PORTLAND – Drew Gooden wasn’t taunting, just flaunting, when he decided to celebrate his big shots with shoulder shrugs over the past two games. His post-bucket antics have attracted some attention – both positive and negative – but Gooden said Thursday at the Wizards’ morning shootaround at Moda Center that the shrugs are more about getting himself going than showing up anybody else.
“That ain’t the MJ,” Gooden said, referencing Michael Jordan’s infamous shoulder shrug in the 1992 NBA Finals. “It’s kind of like, ‘What I got to do? What else I got to do?’ ”
Gooden still hasn’t made it clear to whom he is asking for a response. But he said Thursday that he might have to find a new way to express himself after his go-to move inspired a furious performance from Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins in the Wizards’ disappointing 117-111 overtime loss on Tuesday at Sleep Train Arena.
Cousins scored 19 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter as the Wizards squandered an 11-point fourth-quarter lead – and a five-point lead with 24 seconds left. He also grabbed a critical offensive rebound in the final seconds that set up a three-pointer by Isaiah Thomas.
“We got to get away from the shrug because guys coming in scoring 19 in the fourth quarter,” Gooden said. “If that fueled him, then we got to try something else.”
Gooden made a huge three-pointer to give the Wizards an 86-77 lead, and threw out his hands, palms facing upward, and circled around to no one in particular. He added another shrug after a putback layup put the Wizards up six with 2 minutes, 26 seconds remaining in regulation. After the game, Cousins said he didn’t appreciate Gooden’s self-admiration.
“I mean, it was a good shot I guess, but it’s whatever,” said Cousins, who mocked Gooden’s move later in the game.
Gooden brought out the move in the Wizards’ comeback win over Brooklyn, as he scored a season-high 21 points on 8 of 11 shots. He scored another 18 against the Kings. In his past two games, Gooden is shooting 71.4 percent (15 of 21) from the floor. To Gooden, that kind of shooting, from a player who was out of the league for until late February, should warrant some acknowledgment. He actually liked the back-and-forth with Cousins.
“I like that. This is the game now,” Gooden said. “Those type of games remind me of the 80s and the 90s when there was a whole lot of trash talking going on. When I came in the league, it wasn’t guys out there playing good and not saying anything. I think it’s good for the game to see that. It’s good for the fans to see it. And for something that small to be news, that tells you the league is missing it.”
Gooden wasn’t surprised that Cousins was upset.
“Not at all,” Gooden said. “If that’s what fires him up so be it, because I was fired up, too.”