From Comcast SportsNetGLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- Kevin Kolb tried to downplay the significance of beating his former team, focusing more on the success of his current team.In the huddle, the Cardinals quarterback couldn't hide his desire to knock off Philadelphia. He wanted this one bad.Kolb orchestrated Arizona's offense to near perfection while building a big first-half lead and the defense hounded Michael Vick all day, sacking him five times to help the Cardinals run over the Eagles 27-6 on Sunday for their best start in 38 years."He was calling for guys to reach down and dig deep, that we really needed to make a play," Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald said. "He really doesn't talk that much in the huddle, but today I could tell that he was extra motivated."Kolb was sharp in his first start against his former team, throwing for 222 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 17-of-24 passing. He led the Cardinals to a 24-0 halftime lead, in part, by reconnecting with Larry Fitzgerald, who had one catch against New England last week.The guest conductor for the Phoenix Symphony on Thursday, Fitzgerald kept the high notes going by catching nine passes for 114 yards and a touchdown while becoming the youngest player in NFL history to reach 700 receptions.Adding to Kolb's satisfaction was the way Arizona's defense played against the man who pushed him out of Philly.Harassing Vick from the opening snap, the Cardinals hit him hard and often, forcing him into two fumbles, including one that James Sanders returned 93 yards for a touchdown on the final play of the first half.Backing up a big road win against the Patriots with a dominating victory over the Eagles, the Cardinals (3-0) are off to their best start since 1974, more than a dozen years before the team moved to the desert. They've also won seven straight home games, the second-longest streak in franchise history, and have won 10 of 12 dating to the end of last season."I'm going to enjoy it, don't get me wrong, but the biggest thing is being 3-0," Kolb said. "Being 3-0 with the teams that we've played and the fashion that we've won, it's been exciting."The Eagles' season had been, too -- until they ran into Kolb and his Cardinals.Philadelphia (2-1) became the first NFL team to open a season with two one-point wins. The Eagles didn't give themselves a chance to rally for another victory.The NFL's best offense the first two games, the Eagles had three turnovers, running their season total to 12, and labored all day against the scrappy Cardinals, unable to keep them off Vick."They played better than we did, clearly better," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "They coached better, they played better and that is my responsibility. I didn't have my football team ready to play and they did."After three years of waiting behind Donovan McNabb, Kolb was pushed aside when Vick made his triumphant return to the NFL.Even after being traded to Arizona and landing a huge contract extension, Kolb still had to fight for recognition.He lost a tight preseason battle with Skelton, but came off the bench in the opener against Seattle when Skelton sprained his right ankle. Kolb took the Cardinals on the winning drive and was steady enough last week to lead them to one of their biggest road victories in recent years, 20-18 over the Patriots.Skelton returned to practice late this week, but was limited and couldn't go Sunday.Kolb made the most of his opportunity. He completed all three of his throws on Arizona's opening drive to set up Jay Feely's 16th straight field goal, from 47 yards.After the Cardinals recovered a fumble by Eagles punt returner Damaris Johnson, Kolb threw an 8-yard TD pass to Michael Floyd, who made his first NFL catch a memorable one by juggling the ball through two Philadelphia defenders.Kolb kept clicking in the second quarter, throwing a 37-yard touchdown pass to Fitzgerald that put the Cardinals up 17-0. He also helped Fitzgerald reach a big milestone in the quarter, hitting him on a 4-yard pass to reach 700 receptions in 29 years and 23 days and eclipse Dallas tight end Jason Witten, who became the youngest last week at 30 years and 133 days.Arizona's offense bogged down in the second half -- 28 yards in the third quarter -- but ground the game away with a time-consuming, 13-play drive in the fourth quarter that resulted in a 27-yard field goal by Feely for a 27-6 lead.Vick finished with 217 yards on 17-of-37 passing after entering the game second in the NFL with 688 yards."I wish I had all the answers right now," Vick said. "The only thing I can tell you is we didn't play our best, Nowhere near what we have potential to do."NOTES:Arizona has at least two sacks in nine straight games, the longest current streak in the NFL. ... Philadelphia played without receiver Jeremy Maclin (hip) and left tackle King Dunlap (hamstring). ... LaSean McCoy was Philadelphia's leading rusher with 70 yards on 13 carries. ... Arizona also won seven straight home games from 2007-08 and set the franchise record with nine straight in 1925.
SACRAMENTO -- DeMarcus Cousins took a microphone at a local Sacramento restaurant on Monday evening and couldn’t fight back tears. After almost seven seasons in a Kings uniform, the talented, yet enigmatic big man professed his love for the city that he has called home and the fans that have supported him.
“My love for this city will never change,” Cousins can be seen saying via mobile phone footage. “Even though I’m gone, it will still be the same. I’m still looking out for these kids. Every family in this city matters to me. Every soul in this city matters to me. Everything’s the same, I’m just not in a Kings uniform anymore.”
Rarely has Sacramento had a player kick and scream to stay. That is what happened behind the scenes over a wild weekend. Cousins made a commitment to remain in Sacramento, likely for the rest of his career. He spent All-Star weekend expounding his love for the city and his team.
The Kings weighed their options and went a different direction. That new path is a youth movement that was already underway.
Cousins wears his emotions on his sleeves. He can’t help it, regardless of what people think. Watching him grow from a 19-year-old kid to a 26-year-old man has been one of the more intriguing aspects of covering the Sacramento Kings since 2010.
Every night was different. Every mood was different. Be it a serious look from across the room and the 6-foot-11 big man summonsing you over to explain a tweet, or Cousins seeking council after picking up another tech, there was never a doubt that he was real.
Watching him hug and take pictures with kids at his basketball camp showed one side of Cousins. Seeing him come unglued on a reporter while wearing just a towel demonstrated another. There was very little middle ground.
The instability of the Kings did Cousins no favors. Six coaches, three general managers and two ownership groups in seven seasons helped perpetuate the cycle of confusion and chaos. But that doesn’t mean that anything would have worked out differently.
Loyalty isn’t just a brand for Cousins, it’s how he lives his life. He’s been trapped inside a fishbowl from a very young age. Rarely has he let people into his world. His kids have always been off limits. His family history has remained mostly anonymous as well. The larger than life persona on the court has never consistently matched the man you see off it.
The locker room won’t be the same. Maybe that’s a good thing for Sacramento. Maybe the Kings will turn a much needed corner and become something other than a perennial lottery team. But there is no question that they just gave up the best big in the league and a player who never wanted to leave.
Sacramento invested time and energy into Cousins. In the end, they had to make a tough decision. Could they win with him? If not, would they ever be able to move the star big when his price tag read 40 or even 50 million?
There were only two options - sign him to a max deal or trade him. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. His value as an asset was diminishing by the day, despite his incredible production on the court.
They chose to rip the band-aid off in one quick pull and start over. Their decision has sent shockwaves around the league, but very few people know what it feels like to walk in the Kings’ shoes. Sacramento knows they have a new building to fill and they know they got less than market value, yet they still made the move.
The return is not what was expected, but this wasn’t a normal transaction. Cousins’ talent is unquestionable. His on court production was incredible. His generosity in the community is legendary. But pieces were still missing from the overall puzzle.
This wasn’t about Buddy Hield or a draft pick in the stocked 2017 NBA Draft. This was strictly a decision to step off of one long and winding path and choose another direction.
Kings fans will watch Cousins continue to make All-Star appearances. He will likely be a first team All-NBA player this season and he and Anthony Davis might make the best big pairing since Tim Duncan and David Robinson.
The Kings will likely struggle to win 30 games for the next season or two and maybe longer. They might never stumble on a similar talent. But it wasn’t working, end of story.
For the last seven seasons, the Sacramento Kings have been the most interesting bad basketball team in the league. Relocation is over and now DeMarcus Cousins is gone. The focus will now be strictly on hoops, which might be the scariest proposition of all.
SAN JOSE – There are no glaring holes for the San Jose Sharks to fill ahead of next week's NHL trade deadline on March 1.
Still, Sharks general manager Doug Wilson is a notorious tire-kicker, and he’s surely working the phones these days to see if there’s anything out there that could help his hockey club, which has a comfortable five-point lead on the Pacific Division midway through its bye week.
“We’ll see, but we do feel really good about this group,” Wilson told CSN earlier this month. “We believe in our players and we believe in our guys on the Barracuda, because they’ve earned that.
“Having said that, our history speaks for itself. If there’s a way to help this hockey team or add something, we’ve always done it, and we’ll always explore it.”
So, what might the Sharks be exploring? There are two areas that make the most sense – a backup goaltender, and a scoring winger.
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No question Aaron Dell has exceeded expectations in his first NHL season. He’s 7-3-1 with a 1.95 GAA and .934 SP in 12 games, and his .953 even-strength save percentage is tops in the league among goalies that have played at least 10 games.
Still, it’s unknown if Dell would be able to handle the day-to-day grind, if anything were to happen to Jones. Even in the minors last season when he earned the number one job with the Barracuda, he wasn’t playing three and four games a week due to the AHL’s Pacific Division having fewer games than the rest of the league. He’s also not been overly tested at the NHL level – of Dell’s 10 starts, only one has come against a team currently in playoff position, and the Calgary Flames are only barely in the second Wild Card spot.
There are some goalies thought to be trade bait as pending unrestricted free agents. They include Tampa Bay’s Ben Bishop, Winnipeg’s Ondrej Pavalec, the Islanders’ Jaroslav Halak, or Philadelphia goalies Steve Mason and Michal Neuvirth. All could likely be gotten for some combination of young players and/or draft picks.
But is it worth it for the Sharks to make a move for a player that might not even be needed in the postseason? According to one NHL analyst, the Sharks should just take their chances with the inexperienced North Dakota product.
“I probably wouldn’t put a whole lot of resources in [finding a backup goalie],” NBCSN analyst Keith Jones told CSN on the latest Sharks Insider Podcast. “If Martin Jones was injured you’d have a real problem, it would be tough to find a goalie to replace what he brings to the table. I know they tried James Reimer last year, and the book is out on him. … I’m not sure that that’s a major upgrade on Aaron Dell.”
That said, Keith Jones would like to see Martin Jones – who’s on pace to play 69.5 games – get more time off after the schedule resumes. That means increased playing time for Dell.
“I think you might just want to take a chance with your backup a little more frequently,” Jones said. “You may want to sacrifice a few games along the way. [Dell] gains some experience, and Jones gets some rest.”
The impression here is that the Sharks will probably stick with Dell. Sharks coach Pete DeBoer has been nothing short of glowing in his reviews of Dell lately, as well he should be. The goalie has earned his place on this team, and none of the other goalies that the Sharks could acquire would be obvious upgrades at this stage of the season.
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A much stronger case can be made that the Sharks are in need of another scoring winger.
While the offense has been more dangerous in recent weeks than it was over the first half of the season, it still doesn’t look as effective as it was last season going into the playoffs, when it finished fourth in the league. Yes, the power play has been relatively power-less, but there’s more to it than that.
Mikkel Boedker has been a disappointment after signing a four-year deal as a free agent, and was benched yet again on Sunday. Joonas Donskoi, still out with what looks like a shoulder injury, hasn’t taken that next step after his strong playoff run last season. Joel Ward is off his scoring pace from last year. Patrick Marleau has been outstanding, but remains streaky. Kevin Labanc and Timo Meier have done some nice things as rookies, but neither of them has “arrived” yet, to borrow a word commonly used by DeBoer. Nikolay Goldobin failed in his two-game tryout last week, too.
Finding a winger to play on the Joe Thornton-Joe Pavelski line should be a priority, as DeBoer has tried seven different wingers there this season without finding a permanent fit.
Among the veterans that could be available are Dallas’ Patrick Sharp or Patrick Eaves, Arizona’s Shane Doan, Colorado’s Jarome Iginla, Detroit's Thomas Vanek, or even Vancouver’s Alex Burrows or Jannik Hansen, if the club is looking for a more agitating type.
Sharp is perhaps the most intriguing name on that list. Although he’s been hurt off and on this season and his numbers are down on a bad Dallas team, he’s a veteran scorer that has won three Stanley Cups as part of Chicago’s dynasty. He’s an obvious upgrade over the players that have rotated through the Thornton line.
Bringing in one of those aforementioned forwards would require some salary cap juggling (especially Sharp, who carries a $5.9 million cap hit) and perhaps a salary from the current roster going the other way, as the Sharks don’t have a whole lot of room right now. But it’s worth exploring, as a consistent offensive attack should be this team’s biggest worry right now with seven weeks until the postseason.
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If the Sharks don’t make a move, DeBoer and company are still confident with the team in the dressing room. After all, most of those players were a part of the team’s run last season, when the Sharks were just two wins from capturing the Stanley Cup.
“For us, it’s not whether a piece comes in or whether we don’t bring any pieces in, I think we’re confident in our group,” DeBoer said. “It’s about us…playing to our identity for as long a stretch as is possible, because that’s what wins in the playoffs. Whether we don’t do anything or whether a piece comes in here, I don’t think that mindset changes.”
Justin Braun said: “Management is going to do what they’re going to do, but if they don’t do anything, we have confidence with everyone in here to get the job done.”