Kings can't hang with high-flying Bulls in Chicago

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Kings can't hang with high-flying Bulls in Chicago

March 21, 2011BOXSCORE KINGS VIDEONBAPAGE NBASCOREBOARD
CHICAGO (AP) The Chicago Bulls are enjoying their best season in more than a decade, and they're trying not to get too fixated on where all this success might lead.Derrick Rose and Kyle Korver scored 18 points apiece as the Bulls blasted the Sacramento Kings 132-92 on Monday night for their ninth win in 10 games."It's fun," Rose said. "I can't complain about anything right now. We're winning games, playing good basketball and the city is going crazy."The win gave the Bulls (50-19) their first 50-win season since 1997-98 and allowed Chicago to remain tied with Boston atop the Eastern Conference. The Celtics beat the New York Knicks on Monday."It was fun to watch tonight," Carlos Boozer said. "It's fun to watch everybody play."That 1997-98 edition of the Bulls won the NBA championship, the last of six titles the franchise won in the 1990s. When that was pointed out to Rose, he said the team is trying not to get too far ahead of itself."We're trying to win one game at a time," Rose said. "Of course, we'd like to win (a title). We still have a lot of things to work on before we get there."Boozer scored 16 points in his return to the Bulls' lineup after missing five games with a sprained left ankle."First game back, I thought (Boozer) was very good," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "I thought he actually scored a lot more efficiently than I thought he would."He missed a lot of time and he got basically one practice. I thought it was very encouraging."Boozer led a balanced Bulls attack that had eight players scoring in double figures in a game that was not close after the first period."It felt great," Boozer said of his ankle. "I was happy with how strong it was through the course of the game. I was also happy to get a lot of rest in the fourth quarter."Luol Deng scored 17 points for the Bulls, Keith Bogans added 15, Joakim Noah and Omer Asik each had 14, and C.J. Watson chipped in with 11 points."I love the balance," Thibodeau said. "We're inside-out, keeping the ball moving, making the extra pass."With the game well in hand, Thibodeau had the luxury of resting his top players. Rose played just 28 minutes, his lowest total of the season. He didn't play in the fourth quarter."I know you guys are all concerned about the minutes," Thibodeau said. "Getting the minutes down was good."The Bulls shot 61.3 percent from the field. More aggressive from the outset, Chicago forced 22 Sacramento turnovers and held a 36-7 edge in fastbreak points. The Bulls set a season high for points."The more we can get into the open floor, the better," Thibodeau said. "Getting the easy baskets makes the game easier."Marcus Thornton led the Kings (17-52) with 25 points."We turn the ball over and they go get a layup," Kings coach Paul Westphal said. "That's not a breakdown in defense, but pretty soon they're shooting 61 percent for the game and they're wearing us out. You can't keep turning the ball over the way we do it against a great team like the Bulls."I think they have legitimate championship aspirations. They're in the conversation with four or five other teams."Kings rookie DeMarcus Cousins struggled, getting in foul trouble early. He finished with 11 points and eight rebounds, but also committed eight turnovers."DeMarcus' turnovers stand out tonight," Westphal said. "However, he is a young, gifted player who has a few things to learn about decision-making."The high-scoring Thornton has scored 20 or more points in nine of Sacramento's last 12 games."We tried to chip away in the second half, but they turned the defense up again on us and we kind of ran out of gas," Thornton said. "They're a great defensive team. Defense wins championships. They're going to make a deep run in the playoffs."The Bulls have won 13 straight at the United Center, their longest home winning streak since 1997-98. At 31-4, the Bulls have the NBA's second-best home record behind San Antonio (32-3).Chicago led by as many as 25 in the third period, reaching that advantage when Bogans lobbed a pass toward the rim on a fastbreak and Rose flew in from the baseline and dunked it with both hands.Sacramento, which entered averaging more turnovers (16.1) than all but two NBA teams, had 12 miscues in the first 18 minutes, leading to 19 Chicago points."We have to be stronger with the ball," said Kings point guard Beno Udrih, who had 13 points and five assists. "Pass it when you see the man open right away instead of holding it too long."Notes: Chicago mascot "Benny the Bull" celebrated his birthday. He was joined by mascots flown in from other teams as party of a halftime party. ... The win might have helped the Bulls overcome the painful memory of Sacramento's last visit to Chicago. On Dec. 21, 2009, the Kings erased a 35-point third quarter deficit and beat Chicago 102-98. It was the NBA's biggest comeback in over 13 years. ... The 1997-98 Bulls won their 50th game on March 20, one day before this year's Bulls reached that mark. ... This is the 14th time in franchise history that the Bulls have won 50 or more games. ... The Bulls improved to 38-2 when holding teams under 95 points or less this season.

David West is coming up big for the Warriors

David West is coming up big for the Warriors

OAKLAND -- David West is as much a cleanup man as he is a basketball player.

The veteran power forward, masquerading as a center for the Warriors, cleans up behind teammates, cleans the clocks of opponents and probably cleans his plate after every meal. And he’d hit fourth in any manager’s batting order.

The Warriors during their renaissance haven’t had such a personality. They’ve been a fun bunch, enjoying life, each other and their pillaging of the NBA.

West, 36, brings a more laconic dynamic, and it’s on full display as the Warriors lean into the final weeks of this regular season. He’s a leader who is producing and, more and more, winning over a fan base that was somewhat skeptical early this season.

“David West has been playing brilliantly,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Friday night, after West came off the bench for a highly efficient 14-minute stint in a 114-100 win over the Kings.

Showcasing sharp passing, splendid shooting, solid rim protection and his usual old-jerky toughness, West totaled 8 points, four assists, three rebounds, three blocks and one steal. The Warriors were plus-8 when he was on the floor.

Such production, it seems, is a bit of a bonus.

“He’s been very good for us as a veteran leader,” Draymond Green said. “He’s been playing well, but just his presence also has meant a lot to this team.

“D-West is just kind of a no-bull---- type of a guy. He doesn’t say much. But when he does, you know it means a lot. And everybody hears him.”

Said West: “It’s just about adjusting and learning personalities. Obviously, this group has been very successful. I just try to add my 2 cents where I feel like it fits. Try not to over-talk people. I speak to guys directly and just make sure that we’re all on the same page.”

West is in his 14th season. Drafted by the New Orleans Hornets in 2003, he also has played for the Pacers and, last season, the Spurs, before joining the Warriors in July.

The question at the time was whether he still had a lot to give. West is a two-time All-Star and one of the most widely respected players in the league. But did he still have the legs to compete at a high level?

The answer is visible, particularly over the past month, since he returned from fractured left thumb on Feb. 23. West is shooting 53.0 percent from the field, he’s rebounding consistently and he has proven to be a spectacularly good passer -- easily one of the best in the league among big men.

Earlier this week, to quell any lingering concerns about how much athleticism he still has, West rose up and dunked over a crowd of three Dallas Mavericks. It was clock-cleaning at its finest.

“I’m just getting more comfortable,” West said, referring to his game and his locker-room influence. “We’ve developed good chemistry, communicating, harping on our defense more than anything else at this moment, because we feel that’s going to give us a chance if shots aren’t falling.”

West is on a one-year deal for the veteran’s minimum, $1.55 million. He sacrificed bigger dollars for a chance at his first championship. He’s doing his part. And he neither takes nor leaves any mess.

Dempsey hat trick lifts US over Honduras in statement win

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AP

Dempsey hat trick lifts US over Honduras in statement win

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE — Bruce Arena's return as U.S. coach reignited American confidence, and his players responded with an emphatic rebound in World Cup qualifying.

Clint Dempsey returned from an irregular heartbeat to score his second international hat trick, 18-year-old phenom Christian Pulisic had one goal and set up three others, and the U.S. routed Honduras 6-0 Friday night to get right back in contention for an eighth straight World Cup berth.

Surprise starter Sebastian Lletget got his first international goal in the fifth minute after Pulisic's shot deflected off the goalkeeper, Michael Bradley doubled the lead in the 27th and Dempsey scored off Pulisic's perfectly weighted chip in the 32nd.

Finding room to maneuver in a central midfield role, Pulisic made it 4-0 just 12 seconds into the second half with his fourth international goal, Dempsey rounded the keeper to score following a Pulisic feed in the 49th, and Dempsey got another on a 23-yard free kick in the 54th. With 55 international goals, Dempsey moved within two of Landon Donovan's American record.

In its first competitive match since Arena replaced Jurgen Klinsmann, the U.S. moved from last to fourth in the final round of the North and Central American and Caribbean region, tied at three points with Honduras but ahead on goal difference, Mexico leads with seven points, followed by Costa Rica with six and Panama with four.

The top three nations qualify for next year's tournament in Russia, and the fourth-place nation advances to a playoff. With a victory at Panama on Tuesday, the Americans could move into the top three.

The U.S. had never before won a hexagonal game by more than three goals.

And oh how the American Outlaws and others among the lively home crowd loved every second of this long-awaited showing, chanting "Michael Bradley!" and "Demp-sey! Demp-sey!" through the Bay Area rain and cool March air.

Then, it was "Bruce Arena! Bruce Arena!"

Gloom descended upon the Americans in November when they opened the hexagonal with a 2-1 home loss to Mexico and a 4-0 wipeout at Costa Rica. The defeats caused the U.S. Soccer Federation to fire Klinsmann, who had coached the Americans since 2011, and bring back Arena, who lead the team from 1998-2006.

Dempsey, 34 and hoping to reach a fourth World Cup, was sidelined from August until this month by an irregular heartbeat and likely was starting only because of injuries to Bobby Wood and Jordan Morris. Tim Howard, the Americans' 38-year-old goalkeeper, got the shutout after returning only two weeks ago from a leg injury sustained in the loss to Mexico.

Geoff Cameron, back from a knee strain that had sidelined him for fourth months, was shifted to right back from central defense because of injuries to others, and Jorge Villafana was inserted on the left.

But there were yet more injuries. Lletget hurt his left ankle on Ever Alvarado's tackle and was replaced in the 18th minute, and defender John Brooks was stretchered off the field, hand over his face, in the 69th due to dehydration.

From the opening whistle, the U.S. played more aggressively than in the latter years of Klinsmann's reign. Arena revamped the midfield, giving a prominent role to Pulisic, who last week became the youngest American to score in the Champions League. He inserted Lletget and Nagbe, who were largely overlooked by Klinsmann last year, on the flanks.

The U.S. went ahead when Jozy Altidore picked up a loose ball and on his second try poked the ball ahead to Pulisic. His left-footed shot that went off goalkeeper Donis Escobar, and Lletget tapped in the ball with his right foot from 2 yards.

Bradley, given his debut by Arena in 2006, doubled the lead when he took a pass from Alejando Bedoya, cut to his left, took four touches and cut the ball back to beat Escobar with one-hopper from about 25 yards.

Showing poise beyond his years, Pulisic created the third goal when he lofted a pass to Dempsey, who allowed the ball of bounce off his right shoulder. Dempsey held off Henry Figueroa and while falling scored with his right foot from 8 yards.