Kings in Chicago to face East's best

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Kings in Chicago to face East's best

March 21, 2011

KINGS (17-51) vs.
BULLS (49-19)

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

CHICAGO (AP) -- The Chicago Bulls are known for playing tough defense under coach Tom Thibodeau.

That trait was virtually nonexistent for much of the Bulls' last game, however, and that led to their first loss in more than two weeks.

A much stronger defensive effort should be expected Monday night as Chicago looks to bounce back against the lowly Sacramento Kings at the United Center, where the Bulls have won 12 in a row.

RELATED: NBA conference standings

Chicago (49-19), tied with Boston for the Eastern Conference's best record, is first in the league in scoring defense at 91.0 points, but had a sloppy defensive performance in Friday's 115-108 overtime loss to Indiana, snapping an eight-game winning streak. The Bulls surrendered 62 first-half points after allowing fewer than that through three quarters in each of their previous two games.

"We've got to do a lot better," Thibodeau said. "This is a step backwards. We've got to come out ready to play."

Despite the sloppy first-half showing, Chicago, playing without Carlos Boozer for a fifth straight game, managed to force overtime by limiting the Pacers to 13 fourth-quarter points.

"The only quarter we played defense was the fourth," Thibodeau said. "So you usually get what you deserve."

A sensational performance by Derrick Rose also helped send the game to overtime.

The two-time All-Star scored 19 of his career high-tying 42 points in the fourth, made three free throws with 1.2 seconds left in regulation to tie the score and then blocked a shot to force overtime.

Despite Rose's heroics, Thibodeau was still upset with his team's effort, as Chicago fell to 3-13 when allowing opponents to hit the century mark.

When the Bulls play sound defense they usually win, going 42-2 when allowing fewer than 96 points.

Chicago also usually prevails when it takes the court at the United Center.

The Bulls, an East-best 30-4 at home, haven't lost in Chicago since falling to Charlotte by one point on Jan. 18, their only blemish in their last 21 games at the United Center. The 12-game home winning streak is Chicago's longest since a 17-game run during its 1997-98 championship season.

Similarly to Friday, the Bulls used a stellar defensive effort late against the Kings on Nov. 27, limiting them to nine fourth-quarter points in a 96-85 win, their fourth victory in five meetings.

Also like Friday, Rose carried Chicago, finishing with 30 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, while Boozer sat out with a broken right hand.

Luol Deng also had a strong game, as he usually does against Sacramento, finishing with 22 points and nine rebounds. In six games against the Kings since 2006-07, Deng is averaging 22.2 points, his highest against any opponent.

The Kings (17-51) arrive in Chicago after opening a five-game road trip with a 127-95 win over Minnesota on Sunday in a matchup of the West's worst teams.

REWIND: Dalembert, Thornton lead Kings to rout of Wolves

Rookie DeMarcus Cousins was ejected in the third quarter after shoving Martell Webster, but Sacramento went on a 21-0 run without him. Samuel Dalembert had 26 points and 17 rebounds and Marcus Thornton added 23 points to help the Kings bounce back from Friday's 102-80 loss to Philadelphia and win for just the second time in 10 games this month.

"We had our worst game of the year last game and our guys responded extremely well," Paul Westphal said. "I was happy for the effort."

Building on this performance and winning back-to-back games for the first time since Jan. 28 and 29 could be tough against a Chicago team that hasn't lost two in a row since Feb. 5 and 7.

Giants hammer three homers in third straight spring training win

Giants hammer three homers in third straight spring training win

BOX SCORE

At Goodyear, Arizona, Joe Panik, Conor Gillaspie and Jarrett Parker homered for San Francisco. Jimmy Rollins singled and scored twice.

Giants lefty Matt Moore went 1 1/3 innings in his first start of the spring, allowing one run and one hit. He walked two and struck out three.

Cincinnati starter Tim Adleman pitched two innings, giving up four hits and two runs.

A's spring training Day 13: Gossett part of fifth starter mix

A's spring training Day 13: Gossett part of fifth starter mix

MESA, Ariz. — An unexpected opportunity came Daniel Gossett’s way Sunday, and the young right-hander took it in stride.

When the A’s adjusted their starting rotation, Kendall Graveman got bumped to Monday and Gossett learned he’d be taking the ball to start Sunday’s Cactus League home opener against the Los Angeles Angels.

“I’m here for what they need me for,” Gossett said. “So anything they need, gimme the ball.”

He spun two scoreless innings in a game Oakland lost 5-3 at Hohokam Stadium. A nice first impression for Gossett, indeed, but the truth is A’s officials were already quite familiar with him.

A second-round pick out of Clemson in 2014, Gossett impressed at three levels of the farm system in 2016, beginning the year with Single-A Stockton and finishing it with Triple-A Nashville.

This is his first big league camp, and manager Bob Melvin even mentioned Gossett as being part of the fifth starter conversation.

“He impressed everybody in the organization last year, so when talking about that fifth spot, who knows?” Melvin said before the game.

The only blemishes on Gossett’s day were the pair of walks he issued. After walking Jefrey Marte to lead off the second, he got a lift from his catcher, as Josh Phegley fired a strike to second to nail Marte trying to steal.

“A pitcher’s best friend, I guess,” Gossett said. He went 10-6 with a 2.69 ERA across 27 starts at all three levels of the minors last year, and his 151 strikeouts led the A’s farm system. Gossett’s fastball ranges anywhere from 90-95 on the gun. He throws a changeup that gets the most swings and misses, plus a slider and curve.

Grady Fuson, an A’s special assistant to the general manager, liked the adjustments he saw with Gossett over the course of last season.

“He’s a super kid, a grinder,” Fuson said over the winter. “He’s a guy that hadn’t struck many guys out and had been very hittable in the strike zone. (In 2016), he started executing to different parts of the zone that limits the hard contact.”

CAMP BATTLE: Alejandro De Aza sparked the A’s first rally in the third Sunday with a triple, then scored on Mark Canha’s double. With Jake Smolinski sidelined currently by a shoulder issue, it’s a good time for De Aza, a non-roster invitee to camp, to make his mark. The door could be open for him to make a push to make the roster as a fifth outfielder.

“He’s an interesting guy,” Melvin said of the nine-year veteran. “He knows how to play the game, he can play all three outfield spots. We’ve seen him before when he’s given us trouble, too, with the White Sox.”

Another contender for a reserve outfield spot is Jaycob Brugman, who has yet to crack the majors but is already on the 40-man roster. He singled home a run in the seventh. Like De Aza and Smolinski, Brugman can play center field, and it stands to reason the A’s will want to carry someone who can back up Rajai Davis at that position.

NOTEWORTHY: Phegley admitted to some butterflies before getting behind the plate for his first game since July, when a right knee injury wiped out the rest of his season.

But he looked good springing up to nail Marte on the second-inning steal attempt. The A’s are counting on Phegley returning to his role as the right-handed hitting platoon partner with Stephen Vogt behind the plate.

STOCK RISING: Melvin was impressed, and entertained, by the first look he got at reliever Simon Castro on Saturday against the Chicago Cubs. Castro retired Kris Bryant to strand a runner at third, the only hitter he faced. But it was what happened before the at-bat that caught Melvin’s attention.

“When he came to the mound he was pretty vocal,” Melvin noted. “He was fired up, telling the guys ‘Let’s go!’ I haven’t heard that too many times out of pitchers, let alone in spring training. So he impressed me with his eagerness to pitch.”

FAMILIAR FACES: Campy Campaneris and Blue Moon Odom each threw out ceremonial first pitches before Sunday’s exhibition home opener, which drew a smallish crowd of 4,072.