Kings stage inspired comeback to beat Suns


Kings stage inspired comeback to beat Suns


SACRAMENTO (AP) On a night when the biggest news for the franchise was happening off the court, the youthful Sacramento Kings and their loyal fans were focused only on the game.Inspired by a fan base that has stuck by them in a trying season, Marcus Thornton scored 24 points and tied a career high with 11 rebounds for the Kings, who won their season-high fourth straight game by defeating the Phoenix Suns 116-113 on Tuesday night.Despite the strong possibility of the team moving to Anaheim next season, the Kings are enjoying their best stretch of the season, winning five of six games."It was overwhelming. (The fans) have deep roots and deep love for this team," Kings coach Paul Westphal said. "Whatever happens, nobody knows. We're honored that they celebrated basketball and the Kings. We felt that."Early Tuesday night, the Anaheim City Council voted 5-0 to approve a 75 million financial package to lure the Kings from Sacramento. The council also voted 5-0 to pay for the Kings' relocation.Orange County billionaire Henry Samueli, who manages the Honda Center where the Kings would play, will finance the deal himself, while the city is issuing the bond package. Officials at the Honda Center announced Tuesday that they will be creating a waiting list for fans who have inquired about NBA tickets for next season.At a press conference, Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson, a former NBA star in Phoenix, said he's resigned to the Kings moving to Anaheim but expects the Maloof ownership group to pay its 77 million loan to the City of Sacramento.Despite the off-court news, attendance was 13,744 and fans cheered the Kings like it was just another regular-season game, ignoring the likelihood that the team won't return next season."After announcing that we might be moving, the real fans have come back and supported us," Donte Greene said. "They still love us. We're the only thing here besides the (Sacramento) River Cats (Triple-A baseball team). They want to keep this team here. They keep coming to the games and showing that they want the team to stay here."While the Kings celebrated only their 10th home win this season, the Suns were lamenting yet another loss, their third straight and eighth in 11 games. Phoenix has watched any hopes of the playoffs practically disappear over this stretch. The Suns (36-37) are 10th in the conference and trail the eighth-place Memphis Grizzlies by 4 12 games with nine games remaining in the regular season.If the Suns miss the playoffs, it will only be the third time since the 1988-89 season. The last time they failed to make the playoffs was the 2008-09 season."You have to play your way into the playoffs," Suns coach Alvin Gentry said. "Right now, the way we're playing we don't deserve to be in the playoffs. All the teams we are chasing are really good. And we are not. We are still alive in the playoff race, but we are basically on life support."Beno Udrih had 19 points for the Kings, who were coming off a 4-1 road trip.Greene scored 18 points and DeMarcus Cousins had 17 points and a season-best eight assists, while Jason Thompson had 14 points and 10 rebounds. Tyreke Evans added 11 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists."My foot feels better and I'm moving at a good speed," said Evans, who had seven points, three rebounds and two assists in the fourth quarter when the Kings outscored the Suns 31-20.Both Jared Dudley and Channing Frye scored 21 points for the Suns, who lost to the Kings for the third straight time. Marcin Gortat had 17 points and 11 rebounds, and Steve Nash added 13 points and 14 assists.Ahead by 10 early in the fourth quarter, a 14-4 run by the Kings tied it. The remainder of the quarter was a back-and-forth game, until Sacramento scored seven straight points to turn a one-point deficit into a 116-110 lead."They have been playing well and they have been a tough matchup for us," Nash said. "We got off to a good start, but couldn't close out the game. That's pretty much how it's been going, not only against them, but recently and throughout the season."After Dudley put the Suns ahead 111-110 on a jumper, the Kings retook the lead on Thornton's 3-point for a two-point lead with just under a minute to play. Evans added two free throws to put Sacramento ahead 114-110 with 18.7 seconds left.Frye missed a 3-pointer that could have pulled the Suns within a point. The Kings secured the rebound and the victory when Thornton made two free throws for a 116-110 advantage."As we get healthy and are able to sort things out, I think we're showing that there is a lot of reason for optimism," Westphal said. "I think this team is excited about what the chances of success are going forward."Notes: Gary Bender, who has called Suns TV games for nearly two decades, announced his retirement Monday. ... Hill scored 13 points and Gortat had 12 in the opening half when the Suns led 61-59. Udrih had 15 points for the Kings. ... Last year's rookie of the year, Evans played in his third straight game after missing the previous 19 with plantar fasciitis in his left foot.

Giants spring training Day 39: Nuñez receives pair of cortisone shots

Giants spring training Day 39: Nuñez receives pair of cortisone shots

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford will return to camp Thursday, show off their WBC championship medals, and then head to nearby Salt River Fields to take on the Colorado Rockies. It'll be a few more days, however, before the Giants have their full infield on the field. 

Eduardo Nuñez said he actually got two cortisone shots in his right shoulder, since an MRI this week showed “something” in two separate spots. Nuñez asked for the MRI because, while he was able to play and make strong throws, he felt pain on a daily basis. He might DH this weekend, but it'll be a few more days before he's cleared to begin throwing. 

The Giants are hopeful that the shots calm all this down, and Nuñez anticipated being ready for Opening Day. Still, it certainly sounds like this will be a close call. Conor Gillaspie, who is having a huge spring, could get plenty of early time at third. Manager Bruce Bochy doesn't anticipate Nuñez missing Opening Day.

"He should be ready," Bochy said. 

The Giants need all the good injury news they can get. It is expected that Will Smith will announce Friday that he's having Tommy John surgery. 

ICYMI: From this morning, a feature on George Kontos and his rise over the last few years. 

Also, one of the bench candidates, Gordon Beckham, asked for his release. The Giants will soon have to make decisions on Hill and David Hernandez, who have similar retention bonuses due March 28.

GAME RECAP: The Giants played one of their uglier games of the spring, losing 9-2 to King Felix and the Mariners … Matt Moore lasted just 1 2/3 innings, giving up four runs on four hits, two walks, a balk and a wild pitch. It was the same old thing: Moore just all of a sudden lost his command, and because he got up past the 30-pitch mark in the second inning alone, the Giants cut it off. Moore went down to the bullpen and got up to around 80 pitches. He'll make one more start down here, Tuesday against the Cubs ... Joe Panik had a hard double, one of just four hits for the Giants … Chris Marrero hasn’t played a whole lot of left field this spring, and he didn’t show much to the coaches on a couple of opportunities to throw home. The left field situation remains a mystery. 

POSITION BATTLES: Kelby Tomlinson played six innings of left field in a minor league game, and he had to wait until the sixth to get his first and only fly ball. There seemed to be a lot of interest from decision-makers about how Tomlinson fared, and his action today opens up an intriguing possibility. There’s a roster permutation that has the Giants keeping just one reserve outfielder (Gorkys Hernandez) and three backup infielders: Conor Gillaspie, Aaron Hill and Kelby Tomlinson, with the latter two being options in left field. 

FAMILIAR FACE: Angel Pagan made it through the WBC healthy, and he apparently is drawing interest from the Phillies and Blue Jays. Giants people are confident Pagan will get a big league job somewhere over the coming week. 

Giants reliever Will Smith leaning toward season-ending Tommy John surgery

Giants reliever Will Smith leaning toward season-ending Tommy John surgery

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Left-hander Will Smith, a key piece of a revamped bullpen, is leaning toward having Tommy John surgery, manager Bruce Bochy said Thursday night. 

Bochy said surgery was the recommendation of both doctors who examined Smith's elbow this week. Smith will talk to his agent before coming to a final decision on Friday. The procedure would keep Smith out the entire 2017 season and likely would cause him to miss the start of the 2018 season.

Smith, 27, missed the first month of camp because of pain in his throwing elbow. He returned March 17, but during a March 20 outing he again felt pain and called for a trainer. A second round of diagnostics revealed a strain and a sprain in the elbow. Smith saw team orthopedist Dr. Ken Akizuki in San Francisco and flew to Los Angeles this week to get a second opinion from Dr. Neal ElAttrache of the Kerlen-Jobe Clinic. 

"They had the same opinion," Bochy said. "There is a tear there. You can try to rehab it and if that doesn't work you're behind a couple of months ... It's not a definite he's going to have it done, but two doctors are in agreement on what this is."

Smith was expected to serve as the late lefty for the Giants, getting setup work in the seventh and eighth innings. With Smith out, the Giants will lean on young lefties Steven Okert, Josh Osich and Ty Blach. 

"We're going to have to have someone step up and help us in the seventh and eighth," Bochy said. "That was going to be will's role. He's a guy we were leaning on."

Smith was acquired from the Brewers at the deadline last season in exchange for right-hander Phil Bickford (who is currently serving a 50-game suspension) and catcher Andrew Susac (who is currently injured). After a shaky start, he finished the regular season with 18 consecutive scoreless appearances. 

The Giants have for the most part avoided Tommy John for 40-man roster pitchers. Hunter Strickland, Derek Law and Josh Osich have all had it during their time in the organization, along with outfielder Mac Williamson. Prospect Ian Gardeck is currently recovering from Tommy John. The last Giants pitcher who was likely headed for the roster before having Tommy John was left-hander Eric Surkamp. He had surgery in 2012.

The timetable is different for every pitcher, but the general consensus is that the procedure sidelines a pitcher for at least a year, and usually closer to 16 months. Matt Moore, Thursday night’s starter, had Tommy John on April 23, 2014. He did not return to a big league mound until July 2, 2015, and even then, he was under restrictions. 

Smith is under team control for two more seasons after this one.