DeMarcus Cousins helps lift Clippers’ bench with vintage performance

As recently as March, DeMarcus Cousins looked like a more likely candidate to be watching the NBA playoffs from his couch than from one of the participating teams’ benches.

Even in this Western Conference finals series against the Phoenix Suns, Cousins has been less a contributor than a backup plan – glass to crack in case of emergency. Only with two centers down with injury, the Clippers didn’t have many answers left coming into Game 5.

Good thing they had Cousins.

The 30-year-old wasn’t just a backup plan, reminding NBA observers of the player he used to be while muscling in for 15 points in just 11 minutes in the Clippers’ 116-102 Game 5 win. In many ways, injuries and the changing pace of the game have left Cousins behind – but sometimes an old-school post-up guy is exactly what is needed.

Just 12 seconds into his first sub-in, Cousins introduced himself with a running dunk, and proceeded to score 10 points, all within four feet of the rim, in his first shift. The one thing that hasn’t changed since a ruptured Achilles tendon, a torn quadriceps and a torn ACL is his confidence: “I know for a fact nobody can guard me one on one,” he said.

But it wasn’t all bullying. Cousins also added three assists, a reminder that he was once considered one of the better passing big men in the league, in addition to being a…

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