Kings

A's fall 4-1 to Angels, back-to-back HRs

477915.jpg

A's fall 4-1 to Angels, back-to-back HRs

May 25, 2011BOXSCORE A'SVIDEOMLB PAGE MLBSCOREBOARD

ANAHEIM (AP) The guy who sets off fireworks from Angel Stadium's fake rock pile after homers had a pretty boring job this season until Torii Hunter and Alberto Callaspo finally put him to work.Hunter and Callaspo hit back-to-back homers, Ervin Santana allowed one run in six solid innings, and the Los Angeles Angels beat the Oakland Athletics 4-1 on Wednesday night for their fourth win in six games.The Angels beat Oakland ace Trevor Cahill with an unlikely power burst in the fifth inning for a team with just seven homers in its previous 16 games."Cahill is one of the best pitchers in the American League right now, and for us to come in and drive the ball and hit holes is good," Hunter said. "He made some mistakes, and he doesn't make many. You have to show some power, because some pitchers can get comfortable if it always takes three or four hits to get a run."
GUTIERREZ: Image A's problem, not communication
Hunter might be regaining his power stroke after a weak start to the season in the cleanup spot vacated by injured Cuban slugger Kendry Morales, who's out for the season with a broken left ankle from early 2010. Hunter has two homers in his last four games after hitting just four in his first 47 outings, and he has eight RBIs - including three game-winners - in his last six games."I'm just trying to settle in and stay focused," Hunter said. "Just stay short, sweet, and try to hit the ball hard somewhere."Reggie Willits' first hit of the season was a run-scoring double for the Angels, and Peter Bourjos added an RBI single. Los Angeles has won two of three in the four-game series with its upstate AL West rivals.Santana (3-4) yielded six hits and two walks, outpitching Cahill in his second straight victory after winning just once in his first nine starts. Santana also improved to 13-3 with a 1.97 ERA in his career against Oakland, even if he needed 117 pitches to do it."I was usually behind in the count, and I worked real hard to get the win," Santana said. "It was a little difficult because I got in a lot of 3-2 counts - too many foul ball, foul ball, foul ball. ... You're talking about one of the best sinkerballers in the game (in Cahill). He didn't have his 'A' game, but it's very exciting to beat him in a game like tonight."Jordan Walden pitched the ninth for his 10th save in 13 chances.
RELATED: A's -- Angels stat pack
Coco Crisp had an RBI double in the fifth for the A's, who have lost seven of eight amid scattered locker-room dissatisfaction with manager Bob Geren.Cahill (6-2) couldn't join Boston's Jon Lester as the AL's only seven-game winners. He had won his past three starts against the Angels, but he's stumbling for the first time in an otherwise stellar season."I kind of felt out of whack the whole game," Cahill said. "I knew I was a little off, so I just went out there and kept throwing. I didn't throw my changeup as much because I didn't have a good one coming in."Cahill had given up just four homers all season before Hunter and Callaspo connected. Willits was 0 for 13 to start the season before his double later in the fifth scored Mark Trumbo.After five consecutive victories, the right-hander yielded 10 hits for the second time in three straight winless starts. Cahill walked five while struggling through six innings.Santana mostly avoided trouble, but got help from his defense at a key point.Crisp's double in the fifth inning drove home Andy LaRoche, but Alexi Amarista's relay throw allowed catcher Hank Conger to tag out Cliff Pennington at the plate, keeping the game tied at 1 before the Angels' three-run rally in the bottom half of the inning."I don't know if it's so much that we're pressing, because we haven't really hit the ball that great all year," Oakland's Ryan Sweeney said. "I think once everyone starts hitting, then we'll be able to take it to that next level. ... I don't know if it's frustrating, because it's not like it just started happening."In the eighth, Amarista made a nifty diving stop at second base of Sweeney's grounder, with his throw barely beating Sweeney to end the inning. Amarista had two hits, snapping an 0-for-17 skid.Geren called a 15-minute team meeting before the game, possibly to discuss communication issues in the wake of reliever Brian Fuentes' critical comments about Geren earlier in the series.Former Oakland closer Huston Street, now with Colorado, added to the drama by telling the San Francisco Chronicle that Geren was a poor communicator and his "least favorite person I have ever encountered in sports.""I don't think it's my place to comment on somebody on another team," Geren said of Street.NOTES: Los Angeles has beaten Oakland in 10 of their last 12 meetings at Angel Stadium. ... Angels C Hank Conger snapped an 0-for-14 skid with a second-inning single. ... Cahill allowed back-to-back homers for just the second time in his career.

Kings' second unit steals show from Fox-Ball, fuels victory over Lakers

Kings' second unit steals show from Fox-Ball, fuels victory over Lakers

SACRAMENTO -- The fans came to watch De’Aaron Fox and Lonzo Ball square off for the first times as professionals Wednesday night at Golden 1 Center. They ended up being treated to a breakout performance by Sacramento’s second team.

“It’s not all about Fox and Ball, it’s about Kings and Lakers,” Frank Mason said after another solid performance. “I’m just happy we got the win as a team.”

Coming into Wednesday night, the Sacramento Kings ranked first in the league in bench scoring at 48.1 points per game. The Los Angeles Lakers weren’t far behind, posting 40.6 a contest, good enough for fourth in the NBA.

Sacramento received solid contributions from almost every player that stepped on the floor, including 22 points, seven rebounds and seven assists from starter Zach Randolph. But the group that came off the bench put on a show, outscoring Los Angeles 67-38.

In his fourth game in a reserve role, Willie Cauley-Stein scored a game-high 26 points in 28 minutes, including 13 in the fourth quarter as the Kings pulled away. He drew a crowd around his locker during post game, but he was the direct beneficiary of some stellar play by others.

Mason and fellow rookie Bogdan Bogdanovic broke down the Lakers defense countless times and found Cauley-Stein for the poster dunk. According to the official scoresheet, nine of Cauley-Stein’s 10 made baskets were assisted, including five alley-oops from Bogdanovic.

“We talked about it yesterday when we were icing,” Cauley-Stein said of his Serbian guard. “We were both sitting in the cold tub and exactly what happened is what we were talking about.”

Cauley-Stein is gifted athletically and he’s extremely long. He was a star receiver in high school and he knows how to go up and get a ball.

“I think he realizes, (he’s) just got to get it up there and I’m going to go get it,” Cauley-Stein said of Bogdanovic.

Bogdanovic hit his first two 3-point attempts and it seemed to open the floor up for Sacramento. With defenders going over screens to defend the long ball, Bogdanovic used his dribble to get free.

When the Laker’s bigs stepped in to stop his dribble, Bogdanovic tossed the ball near the rim and Cauley-Stein finished with authority.

“It’s easy to play with Willie, because he can catch,” Bogdanovic said. “I didn’t pass perfectly those alley-oops, but he likes to be a little higher than usual.”

Both Bogdanovic and Mason set new career-highs in assists, finishing with seven dimes apiece off Dave Joerger’s bench. Bogdanovic dropped in 14 points and picked up two steals. Mason added 11 points and five rebounds.

The smallest player to step on the floor, Mason brings a physicality the Kings have lacked early in the season. Since earning rotational minutes four games ago, the 23-year-old is posting 9.8 points and 4.3 assists in 22 minutes a game.

“That’s who I am, that’s who I’ve always been,” Mason said when asked about his toughness. “I take a lot of pride in someone scoring on me and I play every possession like it’s game point.”

With the win, the Kings improved to 4-4 on their home floor and 5-13 overall this season. They’ll take Thanksgiving off, but return to practice Friday in preparation for the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday evening. They’ll need another big evening from the bench unit if they hope to build momentum going forward.

One thing is pretty clear about these Warriors after 2-2 road trip

One thing is pretty clear about these Warriors after 2-2 road trip

The Warriors are not ready to flip their seek-and-destroy switch. Not yet.

They’re closer to being ready than, say, their longtime rivals in Cleveland, but in going 2-2 on this four-game road trip the Warriors showed they are nowhere near full annihilation mode.

They went into Oklahoma City Wednesday night and, in gulping down a 108-91 loss on national TV, came away looking more vulnerable than they have in any game this season. The 17-point loss was their largest margin of defeat and this was awful close to being a wire-to-wire rout.

The Warriors defense, so splendid during the seven-game win streak they took out of town last week, was inconsistent throughout and downright atrocious by their standards as they concluded the trip.

Their offense, which had begun reducing the turnovers to acceptable levels, came apart like a pair of $3 sneakers.

Even their body language, aside from two well-deserved technical fouls, seemed to mostly vacillate between whispers and a whimpers.

“We didn’t have any focus or concentration,” coach Steve Kerr said. “The ‘millennials’ couldn’t lock in tonight. And their coach couldn’t do much either. Long night for us.”

These were not the Warriors who posted seven consecutive double-digit wins, and they’re certainly not the team that found its competitive blowtorches last April. They weren’t visible in this game, nor were they seen for most of this road trip.

This, ahem, regular-season road trip.

That’s the catch. Last April is when the playoffs got underway, and next April is when the 2018 playoffs begin. The time between now and then is for experimenting, fine-tuning and fighting through the monotonous joys of victory -- a factor on vivid display Wednesday night.

“We played with some decent energy,” Stephen Curry said. “We just didn’t play smart.”

“They completely outplayed us, outcoached us,” Kerr said. “It was just their night. It was absolutely their night. They brought the energy, they brought the juice, they brought the intelligence. And we didn’t bring any of that.”

The Warriors entered the game after studying video and stats that illustrated OKC’s ability to disrupt an offense. The Thunder leads the NBA in steals, deflections and -- this one punches the Warriors in the gut -- forcing turnovers.

The Warriors committed 22 giveaways, leading directly to 34 Thunder points.

“Thirty-four points off turnovers, you can’t win like that,” Draymond Green said.

“I’ve got to do a better job of getting them ready to play,” Kerr said. “We have a pretty loose, fun atmosphere around here. That’s great, but there are certain times where it’s like, ‘All right guys. Let’s throw it to our team. Let’s execute the play. Let’s remember the play.’ ”

Kevin Durant bemoaned the “silly turnovers” that were such a factor in the game, blaming it players rather than Kerr and his staff.

“For the most part he can’t control that type of stuff,” said Durant, whose four turnovers were second to Curry’s team-high six. “We’ve got to be better at keeping the ball in our hands, shooting more shots than our opponents and playing defense.”

Added Green: “We were pretty well-prepared. We just played bad.”

That happens to even the best of teams, a category in which the defending champions fit quite snugly. No team, not even the Chicago Bulls of the maniacally competitive Michael Jordan, is able to bring its best for 82 games a season.

The Warriors blew two 17-point leads, one in second quarter and another in the third, in losing at Boston.

They fell behind by 24 in the third quarter to the 76ers before coming back to win in Philadelphia before recovering the next night to submit their best performance of the trip in routing Brooklyn.

And in OKC, against a Thunder team that would seem to get their full attention, the Warriors were outhustled, outsmarted and played with considerably less fury.

“Right now, we’re just in a little bit of rut, where we’ve got to focus,” Kerr said. “And I know we will. We’ve done this many times in the past and bounced back. And we’ll bounce back. We need to lock in and tighten up everything.”

They will, eventually. It could happen next week, or next month, or after the calendar turns to 2018. They’ll turn it on and become the team of terror, punishing all before them. It might be April, though.

This road game indicated some truth, though, which is there will be games over the next four months in which they will lose the battle with themselves.