King-sized test -- facing NBA's best in San Antonio

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King-sized test -- facing NBA's best in San Antonio

March 11, 2011

KINGS (15-47) vs.
SAN ANTONIO (52-12)

Coverage begins at 5:30 P.M. on Comcast SportsNet California

SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- Any concerns that Tony Parker returned too soon from a calf strain were alleviated in one of the San Antonio Spurs' most impressive offensive games of the season.

Parker and the NBA-leading Spurs could put up similar numbers Friday night when they try to win their 11th straight over the last-place Sacramento Kings.

San Antonio (52-12) was expected to be without Parker for a month, but he missed only two games before returning last Friday against Miami.

After totaling 29 points his first two games back, Parker finished with 23 points on 11-of-15 shooting in a 111-104 win over Detroit on Wednesday. He scored five points in the final 2:07 after Detroit cut a once 19-point deficit to five.

"There were a couple times in the game where he took over," Manu Ginobili said of Parker. "I remember one play that (coach Gregg Popovich) told me to go sub in, but he was playing so well that he told me to wait two more minutes and see what happens, so he finished the quarter and in the fourth quarter he just finished the game, so he was huge."

The Spurs, who shot a season-high 64.3 percent, were 17 of 21 from the field in the first quarter en route to a 40-26 lead.

With the win, San Antonio became the first team in the Western Conference to clinch a playoff spot.

The Spurs are looking to win their 11th straight over Sacramento after extending the streak with a 113-100 victory Feb. 4. The Spurs shot 57.1 percent and received 25 points from Parker.

Just as they did versus Detroit, San Antonio got off to a fast start against the Kings, leading 34-19 after the first quarter.

"Hopefully we face the Kings the same way we did (Wednesday)," Ginobili said. "Starting hard, moving the ball and playing good 'D' solid. ... We know that when you give a team confidence and they start playing relaxed and they don't have anything to lose, they can get you in trouble and you can get up losing a game that you shouldn't. So hopefully we start hard and play our usual style."

Parker has been key in San Antonio's dominance of Sacramento, averaging 23.7 points and 8.5 assists the last six games in which he's played at least 20 minutes.

The Kings (15-47), who have the worst record in the West, have lost four straight, falling 106-102 to Orlando on Wednesday. They led by six with less than six minutes remaining, but the Magic went on a 13-4 run to regain control.

REWIND: Kings blow late lead, fall to Magic

The loss came despite a career-high 29 points from DeMarcus Cousins and 22 from Marcus Thornton. Sacramento finished with 21 turnovers.

"There were so many really good things about that game for our team. I just hate to come in here and talk about that close loss against a good team, but that's what it was," said coach Paul Westphal, whose team has lost 14 of 17. "We had too many turnovers again and it wasted a really, really, good effort."

The Kings played Wednesday without Beno Udrih, who sat out his first game of the season with the flu. He's expected back in the lineup Friday.

Despite his team's struggles, Cousins has played well the last four games, averaging 23.8 points and 11.8 rebounds. However, he was limited to seven points in 24 minutes against the Spurs last month.

Sacramento has lost seven straight in San Antonio since a 97-87 victory in 2006.

Kyle Shanahan: 49ers wide receiver Pierre Garcon plays angry

Kyle Shanahan: 49ers wide receiver Pierre Garcon plays angry

Among the players the 49ers first targeted for their rebuilding project is a wide receiver who has nine years of NFL experience and turns 31 early in training camp.

Coach Kyle Shanahan pinpointed Pierre Garçon to be his top addition at wide receiver. Garçon is coming off the second 1,000-yard season of his career. His career-best output came was his 113-catch, 1,346-yard season in 2014 with Shanahan as Washington's offensive coordinator.

“I’ve always loved Pierre just because of how angry he plays,” Shanahan said at the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix. “He gives you his all. He plays extremely aggressive. The best leaders are the guys who lead by example. Pierre’s not going to say much, but you know he’s going to go out there and fight every single play no matter what the situation is, whether it’s run or pass. That elevates everyone around him.”

Within the first two days of free agency, the 49ers signed Garçon, Marquise Goodwin and Aldrick Robinson. The 49ers had earlier signed slot receiver Jeremy Kerley to an extension, while not pursuing Quinton Patton, who signed a one-year deal with the New York Jets.

“You go into free agency and you study all the free agents who are available and then you stack them and see who can help you team the most,” Shanahan said. “Pierre was at the top of that list. Also knowing him made me feel better about that because you know exactly what you’re getting.

“But it all starts with the tape. It was very encouraging to turn on the tape and watch the level Pierre is still playing at. When you see that on tape and you also know the type the guy. I was very excited to get him.”

Young Kings' inexperience rears ugly head in loss to Jazz

Young Kings' inexperience rears ugly head in loss to Jazz

SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings showed their age Wednesday night at Golden 1 Center. They couldn’t buy a basket early. They could do no wrong in the second and third quarters. And when the chips were down, they couldn’t stop a charging Utah Jazz team from pulling away for the 112-82 blowout.

Utah led by as many as 20 in the first quarter and it looked like it was going to be a long night. The Kings shot just 31.6 percent in the game’s first 12 minutes and they allowed the Jazz to knock down 5-of-11 3-pointers early.

“We started off slow and in a hole and tried to come back,” Willie Cauley-Stein said.

The Jazz pushed the lead to 24 in the opening minutes of the second quarter and then Ben McLemore happened. The fourth-year guard went off for 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting in the second as the Kings cut Utah’s lead to just seven at the intermission.

“It’s nice to see him back in there and getting rhythm and feeling good about himself,” Dave Joerger said of McLemore. “He is able at his size to get off of people that are holding. With his athleticism, he can be an effective cutter and he can be an effective pin down player.”

The 24-year-old wing finished the night with 22 points on 9-of-12 shooting, but he was one of just three Kings players to notch double-figure scoring as the ball movement dried up for long stretches.

Utah made adjustments in the second half to slow McLemore and the Kings did a poor job of responding. They over dribbled the ball, leading to just 14 assists on the night.

The Jazz on the other hand looked like a finely oiled machine. With big man Rudy Gobert anchoring the post, they made cuts at the rim and found open shooters all around the perimeter.  

“They hit shots, a lot of shots, a lot of threes,” Willie Cauley-Stein said. “That breaks the game wide open when you’re hitting threes and a lot of stuff is going in.”

Sharpshooter Rodney Hood dropped in 5-of-5 from long range, scoring 18 points in just 24 minutes of play. Gordon Hayward knocked down 3-of-5 from deep for a team-high 20 points. Overall, Utah outscored the Kings 39-6 from 3-point range.

Despite the rough start and the barrage of 3-point makes by the Jazz, Sacramento cut Utah’s lead to just two midway through the third quarter. And then the playoff bound Jazz dropped a 52-24 run on Sacramento to finish the night off.

Joerger allowed his core of young players plenty of time on the floor. Skal Labissiere played a team-high 33 minutes in the loss, coming away with nine points and seven rebounds.  

“I’m definitely learning a lot,” Labissiere said. “It’s the best way to learn to be out there against guys like that. Whenever I’m out there, I’m always learning something. I just try to give my best.”

Rookie Georgios Papagiannis added eight points and three rebounds in 20 minutes and Buddy Hield struggled for one of the few times in a Kings uniform, scoring just two points on 1-for-7 shooting.

It’s a process. With the playoff chatter over and done with, the Kings are bound to have a few more night’s like this in the final seven games of the season as they transition to a full youth movement.