Grizzlies could clinch playoffs with win over Kings

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Grizzlies could clinch playoffs with win over Kings

April 8, 2011

KINGS (23-55) vs.
MEMPHIS (44-34)

Coverage begins at 5 P.M. on Comcast SportsNet California

MEMPHIS (AP) -- There's one playoff berth remaining in the NBA, and the Memphis Grizzlies have all but wrapped it up.

They only need to defeat the visiting Sacramento Kings on Friday night to make it official and end a four-year postseason drought.

The Grizzlies (44-34) have closed in on their first berth since 2005-06 by going 25-11 since Jan. 20, tied for the league's fourth-best record in that span.

"I'm very happy. Not satisfied, but it's a great feeling to be in the position we're in right now," said point guard Mike Conley, on the verge of making his first playoff appearance.

Memphis, eighth in the Western Conference, lost 82-81 to the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday in its only game this week but has been helped by back-to-back losses from ninth-place Houston. The Grizzlies are 3 12 games ahead of the Rockets, meaning the only way they won't make the playoffs is by losing each of their remaining four games while Houston wins its final three.

They have a chance to finish as high as sixth in the West, but must play better than they did Tuesday. Memphis blew a nine-point lead in the fourth quarter and was held to two over the final two minutes to the visiting Clippers.

The Grizzlies had a four-game winning streak snapped and also saw a season-high six-game run at home come to an end, losing in Memphis to a sub-.500 team for the first time since falling to New Jersey on Dec. 21.

"It was a tough game all around," forward Zach Randolph said. "I don't think we came out ready. (We) came out taking this team too lightly. Let them stick around in the game. And you see what happened."

Memphis doesn't want to do the same thing against the Kings (23-55), owners of the West's second-worst record.

They had won two straight and six of eight before facing conference-best San Antonio on Wednesday. Memphis led shortly after halftime but gave up 41 points in the third quarter en route to a 124-92 loss.

REWIND: Third quarter dooms Kings in blowout loss to Spurs

"We got beat by a great team, did some good things, learned from the bad things," coach Paul Westphal said. "We showed that we can defend. We got good shots, didn't always make them, but that's basketball. In the third quarter, the roof fell in, but that doesn't mean everything was bad."

Westphal's team also was outscored 33-17 in the third quarter during its previous trip to Memphis, a 120-92 loss Feb. 26. Sacramento, though, played that game without leading scorer Tyreke Evans, who appears fully recovered from plantar fasciitis.

Evans averaged 9.0 points in his first three games back but is averaging 19.3 in his last three. He's averaged 26.3 points in his last three games against the Grizzlies.

Randolph has helped Memphis win two of the teams' three meetings this season, averaging 26.0 points and 13.3 rebounds. Sacramento earned its lone win Dec. 29 at home when Evans made a half-court shot as time expired, spoiling Randolph's season-best, 35-point performance.

Memphis has won 10 of 13 at home against the Kings.

Seattle wins MLS Cup, beating Toronto on penalty kicks

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USATSI

Seattle wins MLS Cup, beating Toronto on penalty kicks

TORONTO -- Roman Torres scored in the sixth round of penalty kicks to give the Seattle Sounders their first MLS Cup title, 5-4 over Toronto FC after 120 scoreless minutes Saturday night.

It was the first MLS Cup final to fail to produce a goal in regulation, setting the stage for a dramatic tiebreaker.

While Toronto's Michael Bradley and Alvaro Fernandez for Seattle had both seen their shots saved, the game went to sudden-death spot kicks. Toronto's Justin Morrow could only clatter his shot off the crossbar, setting the stage for Torres to win it with a high shot down the middle of the goal.

Instant Replay: Second half surge by Jazz too much for Kings in Utah

Instant Replay: Second half surge by Jazz too much for Kings in Utah

BOX SCORE

A game of runs. The Sacramento Kings began the night with an 11-0 run, but that lead didn’t last long in Utah on Saturday evening. They did it again to start the third quarter, hitting the Jazz with a quick 10-0 burst to start the half, but again, Utah reeled them back in.

In the end, it was the home team that was able to pull away at the right moment as the Jazz thumped the Kings in the fourth quarter for a 104-84 victory at Vivint Smart Home Arena.

Rudy Gobert proved he is much more than just a defender. The 7-foot-1 Frenchman dropped in 17 points, 14 rebounds and six blocks while holding DeMarcus Cousins to just 7-for-22 shooting.

Gordon Hayward missed the Jazz’ last contest with a finger issue and he didn’t 100 percent against the Kings early on. But the veteran wing got it going when it mattered, scoring 26 points and grabbing seven rebounds in the win.

Trey Lyles added 14 off the bench.and Joe Ingles scored 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting.

Rudy Gay got off to a fast start against Hayward but couldn’t sustain the solid play throughout the game. Gay score 14 of his 20 points in the first half and he added five rebounds.

In a battle of the bigs, Cousins struggled early, and he struggled late against the defensive-minded  Gobert. Cousins finished the night off his season averages, but still managed to post 16 points, 10 rebounds and four assists.

Omri Casspi is becoming a fixture in Dave Joerger’s rotation. The veteran wing kept the Kings in the game in the second quarter as Utah made a big run. Casspi starter the second half for Kosta Koufos and managed to score 12 points on 5-for-9 shooting in 30 minutes.

The point guard tandem of Darren Collison and Ty Lawson took advantage of George Hill’s absence. Collison came out firing after halftime, posting 17 points on 7-of-14 shooting and Lawson chipped in five points and four assists in the loss.

STANDOUT PERFORMER -- Gobert posted solid numbers, but his effect on a game goes well beyond the stat book. The Kings looked timid in the paint all night long, fearing that the long-armed shot blocker

TURNING POINT -- Utah jumped all over the Kings to start the fourth quarter and Sacramento had very little left in the tank on the second night of a back-to-back. The Jazz outscored the Kings 26-8 in the final frame on their way to the 20 point victory.

INJURY UPDATE -- Sacramento continues to travel 12 healthy bodies with their three rookies in Reno with the Bighorns.

WHAT'S NEXT -- The Kings return to Golden 1 Center Monday night to face the Los Angeles Lakers before heading out for another three games on the road.