Warriors

Rangers hit three HRs off Anderson, top A's 11-2

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Rangers hit three HRs off Anderson, top A's 11-2

April 30, 2011BOXSCORE A'SVIDEOMLBPAGE MLBSCOREBOARD
OAKLAND (AP) Michael Young rediscovered his power stroke and so did his teammates.Young hit his first home run of the season, Nelson Cruz and Mike Napoli followed with back-to-back shots in the fourth, and the Texas Rangers pounded out 14 hits while beating the Oakland Athletics 11-2 on Saturday."I think we wanted to come in and have a better approach team-wise and we were able to do that today," said Young, who had two hits to raise his average to .342. "Without getting into specifics, we wanted to break down our fundamentals, make sure we were attacking pitches in the zone, having a game plan when you go to the plate and staying with it."Texas did just that against Oakland starter Brett Anderson, who hadn't allowed a home run in eight consecutive straights going back to 2010.The Rangers took advantage of an uncharacteristically wild day by Anderson and hit three homers off the A's ace before chasing him out of the game after five innings.A day after getting 11 hits - all singles - Texas had five extra-base hits off five Oakland pitchers and finished with 14 hits overall, one shy of its season-high. Every starter except Mitch Moreland had at least one hit and seven players had at least one RBI."It was the type of day that we used to have," Rangers manager Ron Washington said.Young's homer was especially nice for the Rangers. His two-run shot in the third ended a power drought that extended back to last Sept. 25.Before muscling up against Anderson, Young had managed to drive in 17 runs without a home run - the third-most by a player in the bigs since 1946.That was enough to get Colby Lewis his first victory since April 2.Lewis (2-3) allowed six hits with a season-high six strikeouts over eight innings. It was Lewis' longest outing since a complete-game win over Houston last June 19."I felt more comfortable," Lewis said. "These guys went out there and scored a lot of runs for me and I was able to get ahead of guys and throw strikes. I felt like I commanded the fastball today and that was the key."Kurt Suzuki and Josh Willingham homered for Oakland, which failed in its attempt to get above .500 for only the second time this season."It was perfect storm of everything bad," said Anderson, whose four walks matched his season total. "My stuff was bad, command was bad, just a bad day. It was almost embarrassing or even comical how bad it was."Texas regained sole possession of first place in the AL West. The Rangers held it for a week until losing to the A's on Friday and dropping into a tie with Anaheim. The Angels lost to Tampa Bay earlier Saturday, however, allowing the Rangers to move back on top of the division alone.The Rangers tagged Anderson for an early run in the first, getting some help from Oakland's shaky defense which entered the day second in the majors in errors.Lewis, who appeared in 26 games for the A's in 2007, relaxed after being staked to an early lead and cruised to the win. He retired 15 of the final 18 batters he faced following Willingham's homer in the fourth and didn't walk anyone until the eighth.Brett Tomko pitched the ninth to complete the seven-hitter for Texas.Suzuki's homer on a 2-2 pitch from Lewis in the second tied the game. Suzuki's solo shot, only his second home run of the season, came two days after the birth of the Oakland catcher's first child.Texas then chased Anderson with two runs in the third and four in the fifth when Cruz and Napoli hit their back-to-back homers. It's the first time this season the Rangers hit consecutive home runs.The A's committed their AL-leading 25th error in the ninth, which led to three unearned runs.NOTES: Texas finished with 16 wins in April, tied for third-most in club history. ... CF Coco Crisp did some running but sat out a third straight game for Oakland with tightness in his left quadriceps. ... Two-time All-Star closer Andrew Bailey (forearm strain) is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Sunday and could face hitters as early as next week, according to A's manager Bob Geren. ... A crowd of 27,285 was on hand for Rickey Henderson Bobblehead Day. The Hall of Famer, who spent time with the A's as an instructor in spring training each of the past two years, also threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Several members of the Rangers requested the Henderson bobblehead dolls, too. ... Washington said he expects backup C Taylor Teagarden to play in one of the next two games. Teagarden has played in only one game since being recalled from the minors on April 20. ... Injured Texas closer Neftali Feliz, who is recovering from right shoulder inflammation, threw off the bullpen mound before the game.

Golden State, do we have a problem? Another loss to Rockets awakens Warriors

Golden State, do we have a problem? Another loss to Rockets awakens Warriors

In saying goodbye to their impressive road win streak and a chance to make franchise history, the Warriors also experienced an awakening that should linger somewhere in their minds for months to come.

The new and improved Houston Rockets are a serious threat to the defending champs having a parade in downtown Oakland for the second consecutive June.

That threat likely can’t be realized, however, unless the Warriors put the worst of themselves on full display, as they did Saturday night at Toyota Center in a 116-108 loss to the Rockets.

“In the first quarter, every time we made our push, we gave up easy baskets,” Draymond Green told reporters in Houston. “In the second quarter, we put them on the line the entire quarter, which slowed down our pace and let them control the tempo of the game. In the third quarter, we fought back to kind of get there but not get over the hump. And then we finally did, but we just didn’t have the right amount of focus it takes to win a game like that.”

Indeed, the Warriors were guilty of questionable shot selection at various points. They were largely allergic to rebounding, taking a 46-33 drubbing in that category. And far too often they were impatient and therefore utterly careless with their passing, resulting in 19 turnovers that led directly to 23 Houston points.

“It seemed like we kept making one silly play after another,” coach Steve Kerr said.

Sounds familiar, eh? The Warriors know their greatest weaknesses and hear about them ad nauseam from the coaching staff, yet still struggle to consistently address them.

Stephen Curry, who committed a team-worst six turnovers, lamented two possessions in particular. On one, he missed Kevin Durant “butt-naked at the top of the key,” and on another he had Durant open for a dunk but flipped it to Klay Thompson for a 3-pointer that missed.

“I made two of the worst plays of the season on those two possessions,” Curry conceded. “It’s kind of one of those nights when I personally didn’t have the right vision on the floor I’ve got to take responsibility for that.”

This is why the Warriors deserved to lose this game, which gave the Rockets a 2-1 victory in the season series and the homecourt tiebreaker should the two teams finish with identical records.

The Warriors took a 122-121 loss to Houston at Oracle Arena on opening night, then went to Houston on Jan. 4 and claimed a 124-114 victory.

This is enough to prove the Rockets are capable of beating the Warriors. We also note that in the other loss, Warriors’ turnovers gifted 21 points to Houston.

“We know the recipe against this team,” Curry said. “They’re going to shoot a lot of 3s. They’re going to make some tough shots. But if you turn the ball over and if you foul, which we did both in the first half, then that plays right into their hands. It’s just a lack of focus on the game plan.”

That lack of focus is something that has nagged the Warriors numerous times over the course of the season.

Here’s Houston’s problem: The postseason Warriors tend to be a bit sharper than the regular season Warriors.

And the Rockets, well, remain a postseason mystery. Chris Paul, who was so magnificent Saturday night, has an inglorious postseason history, complete with multiple collapses. MVP candidate James Harden also has dubious postseason resume, with epic pratfalls against the Warriors and the Spurs.

So the events of Saturday night, and the three games in the regular season, serve as reminders that if the Warriors play smart and tough and are fully engaged, they’re still the better team. Despite the chance to set a franchise record with a 15th consecutive road victory, the Warriors were less than fully engaged.

There’s a better than even chance of them being fully engaged in the postseason, should these teams meet again.

“We always talk about hitting singles,” Kerr said. “Well, we were trying to hit home runs all night, and you can’t do that against these guys.

“On the bright side, we know we can play a lot better. And we will.”

Daniel Cormier can finally feel like a champion again

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USATSI

Daniel Cormier can finally feel like a champion again

Daniel Cormier was awarded the UFC light heavyweight championship Saturday night at UFC 220 after his loss to Jon Jones was overturned when Jones failed a prefight drug test. Cormier said leading up to the fight that he didn’t feel like a champion. He probably feels like one now.

The San Jose-based 205-pounder defeated No. 2-ranked Volkan Oezdemir by secon-round TKO to retain the title.

“I felt as if I was fighting for a vacant title because (Jones) beat me last time,” Cormier (20-1) said in a postfight interview referring to his loss last July.

“I fought for a vacant title and I got the job done so I’m the UFC champion again.”

Cormier, who turns 40 in March, nearly won the fight a round earlier. In the final minute of the first frame, Cormier landed a right hand flush on the challenger’s face. After securing a takedown and taking Oezdemir’s back, Cormier locked in a rear naked choke but was forced to relinquish the hold when the bell rang.

Oezdemir, 28, was given a second chance, but he couldn’t capitalize. Cormier dominated the second round from the beginning. The AKA-product once again took down Oezdemir, transitioned to a crucifix, and landed a barrage of shots until the referee called the fight at the 2:00 mark.

“He was so game. I knew he was a dangerous guy. He hit hard,” Cormier said of Oezdemir (15-2). “But once I was able to get him to the ground, I knew it was my world.”

And for now, the rest of the light heavyweight division is just living in it.