called for a technical after getting whistled for a foul against Dwight Howard and arguing against it. Cousins picked up his fifth personal foul moments later, then got called for another technical foul — earning an automatic ejection — after screaming in the face of Kirkland during a timeout.

Cousins had to be held back by coaches and teammates, pointing his finger and screaming at Kirkland. He flicked his headband into the stands on his way to the locker room.

Cousins has since apologized for his behaviour, which has become a troubling trend through his career, even going back to high school and his one season at Kentucky.

The 23-year-old centre has mixed in dramatic and astonishing plays with outbursts against players, coaches and referees. He has dazzled at times during his first four NBA seasons, and at other times struggled with defence and discipline.

Last season alone, Cousins drew multiple reprimands for his behaviour.

He was suspended one game without pay by the NBA for striking O.J. Mayo in the groin during a loss at Dallas. Following a defeat at San Antonio, the league suspended Cousins two games without pay for confronting Spurs announcer Sean Elliott in a "hostile manner." Finally, the Kings suspended Cousins for one game for "unprofessional behaviour and conduct detrimental to the team" after he shouted at Kings coach Keith Smart in the locker room during halftime of a loss at the Los Angeles Clippers.

His behaviour aside, Cousins is having the best season of his career and is blossoming into one of the NBA's best big men. He's averaging career highs of 22.3 points, 11.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.6 steals per game. He's also shooting a career-best 48.3 per cent.

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