Kings are princes no more

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Kings are princes no more

Programming Note:Comcast SportsNet California will be re-airing the Kings' historic win in Chicago. Don't miss the encore presentation at 4pm on Dec. 26.
Because they're the Kings, and because the Kings are typically regarded as princes (at best) when it comes to Bay Area sports, Monday night didn't quite get the play it deserved -- regionally or nationally.Fortunately, history has way of eventually giving such happenings their due. So come, say, 2024, you'll likely stumble upon some sort of "NBA Classics" channel that's among your 14,347 cable offerings and get a detailed breakdown of Sacramento's mind-blowing 35-point comeback against the Chicago Bulls.First of all, it's important to note that the Kings were down 35 in the second half. Not that bouncing back from 35 down in the second quarter is anything at which to scoff, but what the Kings did is far more impressive than what the comeback-record-holding Utah Jazz did in 1996.The Jazz trailed the Nuggets by 36 in the second quarter and won by four. The Kings trailed the Bulls by 35 with 8:50 left in the third quarter, and they were still down by 33 a couple of minutes later before storming to a four-point win of their own.In short, the Jazz had more than a half -- 27 minutes or so -- to come back from 35. The Kings had about a quarter and a half to come back from 33. Advantage, Kings.How'd they do it? Not even head coach Paul Westphal is sure."I'm not even sure I believe it," he said, "but it sure was fun."That might be understating things. It was beyond fun. It was borderline comical. Once the comeback started, it was like watching the Road Runner tooling Wile E. Coyote. One side did everything right, the other did everything wrong.And the Bulls are no joke. They're a better team than their 10-16 record suggests, at least talent-wise. They've got Joakim Noah, who is a lot better in the NBA than most people expected. Luol Deng is one of the rare former Duke players who's turned into something special as a pro, mostly because he didn't stay at Duke long enough for Coach K to systematically castrate his game. Derrick Rose is a flat stud, and Kings fans are well aware that John Salmons can play a little bit. The Kings, though, have Tyreke Evans, the hands-down pick for Rookie of the Year at this point. Evans outscored the Bulls 9-3 to finish the game, enhancing his steadily growing legend.But Evans was merely the closer on this night, and as is often the case in baseball, the setup man was the real hero who deserved the save. On Monday night, the Kings' setup man was Ime Udoka, who scored 15 of Sacramento's first 22 points of the fourth quarter.Ime Udoka? For real?Yes. Ime Udoka. An undrafted small forward out of Portland State who has played in the Developmental League, in Europe and for the Nigerian National Team, he's averaged 5.9 points per game over parts of six NBA seasons.Think that story might get some play in 2024? Congrats, Kings. Princes no more. When it comes to compelling NBA action, you have the NorCal crown.

NBA Gameday: Warriors must summon intensity for early start vs Magic

NBA Gameday: Warriors must summon intensity for early start vs Magic

Having destroyed three highly regarded opponents in their toughest week of the season, the Warriors on Sunday face an altogether different kind of challenge.

This time, it’s simply waking up.

The Warriors will pursue their seventh consecutive win, facing the Orlando Magic at Amway Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 9 a.m Pacific., the earliest game of the season for the Warriors.

The last time the Warriors (37-6) played such an early game in the Eastern Time Zone was March 26, 1995, also in Orlando.

The Magic (18-27) will want to be on alert for Warriors star Stephen Curry, who torched Orlando for 51 points last Feb. 25, his last visit to Amway Center.

BETTING LINE:
Warriors by 12.5

MATCHUP TO WATCH:
Kevin Durant vs. Aaron Gordon: It’s the most efficient high-producer on offense (Durant) vs. one of the top five athletes in the league (Gordon). Durant is taking apart all defenders, and Gordon isn’t known for his D. No, the South Bay native is most known for his ability to fly. Durant’s task will be to minimize lob attempts while keeping him off the offensive glass for easy put backs.

INJURY REPORT:
Warriors: F/C David West (L thumb fracture) is listed as out.

Magic: G Evan Fournier (R foot soreness) is listed as questionable. G Jodie Meeks (R thumb sprain) and G C. J. Wilcox (L Achilles tendinitis) are listed as out.

LAST 10:
Warriors: 9-1. Magic: 3-7.

SERIES HISTORY:
The Warriors have swept the Magic in each of the past three seasons, compiling a six-game win streak during which they’ve won by an average of 10.8 points per game.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH:
EARLY FOCUS: After such astonishing success in a grueling week, with three emotional games, the Warriors may be susceptible to a letdown against inferior competition. Will they be able to summon the intensity from the start?

THE BIG MEN: Zaza Pachulia will have his hands full with Nikola Vucevic, the USC product who is one of the league’s more skilled scorers in the paint. Vucevic is not much of a defender, though, so Pachulia may find a few opportunities via the back cut or the pick-and-roll.

INSIDE D: If ever there were an offensive team begging to be defended by a zone, it is the Magic, who are 25th in field-goal percentage and, even worse, 28th in 3-point shooting percentage. The Warriors should be in good shape if they limit penetration.

Rahon's season-high paces Saint Mary's rout of Pepperdine

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AP

Rahon's season-high paces Saint Mary's rout of Pepperdine

BOX SCORE

MORAGA -- Saint Mary's guard Joe Rahon shook his head in disbelief and shrugged his shoulders while running back on defense after getting blocked by Pepperdine's Chris Reyes midway through the second half.

It was one of the few things that didn't go Rahon's way in the Gaels' second straight blowout win.

Rahon scored 17 of his season-high 22 points in the first half and No. 23 Saint Mary's beat Pepperdine 85-65 on Saturday night.

"Our team's all about the open guy takes the shot and tonight I was able to get in the lane and make a few layups to get a rhythm going," Rahon said after shooting 9 of 13 with three 3-pointers. "That's kind of what makes us good offensively. We're unselfish and we don't really care who gets all the credit."

Rahon had plenty of support while helping Gaels coach Randy Bennett to his 350th career win.

Calvin Hermanson added 19 points and Jock Landale had 15 points and 10 rebounds as the Gaels (17-2, 7-1 West Coast Conference) led by double figures nearly the entire second half.

It was also a nice bounceback for Saint Mary's, which lost to Pepperdine twice during the regular season in 2016 before knocking the Waves out of the postseason conference tournament.

"Our guys definitely knew that," Bennett said. "We respected them because they'd gotten us three times in the last three years. Not many teams have. They have."

It wasn't as close this time around despite another big night from Pepperdine's Lamond Murray Jr., who scored 29 points on 12-of-20 shooting. It's the fifth consecutive game in which Murray has had at least 23.

The Waves (5-15, 1-7) couldn't keep pace with the Gaels' big three of Rahon, Hermanson and Landale. The trio accounted for 66 percent of Saint Mary's points and teamed for 18 rebounds and 11 assists.

After Pepperdine pulled within 72-63 on Murray's basket with 4:48 remaining, Rahon made one of two free throws, Emmet Naar had a 3-pointer and Rahon scored on a driving layup to help the Gaels to the win before a packed house at McKeon Pavilion.

"That's where playing together all last year helps," Rahon said. "You've been in the situation so many times that you look around and no one's rattled, no one's losing their confidence. We just have a lot of composed guys on our team."

Rahon, whose previous season high was 14 points, made seven of his first nine shots to eclipse that mark before halftime. Hermanson added 15 points, including an emphatic dunk on a baseline drive while Landale scored 11 points to give Saint Mary's a 47-33 lead.

MURRAY'S GROWTH:
Bennett has never coached Murray, only against him, but the Gaels coach sounded like a proud father after watching the Waves' leading scorer repeatedly torch his team's defense. "He's a really good player now," Bennett said. "He's as good a scorer as there is in our league. I think he's the best scorer in the league. It's just fun to see guys improve like that. He's made a big jump."

BIG PICTURE:
Pepperdine: The Waves have lost five straight and 14 of 15. ... Nolan Taylor's 3-pointer in the first half was the first of the season for the 6-foot-7, 250-pound freshman forward. ... Two days after becoming the school's career assists leader, Major was held without one for the first 14 1/2 minutes against Saint Mary's.

Saint Mary's: The Gaels responded to last week's loss to No. 4 Gonzaga with a pair of blowout wins at home, exactly the way Bennett expected. They have one more home game before playing four straight on the road. ... The 85 points are the Gaels' second-most this season.

POLL IMPLICATIONS:
Saint Mary's is likely to move up a few spots after three of the eight teams in front of the Gaels lost at least once this week.

UP NEXT:
Pepperdine: Returns home to host Portland on Thursday night.

Saint Mary's: Closes out its three-game homestand against San Francisco on Jan. 26. The Gaels won the first matchup between the two teams earlier this season 63-52 at Memorial Gym.