Warriors

Dalembert, Thornton lead Kings to rout of Wolves

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Dalembert, Thornton lead Kings to rout of Wolves

March 20, 2011BOXSCORE KINGS VIDEONBAPAGE NBASCOREBOARD
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) The Sacramento Kings were still smarting from a humbling beat down the previous game when they walked into Target Center to face the Timberwolves in a matchup of the two worst teams in the West.
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They responded with an emphatic performance, handing the Wolves a defeat that could linger in Minnesota for quite a while, too.Samuel Dalembert had 26 points and 17 rebounds, and Marcus Thornton added 23 points, nine assists and eight boards to lead the Kings to a 127-95 victory over the Timberwolves on Sunday.Rookie DeMarcus Cousins was ejected in the third quarter after shoving Martell Webster, but the Kings went on a 21-0 run without him. The Kings picked up their 17th win of the season, tying them with the Wolves for fewest in the West."We had our worst game of the year last game and our guys responded extremely well tonight," coach Paul Westphal said, referring to a 22-point loss at home to Philadelphia on Friday. "I was happy for the effort."There was no such effort from the Wolves in the second-biggest home loss in franchise history.Luke Ridnour scored 22 points for the Wolves, who played most of the game without All-Star Kevin Love. He left in the second quarter with an injured left groin and finished with three rebounds and no points in 14 minutes.Michael Beasley scored 13 points, but played just 14 minutes while still dealing with a sore left hip from a flagrant foul committed by the Lakers' Andrew Bynum on Friday.Listless throughout, the Wolves were outrebounded 47-27, turned the ball over 25 times and allowed the Kings to shoot 56 percent, one game after taking the Lakers to the wire in Los Angeles. RELATED: Lakers hold off Timberwolves, 106-98
"As part of being professionals, you have to learn how to play every game the same," Wolves forward Anthony Tolliver said. "Unfortunately we don't. A lot of guys on this team don't bring it every night. It's something that we all have to work on."The Kings were short-handed as well. They have played the last 17 games without point guard Tyreke Evans, who has been out with plantar fasciitis in his left foot. And Cousins, who was averaging 18.8 points and 11.8 rebounds in his previous nine games, was given an early exit after losing his cool yet again.Cousins got into a confrontation in the third quarter after getting tangled with Ridnour while setting a screen. Ridnour took exception and shoved Cousins, who pushed back.Minnesota's Nikola Pekovic stepped in and pushed Cousins out of the way. When Webster got near the area, Cousins shoved him as well, and referee Bob Delaney tossed Cousins from the game. He finished with three points and one rebound.Ridnour received a technical foul as well."I don't really understand what happened," Cousins said. "I got pushed and I pushed back. I shouldn't have reacted that way. ... I was just setting a screen. I don't know."It's the second time Cousins has been ejected in a rookie season that has seen several discipline issues. He was fined by the team and missed a game in February after fighting with a teammate and also has gotten into a few verbal altercations with coaches and teammates.The Kings didn't need him to snap a five-game road losing streak, thanks to 33 points scored off of turnovers and a 42-20 fourth quarter.After Beasley's free throw trimmed the deficit to 81-75 with 48 seconds to go in the third, the Kings made their move.Donte Greene scored seven points during the surge and the Wolves turned it over four times. Beno Udrih capped it with a jumper that gave them a 102-75 lead. Minnesota didn't get on the board in the fourth until just under seven minutes remained."It was kind of looked like it was going downhill when I got ejected," Cousins said. "It ended up they did a great job in the fourth quarter."Beasley appeared agitated and distracted from the outset. He thought he was fouled on a drive to the basket in the opening minutes but didn't get a call and proceeded to complain loudly to assistant coach J.B. Bickerstaff as he headed back down the court.Once there, Beasley was given a technical foul for griping to the officials. He picked up his second personal foul in short order and spent all but five minutes of the first half on the bench."Us as teammates, we have to keep each other accountable," Tolliver said, speaking in general and not specifically about Beasley. "It's everybody's fault because we allow it to happen."NOTES: Darko Milicic had 13 points and six rebounds for Minnesota. ... Kings backup PG Pooh Jeter scored 13 points and added six assists. ... Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor presented Love with a ball honoring his 53-game double-double streak in the first home game since it came to an end. It's the longest streak since 1973-74.

What's caused Warriors' slow start and why it should come as no surprise

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USATSI

What's caused Warriors' slow start and why it should come as no surprise

It’s much too early to get legitimately nervous, much less start tumbling into a panic.

The Warriors are going to be fine.

Eventually.

They most certainly are not yet what they will become in about two weeks, when they settle in for a four-game homestand that begins Nov. 6. That’s 10 games into the season, and it’s conceivable the Warriors might be 6-4.

After a 111-101 loss to the ever-tenacious Grizzlies on Saturday in Memphis, the Warriors are 1-2 and, by their lofty standard, looking about as lost as a stray cat in a hurricane.

“We’re obviously not ready. We knew that,” coach Steve Kerr said. “We’re not ready to put together a full effort. And I’m not doing a great job of putting together combinations, finding the right motivation to get guys going, to get some joy and laughter in here.

“It’s just one of those rough patches. And, hopefully, we can climb our way out of it. I’m sure we will. It may take some time.”

It will take some time, and of that there is plenty.

Do not blame this lull entirely on China, not when there is so much more. The Warriors are coming off their third consecutive prolonged season, this one followed by the training camp disruption caused by spending eight days in Oakland, eight days in China, followed by eight days in Oakland leading up to opening night.

It’s easy to see the timing is off on an offense that relies on precision. The spacing is off on an offense that requires room to operate. The energy is lacking on a defense that lapses into ordinary without its bedrock intensity. Both body and spirit appear less than peak.

“We’ve been playing hard,” Kevin Durant told reporters at FedEx Forum, “but I think we’ve got to take it up a level.

“We’ll be fine. It’s 79 more games left. I’m sure we’ll figure it out.”

Understand, a team that won an NBA-best 67 games last season and posted a league-record 16-1 postseason doesn’t lose it because opponents load up. When the Warriors are on their game, opponents don’t matter.

For now, though, there is an individual listlessness that results in collective slumber. Stephen Curry has gambled himself in foul trouble in both losses and was booted in Memphis. Andre Iguodala missed an entire game and Draymond Green missed the fourth quarter of the first loss, a game in which the Warriors gave up a 13-point lead over the final 12 minutes.

And Durant’s 4.6 blocks per game is impressive. It also happens to be offset by his 6.3 turnovers per game.

“That’s on me,” he said. “I’m turning the ball over at a high rate right now. I’m really pissed at myself about it. I’ve just got to hold on to the ball. Just make the correct pass. I think I’m just rushing. I just need to calm down, settle down, and that would ignite the whole team. But if I turn the ball over, that’s contagious.”

The Rockets turned 17 Warriors giveaways into 21 points. The Pelicans turned 14 into 20. The Grizzlies turned 17 into 24.

Asked what has to change, Klay Thompson went to exactly the right place, saying “probably our defensive intensity from the jump.”

That’s where it starts, at least on the court. Meanwhile, there is more video work, more group texts about details and the need for more time for their bodies and minds to become one.

“We’ll be better,” Durant said. “We’re still finding a groove with each other. We’re still getting back into shape as far as playing our game, the flow, just the reads off not calling plays. We’ve got to get used to that again.”

Thompson is, however, displaying a modicum of impatience.

“We’ll come out Monday and we’ll play a great game,” he said. “I guarantee it.”

He’s probably right. The Warriors will be playing at Dallas, against a Mavericks team that is built to be devoured by the powerful.

That might be a quick fix. But it won’t be the final fix. That is weeks away.

Astros win two straight vs Yankees, advance to take on Dodgers in World Series

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USATSI

Astros win two straight vs Yankees, advance to take on Dodgers in World Series

BOX SCORE

HOUSTON -- Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers combined on a three-hitter, Jose Altuve and Evan Gattis homered and the Houston Astros reached the World Series, blanking the New York Yankees 4-0 Saturday night in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series.

Just four years removed from their third straight 100-loss season in 2013, the Astros shut down the Yankees for two straight games after dropping three in a row in the Bronx.

Next up for the Astros: Game 1 of the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night. Los Angeles opened as a narrow favorite, but Houston aces Dallas Keuchel and ALCS MVP Justin Verlander will have plenty of rest before the matchup begins at Dodger Stadium.

Houston has never won even a single World Series game. The only previous time the Astros made it this far, they were a National League team when they were swept by the Chicago White Sox in 2005.

Now, manager A.J. Hinch's club has a chance to win that elusive first title, while trying to boost a region still recovering from Hurricane Harvey.

Houston improved to 6-0 at Minute Maid Park in these playoffs and became the fifth team in major league history to win a seven-game postseason series by winning all four of its home games.

Morton bounced back from a loss in Game 3 to allow two hits over five scoreless innings. Starter-turned-postseason reliever McCullers limited the Yankees to just one hit while fanning six over the next four.

Combined, they throttled the wild-card Yankees one last time in Houston. Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and their New York teammates totaled just three runs in the four road games.

CC Sabathia entered the game 10-0 with a 1.69 ERA in 13 starts this season after a Yankees loss. But he struggled with command and was gone with one out in the fourth inning.

Houston was up 2-0 in fifth when former Yankees star Brian McCann came through for the second straight game by hitting a two-run double after snapping an 0-for-20 skid with an ground-rule RBI double to give Houston its first run on Friday night.

The Yankees, trying to reach the World Series for the first time since 2009, lost an elimination game for the first time this season after winning their first four in these playoffs. New York struggled on the road this postseason, with this loss dropping the team to 1-6.

After going 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position through the first three innings, the Astros got on the board with no outs in the fourth with the 405-foot shot by Gattis off Sabathia which made it 1-0.

Altuve launched a ball off Tommy Kahnle into the seats in right field with one out in the fifth for his fifth homer this postseason. It took a while for him to see that it was going to get out, and held onto his bat until he was halfway to first base before flipping it and trotting around the bases as chants of "MVP" rained down on him.

Altuve finished 8 for 25 with two homers and four RBIs in the ALCS after hitting .533 with three homers and four RBIs in the ALDS against Boston.

Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel hit consecutive singles after that before Kahnle struck out Gattis. McCann's two-strike double, which rolled into the corner of right field, cleared the bases to push the lead to 4-0. Gurriel slid to avoid the tag and remained on his belly in a swimming pose at the plate for a few seconds after he was called safe.

It was just the second Game 7 in franchise history for the Astros, who dropped Game 7 to the Cardinals in the 2004 NLCS 13 years ago today.

Sabathia allowed five hits and one run while walking three in 3 1/3 innings. He wasn't nearly as sharp as he was in a Game 3 win and just 36 of the 65 pitches he threw were strikes.

Morton got into trouble in the fifth, and the Yankees had runners at the corners with one out. Bregman fielded a grounder hit by Todd Frazier and made a perfect throw home to allow McCann to tag Greg Bird and preserve Houston's lead. McCann held onto the ball despite Bird's cleat banging into his forearm. Chase Headley grounded out after that to end the inning.

A night after Springer kept Frazier from extra-bases with a leaping catch, Judge returned the favor on a ball hit by Yuli Gurriel. Judge sprinted, jumped and reached into the stands to grab his long fly ball before crashing into the wall and falling to the ground for the first out of the second inning.

Springer had another nifty catch in this one, jumping in front of Marwin Gonzalez at the wall in left-center to grab a ball hit by Bird for the first out of the seventh inning.