— -- Veteran Matt Barnes speaks from experience when he says All-Star teammate DeMarcus Cousins must "try to be himself without jeopardizing himself or the team" for the Sacramento Kings to make the playoffs.
Barnes, in an interview with ESPN-Tencent's Yuan Fang on Sunday night after a? 105-99 win over the visiting? New Orleans Pelicans, said the Kings, who sit in 10th place in the West and 1? games out of the eighth and final postseason spot, have the right pieces to reach their potential.?
But he said they can't do it without Cousins hitting his full stride when the time comes.
"We're very similar," Barnes told ESPN-Tencent. "Obviously he's the superstar and I'm a role player. But I think we have similar reputations. You know me being young. And doing all the stuff he did, reputation-wise, I think I can give him advice sometimes."
Cousins, an All-Star for the third straight season, received a questionable technical foul late in the first quarter Sunday for his NBA-leading 17th of the season after what appeared to be incidental contact, with his arm striking Pelicans center Donatas Motiejunas?in the face. One more technical and he will serve his second one-game suspension.
"He's got a tough rap -- the reputation he's earned," Barnes said. "Whether it's good or bad. We both have bad and that took me my whole career to change mine and it hasn't worked. He just has to be able to adjust within his reputation and still be himself. He has to keeps his head.
"It's hard. He gets beat up. He doesn't get calls, he gets bad calls against him," Barnes added. "But you know when you are one of the best players, a lot of responsibilities come with that. We need him to win."
Barnes has racked up nearly $400,000 in fines from the NBA since 2011. Off the court, he faces misdemeanor assault charges pending in New York City after police said he was involved in an altercation at a bar in Chelsea.?A related civil suit has been filed against Barnes and Cousins in a New York District Court.
Cousins was cleared of any wrongdoing and will not face charges following an NYPD investigation that concluded last week.
Cousins kept his cool Sunday when struck by? Buddy Hield?in the groin in the second quarter as the Pelicans guard was running around Cousins' screen, an incident for which the rookie was ejected.
"I can't be myself," Cousins said. "Me playing the way I play is what makes me the player I am. I'm trying to find a way to do what these guys are asking me to do. Obviously what I've been doing is not acceptable. It's not easy, but I'm trying to find a way."
Cousins, averaging 27.8 points and 10.7 rebounds this season, had 28 points, 14 rebounds and 7 assists for the Kings in the win over New Orleans. Barnes chipped in 12 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists in 34 minutes off the bench.?
"I think that we are the team with lots of potential," Barnes said. "We have to turn that potential into consistency. We have a lot of talent. We've got guys that have been hurt, guys are out. But you know, the guys have stepped in and been ready to play well."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.