Lee, Warriors stuff Kobe, Lakers in 95-87 win

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Lee, Warriors stuff Kobe, Lakers in 95-87 win

April 6, 2011BOXSCORE WARRIORSVIDEONBAPAGE NBASCOREBOARD

OAKLAND (AP) -- Monta Ellis scored 26 points, David Lee had 22 points and 17 rebounds, and the Warriors held on to beat the suddenly sluggish Los Angeles Lakers 95-87 on Wednesday night.Stephen Curry added 20 points, six rebounds and five assists to help the Warriors build a 19-point lead in their third straight victory -- all against playoff-bound teams. They have beaten Dallas, Portland and Los Angeles in perhaps their best stretch of wins all season.
"They're committed to going against teams that we have no shot againstand saying, 'You know what, we have a shot,'" Warriors coach KeithSmart said. "And that's all we need. As I said to them before the game,we have a free swing tonight. If we go out and play and get blown outby 20, we get blown out. But we have a free swing."
VIDEO: Keith Smart postgame
Kobe Bryant had 25 points and Pau Gasol scored 18 for the Lakers, who lost for the second consecutive night to an inferior opponent. Bryant brought the Lakers within eight points in a frantic rally in the fourth quarter, but all that did was make the final score seem close.
Lakers coach Phil Jackson was shorton words after the loss but vowed he wouldn't rest his starters overthe final four games, even though there's nothing at stake."They rested tonight," Jackson said.
A night after a lazy loss at home to the depleted Utah Jazz, the Lakers might have played even worse in ending any chance of earning the top seed in the Western Conference. San Antonio's victory over Sacramento, combined with the Lakers' loss, gave the Spurs home-court advantage throughout the West playoffs..VIDEO: Monta Ellis postgame
The Lakers were in constant confusion and made mistake after mistake -- often in glaring fashion -- with Bryant shouting at teammates seemingly after every one. Some passes went into the stands, shots weren't falling and there was little hustle.
"We looked a little heavy, a little sluggish," Bryant said. "We looked alittle fatigued. Guys have to really take care of their bodies and getrest when they need to and get re-energized a little bit."Not exactly the kind of performances the two-time defending champions wanted in the home stretch of the regular season.The Warriors, who handed out "Beat LA!" posters to every fan, withstood Bryant's burst in the first quarter that put Los Angeles ahead by 12 points early. Instead, it was Golden State that controlled most of the first half with solid performances on both ends of the court.We've just been playing bothhalves," Ellis said. "Mainly I think it's our defense, limiting teamsto one possession versus getting second-chance points. And then gettingout and running and making shots."Curry even added some flair with a half-court underhand pass to Al Thornton during a run that pushed Golden State's lead to seven in the second quarter. The Lakers scored the first six points of the third quarter only to watch another hot start evaporate.Dorell Wright hit a 3-pointer - and another one in the fourth to finish with 185 on the season -- to break Jason Richardson's club record of 183 set in the 2005-06 season. Ellis and Curry also added jumpers, and Golden State went ahead 72-55 after three quarters.
VIDEO: Dorell Wright sets franchise record
The lead was big enough that Lakers coach Phil Jackson didn't even bring Bryant in the game until a little more than 6 minutes left. He sat along with Ron Artest and Derek Fisher for heavy minutes watching another miserable late-season defeat, and by the time they returned, it was far too late.The Lakers continue to believe they can win when it counts."We're not locked in," Bynum said."We're complacent. I just think we're going out there and playing kindof stupid basketball. We know that come playoff time, everything'sgoing to be fine."NOTES: Warriors C Andris Biedrinsmissed his 11th straight game with a sprained left ankle. It isbecoming increasingly likely he will not play again this season. ...Warriors G Acie Lawwill have season-ending surgery Thursday on the bone spurs in his rightwrist, the team said. ... Rapper and Oakland native Too Short performedwith the Warrior Girls during a timeout in the first quarter. ... Avideo tribute was played during a timeout in the second quarter tohonor former Warriors star Chris Mullin, who was elected to theNaismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Monday.

Giants Notes: Blach shows resiliency; Another option in center?

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Giants Notes: Blach shows resiliency; Another option in center?

CHICAGO — John Lackey's night started with a leadoff homer. Ty Blach's night started with a 13-pitch battle. Neither one is a positive for a pitcher, but Blach didn't view it that way. He actually appreciated Ben Zobrist stretching him out.

"It's good to have a battle like that and get you locked in," Blach said. "It gets you focused and you'll be like, I can execute and get guys out. It's good. It's a good battle."

There, in a nutshell, is so much of what Bruce Bochy loves about his young left-hander. The Giants have found Blach's arm and resolve to be remarkably resilient. He wasn't bothered when they moved him to the bullpen and he didn't get too high when they moved him back to the rotation. He is the same after seven shutout innings or three poor ones. Bochy smiled when asked about the Zobrist at-bat, which ended in a strikeout looking. 

"How 'bout that?" the manager said. "He won that at-bat. It seems like the advantage goes to the hitter, seeing all those pitches. He kept his focus and got a called strikeout and here he is pitching in the eighth inning."

After needing 13 pitches for one out, Blach got the next 23 on 81 pitches. Bochy thought Blach tired a bit in the eighth, but the deep effort allowed Bochy to mix and match in the bullpen, and ultimately he found the right mix. Hunter Strickland and Mark Melancon closed it out and got Blach his second win.

--- From last night, Joe Panik's huge night helped give Blach an early lead. With the help of Ron Wotus and his shift charts, he also put on a show defensively.

--- We're trying something new right after the final pitch: Here are five quick takeaways from the 6-4 win.

--- The options game sent Kelby Tomlinson back to Triple-A on Wednesday when the Giants activated Melancon, but his latest stint in Sacramento comes with a twist. Tomlinson started his third consecutive game in center field on Monday. The Giants are getting a bit more serious about their longtime plan to make Tomlinson a super-utility player. 

“Tommy is a valuable guy in the majors and if we can give him some experience in the outfield, it gives you more flexibility and versatility,” manager Bruce Bochy said. 

This is not Tomlinson’s first foray into the outfield. He did work there in the offseason after the 2015 season and he has played 25 big league innings in left field the last two seasons. This is Tomlinson’s first real experience with center field, and while in the past he has said that the transition isn’t as easy as some might think, Bochy is confident Tomlinson can figure it out. He certainly has the speed to be a semi-regular in the outfield, and the Giants aren’t exactly brimming with quality center field options behind Denard Span, who is dealing with his second injury of the season. 

“It’s a little different now,” Bochy said when asked about Tomlinson’s past experiences in the outfield. “He’s in Sacramento doing it, and knowing there’s a possibility we could need help in the outfield.”

If the switch doesn’t come in handy this season, it could in 2018. Bochy compared Tomlinson’s infield-outfield ability to Eduardo Nuñez, who has found regular playing time in left but is a free agent after the year. 

--- Hunter Pence did some light running in the outfield before Monday’s game. Bochy said Pence is still about a week away from being an option.

--- Bochy has said it a few times now when asked about the standings, so it’s officially a new motto for a team that got off to a brutal start: “We’ve put ourselves in a great situation for a great story.”

--- They're starting to get a little grumpy around here with their team hovering around .500. Perhaps the Cubs thought they could fool a few on the way out of Wrigley.

Agony still present, Kerr uncertain if he can coach Warriors in NBA Finals

Agony still present, Kerr uncertain if he can coach Warriors in NBA Finals

SAN ANTONIO -- Those following the Warriors and their effort to rage through the playoffs should put away those thoughts and hopes that Steve Kerr will return to full-time coaching later this week or sometime before the NBA Finals.

Forget about it, unless you know something he doesn’t.

And if you do, he wants to hear what you have to say.

Don’t get it wrong: Kerr wants to coach, would love to coach. That’s why, even as he feels like hell, he’s hanging around the team like a languid groupie. He wants to be with the Warriors in the heat of battle because they’re his team, within the culture he instilled, and he would like nothing more to get another chance to win The Finals.

But because the procedure he underwent more than two weeks ago at Duke Spine Center did not deliver the relief he’d hoped for, Kerr knows he’s not up to the task and, therefore, continues to operate as sort of a associate head coach to acting head coach Mike Brown.

“Mike is doing great,” Kerr told NBCSportsBayArea.com late Monday night, after the Warriors clinched a third consecutive trip to the NBA Finals with a 129-115 Game 4 win over the Spurs. “He’s such a wonderful human being. He’s so unselfish and team-oriented. I’m proud of him and the job he’s doing, along with the rest of the staff. I wish I could be out there with them. And maybe I will. I don’t know. We’ll see.

“He’s a great partner. And we’re in this together, obviously, but he’s got to make decisions with the staff without me. He’s done a great job of navigating the games. We’re undefeated, so he’s doing something right.”

Kerr can only help from the perimeter. The demands of the job require the coach be able to function at near-peak levels, particularly before and during a game, and he simply can’t. He knows there will be times, all too often, when the discomfort becomes unbearable to such a degree he hardly can think straight.

The agony is visible. The players see it. The staff sees it. Brown sees it, feels it and hears it. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is one of Kerr’s best friends -- as well as a good friend of Brown -- was able to see it during the Western Conference Finals.

“I've spoken with Steve and Mike; we're friends,” Popovich said two hours before Game 4. “We've known each other a long time. But as far as Steve's concerned, it's just a crap situation.

“You know, he's done a phenomenal job. And when you're going through that pain every day and that frustration of not being able to do what you want to do, it's hard to enjoy it at the fullest level. So I feel badly for him all the time but hopeful that stuff will get figured out.”

Nobody wants that more than Kerr, who has tried nearly everything any respectable specialist has recommended. So far, there has been no miracle.

So Kerr forges ahead, getting his Warriors fix by being around the group. By meeting with coaches and players. By meeting with general manager Bob Myers. Kerr was with the Warriors throughout their stay in San Antonio. He was at practices and shootarounds, sometimes on the floor and sometimes sitting in the stands observing from afar.

“I need to be around the guys,” he said. “I don’t want to miss this. Just being in the locker room, being able to talk to the guys means a lot to me. I’m thrilled for them. It’s fun to see how happy they are with three straight trips to The Finals. It’s pretty incredible.”

Kerr has been with the team for at least a few hours every day since May 10, less than a week after his procedure at Duke.

Kerr’s presence has been invaluable, both physically and psychologically, according to staff and players.

“Coach just empowers everybody,” Kevin Durant said. “His message is still the same. Even when he wasn't there in the Utah series, you could still feel his presence. That's what great leaders do.”

Participation, making himself feel useful, is one form of therapy that gives Kerr a semi-satisfying break from the misery.

“He watches film, and he watches the game,” Brown said. “So he gives his perspective from where he is. He gives insight on what we should be doing going forward, what he felt we could have done better, what we did that was good. So he just gives his input, mainly. He addresses the team every once in a while. He doesn't always do that, but he'll address the team from time to time.”

There was some belief that Kerr could return to full-time coaching within a week or so after the procedure, for which he declined to provide details. Warriors CEO Joe Lacob expressed hope Kerr might return “sooner rather than later.” Had it been as successful as Kerr and the doctors hoped, he would have.

That was May 5. Kerr announced he was stepping aside on April 23. As of Wednesday, he was been on leave for a full month.

Asked if he plans to travel during the NBA Finals, Kerr said he hopes so: “It’s like a month away,” he said, exaggerating the nine-day layoff.

He’d rather say with certainty that, yes, he will be accompanying the team because, after all, he’s the head coach.

And he will say that, the moment his body tells him it’s OK to do so.