Kings stage inspired comeback to beat Suns


Kings stage inspired comeback to beat Suns


SACRAMENTO (AP) On a night when the biggest news for the franchise was happening off the court, the youthful Sacramento Kings and their loyal fans were focused only on the game.Inspired by a fan base that has stuck by them in a trying season, Marcus Thornton scored 24 points and tied a career high with 11 rebounds for the Kings, who won their season-high fourth straight game by defeating the Phoenix Suns 116-113 on Tuesday night.Despite the strong possibility of the team moving to Anaheim next season, the Kings are enjoying their best stretch of the season, winning five of six games."It was overwhelming. (The fans) have deep roots and deep love for this team," Kings coach Paul Westphal said. "Whatever happens, nobody knows. We're honored that they celebrated basketball and the Kings. We felt that."Early Tuesday night, the Anaheim City Council voted 5-0 to approve a 75 million financial package to lure the Kings from Sacramento. The council also voted 5-0 to pay for the Kings' relocation.Orange County billionaire Henry Samueli, who manages the Honda Center where the Kings would play, will finance the deal himself, while the city is issuing the bond package. Officials at the Honda Center announced Tuesday that they will be creating a waiting list for fans who have inquired about NBA tickets for next season.At a press conference, Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson, a former NBA star in Phoenix, said he's resigned to the Kings moving to Anaheim but expects the Maloof ownership group to pay its 77 million loan to the City of Sacramento.Despite the off-court news, attendance was 13,744 and fans cheered the Kings like it was just another regular-season game, ignoring the likelihood that the team won't return next season."After announcing that we might be moving, the real fans have come back and supported us," Donte Greene said. "They still love us. We're the only thing here besides the (Sacramento) River Cats (Triple-A baseball team). They want to keep this team here. They keep coming to the games and showing that they want the team to stay here."While the Kings celebrated only their 10th home win this season, the Suns were lamenting yet another loss, their third straight and eighth in 11 games. Phoenix has watched any hopes of the playoffs practically disappear over this stretch. The Suns (36-37) are 10th in the conference and trail the eighth-place Memphis Grizzlies by 4 12 games with nine games remaining in the regular season.If the Suns miss the playoffs, it will only be the third time since the 1988-89 season. The last time they failed to make the playoffs was the 2008-09 season."You have to play your way into the playoffs," Suns coach Alvin Gentry said. "Right now, the way we're playing we don't deserve to be in the playoffs. All the teams we are chasing are really good. And we are not. We are still alive in the playoff race, but we are basically on life support."Beno Udrih had 19 points for the Kings, who were coming off a 4-1 road trip.Greene scored 18 points and DeMarcus Cousins had 17 points and a season-best eight assists, while Jason Thompson had 14 points and 10 rebounds. Tyreke Evans added 11 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists."My foot feels better and I'm moving at a good speed," said Evans, who had seven points, three rebounds and two assists in the fourth quarter when the Kings outscored the Suns 31-20.Both Jared Dudley and Channing Frye scored 21 points for the Suns, who lost to the Kings for the third straight time. Marcin Gortat had 17 points and 11 rebounds, and Steve Nash added 13 points and 14 assists.Ahead by 10 early in the fourth quarter, a 14-4 run by the Kings tied it. The remainder of the quarter was a back-and-forth game, until Sacramento scored seven straight points to turn a one-point deficit into a 116-110 lead."They have been playing well and they have been a tough matchup for us," Nash said. "We got off to a good start, but couldn't close out the game. That's pretty much how it's been going, not only against them, but recently and throughout the season."After Dudley put the Suns ahead 111-110 on a jumper, the Kings retook the lead on Thornton's 3-point for a two-point lead with just under a minute to play. Evans added two free throws to put Sacramento ahead 114-110 with 18.7 seconds left.Frye missed a 3-pointer that could have pulled the Suns within a point. The Kings secured the rebound and the victory when Thornton made two free throws for a 116-110 advantage."As we get healthy and are able to sort things out, I think we're showing that there is a lot of reason for optimism," Westphal said. "I think this team is excited about what the chances of success are going forward."Notes: Gary Bender, who has called Suns TV games for nearly two decades, announced his retirement Monday. ... Hill scored 13 points and Gortat had 12 in the opening half when the Suns led 61-59. Udrih had 15 points for the Kings. ... Last year's rookie of the year, Evans played in his third straight game after missing the previous 19 with plantar fasciitis in his left foot.

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.

Warriors by 12.5

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.

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.

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.

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


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


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.

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."

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.

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.

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.