Gutierrez: A's snap skid, but tension lingers

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Gutierrez: A's snap skid, but tension lingers

May 24, 2011GUTIERREZ ARCHIVEA's PAGE A's VIDEO
RECAP BOX SCOREPaul Gutierrez
CSNCalifornia.com

ANAHEIM - It was a most surreal scene.Numerous A's players, practically the entire team, seated in the chairs and couches in the middle of the visitors clubhouse at Angel Stadium, transfixed with the story unfolding on the television. MLB Network analysts were breaking down the CSN California video of Brian Fuentes' pointed criticism of manager Bob Geren from the night before.Fuentes, meanwhile, sat at his locker, sneaking a few peeks when he wasn't fiddling with his smartphone.No one said a word. No one, really, seemed to be breathing, when first Al Leiter, then Mitch Williams ripped into Fuentes for taking his public beef with Geren onto the public stage.

Trying to ease the tension, an A's player lobbed a few choice F-bombs at the TV in general, at Williams in particular. To no avail. The clubhouse remained subdued.RECAP: DeJesus powers A's to 6-1 win over Haren, Halos
Some seven hours later, though, the clubhouse rivaled neighboring Disneyland as the Happiest Place on Earth."It's not going to divide anybody; it's not going to hurt anybody's feelings," said outfielder David DeJesus. "We've just got to go out there and play and win games and when you win games, everything is brushed to the side."Amazing what a relative offensive explosion, lights-out starting pitching and a 6-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels to end a season-high six-game losing streak can do to cover the warts. Even if the roots are still there. And noticeable.Because be sure, while both Fuentes and Geren on Tuesday attempted to downplay what he said Monday night in questioning his managerial skills and saying he and teammates had no communication with him, there is still tension.How could there not be? Especially since there are more than a handful in the A's clubhouse who believe, to borrow a classic line, what we have here is a failure to communicate. Still.GUTIERREZ: DeJesus muscles up
One clubhouse source said Fuentes sounding off was merely a veteran player blowing off some much-needed steam on a personal, player-to-manager level. Yet another said Fuentes, a relative newbie in these parts who signed a two-year, 10.5-million free-agent deal in January, essentially took the bullet for many of the longer-tenured players by saying what they have long felt.Who's right? Probably both parties.Geren took umbrage with the assertion he doesn't interact, even as he admitted Fuentes may have had a point in his specific situation."Fair to say that," Geren said, "but also, communication's a two-way street."Fuentes said the two had a chance meeting in a hallway at the team hotel. Geren said he called Fuentes into his office at the ballpark to talk.In any event, they met to clear the air on a day when legendary A's Hall of Fame closer Dennis Eckersley took Fuentes to the woodshed on The Monty Show on Sports Radio 95.7 FM, yes, the A's new flagship station."You can't say what he said. Period," Eckersley said. "He's been in the big leagues too long to act like that. Makes a ton of money and he's not the greatest closer in the universe. So zip it."REWIND: A's Fuentes sounds off on Geren
In his favor, Fuentes has performed well when used in a specific role. In save situations, the left-hander is 1-1 with nine saves and a 2.92 ERA. In his other 12 appearances, the left-hander is 0-6 with an ERA of 8.00. Used in tie-games in his last four outings, Fuentes has given it up in all of them and, at 1-7, he is the first relief pitcher to have lost seven games before June 1 since Gene Garber in 1979.Not that Eckersley was buying any of it, though."If you fail, you don't throw the manager under the bus," he said. "You just don't. Frustration is one thing but to me, that's a weak excuse; if you're acting like you're the man, and you've got to tell me, when is Fuentes the man?"If that was (Tony) LaRussa, are you kidding me? He'd chop my head off. I would make a formal apology."Fuentes offered no such mea culpa. Instead, he said he "felt better about it" after his skull session with Geren. As did the manager."It went well," Geren said. "Yeah, talked to Brian and gave him my thoughts, he told me his thoughts. Walked out. Everything's good. Shook hands, everything's fine."Even as Fuentes was demoted from closer and Grant Balfour will assume the role until Andrew Bailey returns from rehabbing the strained forearm that felled him in spring training, possibly within the next week. And yet, Balfour told reporters before the game he had not been informed of his new job description.But I digress.Geren said he did not even think of calling a team meeting to diffuse any clubhouse friction, real or imagined."No, I think that was something for Brian and I to straighten out," he said. "Don't think it was necessary to bring anyone else into it."And yet, the players are involved. And will remain so as long as there is even a hint of someone feeling slighted by a lack of communication."Everybody respects Brian a lot and he's a good teammate," said Mark Ellis, the longest-tenured A's player. "Today, he probably wishes he didn't say it in the press. But they've talked so it's done."Everybody respects Brian."Then what about the manager?"We respect the manager," Ellis answered. "Our job is to respect the manager."As well as say the politically correct things, right?"We stand behind both Bob and Tito," DeJesus said, referring to Fuentes' nickname. "But Tito because he's one of us. He goes through the grind every day and we're backing him, we're behind him and we felt like that gave us the motivation to go out there and just play loose and it showed up in the game today."Ah, yes. Winning, the ultimate deodorant. That and communication.

Warriors bury Clippers rivalry with 50-point barrage in third quarter

Warriors bury Clippers rivalry with 50-point barrage in third quarter

OAKLAND -- The Warriors-Clippers rivalry, dead for a couple years, was buried 50 points deep Thursday night.

There were, and may always be, occasional fits of temper in which both players and officials will be tested. That surely was the case during the Warriors’ 123-113 victory over LA at Oracle Arena.

But scoring 50 points in 12 minutes, as the Warriors did in the third quarter, is a rather emphatic statement that serves as its own embellishment. It sent the Clippers back home, unable to muster even a half-hearted comeback.

“That was incredible,” Kevin Durant said of third-quarter scoring frenzy.

“That’s a lot of points,” Klay Thompson said. “It’s that the most we’ve had all season?”

Well, yes, it is. The Warriors’ previous high for points in a quarter was 45, also against the Clippers, on Jan. 28.

So this was astonishing even to the Warriors, the highest-scoring team in the NBA for three seasons running. This is the Warriors’ fourth 50-point quarter in franchise history and their first since March 1989. They made nine 3-pointers, tying a franchise record for triples in a quarter.

Fifties are rare, period; the last one by any team in the NBA was on March 25, 2014, when the Lakers dropped 51 in a quarter against the Knicks.

“I had no idea we scored that much,” said Stephen Curry, who scored 20 in the quarter -- 17 in the final 3:37 before halftime. “Obviously, coming back from 12 down to having a double-digit lead, it all started with the defensive end and finding transition.”

The scoring breakdown: Curry scored 20, Durant 15, Thompson 5, Andre Iguodala and Zaza Pachulia 4 each and JaVale McGee 2. The Warriors shot 73.9 percent (17-of-23) in the quarter.

“It all started from our defense, getting rebounds and getting out in transition,” Durant said.

The Warriors forced five LA turnovers in the quarter, off which they scored 11 points. Trailing by 12 at the half, they led by 12 entering the fourth quarter.

The Warriors have defeated the Clippers 10 consecutive times overall. They’ve beaten them 11 straight times at Oracle Arena. The average margin of victory in four games this season is 21.5 points.

This was a matter of how the Warriors responded to the threat posed by LA in the first half.

“I’m not sure what needed to happen,” Draymond Green said. “But I know we took that quarter over. And it was pretty spectacular.”

With Clippers rivalry over, Warriors feed off feud with Foster

With Clippers rivalry over, Warriors feed off feud with Foster

This will come as a sharp blow to Warrior fans who like things the way they are, but they probably can no longer use Scott Foster as an alibi for failure, or a stalking horse for rage.
 
Well, I mean they can, but let’s be honest here – the evidence just doesn’t support it any more.
 
Foster, who no matter what you say is one of the elite officials in the league, has also been cast as a bête noire by all things Golden State. Either he’s imperious, or he’s standoffish, or he makes himself too conspicuous – they’re all standard complaints made of all officials who aren’t otherwise branded as just plain terrible.
 
Only Foster isn’t terrible, given the fact that he has worked a series of NBA Finals, and that remains the gold standard for officiating.
 
But the Warriors bang their heads against the backboard when he works their games, and were on the verge of doing that again Thursday night against the Los Angeles Clippers. Foster called third quarter technicals on Andre Iguodala and the Warrior bench, and J.T. Orr called one on Draymond Green, all in the space of 6:34. The Warriors were unhinged, the fans were unhinged, innocent bystanders were being hit with flying hinges throughout the arena.
 
And in that stretch, the Warriors outscored the Clippers, 26-15, en route to a 50-point quarter (the first in two seasons and the third since the turn of the millennium) and another harsh slapdown of what used to be known as the Warriors-Clippers Cavalcade Of Hate, this time 123-113.
 
It isn’t that any more, not close. Truth is, the Warriors have won 10 consecutive games against the Clips, but probably never quite at decisively as this. At the game’s most lopsided stretch, Golden State outscored Los Angeles, 72-33, in a shade over 17 minutes.
 
Because that’s what they do.
 
Only this time, the comeback was not fueled by the existence of the Clippers, who had outplayed them pretty convincingly for the first 22 minutes and change, but with the officials, who as we have said before irk the hell out of them when their number includes Foster.
 
Who, again, is one of the game’s best officials. I think it’s a personality clash, to be frank, in which both sides can take some blame.
 
Truth is, though, when a team can go for 50 in a quarter and still have time to engage in a feud with the officials, it is making a kinky little statement about what they can do when enraged, and how difficult it is to stop them when they have a serious mad-on.
 
Yes, it is probably stretching a point to make this case, especially when the Warriors make 17 of 23 shots (9 of 15 from three) and assist on 13 of the 17 field goals. It is probably minimizing Stephen Curry’s 20-point quarter and his four assists, or Kevin Durant’s 15 and five rebounds, or David West imposing his body between Green and the officials to keep him from getting T’d up again for the second successive game.
 
But we have already established that rivalries are dying at their feet left and right. In the last three years the Clippers have gone from the Warriors’ arch-enemies to a team that has finished an aggregate 44 games behind the Dubs in the standings, making whatever animosity they can still stir 

Against the Clips a curio of a much earlier time. The Oklahoma City Thunder have come and gone, and even the Durant-Russell Westbrook has lost its last bit of elasticity.
 
Oh, there is still Cleveland, but that cannot be resumed for another 14 weeks at the earliest.
 
The Warriors, in short, have run out of opponents, and given that they will manufacture a foe when one does not otherwise exist, Scott Foster may have to serve for the time being, even if he is nothing but an intermittent prop to amuse the customers when the game cannot provide.
 
Though you’d have to think the third quarter Thursday makes that pretty thin oatmeal. The Warriors ate an entire game in 12 minutes, including the officials. They seemed like they got their fill.