Hot teams collide as Kings travel to Denver

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Hot teams collide as Kings travel to Denver

March 30, 2011

KINGS (21-52) vs.
DENVER (44-29)

Coverage begins at 6 P.M. on Comcast SportsNet California

DENVER (AP) -- The Sacramento Kings have won four straight games for the first time in nearly 16 months, the first three of which came at the end of a surprisingly successful road trip.

Considering their next stop, it seems awfully unlikely that streak will continue.

The surging Denver Nuggets look for a 10th consecutive victory at the Pepsi Center on Wednesday night in the opener of a home-and-home set with Sacramento, which can make it five wins in a row for the first time in more than four years.

As Denver (44-29) looks to maintain its hold on fifth place in the Western Conference - it's currently 1 12 games ahead of No. 6 Portland - a back-to-back series with Sacramento (21-52), at first look, has to seem awfully enticing.

But lately, the Kings have looked little like a team stuck in last place in the Pacific Division. Sacramento bounced back from a 132-92 loss at Chicago on March 21 by concluding its road trip with three straight wins, then shot 53.3 percent in a 116-113 victory over Phoenix on Tuesday.

REWIND: Kings stage inspired comeback against Suns

The recent return of Tyreke Evans, who had 11 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists Tuesday, has certainly played a part in the Kings' resurgence, but Marcus Thornton has been perhaps the biggest reason. He had 24 points against the Suns and has averaged 24.3 in his last six games.

"Things are coming together," coach Paul Westphal told NBA.com. "Since the trade for Marcus, our roster has been more balanced. As we get healthy and are able to sort things out, I think we are showing that there are a lot of reasons for optimism."

Sacramento hasn't won five straight since Jan. 31-Feb. 10, 2007, and it hasn't recorded four consecutive road victories since Dec. 11, 2004-Jan. 4, 2005.

Erasing those droughts Wednesday won't be easy. The Nuggets and Lakers are the only two teams who haven't lost at home since the All-Star break, but while Los Angeles has won nine straight at Staples Center by a fairly impressive 10.9 points per game, that pales in comparison to Denver's dominance.

The Nuggets won their final home game with Carmelo Anthony before the break by one point over Dallas. Since the trade, they've won their eight games at the Pepsi Center by an average of 20.4 points.

Four players with 17 points apiece - Danilo Gallinari, Ty Lawson, Chris Andersen and Al Harrington - led the way in the latest rout, 114-94 over Washington on Friday.

"We're approaching every game like it's a playoff game," point guard Raymond Felton told the Nuggets' official website. "We've got to prepare ourselves. We've got to get ready and stay focused."

One of the league's deepest teams could get a few more key contributors back Wednesday. Wilson Chandler, who sat out Friday with a lingering ankle injury, is probable, while guard Arron Afflalo, who's missed six of eight games with a strained hamstring, is a game-time decision.

Chandler averaged 11.0 points in two games versus Sacramento this season while with the Knicks, but scored a career-high 35 against the Kings on Feb. 9, 2010.

The teams, which wrap up their season series Friday at Power Balance Pavilion, have split their first two meetings, with each winning at home.

Evans had 27 points and a season-high 12 assists in Sacramento's 122-102 victory Jan. 6.

Bumgarner allows two runs, Giants start spring training with walk-off homer

Bumgarner allows two runs, Giants start spring training with walk-off homer

BOX SCORE

At Scottsdale, Arizona, Chris Marrero hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth and drove in four runs as the Giants rallied after Madison Bumgarner gave up two runs on two hits in the top of the first.

Marrero, a 2006 first-round draft pick of the Nationals trying to revive his career as a non-roster invitee, had an RBI single in the fifth.

Kevin Shackelford, the seventh Cincinnati pitcher, walked Orlando Calixte to open the ninth and Christian Arroyo blooped a single into left field before Marrero hit a line drive over the wall in left centerfield.

Patrick Kivlehan had a two-run single off Bumgarner in the first and Hunter Pence doubled in a run off Reds starter Rookie Davis. Davis, acquired from the Yankees in the Aroldis Chapman deal, is likely to open with Double-A Pensacola this year.

Sharks recall trio as bye week concludes

Sharks recall trio as bye week concludes

VANCOUVER – Kevin Labanc, Barclay Goodrow and Tim Heed have accompanied the Sharks to Vancouver, and will presumably be available to play against the Canucks on Saturday in the first game after the bye week.

Forwards Timo Meier, Nikolay Goldobin and Marcus Sorensen, all of whom have played games with the NHL club this season, remain with the AHL Barracuda for the time being.

Labanc, 21, has 18 points (7g, 11a) in 45 games this season. Lately he has been skating as the left wing on the top line with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski, and is looking to snap a 21-game goal drought.

Goodrow, 23, has played one game with the Sharks this season, going scoreless on Jan. 24 at Winnipeg. Unless the Sharks recall someone else before their game with the Canucks, Goodrow will likely play his second game as the team is carrying just 12 healthy forwards as of Friday afternoon. Joonas Donskoi did not accompany the Sharks to Vancouver, and remains day-to-day with what the club is offically calling an upper body injury but appears to be a right shoulder.

Heed, likely the seventh defenseman in case of emergency, has also played one scoreless game on Jan. 11 at Calgary.

Dylan DeMelo made the trip, but is still not ready. The defenseman told CSN last week that he’s on schedule with an eight-week recovery from a broken right wrist that would put his return around early March.