Kings play spoiler, soundly beat surging Rockets


Kings play spoiler, soundly beat surging Rockets

HOUSTON (AP) Rick Adelman's former team hurt the playoff hopes of his current one.Marcus Thornton and Samuel Dalembert scored 21 points apiece, Dalembert and DeMarcus Cousins each grabbed 15 rebounds and the Sacramento Kings hurt Houston's playoff hopes with a 104-101 win over the Rockets on Tuesday night.Tyreke Evans scored 18 points and Cousins scored 15 for the Kings.Kevin Martin scored 30 for the Rockets, who blew an opportunity to gain ground on Memphis in the race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West.Houston was three games behind the Grizzlies and New Orleans entering the game, and Memphis lost to the Los Angeles Clippers.The Rockets play in New Orleans on Wednesday night, a virtual must-win to keep their postseason chances flickering.Kyle Lowry had 15 points and nine assists and Luis Scola had 18 points for the Rockets, who had a seven-game home winning streak snapped.Houston slipped to 15-6 since the All-Star break, and lost for just the third time in 11 games."From the tipoff, we just seemed to not have our energy that we had for the last couple of months," Martin said. "It's a bad time of year to not play like you've been playing for the last couple of months. For whatever reason, we just looked really tired in a lot of spurts."The Kings, meanwhile, have hit their stride too late in the season for it to matter. Long out of the postseason mix, Sacramento has won six of its past eight games."We are playing hard and together as a team," Sacramento coach Paul Westphal said. "We finally have our team together, and we like what we see. I give our players credit for their continued improvement. The players are making a statement that they care about things."The Kings shot well and never trailed in the second half.Thornton's fadeaway jumper with 1:26 remaining put Sacramento up 96-90, and Martin lost the ball on the Rockets' next possession, their 14th turnover.The Kings twice fouled Lowry on 3-point tries in the final minute, and Houston's point guard went 5 of 6 from the free-throw line to give Houston a chance at the end.But Dalembert made a pair of free throws with 11 seconds to go, grabbed a defensive rebound and made another one with five seconds left to put it out of reach."We lost our poise a lot during the stretch, but we didn't dwell on it," Westphal said. "Then, we still found a way to win the game."Sacramento shot 53 percent (44 of 83) and snapped a four-game losing streak to Houston. The Kings scored 58 points in the paint and outrebounded the Rockets 46-43.Sacramento led 52-46 after making 23 of 43 shots in the first half and outscoring Houston 34-20 in the paint. Cousins already had his 24th double-double of the season at the break, with 13 points and 12 rebounds.Dalembert scored three baskets inside early in the third quarter to move the Kings out to a nine-point lead. Lowry made his first 3-pointer and Scola scored from the top of the key to pull Houston back within four, and Scola finished a fast break with a layup to cut the deficit to 64-62.Thornton scored three baskets in a 40-second span as Sacramento pushed the lead to 10. The Rockets rallied again before the end of the quarter, with Lowry capping a 10-2 spurt with a running jump shot.Houston committed four turnovers in the first five minutes of the fourth and the Kings rebuilt a 10-point lead. The Rockets also missed seven of their first nine shots in the final quarter."The last month, we've been playing extremely hard," Lowry said. "When the shots didn't fall, I think the frustration got to us a little bit."Beno Udrih hit a jumper, then drove for a layup to give Sacramento its biggest lead at 92-80 with six minutes left.Courtney Lee and Lowry finished a 10-2 Houston run with 3-pointers, cutting the gap to 94-90 at the 2-minute mark. The Rockets had a chance to get closer, but Scola was called for an offensive foul trailing a fast break.Notes: Cousins has nine double-doubles in his past 19 games. ... The Kings won for only the second time in their past nine trips to Houston. ... Thornton has scored 20 points or more in 10 of his past 14 games. ... Martin has reached 30 points in five of his past 12 games. ... Houston went 14 for 21 from the free-throw line, after missing a total of 13 free throws over the previous five games.

Hoesen leads the ways as Earthquakes take down Real Salt Lake


Hoesen leads the ways as Earthquakes take down Real Salt Lake


SAN JOSE — Danny Hoesen scored his second goal of the season and assisted on Marco Urena's second goal, lifting the San Jose Earthquakes to a 2-1 victory over Real Salt Lake on Saturday night.

Hoesen opened the scoring in the 13th minute, off a long cross from Nick Lima. After touching the ball down, Hoesen gathered it off a defender's foot, stepped inside and unleashed a left footer into the top corner from just off the penalty spot.

Hoesen's long through ball down the right side sent Urena free and from a tight angle he rolled the ball past Nick Rimando in the 68th minute.

San Jose (6-6-5), which has battled injuries and call-ups to score just 16 goals in 16 games, won for just the second time in its last seven games.

Lima picked up two yellow cards in the second half and the Quakes played a man down from the 71st minute.

David Bingham made only one save in each half but was denied his seventh shutout when Jose Hernandez scored his second goal in the fourth minute of stoppage time for Salt Lake (5-11-2).

Latest round of bullpen auditions go poorly in Giants' 50th loss

Latest round of bullpen auditions go poorly in Giants' 50th loss

SAN FRANCISCO -- Practically speaking, the 50th loss is no different than the one before or the one after, but this sport is built on milestones, and this one came quickly.

The Giants lost their 50th game on August 12 last year. This season, it was clinched when Ryder Jones grounded out in his fourth career at-bat, handing the Mets a 5-2 win on June 24. 

Bruce Bochy called losing 50 of your first 77 games "hard to believe" and "embarrassing." Johnny Cueto, who went seven strong, said the reality was "hard and sad." Brandon Belt, who got Cueto off the hook for a loss, agreed with his manager.

"That's a pretty good word to use -- it is embarrassing to come out and lose every day, especially with the group of guys we have," Belt said. "When you're losing as much as this, it is embarrassing. We're trying to do whatever we can to turn this thing around."

Lately, that has meant changes to the roster. It is officially audition season, and in that respect, it was not a particularly inspiring day for the bullpen. The Giants felt they would have a better mix this year, but it hasn't played out. Instead, they're once again trying to find pieces for the next successful Giants bullpen.

With Hunter Strickland suspended and Derek Law in the minors, two young relievers, a middle-innings stalwart, and a newcomer pitched the final two frames. They gave up four runs.

Sam Dyson was the first on the mound in the eighth. Belt had homered a few minutes earlier, tying a good starter's duel. Dyson gave up a leadoff triple to Curtis Granderson and walked Asdrubal Cabrera before throwing two good sliders past Yoenis Cespedes for the strikeout. With two lefties coming up and the go-ahead run still on third, Bochy turned to Steven Okert. He immediately gave up a seeing-eye RBI single to Jay Bruce. Wilmer Flores doubled off George Kontos later in the frame to make it 3-1. 

In the ninth, Kyle Crick showed some of the wildness that kept him in the minors for seven years. He, too, gave up a leadoff triple, a sin you always pay for. A walk helped put another run into scoring position and a wild pitch extended the Mets’ lead to four. 

Before the game, Bochy talked of getting an extended look at Jones. He was 0-for-4 in his first big league game but he’ll be back out there tomorrow. It’s time to fight for a job, and the same holds true of some relievers who didn’t fare well Saturday. It is a group with a closer locked into a longterm deal and little else decided. 

Are Strickland or Law eighth-inning guys? Will Dyson be a worthwhile reclamation project? Will Kontos be back, and will he carve out a different role? Are Okert and Josh Osich capable of giving Bochy lefties he trusts? Is Crick’s improvement in Triple-A a sign of things to come? There are many questions to be answered over the next three months. 

“This is a good time for them, this is what players get up here for, to show what they can do,” Bochy said. “Because of our situation, we’re going to take a look at these guys and we know there are going to be growing pains.”