From Comcast SportsNetOAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Jose Valverde sat at his locker in disbelief, head down and elbows on his knees. His Tigers teammates ate in stunned silence.Valverde, Detroit's demonstrative closer who saved all 49 of his chances last year, blew the save with his team on the cusp of a second straight trip to the AL championship series and the Oakland Athletics rallied once more to force a Game 5 in their AL division series with a 4-3 win Wednesday night."We all have his back," catcher Gerald Laird said of Valverde. "There's not one guy we blame on this team."Coco Crisp lined a game-ending single to right field with two outs in the ninth as the A's found one more furious rally to stay alive for another day.Valverde called it the toughest moment yet in his stellar career. The 34-year-old pitcher is wrapping up his three-year contract with the Tigers.After Josh Reddick hit a leadoff single and Josh Donaldson doubled, Valverde surrendered a game-tying two-run double to Seth Smith and later Crisp's big hit."I threw all my pitches," Valverde said. "You've got to give credit to the guys over there. You make one mistake, that's it. There's nothing I can do. It's over."Al Alburquerque patted him on the behind. Justin Verlander, who will pitch the deciding game Thursday night, offered his support of Valverde along with most everyone else in the room."It's extremely hard to hit a baseball," catcher Alex Avila said. "So, the credit's always going to go to the hitters. It has to. He did have a good fastball. That inning they just took advantage of the one or two mistakes Valverde made. He's been here for a while. We know what he's capable of. You've got to forget about, like I'm sure he does. He's got a closer's mentality. He's been doing it for a long time."Valverde has long been manager Jim Leyland's reliable ninth-inning man -- and he so hopes to get the ball again Thursday night. Valverde earned his fourth postseason save in Saturday's 3-1 Game 1 win, then missed a chance to become the franchise's postseason saves leader. He currently shares that distinction with Willie Hernandez and Todd Jones.Leyland found himself defending Valverde a day earlier, saying it would be tough for the hard-throwing right-hander not to go downhill after his remarkable run in 2011."He's our guy, and that's just the way it is," Leyland said afterward. "Certainly I feel comfortable with Jose coming in in that situation. Tonight he just didn't get the job done."Valverde finished sixth in the American League with 35 saves this season, but still leads the AL with 110 saves since the beginning of 2010."When we lose a game like this and I need three outs for my team to clinch, it hurts," Valverde said. "This is the toughest moment in my whole career. I had everything. These guys hit it. There's nothing I can do."Now, the Tigers will turn the ball over to their ace and Game 1 winner to lead them in Game 5. Verlander, the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner and MVP, struck out 11 batters in the series opener at Comerica Park."Valverde's been great for us. Those things happen," Verlander said. "Obviously you don't want them to happen on a night like tonight. It did."
Opportunity lost. The Sacramento Kings had a game handed to them on a silver platter Monday night in Phoenix and they couldn’t take advantage. Playing for a new head coach and without their star point guard, the Suns manhandled the Kings early and held them off late to come away with the 117-115 win and pick up their first win of the season.
Garrett Temple is known for his defensive prowess, but on Monday night in Phoenix, he was an offensive juggernaut. With the Kings falling behind early, the veteran wing hit 6-of-8 from long range to post 23 and keep the Kings in the ballgame late. He had a look at 3-ball to win it at the buzzer, but came up short.
It took Bogdan Bogdanovic less than a quarter to get comfortable with the NBA game. Phoenix drafted the rookie with the 27th pick back in 2014, but they abandoned their efforts to bring him over from Europe. He lit the Suns up 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting in the first half, but struggled to get it going after the break.
With Bogdanovic manning the two, fellow rookie De’Aaron Fox put on the jets at the point guard spot. Fox attacked Phoenix on both ends of the floor, finishing with 19 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Skal Labissiere scored 17 points and grabbed four rebounds off Joerger’s bench. Willie Cauley-Stein added 11 points, four assists and four rebounds, while rookie Justin Jackson chipped in a career-best 10 points.
Buddy Hield couldn’t buy a bucket early, but his defense fueled his offensive in the second half. Hield grabbed a career-high five steals and added 14 points on 6-for-15 shooting.
Sacramento’s Marquese Chriss did damage against his hometown team. The second-year forward dropped in 19 points and six rebounds before fouling out late.
Devin Booker added 22 points on 8-of-16 shooting. Mike James finished with 18 points and seven assists starting in place of the exiled Eric Bledsoe and rookie Josh Jackson came off the bench to score 15.
Temple caught fire and the Kings kept feeding him. Not known for his offense, the veteran wing went off in a wild game at the Talking Stick Resort Arena
Phoenix put the Kings on blast to start the game, outscoring the Kings starters 36-17 in the first 12 minutes of action. Dave Joerger went to his bench in the second and the combination of Fox, Bogdanovic and Labissiere went to work. The trio helped cut the Suns lead from 21 in the first quarter to eight before the half. They stole the momentum of the game.
Rookie Bogdan Bogdanovic returned from a sprained right ankle to make his NBA debut. Labissiere tweaked his right ankle in the fourth quarter, but was able to walk off under his own power and returned to the game late.
The Kings return home to host DeMarcus Cousins and the New Orleans Pelicans Thursday at Golden 1 Center. They’ll stick around Sacramento to face the Washington Wizards on Sunday before heading back out on the road for three games.
With just under three minutes to go and the Warriors leading by 25 points, Steve Kerr put the end of the bench into the game.
Somehow, with the game in control, rookie Jordan Bell found a way to produce the highlight of the night.
After Bell got a piece of Dwight Powell's shot, JaVale McGee batted the ball ahead. With no one in front of him, the rookie tossed the ball off the backboard and threw down a dunk. The sequence left his Warriors teammates flabergasted. But Bell may have broken an unwritten rule about showboating in a blowout game.
After the game, Draymond Green was not having it with possible criticism of Bell.
"Listen man, when you get on the basketball floor, I don't care if you get out there with two minutes to go up 25 or with two minutes to go down 25, somebody is evaluating you. So you gotta play the game just like it's tied up or if you're up four or if you're down four. You gotta play the game the same way. Somebody is evaluating you. So if you want to throw it off the backboard, feel free and dunk the ball. He got an And One. It was a great play. So, I got no message for him. Do what you do. Play basketball. That's what he did. I don't get all up into the whole 'Ah man, they're winning by this much, that's bad.' Says who? Dunk the ball. What's the difference between if he threw it off the backboard and dunked it as opposed to grabbing it and dunking it? It's a dunk," Green told reporters in Dallas after the Warriors' 133-130 win.
Green was then asked what he thought of the play, regardless of game situation.
"Great play. Great play. Amazing. Did you see it? It was dope. He got an And One too. He missed the free throw though. We gotta talk about that. That's my message for him. Make the free throw," Green said.
Kerr reportedly apologized to Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle after the game. Green commented on that.
"Steve's the coach. I'm not. That's not my problem," Green said.
Draymond wasn't the only member of the Green family defending Bell. His mom, Mary Babers-Green was on Twitter defending the rookie.
Jordan do you.. EXPLAIN WHAT? This ain’t 10 & Under REC or Powder Puff! Play ball!— MBG (@BabersGreen) October 24, 2017
Are we complaining about a rookie SHOWBOATING that gets limited minutes? I’m sure he was told Make EVERY MINUTE COUNT! #SHOWBOATJORDAN— MBG (@BabersGreen) October 24, 2017