Raiders

Kings host OKC looking to avoid another home loss

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Kings host OKC looking to avoid another home loss

Feb. 12, 2011
OKLAHOMA CITY (33-18) vs.KINGS (12-37)
Coverage starts at 7 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet California

(AP) -- Despite the Oklahoma City Thunder losing at home to a team far below them in the standings, coach Scott Brooks was not unhappy with his club's most recent effort.He surely won't be nearly as understanding if they lose Saturday night.The Northwest Division-leading Thunder look to bounce back against the team with the fewest wins in the Western Conference as they try to beat the Sacramento Kings for the fourth straight time.Coming off victories at Phoenix and Utah, Oklahoma City (33-18) had its three-game winning streak snapped Tuesday, 105-101 in overtime to a Memphis team which stands ninth in the West. The Thunder committed a season-high 23 turnovers and lost for the first time in six overtime games this season."I'm not ashamed of our guys' effort. ... We just lost a tough game," Brooks said. "Sometimes you've just got to regroup and figure out ways you could have won the game, and we will and try to learn from it and get ready for the next game."Brooks will be much more disappointed if the Thunder don't win a fourth consecutive road game Saturday, considering they will be visiting Sacramento (12-37).The Kings have lost four straight - all at Arco Arena - and have the West's worst home record at 7-21.Sacramento blew a fourth-quarter lead for the 18th time this season in a 102-100 loss to Dallas on Wednesday. It was the third time the Kings have lost by five points or fewer on a six-game homestand that ends Saturday."Whatever problems we've had closing games, that was not evident tonight," coach Paul Westphal said. " ... We did everything that you need to do to win a game and came up short against a great team that did a little bit more to win the game. I'm very proud of these guys."Westphal couldn't have felt that way following the Kings' only meeting this season with the Thunder, a 102-87 road loss Dec. 17 when his team was outscored by 10 in the fourth quarter.The Kings, who visit Oklahoma City on Tuesday as part of a season-high, seven-game road trip, have lost six of seven overall in this series.League scoring leader Kevin Durant has averaged 32.0 points against them since the start of the 2008-09 season, his third-highest average versus any opponent in that span.Durant had 31 points and 10 rebounds Tuesday for his fifth consecutive double-double, while Russell Westbrook posted his third straight with 21 points and 11 assists but had a season-worst eight turnovers.Kings leading scorer Tyreke Evans was an assist shy of his second career triple-double Wednesday with 16 points and 10 rebounds.The second-year guard had a team-high 22 points in the Dec. 17 loss while Kings rookie center DeMarcus Cousins scored 19 with a career-best 16 boards. Cousins is averaging 20.5 points - 6.6 more than his season average - and 11.2 rebounds over the last six.

Raiders counting heavily on lightning rod CB against Patriots

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AP

Raiders counting heavily on lightning rod CB against Patriots

MEXICO CITY – The Raiders cornerback David Amerson didn’t practice all week, but ran just well enough to be considered “doubtful” for Sunday’s game against New England.

Translation: Outlook for Sunday is not good, but Jack Del Rio’s fingers remained crossed real, real tight. The Raiders hope there’s a way he can be active against Tom Brady’s buzz saw attack, because their cover men are beat up.

Amerson has missed two straight with a foot injury, and has dealt with injury all year. Gareon Conley’s season officially ended Monday, when he was placed on season-ending injured reserve. Antonio Hamilton and Demetrius McCray were already there.

Reggie McKenzie hasn’t reached out for reinforcements. That leaves TJ Carrie, Dexter McDonald and Sean Smith to play cornerback. Carrie’s been the rock, a sure tackler who hasn’t made spectacular plays but doesn’t give them up. McDonald has been forced into action, with holes let in his game.

Smith should be the No. 1 guy in this group, the steadying presence on the outside. That hasn’t been the case this year, where he lost a starting job in training camp and sub-package snaps during the season, only to have injuries to Conley and Amerson bring him in the fray.

He’s also been dealing with felony assault and battery charges in Los Angeles stemming from a July 4 incident in Pasadena.

Smith has been a lightning rod for fan criticism, a byproduct of his $9.5 million salary this year and explosive plays allowed early in the year.

If there’s an anvil weighing on his mind, teammates insist you’d never know.

“We’re human at the end of the day,” Amerson said. “You feel it, but you have to find a way to remain even keel and professional and do your job well.”

Smith will be counted on heavily Sunday against New England, especially if Amerson can’t play as expected. He has proven vulnerable to speed without help and proper disruption at the line of scrimmage, though that hasn’t been an issue lately because the Utah alum has recovered well after a rough start.

He got pulled after struggling against Vernon Davis in Washington. He didn’t play against the Chargers after giving up two huge plays to Baltimore the week before.

Amerson originally sprained his foot in Week 7 against Kansas City – he hasn’t played since – and Smith was called upon to respond. He wasn’t targeted in that game, and has been strong in coverage ever since.

Smith has allowed three catches for 12 yards in four targets over the last two games. The ninth-year veteran insists he wasn’t doing anything markedly different, and had zero interest in patting himself on the back for recent jobs well done.

“I’m not,” Smith said. “I’m out there doing my job, man, the best way I can.”

Smith says the off-field distractions during a roller-coaster season, one of his career’s most trying yet, haven’t impacted him much

“Nope. Not at all,” Smith said. “As long as I wake up a Raider, I’m all right. I’ll deal with whatever happens. I’ll always be there for my guys, and I’ll do whatever it takes to help our team win.”

Raiders defensive backs laud Smith’s locker room presence, saying he’s an excellent teammate. Cornerbacks in general must have a short memory when things go bad, to refocus and prevent that from happening again. Smith apparently has that in spades.

“I know how things go, especially when you have a target on your back,” Amerson said. “Sometimes you get hit with the perfect pass and you give up some plays. You can’t do anything about that but take advantage of the next opportunity. Sean’s a good player, and he definitely has that mindset.”

Smith will lend experience to this big game, something the Raiders need after suffering so many injuries.

"It sucks that so many of us have gone down,” Smith said. "You want to have all your guys out there, but that’s the NFL. Injuries happen. As long as everybody comes to work and acts like a pro, we’ll be all right. We all have a job to do. We all would like to start, but you have to be ready when your number’s called.”

Kevin Durant takes shot at Zaza Pachulia while center's kid play one-on-one

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USATSI

Kevin Durant takes shot at Zaza Pachulia while center's kid play one-on-one

Kevin Durant doesn't take it easy on anyone. Not even the children of teammate Zaza Pachulia.

After practice on Saturday in Philadelphia, Pachulia's two sons, Davit and Saba, were playing one-on-one at the facility the Warriors were using. Kevin Durant filmed one sequence and posted it to his Instagram Story.

One of Pachulia's sons grabbed the ball and drives around the other without dribbling. As he makes the shot, Durant offers his commentary and took a shot at the Warriors starting center.

"That's a travel. Such a travel. Same thing your pops do," Durant said, taking a shot at Pachulia.

Durant also had another message for Pachulia written on the video.

"Yo, @zazapachulia at some you have to teach the boys how to play off the bounce," Durant wrote.