Nuggets' late surge snaps Kings' win streak

431208.jpg

Nuggets' late surge snaps Kings' win streak

March 30, 2011BOXSCORE KINGS VIDEONBAPAGE NBASCOREBOARD

DENVER (AP) Five days of rust couldn't derail the streaking Denver Nuggets.Ty Lawson scored 20 points, J.R. Smith and Danilo Gallinari had 17 each and the Nuggets overcame a sluggish start to beat the surging Sacramento Kings 104-90 on Wednesday night.Al Harrington scored 15 and Nene had 12 points and 15 rebounds for the Nuggets, who won their fourth straight and increased their lead over Portland to 2 12 games for the fifth spot in the Western Conference playoff race. The Trail Blazers lost at New Orleans on Wednesday.It wasn't a pretty win Wednesday. Denver enjoyed a five-day break between games, but it seemed to take away the team's sharpness."We got used to playing against each other instead of playing against everybody else," Smith said. "We were rusty out there."The Nuggets are 13-4 since the blockbuster trade with New York in large part because of their ability to share the ball. But, in the first half, they had only seven assists and shot 37 percent from the field.It was apparent the layoff had an impact."Sometimes that can be a good thing if you're struggling. But we weren't struggling, so it made us sluggish," guard Raymond Felton said of the break. "We can't complain about that now because we have no days off."The Kings were on the second game of a back-to-back, but held the lead for most of the game on the strength of their guards. Marcus Thornton scored 27 and Tyreke Evans had 22 off the bench for the Kings, whose four-game win streak was snapped.Thornton is averaging 22.4 points a game since coming to the Kings in a trade with New Orleans."Thornton is legit. He's changed the way our team is," Sacramento coach Paul Westphal said.The game was close for most of the second half before the Nuggets took control in the fourth. With Denver leading 80-79, Gallinari's dunk, Lawson's jumper and consecutive 3-pointers from Gallinari and Felton gave Denver a 94-83 lead with 3:09 left."We were down the whole game and when we got the lead we were determined to keep the lead," Felton said.Denver scored on eight of its last nine possessions."They started making plays and we kind of ran out of gas," Thornton said. "We did play Phoenix last night. They are an up and down team and this team is the same way."The Kings led 57-49 early in the third when the Nuggets rallied to get even. A three-point play by Gallinari, a 3-pointer from Wilson Chandler and a jumper by Lawson tied it. Harrington's fast-break dunk midway through the period gave Denver a 59-57 lead, its first of the game."We've got to keep doing what we do well, and usually that means Ty and Raymond pushing us and keep attacking the rim," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "Their defense wore out a bit and we got to the rim."The Nuggets lead the NBA in scoring at 107.7 points a game, but sputtered to start Wednesday. They were 1 for 6 from the field and the foul line and had just five points more than halfway through the first quarter and trailed by 11.The Nuggets rallied behind their bench, which gave them a spark and got them within 32-31 early in the second quarter. Sacramento responded with a 15-5 run, capped by Thornton's fourth 3-pointer of the half, to stretch the lead to 47-36.The Kings led 51-41 at halftime.Notes: Denver F Kenyon Martin left in the first quarter with the flu and did not return. ... The Nuggets have won 10 straight at home. ... Nuggets G Arron Afflalo sat out his fourth straight game while nursing a strained left hamstring. He is expected to return to the lineup when the Nuggets play the Kings in Sacramento on Friday. ... The Kings have more wins on the road (11) than they do at home (10).

Patriots pummel Pittsburgh, return to Super Bowl to face Falcons

Patriots pummel Pittsburgh, return to Super Bowl to face Falcons

BOX SCORE

Tom Brady and the Patriots are headed back to the Super Bowl after a complete domination of the Steelers, 36-17, in the AFC Championship game Sunday.

New England will face the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl 51 in Houston, Texas on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017.

Secret weapon: Warriors dial up more third quarter magic to beat Orlando

Secret weapon: Warriors dial up more third quarter magic to beat Orlando

Superman has his phone booth, Popeye his spinach and Ali had his rope-a-dope. The greats often have a secret weapon to be unleashed upon opponents who dare pose a threat.

The Warriors of the NBA have the third quarter.

Twelve masterful minutes, customarily the third quarter, is all they need to turn all anxieties to swagger and perspiration into perfume.

It was, on cue, the third quarter that doomed the temporarily uppity Magic in a 118-98 victory on Sunday at Amway Center in Orlando.

Tied 50-50 and down five (55-50) 90 seconds into the third quarter, the Warriors went on a 19-2 tear to go up 12 with 6:54 left. Orlando, which had been encouraged by outplaying the Warriors for the first 25-plus minutes, was powerless to prevent the onslaught.

“We found our energy and execution and stopped turning the ball over,” Stephen Curry, who scored a game-high 27 points, including 7-of-13 shooting from deep, told reporters in Florida. “And after that, we got stops and our talent plays over on the offensive end. It is nice to see shots going in obviously, but you have to get stops and take care of the basketball to get that done.”

The Warriors (38-6) shot 41.9 percent for the field and committed 12 turnovers in the first half, leading to 13 Magic points. Only one Orlando starter, point guard Elfrid Payton, shot less than 50 percent and he was 3-of-8.

So the Warriors, whose sloppy first half could be attributed to the usually early start (9 a.m. Pacific), reached for the prescription that best cures their every ailment. They turned to ferocious defense, which generated torrential offense. They outscored the Magic 42-24 in the third quarter, pretty much putting away the game.

“For whatever reason, we’ve had a bunch really good third quarters in the last couple of weeks,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “It seems to be the time when we pick up our defense and it translates into some transition hoops and 3-pointers. I don’t know why, but that seems to be the key time for us these days.”

The third-quarter blitzes are more than a trend. It’s becoming an almost predictable act of magic.

The Warriors have outscored opponents in the third in 17 of their last 19 games -- with the margin double digits on nine of those occasions. In seven of those 17 games, they were tied or trailing at the half. They lost only two of those games, to the Cavs and the Grizzlies, to both of whom they blew sizable fourth-quarter leads.

Furthermore, the Warriors’ plus-268 points differential in the third quarter is by far the best in the NBA.

It was, indeed, the third quarter that shook them from the stupor of those early Sunday wakeup calls.

“There was no morning,” Draymond Green said. “It was wake up, grab some food, put on some sweats, and get out of there. I think my bus was 9:30 a.m. That’s 6:30 a.m. West Coast time . . . it was brutal.”

Must be nice to know that even on brutal days, and even after a throwaway first half, they can usually find enough lightning in the third quarter to find victory.