Kings

San Jose's Velasquez doesn't last long

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San Jose's Velasquez doesn't last long

It was a little more than a decade ago that the UFC was a fledgling MMA promotion. The sport itself was widely considered an underground phenomenon that would never make it in mainstream America. Saturday nights UFC on FOX debut emphatically crushed any remaining notion of that.

The one-fight main card was worthy of introducing the UFC to mainstream audiences. Cain Velasquez, who fights out of AKA in San Jose, took on the Brazilian Junior dos Santos in a battle for Cains heavyweight title. Although that fight did not last as long as FOX officials had hoped, the night did not disappoint in excitement.

As we do with all live UFC events, lets take a look at our three honors of the night. Im sure you know who won Knockout of the Night.

Fight of the Night: Ben Henderson def. Clay Guida via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-27)

The co-main event, which was not seen on the FOX broadcast, had the hype of any main event fight. Two fighters with non-stop motors, who arent afraid to strike or take it to the ground, put on quite a show for fans in attendance and online. It was worthy of being on the main card as the fight went three full rounds with both fighters gaining and losing momentum. Bendo, Henderson, was able to gain the upper-hand in some form in each round. Guida had chances to throw in submissions, but Bendo continued to roll out and gain control. That led to his victory, which clinched a shot at the UFC lightweight title.
Knockout of the Night: Junior dos Santos def. Cain Velasquez via TKO (punches) Round 1, 1:04 (Heavyweight title fight)

Thirty minutes of on-air hype by FOX and a little over a minute of an actual bout. Not the outcome fans, UFC officials and FOX officials had hoped for. The minute that the fight lasted was an exciting minute. Both men started out striking and it was the striking of JDS that ended the bout and Cains reign as champion. A right hook to the back of Velasquezs left ear staggered the champ and dos Santos pounced. Several shots to Cain from dos Santos caused referee John McCarthy to end the bout after a little over a minute.

Submission of the Night: Ricard Lamas def. Cub Swanson via submission (arm-triangle choke) Round 2, 2:16

This featherweight bout was the tale of two different rounds. The first was dominated by Cub Swanson. He was able to do all that he wanted in dominating Lamas early, but the second round was vastly different. Swanson came out with a high kick in the second, but slipped and Lamas charged to make his move. The two exchanged strikes and Lamas looked to take Swansons back. After that didnt work, Lamas set in a side choke to trap Swanson who ended up tapping after an impressive exchange.

UFCs FOX debut might not have lasted as long as people had hoped, but the images it left with fans will keep them coming back for more. For the sport, and the promotion, Saturday night was a night that few will ever forget. Its importance and significance is not lost on people close to the sport and it is a moment that signified MMA as a sport that has finally arrived.

Nitesh Dutt is a production assistant with Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter at @NiteshDutt.

Gameday: Kings go for home-and-home sweep of Blazers sans sharpshooter

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AP

Gameday: Kings go for home-and-home sweep of Blazers sans sharpshooter

Rinse and repeat. After shocking the Portland Trail Blazers Friday evening at Golden 1 Center, the Sacramento Kings hopped on a plane where they’ll face the same team on the second night of a home-and-home back-to-back.

Dave Joerger shook up his lineup on Friday, installing De’Aaron Fox and Skal Labissiere for Bogdan Bogdanovic and Willie Cauley-Stein. The Kings responded with their best defensive effort of the season. Cauley-Stein went off for 22 points and 10 rebounds with the second unit and his defensive effort was next level.

The Blazers have become a two-man wrecking crew. Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum score the bulk of the team’s points on a nightly basis, but coach Terry Stotts is still searching someone who is ready to step up and help. Jusuf Nurkic is part of the puzzle, but the Blazers need more consistency from the other 12 players on the roster.

BETTING LINE:
Blazers by 12

MATCHUP TO WATCH:
De’Aaron Fox vs. Damian Lillard -- Fox put on a defensive show against Portland at Golden 1 Center. The rookie came into the league with high-end potential as a two-way player and he showed it against Lillard, holding the All-Star point guard to 29 points, but on 9-of-25 shooting. Lillard loves to hoist up shots. If Fox can't provide the same pressure, the Kings will struggle to keep up with the Blazers.

WHERE THEY STAND
Kings: 4-11, fifth place in Pacific

Trail Blazers: 8-7, third place in Northwest

INJURY REPORT:
Kings: SG Buddy Hield (sprained ankle) out, F Vince Carter (kidney stones) out, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out until January.

Trail Blazers: F Al Farouq Aminu (ankle) out, G C.J. Wilcox (knee) out, PG Wade Baldwin (thumb) out.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH:
CONSISTENCY -- You can’t show flashes of brilliance and then take a step back. The Kings defensive effort and overall intensity won the game on Friday night. It’s a place to build from.

FINDING A ROLE -- Joerger shook up everything when he turned to Fox and Labissiere. Offensively, both players struggled, as did Bogdanovic off the bench. This group of young players needs to find a role and figure out a way to help the team, even when the shots aren’t falling.

GET DEFENSIVE -- Portland didn’t know what hit them Friday evening, but they’ll have a few hours to make adjustments. Sacramento’s bigs showed on every high screen and roll. The guard and wing play was aggressive and spot on. The Kings are young and energetic. If they can focus that energy on the defensive end night in and night out, they might have a chance to build something.

SERIES HISTORY:
Sacramento leads the season series 1-0 after Friday night’s win. The Blazers lead the all-time series 129-78 and they own the Kings during the Sacramento-era 88-47.

QUOTE:
"Whether you think the sky is falling or not, we are 3-3 in our last 6 games." - Dave Joerger

Play of Jones, Khudobin this season proof of how fickle goaltending can be

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USATSI

Play of Jones, Khudobin this season proof of how fickle goaltending can be

Martin Jones was a Boston Bruin for less than a week.

The “Original Six” franchise acquired Jones from the Los Angeles Kings on June 26, 2015. Four days later, Jones was traded back into the Pacific Division, this time to Northern California.

The Sharks gave up a first round pick and prospect Sean Kuraly for Jones. It seemed like a fairly high price at the time, but it’s one San Jose was happy to pay: No goalie started more games than Jones over the last two seasons, and the team signed him to a five-year extension this summer.

The first Jones trade in 2015 set off a flood of goalie transactions, as five netminders were traded during Jones’ extremely brief Boston tenure. One of those was Anton Khudobin, who will start for the Bruins as Jones backs up Aaron Dell against  his “former team” on Saturday night.

Khudobin was traded from Carolina to Anaheim, where he started seven games before getting sent down to the AHL. He then signed with Boston in 2016, returning to his former club as the Bruins tried to fill the hole that trading Jones left behind entrenched starter Tuukka Rask.

Jones and Khudobin will have taken vastly different paths to their respective creases on Saturday night. The former enters the game as his club’s undisputed franchise goalie, and the latter the unheralded backup.

Naturally then, Khudobin’s been the better goaltender this season.

Among the 46 goalies that have played 200 five-on-five minutes this season, Khudobin’s .962 five-on-five save percentage was the best entering Saturday, according to Corsica.  So, too, is his .954 save percentage off of high-danger shots.

Jones, meanwhile, ranks 27th (.920) and 14th (.833) in those respective categories.

What does it all mean? For one, it’s early in the season, and the fact that Khudobin’s made seven fewer starts undoubtedly plays a role in his superior performance to Jones.

Mainly, it speaks to just how fickle goaltending can be.

The Bruins backup is arguably getting the nod Saturday night because of how bad the man ahead of him has been. Rask, once one of the league’s best goaltenders, has steadily declined over the last three years and reached a new low this season: This year, he’s 40th out of 46 qualifying goalies in five-on-five save percentage.

Jones has demonstrated this, too. He’s stopped a lower percentage of low-and-medium danger shots at even strength than the last two seasons, but has stopped a higher percentage of high-danger shots.

Plus, he’s played behind one of the league’s best penalty-killing teams after playing behind one of its worst last season, and has benefitted from a corresponding bump in his shorthanded save percentage.

So much of what a goalie does is out of their control. Yet who’s playing in front of them, what kind of shots they see, and how often they see those shots all can affect their performance.

Khudobin and Jones are living proof of that this season.