Kings visit surging Heat in Miami


Kings visit surging Heat in Miami

Feb. 22, 2011

KINGS (13-40) vs.
MIAMI (41-15)
Coverage begins at 4:30 P.M. on Comcast SportsNet California

MIAMI (AP) -- As poorly as the season began for the Miami Heat, they have a chance to start the second half atop the Eastern Conference.

Though LeBron James thinks they still have areas to improve upon, the Heat are within percentage points of the East lead as they return from the All-Star break Tuesday night to host the Sacramento Kings.

After some initial bumps with its new superstar trio during a 9-8 start, Miami (41-15) feels confident the adjustment period is over. The Heat won 10 of 11 entering the break, and they could move atop the East as early as Tuesday if they win this game and conference-leading Boston loses at Golden State.

"We're still learning each other," James said. "Our record is really good and we're excited about our record, but we understand, we've still got to continue to get better."

James especially seems to be getting into a rhythm. Over the last 11 games, he has averaged 27.0 points - shooting 53.7 percent from the field - along with 8.1 assists and 8.0 rebounds.

The Heat's leading scorer said after some initial hesitation, he and Dwyane Wade have become more comfortable taking over games and not feeling the need to defer to one another. Wade scored 69 points in the final two games before the break.

"Me and D-Wade were trying to, I guess, shoot less and make sacrifices and it was really hurting our team," James said. "Until we turned the switch and said, 'OK, we need to just be ourselves and let everyone else catch up to us on the team,' it's then we started winning basketball games. And we knew we were going to be all right then."

The league's two-time reigning MVP also is coming off an impressive performance in the East's loss to the West in Sunday's All-Star Game, recording only the second triple-double in the event and first since Michael Jordan's in 1997.

Wade left the game in the third quarter after twisting his right ankle but said the injury wasn't serious.

"I just rolled it a little bit," he said. "I've got a strong ankle, so I'm not worried too much."

Wade had 14 points for the East as did Chris Bosh, who averaged 23.7 in the final three games before the break.

James has averaged 30.8 points during Miami's five-game win streak at home. The Heat, 14-2 in Miami since Thanksgiving, have won their last eight home games against Sacramento by an average of 17.6 points.

The Kings (13-40) have lost seven of eight overall, including their final two before the All-Star break as top scorer Tyreke Evans sat out with plantar fasciitis.

Evans, averaging 18.3 points, is questionable for Tuesday. The Kings dropped to 1-6 when he's not in the lineup with Wednesday's 116-100 loss at Dallas.

REWIND: Kings ripped in middle quarters, lose to Mavs

"When he doesn't play teams tend to score a lot more on us and we tend to turn over the ball a lot more," coach Paul Westphal said. "He's a big part, obviously, of us being able to be competitive."

With Evans not healthy, DeMarcus Cousins will look to further step up. The rookie is averaging 19.0 points and 13.2 rebounds over the last five games and was impressive in the Rookie Challenge on Friday with 33 points and 14 boards.

Cousins was held to six points and Evans to five in a 104-83 home loss to the Heat on Dec. 11. Wade led Miami with 36 points.

He's helped the Heat win 13 of 14 against Sacramento, which hasn't won in Miami since Nov. 10, 2001.

Warriors, Cavs to square off in ultimate NBA Finals trilogy

Warriors, Cavs to square off in ultimate NBA Finals trilogy

The Trilogy has arrived.

The Warriors. The Cavaliers. Facing each other in the NBA Finals for the third consecutive postseason. The series begins June 1 with Game 1 at Oracle Arena.

With a 135-102 victory over the Celtics Thursday night in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Cavs advance to face a Warriors team riding the wave created by being the first club in NBA history to start the postseason with 12 straight wins.

With the teams splitting the first two Finals, the Warriors winning in 2015 and the Cavs prevailing last June, this one is to break the tie.

In the meantime, both teams have done some significant retooling.

The Warriors last summer added four-time scoring champion Kevin Durant, along with veterans JaVale McGee, Zaza Pachulia and David West.

Though LeBron James remains the hub of the Cavs, the team made several in-season changes, most notably adding veterans Kyle Korver and Deron Williams.

The Warriors came into the playoffs having earned the No. 1 overall seed by virtue of their NBA-best 67-15 record. They’re 27-1 since March 11, having ended the regular season by winning 15 of their last 16 games before taking out Portland, Utah and San Antonio in four games each to reach The Finals.

The Cavaliers (51-31) held the top seed in the East for most of the season before staggering over the final six weeks, going 9-12 over their final 21 games, including four consecutive losses to end the season.

Cleveland seems to have recovered from its late-season slump, sweeping Indiana and Toronto in the first two rounds before ousting the Celtics in five.

The Warriors and Cavs split two games in the regular season, each team winning on its home floor. Cleveland took a 109-108 decision on Christmas Day, while the Warriors came back for a 126-91 on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Oakland.

The NBA Finals schedule can be seen below. 

Game 1 – Thu  June  1  Cleveland at Golden State          6:00PM  

Game 2 – Sun  June  4  Cleveland at Golden State          5:00PM  

Game 3 – Wed  June  7  Golden State at Cleveland          6:00PM  

Game 4 – Fri  June  9  Golden State at Cleveland             6:00PM  

Game 5 * Mon  June 12  Cleveland at Golden State          6:00PM  

Game 6 * Thu  June 15  Golden State at Cleveland          6:00PM  

Game 7 * Sun  June 18  Cleveland at Golden State          5:00PM    

Dusty chooses son's graduation over Nationals game against Padres


Dusty chooses son's graduation over Nationals game against Padres

WASHINGTON — Dusty Baker will miss the Washington Nationals weekend series against the San Diego Padres to attend his son Darren’s graduation.

Baker said he will rejoin Washington when it begins a three-game series in San Francisco on Monday, near Baker’s offseason home. Bench coach Chris Speier will assume managerial duties against the Padres.

Baker’s son Darren is graduating from Jesuit High School in Carmichael, California. He’s committed to play college baseball at Cal.

As a 3-year-old bat boy, Darren was rescued from a potential home plate collision by J.T. Snow in Game 5 of the 2002 World Series between Baker’s Giants and the Angels.