Kings look to snap four-game skid

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Kings look to snap four-game skid

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Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili haven't had much playing time together this season, but when the San Antonio Spurs' mainstays all have been on the court, coach Gregg Popovich has been pleased with what he's seen.

The Spurs will go for a sixth straight win Wednesday night when they visit the Sacramento Kings, who stunned them in San Antonio earlier this season.

San Antonio is coming off a 107-100 win at Phoenix on Tuesday, the first time in four games that Duncan, Parker and Ginobili played the same night. With Ginobili playing in just his 19th game, the Spurs (34-14) improved to 12-4 when all three play.

"I think they play within the system and trust each other enough it comes out pretty good for them," Popovich said, "most of the time."

Popovich sat the 35-year-old Duncan in Sunday's win over Philadelphia and the rest appeared to pay off Tuesday, when he scored 26 points - 17 in the first half - and had 11 rebounds. It was his second-highest point total this season and fifth double-double in seven games.

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Parker added 24 points and seven assists, scoring eight points during a 10-0 San Antonio run early in the fourth quarter. While he missed a game last week with a hamstring injury, Parker has scored 24 points or more in six of his last 10 games.

"Tony is probably playing like an MVP more than at any time since he's been in the league," Suns coach Alvin Gentry said. "People should start talking about him more for the MVP."

The Spurs have won 12 of their last 14 road games and eight of nine overall. They remain three games behind Oklahoma City for the best record in the Western Conference.

They'll look to avenge an 88-86 home loss to the Kings on Jan. 20, which ended a 12-game winning streak in the series.

Ginobili missed that game, in which San Antonio trailed by 15 points early. Tyreke Evans hit a jumper with 47.2 seconds left to put Sacramento up for good.

While the Spurs go for their seventh straight win in Sacramento, the Kings (17-32) will try to avoid a fourth straight loss overall after falling 113-106 in overtime Monday at Houston.

DeMarcus Cousins scored a career-high 38 points and added 14 rebounds while Marcus Thornton had 27 points, but Sacramento couldn't hold an early lead.

"We have to continue to grow," said Cousins, who scored 14 points in the fourth quarter. "We just have to execute down the stretch. We are close to turning things around, it just seems to be one play here or there."

Sacramento is giving up an average of 108.4 points the last nine games, yielding at least 110 in three of its last four.

"We self-destruct," coach Keith Smart said. "We have some success as a unit and a group and we just didn't stay with it. We have to be able to handle adversity as a team."

Cousins, averaging 27.8 points and 13.8 rebounds in his last four games, finished with 17 and 13 against the Spurs in January.

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's loss despite five home runs

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's loss despite five home runs

BOX SCORE

Hit five home runs, and a team has to like its chances of winning.

The A’s simply couldn’t keep up with the Houston Astros’ bats, however, in an 11-8 loss Wednesday night that snapped Oakland’s four-game winning streak. Khris Davis went deep twice, and Ryon Healy, Jed Lowrie and Matt Olson all went deep as the A’s set their season high for home runs.

But Houston racked up 17 hits against Jesse Hahn (3-6) and four relievers and evened this three-game series at a game apiece. It was the second time Hahn has gotten knocked around by Houston inside of a week.

The A’s took an early lead, 5-4, in the third on the second of Davis’ two homers, part of a four-run rally for Oakland. But the Astros answered right back with five runs in the bottom half, and the A’s never recovered from that momentum swing.

Hahn’s struggles continue: Hahn was trying to rebound after the Astros hung nine earned runs on him last Thursday at the Coliseum. Things didn’t improve Wednesday at Minute Maid Park, as the right-hander lasted just two-plus innings and allowed six runs on nine hits. Is this a case of one team simply having Hahn’s number or do the A’s make a move and try someone else in the rotation? It bears watching.

Krush Davis x 2: It was apparent early this would be a slugfest, with Khris Davis homering twice within the first three innings as the A’s tried to keep pace. He led off the second with a shot to left field, then came back with a three-run blast to left in the third that put Oakland up 5-4. The homers were his team-leading 20th and 21st.

Reddick-ulous night: Josh Reddick filled up the stat sheet against his old team in every way imaginable. He went 3-for-4 with three RBI and two runs, and twice caught the A’s by surprise by stealing third base. For good measure, he turned in an excellent running catch in right field to rob Yonder Alonso.

Strange offensive night: What to make of this night offensively for the A’s? They hit a season-high five homers but also struck out a whopping 17 times. No matter … you can’t hang this one on the offense, because …

The pitching staff just couldn’t hold things down: Josh Smith was called upon to hold down the fort after Hahn departed in the third, but Smith was tagged for three runs on four hits. Daniel Coulombe and John Axford also got touched for runs. Rookie Michael Brady did turn in 1 1/3 scoreless innings.

Cubs outfielder vows he didn't give Trump the middle finger at White House

Cubs outfielder vows he didn't give Trump the middle finger at White House

WASHINGTON – Albert Almora Jr. didn’t use Wednesday’s Oval Office photo op as a subtle form of political protest, but it did sort of look like the Cubs outfielder gave President Donald Trump the middle finger, at least from that angle in an image that went viral on Twitter.    

“There was two fingers! Look closely, there was two fingers!” a veteran player yelled across the room as reporters gathered around Almora’s locker inside the visiting clubhouse at Nationals Park. 

“Guys were giving me a hard time about it,” Almora said, “but I pointed out the second finger. We’re all good.”

In another White House visit that didn’t look nearly as unofficial or informal as the Cubs said it would be, one snapshot became Almora with part of his left hand in his pocket. Almora stood near Kris Bryant – who held a 45 Wrigley Field scoreboard panel – and Trump at his desk with the World Series trophy.

“Obviously, it’s unfortunate,” Almora said with a laugh. “I’m getting ready to take a picture and I’m posing there. But you guys know that I would never do that to the president of the United States. 

“I respect everybody. It is what it is. We laugh about it now, but there’s definitely two fingers out there.”

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