Howard, Magic seek revenge against Kings


Howard, Magic seek revenge against Kings

March 9, 2011

ORLANDO (40-24) vs.
KINGS (15-46)

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

SACRAMENTO (AP) -- Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard questioned his team after sloppy play contributed to an embarrassing home loss to the Sacramento Kings two weeks ago.

It appears that some of those questions remain unanswered.

Following a one-game suspension for picking up his NBA-leading 16th technical foul, Howard and the Magic begin a five-game trip Wednesday night looking to avenge their loss to the Kings.

With Howard on the sidelines, the Magic (40-24), who rank in the bottom third of the league with 14.6 turnovers per game, committed 19 versus Portland en route to an 89-85 defeat Monday.

"It's been an ongoing problem, we're one of the higher turnover teams in the league," coach Stan Van Gundy said. "We either (have to) take care of the ball better or we're gonna struggle."

The Magic's five-game winning streak against Sacramento (15-46) came to an end Feb. 23 as the Kings scored 26 points off 17 turnovers in a 111-105 victory, a result that led Howard to call out his teammates.

"We've been talking for a long time - all we seem to do is talk," Howard said after a 31-point, 17-rebound effort. "You guys know what the difference is. You watch the games. If guys don't want to play, they need to sit down. We can't just have guys or anybody out there not playing hard."

Orlando went on to win four straight after Howard's remarks but has now lost back-to-back games for the first time in over a month. Van Gundy is hoping to get a better effort on the trip.

"We just need to play well," he said. "I'm interested to see how well we play. It doesn't have anything to do with where we are or anything else. We just need to play well, we need to play well consistently."

Jameer Nelson, who committed five turnovers versus the Kings, also registered five against the Trail Blazers and Gilbert Arenas had six.

While the Magic have held teams to 93.5 points per game in winning three of four on the road, the Kings have surrendered 113.2 points on 50.2 percent shooting during a 2-8 stretch.

Despite a 20-point first-half performance from rookie DeMarcus Cousins on Monday night, Sacramento trailed by seven at halftime and fell 123-101 to Houston.

REWIND: Kings blown out at home by Rockets

"You've got to guard somebody. You can't give up 30-point quarters every quarter and expect to win," coach Paul Westphal said. "Our defense was not good enough really ever to give us a chance to hang around in the game."

Cousins, averaging 22.0 points and 13.3 rebounds in his last three games, was 0 of 5 from the floor and failed to score in the second half.

Guard Jermaine Taylor, who continues to see minutes in place of the injured Tyreke Evans, scored a career-high 21 last month against Orlando.

The Kings, who have dropped seven of eight at home, haven't swept the Magic since 2003-04.

"I'm sure that they remember that game and they'll come out with all guns a blazing," Westphal told the Kings' official website. "I see that Dwight Howard got suspended for a game and sat out but he'll be back in time for our game, don't worry."

Howard is averaging 27.0 points and 14.6 rebounds while shooting 70.8 percent in his last seven meetings with the Kings.

Orlando has won three of four in Sacramento after winning three times in its first 17 visits.

Report: Bradley accepts Chargers defensive coordinator job

Report: Bradley accepts Chargers defensive coordinator job

Former Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley reportedly agreed Friday night to become defensive coordinator of the Los Angeles Chargers.

The 49ers were reportedly in pursuit of Bradley to join the staff of presumptive coach Kyle Shanahan. Bradley spent four seasons as Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator prior to landing the Jacksonville job in 2013. The Jaguars were 14-48 during Bradley's tenure.

Bradley was also reportedly the top candidate for Washington’s defensive coordinator position.

Bradley agreed to join Anthony Lynn’s staff, ESPN reported. Bradley was selected for the Chargers position over defensive backs coach Ron Milus, according to the report.

Shanahan, the offensive coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons, confirmed this week he intends to take part in a second interview with the 49ers early next week after the NFC Championship game Sunday against the Green Bay Packers. He remains as the only candidate for the 49ers' opening, which became open when Chip Kelly was fired after the team's 2-14 season.

The 49ers are not allowed to officially hire Shanahan until the Falcons’ season is over. Shanahan is expected to be involved in the process to hire the 49ers’ general manager, who replaces fired Trent Baalke. Minnesota assistant general manager George Paton appears to be the front-runner. He is scheduled for a second interview, likely on Tuesday in Atlanta.

Arizona vice president of player personnel Terry McDonough is the only other individual the 49ers interviewed who remains “in play” for the GM job, according to sources.

Green: Wins over Cavs, OKC and Rockets 'our best week of the season'

Green: Wins over Cavs, OKC and Rockets 'our best week of the season'

It may have helped that they had been at home for roughly three weeks.

It surely was to their benefit that the NBA schedule provided three days without a game before they confronted perhaps one of the most rigorous weeks of the season.

The Warriors, however, still had to do the work. They still had to finish.

They still had to beat the team that had roughed them up 22 days earlier, and then squelch another squad coming into Oracle Arena on a wave of emotion and, finally, take to the road and get back at a team that handed them a loss in Oakland.

Done, done and done. And in such a fashion that forward Draymond Green referred to it as “our best week of the season.”

In putting away the Rockets 125-108 on Friday in Houston, the Warriors closed out the traditional worker’s week with a 3-0 record against three teams they could see in the postseason. They’d already routed the defending champion Cavaliers 126-91 on Monday and struck down the Thunder 121-101 on Wednesday.

“It’s three good teams in a row,” Kevin Durant told reporters in Houston. “We definitely wanted to come out and make a nice statement, and I think we did that.

“We always can get better. We can’t relax against Orlando, Miami and Charlotte, teams that can creep up on you and have been playing well lately.”

The Magic, Heat and Hornets -- all dreadful to mediocre -- are the kinds of teams that force the Warriors to compete. They don’t stir the senses like the Cavs or the Thunder or the Rockets, three teams with credentials that demand attention from a Warriors team that sometimes cruises against lesser competition.

So this week was not just about winning games. These weren’t just wins, they were emphatic statements, profound evidence that the team remodeled last summer around the addition of Durant is coming together in the heart of the season.

The defense was tight, with Cleveland shooting 35.2 percent, OKC 42.2 percent and Houston 20.0 percent from beyond the arc, which is the only place that matters for the Rockets.

The Warriors resorted to one of their signature turbocharged third quarters to separate from the Rockets. Shooting 61.9 percent and scoring 9 points off Houston turnovers, the Warriors outscored Houston 37-22 in the third, stretching a five-point halftime lead to 20 going into the fourth quarter.

The Warriors now have an NBA-best differential of plus-250 points in the third quarter this season.

“It’s just something that we put an emphasis on,” Green said. “Coming out and getting off to a good start in the second half. Not coming out flat and giving another team life or letting them go on a run and then trying to make it up. And once we go on our run, we can get rolling pretty well and make it tough on other teams.”

That was the case this week, as the Warriors topped 50 percent from the field in all three victories.

Durant scored 32 points against Houston and averaged 31 points over the last three games. Stephen Curry put in 24 points and averaged 22.7 for the week. Green, meanwhile, averaged 12.7 points, 10.7 rebounds, 7.7 assists and 3.7 blocks.

“It was our best week of the season because we’ve gotten better each time we’ve stepped on the floor this week,” Green said. “And that’s what’s most important. It’s not about blasting these three teams. It’s about getting better, and trying to reach our end goal. In order to do that, you have to get better each and every time you step on the floor.

“We did that these three games, so that’s the most important thing. That’s why it’s been a good week, not because of the margin of the wins that we had.”