12 DeMarcus COUSINS (USA)
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Cousins returns from injury with a vengeance

SACRAMENTO (NBA) - DeMarcus Cousins didn't have the best start to the 2015-16 season with the Sacramento Kings.

He's making up for it now.

With alarm bells ringing after a 1-7 beginning and Cousins missing four of those games due to an Achilles problem, the outlook wasn't bright for the Western Conference side but the 25-year-old has returned to the lineup and been terrific in his team's last three outings - all victories.

Cousins had 33 points and nine rebounds in a 101-92 triumph over Detroit, 40 and 13 in a 111-109 victory over Brooklyn and 36 and 10 in a 107-101 come-from-behind success over Toronto that lifted the Kings to 4-7.

Italy national team star Marco Belinelli plays alongside Cousins in Sacramento.

"He was crazy tonight, just amazing," Belinelli said after the win over Toronto.

"He has been playing great lately.

"I'm really happy for him."

There have been reports of friction between Cousins and coach George Karl.

The player is intent on letting everyone know right now that he's the same strong and powerful 2.10m center that opponents have often struggled against in the league.

The opposition certainly couldn't handle him at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup.

He brought toughness, resolve and plenty of skill off the bench for the Americans in their title-winning run in Spain.

DeMarcus Cousins (USA) at 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup

Cousins was a perfect fit in USA coach Mike Krzyzewski's team, averaging 9.8pts and 5.7rbs off the bench while offering plenty of intimidation.

His focus right now is on the Kings and building momentum.

"I never doubted this team from Day One," he said in the Sacramento Bee.

"I believe in every guy in this locker room, and my feelings still remain the same. ... We're just going to keep moving forward."

If he keeps up the sort of work he's been doing of late with the Kings, Cousins will be firmly in contention for a spot on the USA's Olympic roster.