Cousins, Kings put hurt on Pacers 110-93

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Cousins, Kings put hurt on Pacers 110-93

March 25, 2011BOXSCORE KINGS VIDEONBAPAGE NBASCOREBOARD
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) The Indiana Pacers are young and talented. With a chance to strengthen their grip on the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, they showed they haven't risen to their full potential yet.DeMarcus Cousins had 18 points and 14 rebounds to help the Sacramento Kings beat the Pacers 110-93 on Friday night.Indiana entered the game with a three-game lead over Milwaukee and Charlotte for eighth place in the East, but they shot 35 percent from the field and made just 4 of 25 3-point attempts. The Bucks and Bobcats each won on Friday night to trim the gap to two games."We can't relax," said Danny Granger, who led the Pacers with 20 points. "Every night you're playing against a team that can beat you. This should be a lesson for us."The Pacers were coming off road wins against New Jersey and Charlotte and had won five of seven. They felt good about their chances against Sacramento, which had the fourth-worst record in the league."You can't lose to a team that you should beat and at home, at this point in the season," Granger said. "It's a bad loss for us."Samuel Dalembert had 16 points and 10 rebounds, Francisco Garcia scored 16 points and Marcus Thornton added 15 points and nine rebounds for the Kings, who have won four of their last seven."We're really playing some good defense," Sacramento coach Paul Westphal said. "We've been knocking on the door all year playing close games, not quite being able to break through, and now we're starting to break through. We've got a good young team and we're learning some lessons, and we're learning to win on the road."Sacramento guard Tyreke Evans returned after missing 19 games with left foot plantar fasciitis and finished with six points and eight assists in 17 minutes."I looked at the court like it was my first time in the NBA," Evans said. "I haven't been out there in a long time. It was like 'Space Jam.' I need my powers back."Westphal said Evans played well."It's great to have Tyreke back," Westphal said. "I think he gave us some outstanding minutes."The game was competitive before Sacramento took control in the second quarter. A three-point play by Garcia gave the Kings a 47-30 lead.The Kings outrebounded the Pacers 38-23 in the first half and held Indiana to 25 percent shooting to take 55-37 lead at halftime."We had the slow start, but we were getting what we wanted offensively as far as good looks, we just couldn't really get them to go down," Granger said.The Kings led 65-46 in the third quarter when Garcia was called for a technical foul for arguing with an official. Granger, who had been held in check by Garcia up to that point, immediately became a factor. He hit a 3-pointer to ignite a 16-6 surge that cut Sacramento's lead to 71-62 and forced the Kings to call a timeout.The Kings regrouped and led 85-68 at the end of the quarter.Indiana made a final surge. Paul George's dunk cut Sacramento's lead to 99-86 with 3:47 to play. Westphal wanted to send Evans back into the game, but he couldn't."It was real hard not to put him back into the game when they were pressing us and we were running out of ball-handlers, but doctor's orders are doctor's orders," Westphal said.Back-to-back turnovers by the Pacers led to baskets by the Kings and ended the threat."We just didn't execute well," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. "We didn't have poise on the offensive end and a lot of those poor offensive possessions - blocked shots and turnovers - led to run-outs for them. So a lot of their buckets were a result of poor offensive execution."Notes: The teams shot a combined 14 for 51 in the first quarter. ... Evans entered the game with 4:40 left in the first quarter. ... Butler's mascot, an English Bulldog named Butler Blue II, made an appearance during a break in the second quarter. Butler beat Wisconsin in the Round of 16 on Thursday in the NCAA tournament. ... Pacers G Darren Collison had made 27 straight free throws before missing one in the third quarter.

Reports: Bogut agrees to buyout with 76ers, considering four teams

Reports: Bogut agrees to buyout with 76ers, considering four teams

Andrew Bogut is reportedly searching for a new home.

The big man agreed to a buyout with the 76ers on Monday and is considering four teams for his next destination, according to The Vertical's Shams Charania.

Cleveland, Houston, San Antonio and Boston are reportedly in the running for Bogut's services.

On Sunday, ESPN's Tim MacMahon reported that two of his sources said they expect Bogut to sign with the Cavs.

Last week, Dallas traded Bogut to Philadelphia.

The Warriors are eligible to re-sign Bogut, but Golden State is looking to add a guard in the coming days.

Ahead of trade deadline, Sharks must decide on top line

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Ahead of trade deadline, Sharks must decide on top line

SAN JOSE – Less than 48 hours before the NHL trade deadline on Wednesday at noon, the Sharks’ brain trust has at least one important decision to make.

Are they comfortable rotating left wingers in and out of the Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski line, or should an upgrade be attempted via the trade market? There are a number of players said to be available that could provide the team with some forward depth and scoring punch ahead of the playoffs.

Seven different wingers have played on that so-called top line, none of them lasting more than one continuous stint there than Patrick Marleau from Nov. 21 – Jan. 3. 

In total, seven different players have started a game on that line, including Marleau (25 games), Tomas Hertl (13 games), Kevin Labanc (6 games), Mikkel Boedker (5 games), Timo Meier (4 games), Joel Ward (4 games) and Melker Karlsson (4 games). Injuries have played a role, of course, but it seems as if coach Pete DeBoer has been looking for someone to seize that position. 

Pavelski, though, didn’t seem overly worried about the ongoing alternation.

“We’ve had a few different players there, and I don’t think it’s a concern,” said the captain. “You’re always looking for chemistry and something set in stone if you can get it, but throughout a game, things change.”

DeBoer laid out what he’s looking for in a player to skate alongside Thornton and Pavelski, as well as the kind of player that wouldn’t fit in that role.

“You have to play [at Pavelski and Thornton’s] level and their work ethic,” said the coach. “They want the puck. They want to hunt the puck and want someone to get in there and retrieve pucks so that they can have possession. 

“I can tell you a guy who doesn’t fit would be a guy who is strictly a shooter, or kind of lets other people do the work and just goes to holes. They need somebody that’s going to work at their level and hunt the puck, so that’s got to be part of it.”

Labanc is the latest player to hold down that spot, starting there for the last four games and remaining there for Monday’s practice at Sharks Ice. Just 21 years old, Labanc has contributed a respectable seven goals and 18 points in his first 46 NHL games. Still, he hasn’t scored a goal in his last 22 games, and has just one assist and four total shots in the last four games.

It’s debatable whether the still-smallish Labanc is ready for the rigors of an NHL schedule on a full-time basis, which would make it dangerous for the Sharks to go into the postseason with someone like him in such a key position. DeBoer, though, praised the rookie’s recent efforts.

“I thought he’s done a good job. He’s got some of those [aforementioned] attributes,” DeBoer said. "He’s an offensive guy, [and] he thinks on their level offensively.”

Other teams in direct competition with the Sharks for a Western Conference title are adding pieces, particularly up front. Anaheim acquired scoring winger Patrick Eaves from Dallas, the Blackhawks brought in Detroit forward Tomas Jurco, and Minnesota gave up a haul to Arizona for center Martin Hanzal.

If the Sharks don’t make a move, they will likely go the whole season without bringing in a single player from the outside other than their young prospects. That would be unique, especially for a team that has championship aspirations.

Pavelski seemed to insinuate that he expects at least one body to arrive.

“Whoever we get, hopefully they’ll fill a little depth or add a little something, and we’ll go from there,” he said.

But if not?

“It doesn’t change anything if nothing happens, that’s for sure. We’re going to keep trying to get better.”