A's Get All Bases Covered

A's Get All Bases Covered

Jan. 15, 2010A'S PAGE

TheRaiders dominated the local news cycle again Friday with, um, zeronews whatsoever.Then,late in the day, along came the other professional sports franchise withOakland in its name. And the A's came with real news. Prettybig news, actually. In trading a Quadruple-A outfielder (Aaron Cunningham) andanother outfielder who just didn't seem to fit (Scott Hairston) to the Padresfor Kevin Kouzmanoff, the A's finally landed a solid young third baseman to carrythe position a few years into their seemingly bright future.As Inoted in a blog last week, the A's have been talking to San Diego aboutKouzmanoff for quite some time. That those talks have finally shaken fruit fromthe tree is the biggest win of the offseason for Oakland GM Billy Beane.And giventhat Beane has been dealing with an extremely sick son for the better part oftwo weeks, credit likely should go to his assistant GM, David Forst. Togetherthey filled their team's most glaring need and turned a so-so winter intosomething much closer to good.

There wassimply no way the A's were going to count on Eric Chavez. That would be insanegiven his health history. And they weren't thrilled with the notion of Jake Foxat third on a regular basis, so they went out and got what they needed whilegiving up very little of consequence.Why wouldthe Padres make such a seemingly lopsided deal? Pretty simple. Kouzmanoff, a28-year-old with decent pop (18 homers, 88 RBIs last year) and a solid glove atthe hot corner, is eligible for arbitration, and the San Diego is in noposition to add to its payroll. Hairstonis arb-eligible, too, but he's not going to get anything close to the kind ofraise for which Kouzmanoff is in line. But wait,you might say. Aren't the A's supposed to be cheap, too?Not ascheap as the Padres need to be right now. Messy divorce down there, you know.Must be a SoCal thing; the Dodgers are wearing it, too.Besides,Beane and Forst always had some money set aside for this rainy day, thanks inpart of the shell game that resulted in getting CoCo Crisp, Jack Cust andJustin Duchscherer for about 10 million this year.So wheredoes Fox play? He'll probably play all over. Maybe he ends up holding downfirst base; nothing is going to be handed to Daric Barton as this point, and ifthe A's can prevent super-prospect Chris Carter's arb clock from starting for awhile, they most certainly will.Does itreally matter where Fox plays, though? This deal was about the A's getting allof their bases covered, and third base was the only one still bare.Interesting,too, that the A's would manage to wrangle the spotlight from the Raiders.Oakland's two teams -- the Warriors can't fully claim the Biggidy-O until it'sstitched on their jerseys -- are the only two teams in pro sports that have anexecutive as the face of the franchise.As AlDavis is the Raiders, Billy Beane is theA's.But justas there's a huge difference between no news being news and news being made,there's a huge difference in the levels of respect each man has with his team'sfan base. One manis behind the times, and the other always seems one step ahead.

Without Green, Iguodala, fourth quarter turns into disaster for Warriors vs Rockets

Without Green, Iguodala, fourth quarter turns into disaster for Warriors vs Rockets

OAKLAND -- The defending champion Warriors started cracking in the hours before tipoff Tuesday night and broke apart when they usually come together.

The fourth quarter was a disaster area and it cost the Warriors, as the Houston Rockets wiped out a 13-point deficit and tagged them with a 122-121 loss before a stunned sellout crowd at Oracle Arena.

So ends, as it should, the spurious notion of a rubber-stamp championship for the Warriors. A strain here and a tweak there and they found themselves on the painful end of the score.

The Warriors learned prior to the game that forward Andre Iguodala, their valuable Sixth Man, would be out nursing a strained back. They were hit with another injury, this one to Draymond Green, who was highly effective, late in the third quarter.

“He was our best player tonight,” coach Steve Kerr said. “He was the guy who was bringing the energy and the life.”

Green’s numbers -- 9 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists -- barely hint at his value in this game. Green and Iguodala are the primary defensive communicators, and Green held it down fairly well -- until he, too, was gone.

“Our communication wasn’t very good and we didn’t stick to the game plan; we gave them too many wide-open threes,” said Klay Thompson, who scored 11 first-quarter points but only 5 over the final three.

“We did a good job in the half-court of keeping them in front,” said Kevin Durant, who also scolded himself for committing eight turnovers. “But in transition we got cross-matched so many times and we just didn’t communicate well enough.”

Games aren’t always lost in the fourth, despite the frequent narrative, but this one most assuredly was. With Green in the locker room accompanied by ice, the Warriors were outscored 34-20 in the fourth quarter.

After shooting 45.8 percent through three quarters, the Rockets took it to 56 percent in the fourth, closing the game on a 13-5 run over the final 4:01.

The Warriors don’t yet know when Green and Iguodala will return, whether it’s as soon as Friday at New Orleans or a matter of weeks. Until they do, Kerr will have to resort to patching things together.

Problem is, aside from the scoring of Nick Young (23 points on 8-of-9 shooting, including 6-of-7 from deep) and Jordan Bell (8 points on 4-of-5 shooting in 12 minutes), the bench did not distinguish itself.

That was particularly true on defense, which happen to be where Iguodala and Green make their greatest impact. The reserves accounted for 13 of the 25 fouls called on the Warriors.

“We’ve got to be better,” Durant said. “We’ve got to be better, and we’re looking forward to practice Wednesday.”

D'Antoni claps back at Draymond, Warriors after Rockets' 122-121 win

D'Antoni claps back at Draymond, Warriors after Rockets' 122-121 win

Draymond Green usually gets the last word.

Not this time.

"Somebody said we don't take it seriously on defense. Well obviously they don't take it seriously either," Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni said after the Rockets knocked off the Warriors 122-121 on Tuesday night., according to Santa Rosa Press Democrat's Phil Barber.

The jab stems from Green's comments after practice on Monday.

"You should believe that. I'm turning over a new leaf. Number 1 -- they want it to be a shootout, which is fine. But we're gonna play some defense. We score pretty well, but we're a damn good defensive team, too. So we're gonna play some defense.

"I don't know how serious they take defense with that comment, but I know they added some good defensive players," Green told reporters Monday.

Green won't get his next shot at D'Antoni and the Rockets until January 4 in Houston.