Warriors host struggling Magic after sub-par road trip


Warriors host struggling Magic after sub-par road trip

March 11, 2011

ORLANDO (41-24) vs.
WARRIORS (28-36)

Coverage begins at 7 P.M. on Comcast SportsNet Plus

OAKLAND (AP) -- After narrowly defeating one of the Western Conference's worst teams, the Orlando Magic are hoping for a much better effort against another one.

Seeking a season-best fourth consecutive road win, the struggling Magic will try for a sixth straight victory over the Golden State Warriors on Friday night.

Orlando (41-24) sits fourth in the East and is chasing Miami for the Southeast Division lead but has played poorly since beating the Heat last Thursday. The Magic followed that win by losing back-to-back home games for the first time since December, averaging 83.0 points and 17.5 turnovers against Chicago and Portland.

They were better offensively Wednesday night to open a five-game road trip, but they were outrebounded by 15 and trailed heading into the fourth quarter against a Sacramento team which entered with the West's second-worst record.

Jameer Nelson, though, scored 12 of his season high-tying 26 points over the final 12 minutes and led Orlando to a 106-102 win.

"We played poorly. We didn't put much into the game, got crushed on the glass. I'm not happy, but we got a win. We'll take it and move on," coach Stan Van Gundy said. "We've said (we'll change) a lot. We say a lot of things."

Dwight Howard returned from an automatic one-game suspension for picking up his 16th technical foul and recorded 16 points and 15 rebounds, extending his double-double streak to 22 games -- two shy of a career high.

Jason Richardson, who spent his first six seasons with the Warriors, has made 17 of 26 from 3-point range in the last four games while averaging 20.3 points. Richardson is averaging 22.8 points against his former team - his most versus any opponent.

While the Magic had a hard time overcoming the Kings, they've had little difficulty against Golden State, winning the last five meetings by an average of 19.6 points. Orlando won 110-90 on Jan. 3 in the lone meeting this season as Howard had 22 points and 17 rebounds, Richardson added 20 points and eight Magic players scored in double figures.

The Warriors (28-36), who are 12th in the West, return home following a 2-5 road trip which dropped them seven games back of Memphis for the eighth and final playoff spot.

They lost 94-90 at New Jersey on Wednesday as Monta Ellis was held to 16 points, nearly nine below his season average.

REWIND: Warriors end road trip with loss in New Jersey

"We're not happy at all. We won two games on (the trip). That's not enough to get us where we want to be," Ellis said. "We just have to move on from this one and grind the rest of the 19, 18 games we have left."

Golden State, loser of seven of nine overall, has been held to an average of 86.0 points on 38.2 percent shooting in its last two home contests.

The Warriors are 2-6 at home when scoring less than 100 points. The Magic, who have won their last four trips to Oakland, have limited teams to an average of 95.2 points during their last five road games.

David Lee, who missed the Jan. 3 meeting with a bruised back, has seven double-double in his last eight games.

Stephen Curry, scoring 17.9 points per game over his career, has averaged 12.3 on 37.8 percent shooting in three games against Orlando.

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.