Kings snap Hornets' streak with 102-96 win


Kings snap Hornets' streak with 102-96 win


SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) Consideringthat Sacramento has the second worst record in the Western Conference,it was hard to imagine the Kings sweeping the Los Angeles Lakers andstreaking New Orleans Hornets in consecutive nights.
REWIND: Shocker at Staples -- Kings upset Lakers, 100-95
Yet, led by brash rookie DeMarcus Cousins, the Kings managed to win both games in impressive fashion.Cousins followed up a huge effortagainst the Lakers on Friday with another big game, finishing with 25points, 12 rebounds and seven assists to help the Kings snap theHornets' winning streak at 10 games with a 102-96 victory Saturday.Sacramento (12-33) never trailed inwinning consecutive games for the second time all season. The last timethe Kings won back-to-back games was Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, the third andfourth games of the season."We've shown great strides in bothfocus and poise," Kings coach Paul Westphal said. "We had some hardknocks early in the season, helping us deal with the bumps in theroad."Cousins was again instrumental in abig win. He scored 27 points and had 10 rebounds in the 100-95 win overthe Lakers and played just as well in tormenting the Hornets inside andalso on the perimeter."(DeMarcus) is intelligent, helearns," Westphal said. "He's learning what works and what doesn't.He's changed some habits offensively."Cousins is playing confidently andalso isn't afraid to speak his mind. He had some harsh words for theHornets' Chris Paul after the All-Star guard committed a hard foul latein the game that sent Beno Udrih to the floor.Cousins quickly confronted Paul and told him to "clean it up.""I'm know I'm the rookie, but Ican't sit there and let him hurt my point guard," Cousins said. "It'snothing against Chris Paul, I was just having my teammate's back."Fouled-plagued Tyreke Evans had nineof his 18 points in the fourth quarter for the Kings, who have wonthree of four games. Samuel Dalembert had 16 points and Udrih added 14.David West scored 21 points for theHornets, who were looking to set a franchise record with 11 straightvictories. Paul had 19 points and seven assists, Marcus Thornton had 16points and Emeka Okafor 15."When you win this many games youhave a target on your back," Hornets coach Monty Williams said. "Wedidn't play their record. Young teams like that pick it up about now(this time of the season). We've just got to turn the page, but notwithout learning some of these lessons."A goaltending violation gaveThornton a basket and West followed with a medium-range jumper at the1:43 mark, pulling the Hornets to 96-94. The Kings responded once againwith Dalembert tipping in a missed shot and Udrih making two freethrows for a 100-94 lead with 31 seconds remaining."We've lost a lot of chippy gamesthis year," Cousins said. "This was another big win for us, anothermomentum boast. Hopefully we can keep it going."Trailing by nine to start thefourth, the Hornets cut it to 89-87 on Okafor's two free throws at the5:45 mark. But Evans scored off a drive and passed off to Omri Casspifor a layup, helping Sacramento build the lead to 94-87."We were supposed to handle thisteam," West said. "We just came out with the wrong attitude. Wecouldn't guard them and we didn't stop them enough. We didn't stop themnearly enough to win the game."The third quarter didn't start outwell for the Kings. Evans picked up two fouls in the first 3 minutesand walked dejectedly to the Sacramento bench with five fouls.Yet the Kings stayed in front 76-67heading into the fourth with some unlikely players leading the way.Dalembert had seven points and seldom-used Luther Head, subbing forEvans, scored five.The Kings went to Cousins early andthe rookie center delivered. He had 19 points, six rebounds and fiveassists in the first half when the Kings led 56-46. Sacramento led theentire first half and built a 17-point lead, but the Hornets closed thesecond quarter with a 9-2 run."I just thought Cousins had his way with us," Williams said. "We put up no resistance. The defense wasn't there tonight at all."NOTES: Cousins scored 10 points andEvans had nine in the opening quarter when the Kings led 24-22. ...Paul hasn't missed a game this season after playing in just 45 lastseason. ... Kings starting forward Jason Thompson left the game with asprained right ankle in the first quarter and didn't return... TheHornets had beaten the Kings by a combined seven points in two earliermeetings, including a 75-71 win in Sacramento.

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.