Kings

Gutierrez: A's Cahill taken to school by Yanks early

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Gutierrez: A's Cahill taken to school by Yanks early

May 30, 2011GUTIERREZ ARCHIVEA's PAGE A's VIDEOPaul Gutierrez
CSNCalifornia.com

OAKLAND -- He has a detached cool about him that belies the notion he ever gets rattled.A 23-year-old who warms up to the hypnotic strains of Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit?" Too cool for school.Looking over into the opposing dugout and seeing Jeter and A-Rod and Posada (no, he did not beg out of the lineup) and Teixeira and the iconic interlocking "NY" adorning their caps? School, rather, is in session.And A's ace Trevor Cahill was taken there Monday by those marauding New York Yankees. Early, and often, in New York's eventual 5-0 defeat of Oakland that snapped the A's season-high four-game winning streak.RECAP: Yankees get to Cahill early, Athletics lose 5-0

"They've got quite a few of the best hitters in the game," Cahill said, in what will surely be in the running for understatement of the year."It kind of happened quick. I can't really remember what happened. You walk a guy, give up a base hit, next thing you know, it's a 3-0 game."And with Bartolo Colon and his magic-healing fat stem cells acting as a fountain of youth for the 2005 American League Cy Young Award winner, that was essentially the ballgame.GUTIERREZ: A's Insider notes
A hard-hit single up the middle by Derek Jeter to lead off the game was followed by a Curtis Granderson fly out before Mark Teixeira took advantage of Cahill's anxiousness."He sure doesn't seem like it," A's manager Bob Geren said, when asked if Cahill was especially more amped up to face the Yankees. "On the outside."The way to tell, then, is by Cahill's pitch location. The less control he has, the more tightly-wound he is. And the higher his pitches sail.On a 1-and-2 count to Teixeira, Cahill tried to bury a curveball into the dirt. Instead, it hung. And Teixeira pounded the ball into the right-field stands for a two-run home run.Then Cahill walked Alex Rodriguez before Robinson Cano doubled into the right-center gap. Three-to-nothing, Yankees, and Cahill had yet to break a sweat."You just try to execute one pitch at a time," Cahill said.One batter at a time.Getting knocked around by the first five hitters he faced seemed to actually settle the youngster. Cahill allowed only one hit the rest of his afternoon, though he did walk four more batters, including two in the fateful seventh.Those figurative saucer-eyes that Cahill was sporting in the first inning? Long gone by the end of the sixth. He even appeared to twice buzz Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli with knockdown pitches under the chin after he stole second base in the second inning. But more impartial observers thought the balls just got away from Cahill, and that Cervelli is seen as a drama queen, of sorts, who hangs out over the plate and dives out of the way on anything close."Trevor is still very young and he continues to get better," Geren said.Except, Cahill has gotten progressively worse after starting out 6-0 with a 1.72 ERA in his first eight starts. Since then, he is 0-2 with a 3.51 ERA in four outings.His numbers against the Yankees in his career, though, are downright gruesome in going 0-3 with a 9.72 ERA in three starts against them.Weariness and related poor mechanics that resulted in a different arm slot did him in come the seventh."I paid for it," he said. "It's about getting comfortable and confident."Still think they're not in his head? At the risk of giving the Yankees and their bought-and-paid-for mystique too much credit, they most certainly should be.They have a 207-million payroll. Twenty-seven World Series championships. And, as one A's player told me he felt about the Yankees when he first came up to the bigs, "They're men."To his credit, Cahill settled down. But it was too late. Especially with the A's bats going back into hibernation.Now, if only the A's could inject some of Colon's fat stem cells into their bats.

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.