Kings blow game-long lead; Magic swoop win

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Kings blow game-long lead; Magic swoop win

March 9, 2011BOXSCORE KINGS VIDEONBAPAGE NBASCOREBOARD

SACRAMENTO (AP) Gilbert Arenas was watching his Orlando Magic teammates from the bench, seemingly headed for another ugly loss when it happened.Jameer Nelson just took over.Nelson scored 12 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Magic to a 106-102 victory over the lowly Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night, avoiding what would have been another embarrassing loss to one of the NBA's worst teams."I call it wonderman basketball," Arenas said. "He's out there, but he's not out there."At times, it seemed the Magic weren't out there at all.Dwight Howard returned from a one-game suspension to finish with 16 points and 15 rebounds but fouled out late, and Jason Richardson scored 19 points to help the Magic overcome an eight-point deficit in a sloppy effort that opened a five-game road trip."We played poorly. We didn't put much into the game, got crushed on the glass. I'm not happy, but we got a win. We'll take it and move on," said a frustrated Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, who was uncharacteristically short on answers. "We've said (we'll change) a lot. We say a lot of things."DeMarcus Cousins had 29 points and Marcus Thornton finished with 22 points, six rebounds and five assists for the Kings, who collapsed late in a game they controlled for most of the way. 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," Sacramento coach Paul Westphal said. "We had too many turnovers again and it wasted a really, really, good effort."Orlando flexed its muscles just enough to come out on top.The Magic took their first lead of the fourth quarter, 98-97, on Richardson's 3-pointer with a little more than three minutes left. The teams traded baskets, then Nelson answered with an 18-foot jumper to extend Orlando's lead to three.Howard, who was automatically suspended in a loss against Portland after picking up his 16th technical foul, fouled out with 61 seconds left, but the Magic closed out Sacramento without their All-Star center. Hedo Turkoglu followed with a 3-pointer that put the Magic ahead by five.Orlando missed three straight free throws and nearly let the Kings back. But Luther Head's potential tying 3-pointer in the final seconds rimmed out, sealing another loss for a Kings franchise that has fallen on hard times.The Kings, who had another spotty crowd, are in talks about moving the franchise south to Anaheim. They were again without leading scorer and reigning NBA Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans, still trying to come back from plantar fasciitis in his left foot.Even so, they still had a chance to win."We didn't play well," Nelson said. "It's getting toward the end of the year, we can't continue to play this way and think that it's OK. It just doesn't change. Nobody can do it but us."Orlando was surely glad to have its star back.The game was the first since Howard served the NBA's first suspension for excessive technical fouls this season. Players are suspended one game on their 16th technical foul and every two technicals after that.The Magic lost 89-85 to Portland on Monday night without Howard, and they desperately need him in peak form if they have any hope to make it back to the Eastern Conference finals for a third straight year.Cousins, Head and Samuel Dalembert were called for technical fouls for Sacramento. Nelson also was whistled for a technical for arguing.The Kings saddled Howard in foul trouble to build an eight-point lead in the second quarter with him mostly on the bench. After Howard picked up his fourth foul with 10:58 remaining in the third quarter, Van Gundy decided to take his chances and stick with his big man.Howard helped the Magic go ahead 67-64 and stayed clear of picking up his fifth foul early. They Kings took a 79-76 lead after three quarters but never could pull away big."We've got to cut down on the turnovers," Cousins said. "That's really hurting us down the stretch."NOTES: Magic PF Ryan Anderson grew up near Sacramento rooting for the Kings. He said the possibility that the franchise could move and leave the area without an NBA team is a difficult scenario to imagine. "It would be weird. It would be tough for a lot of people. There are still a lot of Kings fans," he said. ... The Kings wore the retro uniforms of the Rochester Royals. ... Richardson played despite a severe cold and congestion.

Giants continue embarrassing stretch against rebuilding Padres

Giants continue embarrassing stretch against rebuilding Padres

SAN FRANCISCO — Three years ago, the Giants and Padres were the two teams in it until the very end for Pablo Sandoval’s services. He ended up in Boston, and when he became available again over the past week, the Padres politely backed away. 

They prefer youth and Rule 5 Draft picks. They came into this season knowing they might lose 100 games, and they didn’t mind. If anything, they welcomed the increased shot at the top pick in the 2018 draft. They’re here to tank, but the Giants (who expect to welcome Sandoval back on a minor league deal as soon as Friday) just won’t let them. 

Thursday’s 5-2 loss to San Diego was like so many others over the past calendar year. The Giants didn’t hit, they didn’t come through in the clutch, they did not support their starting pitcher, and they did not guarantee a handshake line. 

The Giants have lost 15 of 20 to the Padres since last year’s All-Star break, including three straight last July to kickstart a tailspin that has lasted over a year now. They have dropped four of five meetings in this second half, which was supposed to prove that a Padre-like rebuild is not needed up here in the Bay Area. They are five games behind the Padres in the race to finish a distant fourth in the National League, and in a season full of disappointment, that stands as one of the more embarrassing facts. 

Not even Madison Bumgarner’s return to AT&T Park could turn the tide. The lefty looked good most of the night, but two homers left him with a rougher-than-hoped line. Bumgarner gave up four earned on two homers. He has allowed multiple homers in back-to-back games for the first time in his career. Both starts have come against the Padres. 

“I’ve got to stop giving up homers,” Bumgarner said of his start. “That’s not going to work.”

Bumgarner said he felt fine physically, and his curveball — the pitch that has backfired on him most often since his return — feels right mechanically. He was facing his last batter in the seventh as George Kontos warmed up with a runner on. Corey Spangenberg hit a two-run shot to the deepest part of the yard to make it 4-2. 

Buster Posey flied out with the bases loaded in the eighth. The Giants brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth but couldn’t score, which has been the norm against the Padres. The Giants are averaging just 3.2 runs per game during this 20-game stretch of futility against a team they once dominated. 

“We need to win ballgames right now,” Bumgarner said. “We’ve got to start doing that. There’s no magic solution. We’ve got to start playing better, all of us.”

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways as homers hurt Bumgarner vs Padres

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways as homers hurt Bumgarner vs Padres

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — A day after he did his press conference from a “Game of Thrones” throne, manager Bruce Bochy said he was happy the Giants won their series finale against the Indians and kept that plan in play. In that respect, he’s lucky his team wasn’t facing the Padres on Wednesday. 

The Giants were on Thursday, however, and they continued their baffling stretch of ineptitude against what is supposed to be the worst team in the National League West. The 5-2 loss to San Diego was the 15th in the last 20 meetings between the two teams, one of which has a $200 million payroll and the other of which is actively tanking. 

The Giants had a shot at a comeback in the eighth, but Buster Posey flied out to right with two outs and the bases loaded. Here are five things to know, if you are the curious type: 

—- Madison Bumgarner has faced the Padres twice since returning. In 13 1/3 innings, he has allowed 10 hits and seven earned runs. He is getting hurt by a familiar problem for the 2017 Giants: The Padres have four homers off Bumgarner in those two starts. Hunter Renfroe and Cory Spangenberg took him deep Thursday, with Spangenberg hitting one out to the deepest part of the yard on Bumgarner’s final pitch. 

—- This is the first time in Bumgarner’s career that he has allowed multiple homers in back-to-back starts. 

—- Kyle Crick showed good stuff — sitting 96-97 — while stranding a runner on second in the eighth. He followed that with a scoreless ninth. The Giants should make it a priority to throw him into some deeper water over the next two months. 

—- There’s an epidemic these days of outfielders making foolish throws to the plate. We see it just about every night, and it cost the Padres in the sixth. Gorkys Hernandez was on second and he took off right away on Denard Span’s single to right. Renfroe had no play at the plate but he threw it anyway and Span took second. He scored when Eduardo Nuñez singled to left. 

—- The Giants announced their second consecutive sellout. That’s a streak. Maybe?