Reunited Kings head to face Oklahoma City


Reunited Kings head to face Oklahoma City

Feb. 15, 2011 KINGS (13-38) vs.
OKLAHOMA CITY (34-19)Coverage begins at 5 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet California (AP) -- Just as DeMarcus Cousins was becoming better known as one of the NBA's most talented rookies rather than a potential trouble-maker, the Sacramento Kings center became the center of controversy again after a weekend loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.A night later, his team proved it can get by without him.Cousins didn't travel with Sacramento for its latest road game after a postgame incident against the Thunder, but he'll be back on the court for Tuesday night's rematch in Oklahoma City as the Kings seek a fourth consecutive victory away from home.
RELATED: Kings fine Cousins, rejoins team in Okla. City
Sacramento (13-38) has the league's third-worst record, but it's discovering that it may have a building block in the middle for years to come in Cousins.
The fifth overall pick in the 2010 draft has averaged 19.6 points and 11.3 rebounds in his last seven games, a stretch that seemed to indicate Cousins had matured since a string of three earlier incidents that began in the preseason - including one with coach Paul Westphal.
RELATED: DeMarcus Cousins stats
He had 14 points and 12 boards in a 99-97 loss to the Thunder (34-19) on Saturday, but no one was talking about his play on the court afterward.Displeased that teammate Donte Greene passed the ball to Tyreke Evans rather than him in the waning seconds, Cousins reportedly took a swing at Greene in the locker room after the game. He was then left off the team plane to Phoenix.The Kings didn't let the situation affect them. Greene and Samuel Dalembert each had 12 points in the fourth quarter Sunday, helping Sacramento rally from a three-point deficit after 36 minutes for a 113-108 win.
REWIND: Kings get first win in Phoenix since 2005
"We missed Cuz tonight but we couldn't dwell on it," said Greene, who finished with 19 points. "We had to come out and still play well."Things happen. Everybody is not perfect. We try not to let things off the court distract us on the court. It is life. Everybody is not perfect and we've got to move on."
DAVE: Finding the silver lining in the Cousins-Greene-Evans fight
The Kings announced Monday that Cousins - who apologized for his actions - will be fined but will rejoin the team in Oklahoma City, where Sacramento will look for its first four-game road winning streak since Dec. 11, 2004-Jan. 4, 2005.That won't be easy to accomplish against the Thunder, who have won seven of eight against Sacramento and all four meetings in Oklahoma City.The Thunder, though, have sandwiched two losses around the win over the Kings, with turnovers proving costly in both defeats.Oklahoma City gave the ball away a season-high 23 times - Russell Westbrook had eight - in a 105-101 overtime loss to Memphis last Tuesday, then committed 20 turnovers in a 100-94 road loss to Golden State on Sunday.Westbrook, who had six of those, took responsibility for his team's sloppy play."I blame it on me," Westbrook said. "I've been not taking care of the ball and it's been rubbing off on my teammates. I have to figure out how to take care of the ball and make smart decisions for my teammates and not put them in bad situations."Aside from the turnovers, the Thunder need to do a better job on the boards. The Kings outrebounded them by 13 on Saturday and the Warriors held a 14-board edge Sunday.Oklahoma City is 22-6 when it outrebounds its opponent.Durant, who scored 35 at Sacramento on Saturday but missed two late free throws, has averaged 35.0 points in his last 11 home games. The Thunder are 7-0 when he reaches 35.

Raiders counting heavily on lightning rod CB against Patriots


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


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.