Nuggets' late surge snaps Kings' win streak

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Nuggets' late surge snaps Kings' win streak

March 30, 2011BOXSCORE KINGS VIDEONBAPAGE NBASCOREBOARD

DENVER (AP) Five days of rust couldn't derail the streaking Denver Nuggets.Ty Lawson scored 20 points, J.R. Smith and Danilo Gallinari had 17 each and the Nuggets overcame a sluggish start to beat the surging Sacramento Kings 104-90 on Wednesday night.Al Harrington scored 15 and Nene had 12 points and 15 rebounds for the Nuggets, who won their fourth straight and increased their lead over Portland to 2 12 games for the fifth spot in the Western Conference playoff race. The Trail Blazers lost at New Orleans on Wednesday.It wasn't a pretty win Wednesday. Denver enjoyed a five-day break between games, but it seemed to take away the team's sharpness."We got used to playing against each other instead of playing against everybody else," Smith said. "We were rusty out there."The Nuggets are 13-4 since the blockbuster trade with New York in large part because of their ability to share the ball. But, in the first half, they had only seven assists and shot 37 percent from the field.It was apparent the layoff had an impact."Sometimes that can be a good thing if you're struggling. But we weren't struggling, so it made us sluggish," guard Raymond Felton said of the break. "We can't complain about that now because we have no days off."The Kings were on the second game of a back-to-back, but held the lead for most of the game on the strength of their guards. Marcus Thornton scored 27 and Tyreke Evans had 22 off the bench for the Kings, whose four-game win streak was snapped.Thornton is averaging 22.4 points a game since coming to the Kings in a trade with New Orleans."Thornton is legit. He's changed the way our team is," Sacramento coach Paul Westphal said.The game was close for most of the second half before the Nuggets took control in the fourth. With Denver leading 80-79, Gallinari's dunk, Lawson's jumper and consecutive 3-pointers from Gallinari and Felton gave Denver a 94-83 lead with 3:09 left."We were down the whole game and when we got the lead we were determined to keep the lead," Felton said.Denver scored on eight of its last nine possessions."They started making plays and we kind of ran out of gas," Thornton said. "We did play Phoenix last night. They are an up and down team and this team is the same way."The Kings led 57-49 early in the third when the Nuggets rallied to get even. A three-point play by Gallinari, a 3-pointer from Wilson Chandler and a jumper by Lawson tied it. Harrington's fast-break dunk midway through the period gave Denver a 59-57 lead, its first of the game."We've got to keep doing what we do well, and usually that means Ty and Raymond pushing us and keep attacking the rim," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "Their defense wore out a bit and we got to the rim."The Nuggets lead the NBA in scoring at 107.7 points a game, but sputtered to start Wednesday. They were 1 for 6 from the field and the foul line and had just five points more than halfway through the first quarter and trailed by 11.The Nuggets rallied behind their bench, which gave them a spark and got them within 32-31 early in the second quarter. Sacramento responded with a 15-5 run, capped by Thornton's fourth 3-pointer of the half, to stretch the lead to 47-36.The Kings led 51-41 at halftime.Notes: Denver F Kenyon Martin left in the first quarter with the flu and did not return. ... The Nuggets have won 10 straight at home. ... Nuggets G Arron Afflalo sat out his fourth straight game while nursing a strained left hamstring. He is expected to return to the lineup when the Nuggets play the Kings in Sacramento on Friday. ... The Kings have more wins on the road (11) than they do at home (10).

Report: 49ers strongly considering QB at No. 2

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Report: 49ers strongly considering QB at No. 2

General manager John Lynch and the 49ers have created the desired intrigue about what the club will do with the No. 2 overall pick in this week’s NFL draft.

The team remains “open for business,” in the words of Lynch, to trade the second pick. If the 49ers are unable to find a trade partner, the team can do any number of different ways with that pick. The first round of the draft is scheduled for Thursday evening.

After edge-rusher Myles Garrett, widely projected to go to the Cleveland Browns with the No. 1 overall pick, there does not seem to be much separating the next dozen prospects on the board at a number of different positions.

Now, there is buzz the 49ers could go with a quarterback – likely, Mitchell Trubisky of North Carolina – with the No. 2 pick. That possibility gained steam Monday morning with a report from Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, citing “several sources,” that the 49ers are “strongly considering” selecting a quarterback with the second pick.

One league source last week told NBC Sports Bay Area some around the league believe the 49ers would draft Trubisky or Stanford defensive lineman Solomon Thomas.

“If the 49ers are waiting on Kirk Cousins, just remember that Trubisky is a better prospect now than Cousins was coming out of the 2012 draft,” the source said.

Cousins, who is set to play his second consecutive year as Washington’s franchise player, was a fourth-round selection under then-coach Mike Shanahan, New 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan was his father’s offensive coordinator when Washington drafted Cousins.

Lynch has been open in his scouting and praise of this year’s draft class. He has attended workouts of top quarterback prospects: Trubisky, Deshaun Watson (Clemson), DeShone Kizer (Notre Dame), Patrick Mahomes (Texas Tech) and Davis Webb (Cal).

"I think most of this quarterback class should be later down the line, whether it's first round or second round,” NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said recently. ESPN’s Mel Kipier and Todd McShay had Trubisky as the first quarterback selected by the Browns at No. 12 overall.

“I think these guys are somewhat getting a bad rap,” Lynch said at the NFL scouting combine. “You turn on the film, and there’s a lot to like.”

The 49ers head into this week’s draft with Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley as the only two quarterbacks on the roster.

The 49ers have shown no interest in re-signing any of the top three quarterbacks on the team’s roster last season: Colin Kaepernick, Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder. Each of those players remains unsigned.

A's find themselves in decent shape with Graveman, Gray possibly returning

A's find themselves in decent shape with Graveman, Gray possibly returning

OAKLAND — Some 10-9 records are better than others, and so it is that the A’s can hit the road for a nine-game trip feeling pretty good about themselves.

Their just-completed homestand began with Opening Night starter Kendall Graveman leaving a game early and landing on the disabled list. That was coupled with news that shortstop Marcus Semien would be lost for two months or more with a fractured wrist.

The A’s responded to those developments with a five-game winning streak that was halted by Sunday’s 11-1 rout at the hands of the Seattle Mariners.

The A’s went 5-4 on the homestand, holding their ground after a heavy dose of injury misfortune, and now the outlook changes just a bit. The focus shifts from the players joining the D.L. to those that could soon return to provide a boost.

Graveman, who has a strained right shoulder, is scheduled to throw off the mound Monday. If that goes well, expect him to be activated sometime in the early portion of the upcoming trip. Sonny Gray, who has been out since injuring a side muscle early in Cactus League games, is set to throw Thursday for Triple-A Nashville after an encouraging rehab outing Saturday for Single-A Stockton.

If Gray comes out of Thursday’s start well, look for the 2015 All-Star to join the active roster and pitch sometime against Minnesota in the final series of this road trip. Nothing can be taken for granted until both pitchers actually return healthy, but it’s a promising scenario to possibly add two starters of their caliber as April turns to May.

“I think any time you look up and you’re over .500 and you’ve had a great homestand and you’re missing your best two pitchers, that’s something to be pleased about,” catcher Stephen Vogt said. “Getting Kendall back is huge. And Sonny obviously did great last night, and felt great, which is more important than the results.

“We’re excited to get those two guys back but in the meantime, we’re gonna continue to keep playing the way we are because we’re playing really good baseball and we’ll just keep things rolling.”

It was clear early on Sunday that a five-game winning streak wouldn’t reach six. The Mariners led 2-0 in the third when Andrew Triggs missed location on a 1-0 sinker and Taylor Motter launched a grand slam over the wall in left-center.

Triggs, who excelled at missing the fat part of bats over his first three starts, didn’t have the feel for his cutter Sunday. When he fell behind to Motter, the cutter is normally a pitch he would have gone to had it been working for him.

“I wasn’t commanding well,” he said. “I didn’t wanna go 1-0 to 2-0. I felt better going with the sinker. I got it down, but missed location in and out. In a perfect world, the cutter would have been great to get a groundout.”

But to this point, the A’s rotation has held firm without Gray and with the short-term absence of Graveman. Perhaps the biggest test moving forward is whether an offense that is tied for the American League lead in extra-base hits can continue to produce consistently with Semien’s absence, particularly without anyone having established themselves as the regular leadoff man.

A’s manager Bob Melvin likes what he’s seen from his team in light of the injuries.

“Every game we go out there there’s an expectation to win,” Melvin said, “and when you win multiple games in a row, you get that feeling and it’s a little more significant. So hopefully we can carry that on to the road trip. As a group, we’ve been able to manage these injuries here recently, and once we start getting guys back it’s gonna be a good thing for us.”