Kings hope to stop the bleeding vs. Bucks

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Kings hope to stop the bleeding vs. Bucks

March 23, 2011

KINGS (17-52) vs.
MILWAUKEE (28-41)

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

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- The Milwaukee Bucks are relying on a balanced attack as they look to make a surprising push for the playoffs.

The Bucks try to win their third in a row Wednesday night when they host a Sacramento Kings team coming off its most lopsided defeat in two years.

After averaging 76.7 points and 38.9 percent shooting during a three-game skid, Milwaukee (28-41) has totaled 210 points and shot 50.3 percent in timely back-to-back victories. The Bucks, tied with Charlotte for ninth place in the Eastern Conference - two games back of Indiana for the final playoff spot - have made a point of spreading the scoring around in the last two contests.

RELATED: NBA conference standings

Carlos Delfino led the way with 30 points in a 100-95 win over New York on Sunday, while John Salmons scored 22 and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute added 19. Brandon Jennings (14) and Andrew Bogut (13) also chipped in offensively as every Bucks starter scored in double figures for a second consecutive game.

Milwaukee is 5-1 this season when that happens.

"We are sharing the ball," said Delfino, who has totaled 56 points and shot 17 of 26 in his last two games after scoring 18 points on 7 of 23 from the floor in his previous three. "We move the ball and try to play together and when we do it, it's better for everyone."

Milwaukee has been dealing with a thin bench, but that issue might soon be resolved.

Guard Michael Redd plans to Friday in New York after missing the last 14 months following knee surgery, while the Bucks could also get back forwards Drew Gooden and Ersan Ilyasova this week. Those players could add much-needed depth to a bench that scored two points against the Knicks.

While Milwaukee seems to be coming around offensively despite ranking last in the league in points per game (91.5) and field-goal percentage (42.7), the club's biggest strength is still defense.

The Bucks are third in scoring defense at 92.6 points and have held eight of their last nine opponents to 95 or fewer. They had no trouble at the defensive end in Sacramento on Dec. 23, limiting the Kings to 36.5 percent shooting in an 84-79 victory.

Earl Boykins led all scorers with 19 points off the bench for Milwaukee, winner of four of five in this series.

Unlike the Bucks, defense has been a big problem lately for Sacramento, which lost 132-92 to Chicago on Monday.

The Kings (17-52), yielding a league-worst 110.3 points in 11 games this month, allowed the Bulls to shoot an opponent season-high 61.3 percent. It was Sacramento's worst defeat since losing 129-81 to Phoenix on Feb. 2, 2009.

REWIND: Kings can't hang with high-flying Bulls

Lack of defense wasn't the only culprit in the Kings' ninth loss in 11 games. The club turned the ball over 22 times, leading to 36 fast-break points for the Bulls.

Rookie DeMarcus Cousins had a game-high eight turnovers.

"We have to be stronger with the ball," said Kings point guard Beno Udrih, who had 13 points, five assists and three turnovers. "Pass it when you see the man open right away instead of holding it too long."

Amid the sloppy offensive performance, guard Marcus Thornton had another solid game, finishing with a team-high 25 points with only two giveaways. Acquired from New Orleans on Feb. 23, Thornton has averaged 22.6 points in his last 12 games.

With Bumgarner sidelined, Blach 'taking full advantage' of opportunity

With Bumgarner sidelined, Blach 'taking full advantage' of opportunity

SAN FRANCISCO -- At some point over the next four days, Madison Bumgarner will pick up a baseball, stand a few feet across from a member of the training staff, and simply play catch. It'll be a huge step in Bumgarner's rehab, and should it go well, a boost to the psyche of a struggling team.

In the meantime, another lefty is making sure the Giants don't suffer too much without their ace, as improbable as that first seemed.

Ty Blach took a shutout into the eighth Saturday night and in true Bumgarner fashion, he added a pair of hits and an RBI. The Giants beat the Braves 6-3. They've won Blach's past three starts, and even with a 10-run outing in Cincinnati mixed in, he has a 3.71 ERA since taking the spot left open by a dirt bike accident.

"Because of what happened he's in the rotation," manager Bruce Bochy said, "And he's taking full advantage."

Blach has shown that long term, he might be a big part of this rotation. It's been years since the Giants locked a young, cost-controlled starter in, and Blach has backed up his big cameo last year. It's possible -- likely even -- that at some point the Giants will need to trade a veteran, perhaps Johnny Cueto, for young bats. Blach provides needed insurance. 

Short term, he's providing a huge boost to a team that doesn't have much going right. Blach has thrown at least seven innings in his past four starts. He has allowed just eight earned runs in four starts since the one in Cincinnati, throwing 28 2/3 innings. 

"I feel good," Blach said. "I've always been a starter, so it's been a pretty easy transition to make. I feel comfortable."

The Giants are comfortable behind him, as evidenced by a half-dozen strong defensive plays Saturday. 

"He's been consistent and he works quickly," first baseman Brandon Belt said. "He's just a great guy to play behind."

Blach even joined in at the plate. He had an RBI single in his first at-bat -- his first big league hit off Not Clayton Kershaw -- and later roped another single. Blach even showed off his wheels, busting it from first to third on Denard Span's ball to the corner before Phil Nevin held him up. 

"I worked into some good counts and I was able to get fastballs," Blach said of his night at the plate. "It's definitely a big confidence booster when your spot comes up and you're able to drive in runs."

The night was straight out of Bumgarner's playbook, and it was needed. The Giants had dropped five of six, but Blach was backed by homers from Nick Hundley and Brandon Belt. It got a little hairy late, but the bullpen held on, clinching Blach's third win of the season. He looks poised for many more, and Bochy is happy to keep running him out there.

"I'm not surprised by what he's doing," the manager said.

 

Instant Analysis: Blach does it all vs Braves, Giants snap skid

Instant Analysis: Blach does it all vs Braves, Giants snap skid

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — This spot in the rotation is the one reserved for the stopper, the pitcher who takes a game by the throat when his team really needs it. 

Ty Blach took the mound Saturday for a team that had lost five of six, and just as Madison Bumgarner often has, Blach ended the skid. The young lefty was dominant into the eighth and the bats finally provided enough support. The Giants won 6-3, tying this weekend series with the Braves.

Here are five things to know from a night we were reminded that Emilio Bonifacio is in the big leagues … 

--- Blach pitched 7 2/3 innings. He has thrown at least seven innings in his last four starts, and five of seven starts overall. Jeff Samardzija (6) is the only Giants starter who has gone that deep more often. Blach is tied with Johnny Cueto for second-most seven-inning starts on staff, and Cueto has made three additional starts. 

--- Blach’s RBI single in the fourth was -- at the time -- the fourth hit of his career, and the first against a pitcher not named Clayton Kershaw. The ball had an exit velocity of 101 mph. Blach tried to score from first on Denard Span’s double, but Phil Nevin held him. Still, the way he was moving, it makes you wonder if Samardzija really is Bruce Bochy’s best pitcher-pinch-running option. In the seventh, Blach picked up a second single. 

--- Blach’s only bad start has been the one he made in Cincinnati, where the Giants played like a Double-A team. If you take that one out, Blach has a 2.21 ERA since taking over Bumgarner’s rotation spot. 

--- Even though he gave up just two earned in 7 2/3, Blach’s home ERA actually went up. It’s 1.75, which ranks seventh in the National League. The sellout crowd gave Blach a standing ovation when he was pulled in the eighth. 

--- Blach had a season-high five strikeouts. When he got Nick Markakis to end the first, Blach ended a streak of 37 left-handers faced without a strikeout. He later struck out another lefty, Matt Adams. The new Braves first baseman came up as the tying run in the eighth but Derek Law got him to ground out to first. 

--- Bonus sixth “thing to know” ... on Blach of course: His first name is Tyson, not Tyler. It’s Tyson Michael Blach.