Kings face-off with Captain Jack, new look Bobcats

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Kings face-off with Captain Jack, new look Bobcats

Feb. 25, 2011KINGS (14-41) vs.
CHARLOTTE (25-32)

Coverage begins at 4pm on Comcast SportsNet California

(AP) -- With owner Michael Jordan participating in drills during practice and sitting courtside come game time, the Charlotte Bobcats know they are expected to play at a high level.If they're going to meet those expectations and advance to the playoffs for the second straight season, they will have to do so without Gerald Wallace.A day after Wallace and backup center Nazr Mohammed were traded in separate deals, the Bobcats will try to win their third straight at Time Warner Cable Arena on Friday night when they face the Sacramento Kings.Despite turning 48 last Thursday, Jordan has been spending more time recently as a participant in practices. He may have lost a few steps since his last NBA game nearly eight years ago, but the Hall of Fame guard has not lost his competitiveness."Mike is winning some of our drills ... and I lay in on (the guys), 'How you going to let this man come out and beat you guys?'" coach Paul Silas said. "It's fun. They're into it, and that's what's most important is that they're buying in."A 114-101 victory over Toronto on Tuesday left a smile on Jordan's face as the Bobcats began the unofficial second half of the season with their third win in four games.Following Wednesday's practice, Wallace talked about how pleased he was with the team's intensity, but the veteran forward, who averaged 16.4 points and 7.5 rebounds in six-plus seasons with the club, won't be with the Bobcats (25-32) as they try to catch Indiana for the Eastern Conference's eighth and final playoff spot.Wallace was sent to Portland before Thursday's trade deadline for center Joel Przybilla, forward Dante Cunningham and two first-round picks.Charlotte traded Mohammed to Oklahoma City for forward D.J. White and guard Morris Peterson.Sacramento (14-41) could have guard Marcus Thornton available after acquiring him from New Orleans on Wednesday for forward Carl Landry.Thornton could back up second-year player Jermaine Taylor, who is making the most of his opportunity with Tyreke Evans sidelined at least three weeks with plantar fasciitis in his left foot.Taylor, acquired from Houston in December for a second-round pick, is averaging 17.0 points and shooting 21 of 35 from the field while starting the last three games. He scored a career-high 21 points in Wednesday's 111-105 victory at Orlando."(Evans' injury) is not something you want to see, but it's the NBA. It happens," Taylor said. "As long as I'm in the starting spot, I'm going to take advantage of it and go out there and have fun and play."The Kings, who will be trying to win two straight for the first time since Jan. 28-29, have dropped five in a row against Charlotte and are 1-5 all-time at Time Warner Cable Arena.Bobcats leading scorer Stephen Jackson, who had a team-high 21 points in a 94-89 victory in Sacramento on Jan. 25, is expected to play after leaving Tuesday's game with a strained left hamstring.

A's spring training Day 8: Top pick AJ Puk attracts a crowd

A's spring training Day 8: Top pick AJ Puk attracts a crowd

MESA, Ariz. — The A’s are excited about 2016 top pick A.J. Puk, that much was apparent by the crowd the lefty attracted for his first “live” bullpen session Tuesday.

Among those watching closely were executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane, general manager David Forst, manager Bob Melvin and pitching coach Curt Young.

Puk, who shaved about 20 pounds off his 6-foot-7 frame over the winter, looked strong against a group of hitters that included touted infield prospects Franklin Barreto and Yairo Munoz.

Melvin in particular liked the way Puk, the No. 6 overall pick out of the University of Florida, worked his curve ball into the mix. That’s a pitch he hadn’t used since high school, but he dusted it off back in the fall instructional league with some encouragement from minor league pitching coordinator Gil Patterson, and he’s working to sharpen it this spring as a complement to his fastball, slider and changeup.

“It’s just nice to have another pitch that’s slower than my other three pitches,” Puk said before Tuesday’s workout.

“It’s a four-pitch mix,” Melvin said. “He’s really starting to distinguish between this slider and curve ball. It was quite a crowd around his cage too. When you’re a young kid you tend to notice that, but I thought he responded really well.”

Puk, 21, is rooming with shortstop Richie Martin, a teammate at Florida whom the A’s made their top pick in 2015. They also lived near each other in Tampa this offseason and worked out together.

Puk comes off very quiet upon meeting him, but Martin warns against being fooled.

“It takes him a while, but once he feels comfortable he’ll break out. You’ll see.”

Melvin was impressed with Puk’s physical shape, saying he’s fielded his position well in pitchers’ fielding drills.

CAMP BATTLE Jesse Hahn will start the A’s Cactus League opener Saturday against the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs. It’ll be a chance for Hahn to make an early impression in his bid for the fifth starter spot.

“After the year he had (in 2016), it’s important for him this year. We have to show some faith in him,” Melvin said. “He performed well for us the year before. Last year wasn’t really consistent. We’ll try to get him out there and get him off to a good start.”

Kendall Graveman will take the ball in Sunday’s spring home opener against the Angels. Sonny Gray and Sean Manaea both will pitch Monday against the Giants and Jharel Cotton and Andrew Triggs will be among the group throwing Tuesday against the Indians.

PROSPECT WATCH: Sean Murphy, the A’s third-round pick in June, has shown a very strong throwing arm early in camp. Is it any wonder Melvin, an ex-catcher, was impressed?

“The kid can throw, it’s special,” Melvin said. “We really like him.”

NOTEWORTHY: Still no word on when reliever Santiago Casilla will arrive at camp from the Dominican Republic. Melvin said he isn’t concerned at this stage, and noted that Casilla has been working out at the team’s complex in the Dominican Republic and gave a motivational talk to the younger players there.

Cousins thanks Sacramento: 'Wouldn't trade it for anything'

Cousins thanks Sacramento: 'Wouldn't trade it for anything'

The Kings traded DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday, prompting the All-Star big man to post a heartfelt message on his Instagram account.

Words can't even express how hard it is for me to have to leave the city of Sacramento and all of the amazing people that I have met while out here. I gave it my all for you and you gave it right back. The most amazing fans on the planet and I just want you to know that your support has meant everything to me. It's hard to believe that it was seven years ago that this young kid from Alabama showed up in Sacramento scared and not knowing a soul. As I look back upon my time here, I wouldn't trade it for anything. I have met so many amazing people, many of whom went out of their way to make me feel right at home from day one. Each and every one of you have played such an important part in my life and helping me become the person I am today. I don't just consider you all as fans, you all are my family...and a couple thousand miles aren't going to change a thing. Thank you Sacramento. 
#LoyaltyisLove #sactownkingforever

Cousins, 26, averaged 27.8 points, 10.7 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 1.4 steals, 1.3 blocks and 34.4 minutes per game for the Kings this year.

Words can't even express how hard it is for me to have to leave the city of Sacramento and all of the amazing people that I have met while out here. I gave it my all for you and you gave it right back. The most amazing fans on the planet and I just want you to know that your support has meant everything to me. It's hard to believe that it was seven years ago that this young kid from Alabama showed up in Sacramento scared and not knowing a soul. As I look back upon my time here, I wouldn't trade it for anything. I have met so many amazing people, many of whom went out of their way to make me feel right at home from day one. Each and every one of you have played such an important part in my life and helping me become the person I am today. I don't just consider you all as fans, you all are my family...and a couple thousand miles aren't going to change a thing. Thank you Sacramento. #LoyaltyisLove

A post shared by DeMarcus Cousins (@boogiecousins) on