Cousins leads the way as Kings visit Orlando

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Cousins leads the way as Kings visit Orlando

Feb. 23, 2011

KINGS (13-41) vs.
ORLANDO (36-21)

Coverage begins at 4 P.M. on Comcast SportsNet California

ORLANDO (AP) -- After a difficult stretch, the Orlando Magic headed into the All-Star break on a positive note with help from star center Dwight Howard.

Howard and the Magic could keep rolling in their return Wednesday night as they host the lowly Sacramento Kings.

The Magic (36-21) dropped five of eight from Jan. 24-Feb. 6, but won four of five before Howard headed off to Los Angeles to start for the Eastern Conference All-Star squad, which lost 148-143 on Sunday.

NEWS: NBA Standings

Howard had five points and seven rebounds during the exhibition, but has shined recently in games that count, averaging 28.3 points and 14.3 rebounds over the past four contests. Before the break, he scored 32 points and pulled down 10 rebounds in a 101-76 rout of visiting Washington on Feb. 16.

"I'll be anxious to see how we come out and play down the stretch," said coach Stan Van Gundy, whose team is 10-1 in its last 11 against sub-.500 teams.

If recent matchups with the Kings are an indication, the Magic might start that stretch run with a victory, Orlando has won five in a row over Sacramento (13-41) and three straight at home.

The Magic also won't have to face Tyreke Evans, who is out for three weeks with an injured left foot. The reigning rookie of the year, who has been slowed much of the season by plantar fasciitis, was averaging a team-high 18.3 points and 5.5 assists per game.

RELATED: Tyreke Evans career stats

Without its second-year guard, Sacramento lost for the eighth time in nine games, 117-97 to Miami on Tuesday. The Kings were outscored 35-16 in the first quarter and trailed throughout while allowing the Heat to outshoot them 56.7 to 47.6 percent.

REWIND: Kings miss Tyreke in loss to Heat

"When you give a team like that those chances, it's tough to win the game," guard Beno Udrih said.

Samuel Dalembert was the only Sacramento player to score more than 14 points with 18 off the bench, and he had 13 rebounds for his fourth double-double this season.

Rookie DeMarcus Cousins, now the team's active scoring leader (14.0 ppg) finished with eight points on 3-of-14 shooting. The Kings also played without forward Carl Landry, who was held out because he might be sent to New Orleans before Thursday's trading deadline.

"We're involved in some fairly significant discussions so it was pertinent not to play him," coach Paul Westphal said.

Cousins, Dalembert or Jason Thompson might have the difficult task of trying to contain Howard, and the Kings might need all three players to stop the Orlando center, who has averaged 26.3 points and 14.2 rebounds in his last six matchups with Sacramento.

NEWS: Kings roster

Since winning at Phoenix on Feb. 13, the Kings have dropped three in a row on their season-high, seven-game road trip. Following the game with Orlando, they'll stay in the South with matchups against Charlotte on Friday and Memphis on Saturday.

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's loss despite five home runs

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's loss despite five home runs

BOX SCORE

Hit five home runs, and a team has to like its chances of winning.

The A’s simply couldn’t keep up with the Houston Astros’ bats, however, in an 11-8 loss Wednesday night that snapped Oakland’s four-game winning streak. Khris Davis went deep twice, and Ryon Healy, Jed Lowrie and Matt Olson all went deep as the A’s set their season high for home runs.

But Houston racked up 17 hits against Jesse Hahn (3-6) and four relievers and evened this three-game series at a game apiece. It was the second time Hahn has gotten knocked around by Houston inside of a week.

The A’s took an early lead, 5-4, in the third on the second of Davis’ two homers, part of a four-run rally for Oakland. But the Astros answered right back with five runs in the bottom half, and the A’s never recovered from that momentum swing.

Hahn’s struggles continue: Hahn was trying to rebound after the Astros hung nine earned runs on him last Thursday at the Coliseum. Things didn’t improve Wednesday at Minute Maid Park, as the right-hander lasted just two-plus innings and allowed six runs on nine hits. Is this a case of one team simply having Hahn’s number or do the A’s make a move and try someone else in the rotation? It bears watching.

Krush Davis x 2: It was apparent early this would be a slugfest, with Khris Davis homering twice within the first three innings as the A’s tried to keep pace. He led off the second with a shot to left field, then came back with a three-run blast to left in the third that put Oakland up 5-4. The homers were his team-leading 20th and 21st.

Reddick-ulous night: Josh Reddick filled up the stat sheet against his old team in every way imaginable. He went 3-for-4 with three RBI and two runs, and twice caught the A’s by surprise by stealing third base. For good measure, he turned in an excellent running catch in right field to rob Yonder Alonso.

Strange offensive night: What to make of this night offensively for the A’s? They hit a season-high five homers but also struck out a whopping 17 times. No matter … you can’t hang this one on the offense, because …

The pitching staff just couldn’t hold things down: Josh Smith was called upon to hold down the fort after Hahn departed in the third, but Smith was tagged for three runs on four hits. Daniel Coulombe and John Axford also got touched for runs. Rookie Michael Brady did turn in 1 1/3 scoreless innings.

Cubs outfielder vows he didn't give Trump the middle finger at White House

Cubs outfielder vows he didn't give Trump the middle finger at White House

WASHINGTON – Albert Almora Jr. didn’t use Wednesday’s Oval Office photo op as a subtle form of political protest, but it did sort of look like the Cubs outfielder gave President Donald Trump the middle finger, at least from that angle in an image that went viral on Twitter.    

“There was two fingers! Look closely, there was two fingers!” a veteran player yelled across the room as reporters gathered around Almora’s locker inside the visiting clubhouse at Nationals Park. 

“Guys were giving me a hard time about it,” Almora said, “but I pointed out the second finger. We’re all good.”

In another White House visit that didn’t look nearly as unofficial or informal as the Cubs said it would be, one snapshot became Almora with part of his left hand in his pocket. Almora stood near Kris Bryant – who held a 45 Wrigley Field scoreboard panel – and Trump at his desk with the World Series trophy.

“Obviously, it’s unfortunate,” Almora said with a laugh. “I’m getting ready to take a picture and I’m posing there. But you guys know that I would never do that to the president of the United States. 

“I respect everybody. It is what it is. We laugh about it now, but there’s definitely two fingers out there.”

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