Warriors

Spartans fall 58-54 to Utah State in WAC semis

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Spartans fall 58-54 to Utah State in WAC semis

March 11, 2011BOXSCORE NCAASCOREBOARDSAN JOSE STATE PAGE
LAS VEGAS (AP) Tai Wesley had 14 points and 12 rebounds, Brockeith Pane added 16 points and No. 23 Utah State held off San Jose State 58-54 Friday night to reach the Western Athletic Conference tournament championship game.Utah State (29-3) came into the WAC tournament looking for a second title in three years and to boost its NCAA tournament credentials. A fifth trip to the WAC title game in six years certainly helps, but the Aggies want to leave no doubt by beating the New Mexico State-Boise State winner on Saturday to earn the conference's automatic bid.Eighth-seeded San Jose State (17-15) gave Utah State everything it could handle in the semifinals despite playing for the third straight day, just missing the lead in the closing seconds when Adrian Oliver's 30-footer rimmed out.Oliver finished with 16 points and Keith Shamburger added 11 for San Jose State.Utah State won its fourth straight regular-season WAC title handily, going 15-1 to finish five games ahead of second-place Boise State.The Aggies set a school record for regular-season victories by winning 26 of their final 27 games and were ranked the final seven weeks of the regular season for their longest streak in 40 years.The standard-setting season gave Utah State a double bye into the semifinals, while San Jose State had to go through two grueling games to get there.The eighth-seeded Spartans made a surprising run into their first WAC semis, beating higher seeds Hawaii and Idaho behind the strong guard play of Oliver, Shamburger and Justin Graham.San Jose State's road figured to get much harder against Utah State, a team led by six seniors and Wesley, the WAC player of the year.The Aggies swept the two games during the regular season: by seven in Logan behind Pane's stat-sheet-filling game, and again by 19 on the road when reserve guard Brian Green scored a career-high 25 points.In the third matchup, Utah State had hoped San Jose State would have tired legs after playing the previous two days, and coach Stew Morrill freely rotated players in, using nine in the first half.The Spartans didn't seem to mind.With Oliver and Shamburger again leading the way - they had 28 points each against Idaho - San Jose State kept it tight in the first half, trailing by just four after holding the Aggies to 12-of-31 shooting from the field.Utah State tried to pull away early in the second half, building a 44-34 lead, but the Spartans weren't ready to cash in their season just yet.San Jose State, after shooting poorly to open the half, started dropping a few here and there while continuing to play tight defense, pulling to 50-49 with just over 8 minutes left.The Spartans continued to hang around, getting within two on Oliver's hard drive with 51 seconds left.Oliver got San Jose's final chance after Wesley missed a free throw at the other end, holding his dribble until the closing seconds, then launching a long 3-point attempt from straightaway. It just missed, Wesley snared the rebound and made two foul shots this time, sealing the harder-than-expected win.

Gameday: Curry out for payback against Conley, new-look Grizzlies

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Gameday: Curry out for payback against Conley, new-look Grizzlies

When the Warriors set foot in FedEx Forum on Saturday, they’ll find a very different atmosphere as well as a barely recognizable team of Memphis Grizzlies.

The Grindhouse is not the same. Zach Randolph and Vince Carter have left the building. So, too, has the “Grindfather” himself, Tony Allen.

So in their only trip to Memphis this season, the Warriors will focus mostly on point guard Mike Conley and center Marc Gasol, the remaining core members of the team that reached the playoffs in each of the last seven seasons.

The Warriors (1-1) will be playing for the second night in a row, while the Grizzlies (1-0) have not played since their season opener Wednesday. Tipoff is scheduled for 5:05 p.m.

BETTING LINE:
Warriors by 8.5

MATCHUP TO WATCH:
Stephen Curry vs. Mike Conley: Curry has a long memory, and he will remember not only that the Warriors last season lost twice to the Grizzlies but also that Conley’s 27 points and clutch play offset Curry’s 40 points and led Memphis to an overtime win in Oakland. It won’t matter to Curry that the Warriors posted double-digit wins over the Grizzlies in the last two meetings last season. He may want to take over.

INJURY LIST:
Warriors: F Omri Casspi (L ankle sprain) is listed as questionable.

Grizzlies: F JaMychal Green (L ankle sprain), G Ben McLemore (R foot surgery) and G/F Wayne Selden Jr. (R quad injury) are listed as out.

RECENT SERIES HISTORY:
The Warriors have won five of the last seven in Memphis and 10 of the last 13 meetings overall.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH:
BREEZE OR WHEEZE: Coach Steve Kerr has expressed some concern about the team’s conditioning level. On the second night of their first back-to-back set -- with the Warriors arriving at the hotel at 2:30 a.m. -- it could provide a glimpse of their progress. Kerr said he would consider resting one or two players. Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala, both coming off injuries, would seem logical candidates.

GEORGIA VS. SPAIN: The Republic of Georgia’s Zaza Pachulia and Spain’s Marc Gasol know each other well, having spent years battling internationally and in the NBA. There will be no surprises, but Pachulia will have to avoid foul trouble to remain a part of his team’s defensive rotation against one of the league’s best big men.

HOT KLAY: Klay Thompson is off to a torrid start, shooting 11-of-18 from beyond the arc through the first two games. And now he won’t have to worry about Allen, who relished in opportunities to defend the Warriors All-Star. Memphis replaced Allen with Andrew Harrison, who is not in the Grindfather’s class as a defender.

Gameday: Big underdogs, Kings face Nuggets looking for second straight win

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Gameday: Big underdogs, Kings face Nuggets looking for second straight win

With a win over the Dallas Mavericks on Friday night, the Sacramento Kings are feeling good heading into their first back-to-back on Saturday. They’ll face a Denver Nuggets team that lost their season opener to the Utah Jazz and is looking for their first victory of the season.

The combination of George Hill and De’Aaron Fox at the point guard position was too much for Dallas to handle on Friday. Hill poured in 21 points, including two huge shots down the stretch and Fox came away with his first 10-assist game of his career.

Denver added veteran Paul Millsap in the offseason to match with rising star Nikola Jokic. Jokic struggled in the opener, but still managed to post seven points, eight assists and 12 rebounds. The Kings will have their hands full trying to slow the 7-footer.  

OPENING LINE:
Nuggets by 11

MATCHUP TO WATCH:
Willie Cauley-Stein vs. Nikola Jokic -- Cauley-Stein has posted back-to-back double-doubles to start the season and comes in averaging 15.5 points, 10.5 rebound and two blocks in 29 minutes per game. Jokic is one of the more versatile bigs in the game. He picks and chooses his spots to score, but his passing ability makes him a dangerous player.

WHERE THEY STAND:
Kings: 1-1

Nuggets: 0-1

INJURY REPORT:
Kings: SG Bogdan Bogdanovic (right ankle sprain) out, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out

Nuggets: No injuries to report

SERIES HISTORY:
These two teams split the season series last year and hold an identical 86-86 record against each other all-time. The Kings lead the Nuggets 65-63 during the Sacramento-era.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH:
MORE TIME FOR FOX - The Kings speedy young guard is showing that he’s ready to carry more of the load. In his first game, he posted 14 points and five assists. In Game Two, he set up his teammates for a team-high 10 assists while adding nine points and six rebounds. He’s averaged 25 minutes a game in the first two, but his play is already commanding more.

GIVING BUDDY SOME LOVE - Lost in the shuffle of the team’s first win was an nice all-around performance from Buddy Hield. The second-year guard was one of eight Kings to grab five rebounds or more against the Mavs, but Hield’s late board in traffic was probably the play of the night. If he can post more 13 point, six rebound, three assist games early in the season, he’ll find himself on the court more often than not.

MORE FROM SKAL NEEDED - Skal Labissiere has all the potential in the world, but he’s off to a quiet start through two contests. He needs to be more aggressive calling for the ball and continue to hit the glass hard. He’s averaging 10 points and 7.5 rebounds in 23 minutes per game, but one of those came with Zach Randolph on the shelf. He’ll need to earn minutes like everyone else on this team.

QUOTE:
“My coach has that much confidence in me, a 19-year-old kid to stay on the floor in crunch time, and when he has that confidence in me, my confidence goes up that much more.” -De’Aaron Fox on coach Dave Joerger sticking with him down the stretch in the Kings’ first win.