Kings hope to stop the bleeding vs. Bucks


Kings hope to stop the bleeding vs. Bucks

March 23, 2011

KINGS (17-52) vs.

Coverage begins at 5 P.M. on Comcast SportsNet California

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- The Milwaukee Bucks are relying on a balanced attack as they look to make a surprising push for the playoffs.

The Bucks try to win their third in a row Wednesday night when they host a Sacramento Kings team coming off its most lopsided defeat in two years.

After averaging 76.7 points and 38.9 percent shooting during a three-game skid, Milwaukee (28-41) has totaled 210 points and shot 50.3 percent in timely back-to-back victories. The Bucks, tied with Charlotte for ninth place in the Eastern Conference - two games back of Indiana for the final playoff spot - have made a point of spreading the scoring around in the last two contests.

RELATED: NBA conference standings

Carlos Delfino led the way with 30 points in a 100-95 win over New York on Sunday, while John Salmons scored 22 and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute added 19. Brandon Jennings (14) and Andrew Bogut (13) also chipped in offensively as every Bucks starter scored in double figures for a second consecutive game.

Milwaukee is 5-1 this season when that happens.

"We are sharing the ball," said Delfino, who has totaled 56 points and shot 17 of 26 in his last two games after scoring 18 points on 7 of 23 from the floor in his previous three. "We move the ball and try to play together and when we do it, it's better for everyone."

Milwaukee has been dealing with a thin bench, but that issue might soon be resolved.

Guard Michael Redd plans to Friday in New York after missing the last 14 months following knee surgery, while the Bucks could also get back forwards Drew Gooden and Ersan Ilyasova this week. Those players could add much-needed depth to a bench that scored two points against the Knicks.

While Milwaukee seems to be coming around offensively despite ranking last in the league in points per game (91.5) and field-goal percentage (42.7), the club's biggest strength is still defense.

The Bucks are third in scoring defense at 92.6 points and have held eight of their last nine opponents to 95 or fewer. They had no trouble at the defensive end in Sacramento on Dec. 23, limiting the Kings to 36.5 percent shooting in an 84-79 victory.

Earl Boykins led all scorers with 19 points off the bench for Milwaukee, winner of four of five in this series.

Unlike the Bucks, defense has been a big problem lately for Sacramento, which lost 132-92 to Chicago on Monday.

The Kings (17-52), yielding a league-worst 110.3 points in 11 games this month, allowed the Bulls to shoot an opponent season-high 61.3 percent. It was Sacramento's worst defeat since losing 129-81 to Phoenix on Feb. 2, 2009.

REWIND: Kings can't hang with high-flying Bulls

Lack of defense wasn't the only culprit in the Kings' ninth loss in 11 games. The club turned the ball over 22 times, leading to 36 fast-break points for the Bulls.

Rookie DeMarcus Cousins had a game-high eight turnovers.

"We have to be stronger with the ball," said Kings point guard Beno Udrih, who had 13 points, five assists and three turnovers. "Pass it when you see the man open right away instead of holding it too long."

Amid the sloppy offensive performance, guard Marcus Thornton had another solid game, finishing with a team-high 25 points with only two giveaways. Acquired from New Orleans on Feb. 23, Thornton has averaged 22.6 points in his last 12 games.

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.