Warriors

Dalembert, Kings look to slow Philly's playoff push

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Dalembert, Kings look to slow Philly's playoff push

March 17, 2011

PHILADELPHIA (35-33) vs.
KINGS (16-50)Coverage begins at 7 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet California
(AP) -- After suffering back-to-back losses to open their trip, the Philadelphia 76ers defeated one of the weaker teams in the Western Conference the last time they took the court.A meeting with the last-place Sacramento Kings could help Philadelphia in its quest for sixth place in the East, and the 76ers will try for a sixth consecutive victory in the series Friday night.
RELATED: Eastern conference standings
Philadelphia (35-33) had won seven of nine on the road prior to losing to Milwaukee and Utah to begin its five-game trip.The 76ers, vying with New York for the sixth seed in the conference, allowed an average of 107.0 points in those two losses but used a strong defensive effort Wednesday night to defeat the Los Angeles Clippers 104-94.
REWIND: Meeks, Brand lead 76ers over Clippers 104-94
Coach Doug Collins' team forced 17 turnovers and held Los Angeles to 4-of-13 shooting from 3-point range en route to its 11th win in 12 games when holding opponents under 100 points."It was a tough game but we had to have it. We had lost two in a row and we felt like we are a better team than to lose two in a row," said Elton Brand, who had 19 points, 12 rebounds and a season high-tying five blocks. "We had to have this game and we got it."Collins was ejected right before halftime after picking up his second technical foul."I just thought I had to stand up for our guys and they were great," he said. "They responded. We talked at halftime about how important this game was to get a road win and break our two-game losing streak."Guard Jodie Meeks, who had 22 points Wednesday, has gone 9 of 16 from long distance in his last two games. Meeks averaged 9.5 points over his first 50 contests but has scored 14.9 per game over his last 10."Jodie Meeks has been great," Brand said. "He didn't even dress at the start of the season, so for him to hit these big shots and play the way he's been playing, it's been great for us."Philadelphia, 5-8 on the road versus West opponents, has outscored the Kings by 16.0 points during its five-game run in the series.Sacramento (16-50) fell 97-93 to NBA-worst Cleveland on Wednesday night for its seventh loss in eight games.The Kings had averaged 105.9 points over their previous eight matchups but shot just 38.0 percent. Sacramento has dropped eight straight and 29 of 33 when scoring less than 100 points.Marcus Thornton had 23 points after scoring a career-high 42 in Monday night's 129-119 win over Golden State."To see that we played so well against Golden State and then to lose like this hurt," said Thornton, averaging 24.0 points in his last nine games. "It hurts, but it's the NBA. We have to put it behind us and get ready for Friday. We have a good Philly team coming in."Samuel Dalembert will be facing the 76ers for the first time since being traded to Sacramento in July. The 6-foot-11 center, who spent the first eight seasons of his career in Philadelphia, registered a career-high 27 points to go along with 16 rebounds versus the Warriors.He scored 16 and grabbed 10 boards Wednesday, and is averaging 19.7 points - 12.3 more than his season mark - and 11.3 rebounds over the past three games.

With lofty win total unlikely this year, here's a number the Warriors can chase

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AP

With lofty win total unlikely this year, here's a number the Warriors can chase

OAKLAND -- Getting to 73 wins is impossible for the Warriors, and the pursuit of it never entered their minds.

Reaching 69 wins, their average in three seasons under coach Steve Kerr, is highly improbable.

Even winning 67 games, the lowest total under Kerr, is extremely unlikely.

There is, however, a number the Warriors are aiming for that also happens to be within their grasp -- but only if they can fight through the regular-season malaise and break an unhealthy tendency.

They can get to 35 victories at Oracle Arena. Currently 16-6 at home, the Warriors would have to go 19-0 to reach 35, and it’s possible insofar as they are less than two years removed from posting an NBA-record 54 consecutive wins at home.

Can a team that once went 14 months without losing at Oracle summon a three-month stretch of perfection at home?

The schedule invites the possibility, but it’s still up to the Warriors and how they cope with tug of three long seasons and that tendency to float a bit in front of their home fans, two factors that have had more effect at home than on the road.

“In general, the appropriate fear we always talk about, it’s there on the road for most games and it’s not there as much at home,” Kerr conceded Monday.

Kevin Durant used different phrasing but echoed the comments of the coach.

“You tend to relax a bit when you’re at home because you’ve got your home crowd,” he acknowledged. “You’re just comfortable in that situation. You can go home and go to sleep in your own bed after the game. So you relax a bit.

“On the road, it just feels like this is the last game of your career. It just feels that way, especially when you’re playing a tough opponent and somewhere with a crowd that’s going to be really, really into it.”

Having gone 39-2, 39-2 and 36-5 over the last three seasons, the Warriors are assured of having their worst home record under Kerr. Still, 35 is not impossible.

The drop is not unanticipated, as Kerr experienced something similar as a member of the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s, when they won three straight championships as their regular-season wins steadily dropped, from 72 to 69 to 62.

“Where it has truly been the most tangible and palpable is home games against lesser opponents,” Kerr said. “We’ve lost six. Maybe two of those are playoff teams.

“We didn’t lose those games the last the last three years. We dominated the home floor. That’s where it really shows.”

The Warriors have lost at home to the Rockets, Pistons, Kings, Nuggets, Hornets and Clippers. Only Houston is a playoff lock. Detroit, Denver and the Clippers are on the fringe of the postseason race. Charlotte is a longshot, Sacramento a no-shot.

The Warriors, in every home loss, have started drowsily or played too carelessly or were self-destructive enough to give back a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter.

“This is the first year in my four years where we’ve lost a lot of home games that we shouldn’t,” Kerr said. “That just points to emotional fatigue. Trying to get up for 82 games is a difficult thing, especially in Year 4 of a quest to get back to The Finals.”

Coming off a successful road trip during which they won four of five games, the Warriors this week face the Knicks, Timberwolves and Celtics -- the latter two being playoff locks.

A home sweep is difficult, of course, but hardly inconceivable. And if the Warriors can pull that off, they’d have only four remaining home games against teams fighting for a top-four playoff slot: the Thunder and Spurs twice each.

Oklahoma City appears to be getting their act together. The Spurs, while still formidable, are starting to look like a team in decline.

They’re also the two teams most likely to get the full attention of the Warriors, who began the week by sitting through video of their last three games, during which they committed numerous hideous errors.

The message: Their unforced mistakes are the surest route to defeat.

“There are key points of the year where we have to hit the reset button in terms of our priorities,” Kerr said. “Right now is one of those times. This is an important week for us. We need to take care of the ball. We need to be smart and make good decisions. If we do that, we’re really, really hard to beat.”

Carr excited to work with Gruden: 'I want him to be tough on me'

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AP

Carr excited to work with Gruden: 'I want him to be tough on me'

Jon Gruden has been interviewed several times since becoming Raiders head coach. Quarterback Derek Carr hasn’t listened to most of those sessions, and certainly doesn’t seek them out.

One landed in Carr’s inbox recently, and something Gruden said really resonated.

Gruden’s message, paraphrased: If Derek Carr is not successful, then I’ve failed as a coach.

There are two comments in that one. Gruden considers Carr extremely talented, and he’s taking responsibility for unlocking the quarterback's vast potential.

Gruden will be hands on in Carr’s development, with all the coaching intensity and fire and eyebrow raises that have become Gruden’s signature.

“He’s going to demand of me. He’s going to push me,” Carr said on this week’s episode of the Raiders Insider Podcast, which will drop Tuesday morning (Subcribe right here). “He’s going to make me be the best version of myself.”

Carr had a direct answer to skeptics wondering aloud whether he can thrive under Gruden’s particular coaching style.

“I want him to be tough on me,” Carr said. “For anyone who thinks I want him to be a different way has no clue about me or how I play football or how I prepare to play this game. I don’t need to tell stories about how I prepare or manage myself.

“(Jon) and I are going to get along great. I hope that he demands of me. I hope he’s hard on me. I don’t need to know he loves me. He has already told me that about 20 times. I appreciate that and we’ll be friends forever, but I know he’ll be demanding and tell me what I need to do. Let’s go fix problems that I have and let’s do what I need to do to win championships. Hopefully that will give people some insight and hopefully that’s the story that gets out, because that’s the truth.”

Carr met his new head coach briefly before his introductory press conference, but has known Gruden since filming the Gruden QB Camp segment back in 2014. They got along great then, and in each interaction since.

“We have so much more in common that people realize,” Carr said. “I think it would blow some people’s minds. Him and I are very similar in the way we go about our business and how we carry ourselves. It’s an exciting time.”

Carr’s excited to have some stability in his football life. The three-time Pro Bowl quarterback will start his fifth NFL season with his fourth head coach, fourth go-round with an offensive coordinator and third offensive scheme. Gruden signed a 10-year contract. OC Greg Olson signed a four-year pact. They’ll be here a while, and Carr’s excited about that.

“It’s going to be really nice,” Carr said. “To know Jon signed on for a 10 years and (Olson) signed on for a long time shows me a couple of things. No. 1: that they believe in me. I don’t think Coach Gruden would’ve quit his day job, which I’m thankful he did. To get (Olson) out of a good spot in L.A (with the Rams), shows that they believe in me and that’s awesome. And, No. 2: I’m going to have two people I can talk to in a different language for years to come. We can grow within the relationship, and hopefully we’ll all ride off together. It’s set up that way right now, and we have a lot of work to do to reach that point.”