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Lincecum looks for more dominance vs. D'backs


Lincecum looks for more dominance vs. D'backs

May 10, 2011

ARIZONA (15-18) vs.
GIANTS (18-16)

Coverage begins at 6:30 P.M. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- The first six weeks of the season weren't easy for the San Francisco Giants, but the defending World Series champions are hoping they finally have some momentum after finishing off their first sweep.

Having Tim Lincecum on the mound for the opener of a home series with Arizona could be a great recipe for the start of another.

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Coming off perhaps his sharpest outing of the season, Lincecum faces the Diamondbacks on Tuesday night looking to give the Giants their 16th win in 20 meetings.

San Francisco (18-16) hasn't exactly come roaring out of the gate in defense of the franchise's first championship in 56 years, but it's above .500 despite outscoring only San Diego and Minnesota.

Pitching keyed the Giants' World Series run, and that's again been the team's strength this season. San Francisco starters posted a 1.86 ERA in a three-game weekend series against Colorado, capped by 6 1-3 innings of one-hit ball from Ryan Vogelsong in a 3-0, sweep-completing victory Sunday.

REWIND: Ross powers Giants to sweep of Rockies

San Francisco has won five of six despite totaling 21 runs.

"It's early but it's good to get a sweep," manager Bruce Bochy said. "There's so much baseball left. This is going to be a battle but we certainly helped our cause by coming in here and winning some games."

The Giants have certainly had the Diamondbacks' number in recent years, winning 13 of 18 in both 2009 and 2010. San Francisco took two of three at Chase Field from April 15-17 and has outscored Arizona 93-61 in going 15-4 in the last 19 matchups.

Lincecum (3-3, 2.47 ERA) will try to keep it going after an outstanding effort in New York on Wednesday. After a pair of so-so starts in losses to Atlanta and Washington, the two-time Cy Young Award winner bounced back against the Mets, holding them to five hits over seven innings and striking out 12 in a 2-0 win.

The right-hander surpassed Christy Mathewson for the most double-digit strikeout efforts in team history with 29 - three of which have come in his last six starts.

"Terrific job," Bochy said. "He's one of those special guys, when he's had to turn it up a notch he can do it."

Lincecum has typically turned it up against the Diamondbacks (15-18), though he was just 2-1 with a 4.13 ERA in five meetings last season. He has gone 4-1 with a 1.89 ERA in eight career starts versus Arizona at AT&T Park, with four double-digit strikeout games.

Justin Upton is 9 for 28 (.321) against Lincecum, but Stephen Drew (.200), Chris Young (.158) and Miguel Montero (.156) have had far less success.

With Lincecum on the hill, the Diamondbacks can't afford to fall behind early, something that's consistently plagued them. Arizona gave up four first-inning runs in a 4-3 loss to San Diego on Sunday and has allowed 30 runs in the opening inning this season.

Ian Kennedy (3-1, 3.80) has given up four runs in the first this season, but none of those have come in his last four outings. He's posted a 1.93 ERA during that stretch, and gave up two runs over six innings of a 3-2, 11-inning win over Colorado on Thursday.

Kennedy was 1-2 with a 2.67 ERA in five starts versus San Francisco last season. Catcher Buster Posey, in a 2-for-21 slump, is 5 for 11 against Kennedy. ... San Francisco has won 15 of its last 19 games against Arizona, including two of the three matchups between the clubs this season. ... The Diamondbacks have alternated wins and losses over their last six games (WLWLWL). Arizona is 1-6 in its last seven road contests. ... The Giants have won five of their last six games and will be looking to extend their current winning streak to four in a row. ... Ian Kennedy is 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA in his last four starts. Arizona has lost each of Kennedy's last four starts against San Francisco. ... Tim Lincecum has won each of his last two starts against the Diamondbacks and has seven wins in his career against them -- the second-most wins in his career against any opponent (8 vs. Colorado). ... Chris Young is tied with Lance Berkman for the most extra-base hits among NL players this season with 19. Young has failed to record a hit in each of his last three games, going 0-for-14 in those contests.

Despite another loss, young Kings taking baby steps towards goal

Despite another loss, young Kings taking baby steps towards goal

SACRAMENTO -- Going young. The Sacramento Kings put their core of 20-somethings to work Saturday night at Golden 1 Center. Five players with three years of experience or less played more than 25 minutes, with four of those players hitting the 30-minute mark.

This has been the plan since the start of the new year, but injuries have derailed coach Dave Joerger’s rotations. With seven healthy youngsters and a mystery man in Bruno Caboclo hiding on the end of the bench, it’s time to see what the Kings have.

“I want our team to go out and learn, I want our team to go out and play the right way and not just run up and down,” Dave Joerger said before the Kings faced off with the Los Angeles Lakers Saturday evening.

Wins are great, but learning experiences are just as valuable for the 2017-18 Kings. With the game in the balance in the fourth quarter against the Lakers, Joerger mostly went away from his veterans.

Bogdan Bogdanovic, De’Aaron Fox, Willie Cauley-Stein, Frank Mason and Skal Labissiere all played major minutes in fourth quarter as the Kings tried to pull out the win. They clawed to within one point with 12 seconds remaining and had the ball with an opportunity to tie moments later. These are the types of situations the Kings young players need to see and learn from.

“I think we’re improving a lot from early in the season,” Bogdanovic told NBC Sports California following the loss. “I can say, we don’t have those games where it’s 20-30 points and it’s already lost. I think we compete every single night.”

The Kings are taking baby steps. They took the Oklahoma City Thunder down to the wire on Thursday night, only to lose on a buzzer beater with one second on the clock. They stumbled in the final moments against the Lakers, but it wasn’t for a lack of effort.

“Sometimes it just comes with experience,” Fox said of the loss. “A lot of other teams, they’ve had the same core and they struggled early on, but with that experience, you get better. You start seeing what guys can do a few years into the league.”

Individually, the numbers are up for almost every one of the Kings’ young players since January 1st. The team is looking for signs of improvement and an outline of what the future may hold is taking form.

Fox and Bogdanovic are building chemistry as a starting backcourt. They combined to score 34 points, dish out 10 assists and grab seven rebounds against the Lakers on Saturday. It’s a one-game sample, but they compliment each other well as players.

Hield has become a valuable asset as a bench scorer and he’s starting to show he can do more than just shoot. After posting 19 points and nine rebounds against the Thunder on Thursday, he finished with 21 points and eight boards against the Lakers.

Cauley-Stein posted an 18-point, 15-rebounds double-double against LA. He is showing more consistency this season as a whole, but the Kings are still looking for nightly numbers they can start to pencil in for the 7-footer.

After a strong finish to the the 2016-17 season, Labissiere has struggled in Year Two, especially on the defensive end. He missed a few weeks of action due shoulder injury and he’s looked like a different player since returning action.

His offensive numbers might not jump off the page, but Labissiere put the clamps on Kyle Kuzma and his defense against Carmelo Anthony on Thursday was solid. If Labissiere can defend the perimeter against stretch fours, it changes his trajectory as a player.

Mason is on a minutes limit, but the team already knows that he brings a toughness to the court. Justin Jackson is still trying to find a niche, but he’s going to get an opportunity to start plenty of games as the season winds down.

This young group needs as much court time as possible, but that’s just the start. The coaching staff has worked to develop an offseason program for each of the group, they just need a fast forward button.

“This is an important summer for our young guys and probably a lot of them would like to start it right now,” Joerger said. “Because you’ve seen what you want to work on and you can’t really work on it while you’re competing for the next 24 games.”

“Some of them have got to work on the range of their shot, some of them need to work on consistency,” Joerger continued. “They’ve gotten a good bite of the apple, they’ve learned a lot and we’ve got to continue to go out there and teach and compete. I think that’s the way that you learn the best.”

The Kings are playing with effort and energy. They are competing. They are developing. Losing doesn’t feel good. But if losing now with young players means winning in a year or two when they mature, the Kings might be better for it.

Things could get bloody if Warriors, Thunder meet in playoffs

Things could get bloody if Warriors, Thunder meet in playoffs

OAKLAND -- The decline of the Lob City Clippers created a rivalry vacuum for the Warriors that the Oklahoma City Thunder seems determined to fill.

It’s an organic growth and not necessarily an extension of the since-thawed frost that existed between ex-OKC teammates Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

The signals of an altogether new and growing animosity were clearly visible Saturday at Oracle Arena.

They were on the court, where the teams split four technical fouls and two mini-beefs surfaced. They were in the locker rooms, where the Thunder made sharp accusations about dirty play as the Warriors defended a 112-80 rout of the team that took their lunches twice earlier this season.

“We just didn’t want to lose,” Durant said. “We know we can get beat by this team, obviously, if we don’t come and play with force. We did that on both ends of the court.”

There was, to be sure, a playoff-level atmosphere, with tensions and tempers running high. Carmelo Anthony and Durant confronted each other in the second quarter, and Draymond Green and Anthony got testy with each other in the third.

Asked what occurred with Green, Anthony took the neighborhood high ground: “Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.”

While Nick Young (16 points in 18 minutes) and Durant (28 in 32) were scorching the nets, bodies of both teams were thudding to the floor multiple times and big men JaVale McGee and Steven Adams were wrestling in the paint.

But if any single incident is at the heart of burgeoning conflict, it was that between Russell Westbrook and Pachulia late in the third quarter. Westbrook tumbled over Young, with Pachulia then tumbling onto Westbrook in the area of his knees.

Westbrook, who came up limping, took exception, as did his teammate, Paul George. Even Celtics star Kyrie Irving, via Instagram, expressed his disapproval of what he saw as an unforced fall with harmful intentions by Pachulia.

Here is Westbrook’s response when asked what happened: “Did you see it? What did it look like? What did it look like? Did anybody touch him? Yes or no? Obviously, it was intentional. So don’t ask me was it intentional. Nobody touched him and he fell over my leg, tried to hurt me.”

Westbrook believes that particularly incident will be reviewed by members of the NBA disciplinary crew.

“You know Zaza,” George said. “You know his history. And you know nobody pushed him. He aimed where he was going to fall. That’s Zaza making a Zaza play. He’s on the end of hurting a lot of guys.”

Pachulia-Westbrook has history, with the big man block-shoving Westbrook to the floor last season. Pachulia was assessed a Flagrant 1 for that transgression.

No foul was called this time, but this incident adds to the popular belief that Pachulia is a more a hatchet man than a basketball player.

Though Pachulia, for his part, denied any ill intent, this is certain to add fuel to the antipathy between the teams. The Warriors came into the game on alert, hoping to get a measure of revenge against the team that trounced them by 17 in Oklahoma City last November and by 17 in Oakland 18 days ago.

The Warriors were in control most of the night, going up five after a quarter and seven at the half. Then with afterburners kicking in, the Warriors outscored OKC 60-35 in the second half while holding the Thunder to 32.5-percent shooting.

The Warriors are now 1-2 this season against a team that plays defense at a level that makes it a legitimate threat in the postseason. Green was unwilling to deny the significance of this particular regular-season game, conceding that it had the feel of a postseason battle.

“It did and that was the way we approached it,” he said. “We approached it like we needed to win this game. We came out with a defensive mindset. Then we executed.”

Green picked up his 15th technical foul, leaving him one away from a one-game suspension. You may recall -- Green surely does - that he was suspended from Game 5 of the 2016 NBA Finals after an altercation with Cavaliers star LeBron James.

That suspension came as another incident involving Green was fresh in the minds of everyone in the league’s New York office.

An incident involving the Thunder, with Green’s foot making contact with Adams’ groin area during the Western Conference Finals that the Warriors won in seven games.

There is a reasonable chance the teams will meet again in the postseason. If they do, there could be blood on the floor, and maybe a few teeth.