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).

Decision time for A's: Trade Sonny Gray now or later?

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AP

Decision time for A's: Trade Sonny Gray now or later?

As Sonny Gray prepares to take the mound against Toronto on Tuesday night, there’s not a hotter name in the rumor mill as the major leagues’ non-waiver trade deadline approaches Monday.

Yet there’s a contradiction attached to the A’s right-hander. He is simultaneously the likeliest Athletic to be traded, and the toughest to pry away simply because of what the team will demand in return.

The markets for first baseman Yonder Alonso and second baseman Jed Lowrie haven’t developed as expected, to the point that you wonder how much the A’s could even get in return for them right now.

That focuses the spotlight squarely on Gray, 27, who has posted a 1.62 ERA over his last five starts and comes with two more seasons of team control before he hits free agency. That’s why he’s been linked to no fewer than nine contending teams who are looking for starting pitching.

The A’s sit in a position of strength here. They don’t have to deal Gray right now, and indications from within the organization are that they don’t feel a pressing need to deal him before Monday if they don’t get swept off their feet by an offer. They can retain him, and he’ll still hold great value as an offseason trade chip with those two years of team control.

MLB.com’s Jon Paul Morosi reported Tuesday morning that the Yankees and Nationals — who have already struck a deal with Oakland to get relievers Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson this month — are two teams in particular to watch in the hunt for Gray.

Morosi also reported that the A’s are targeting young outfielders as the anchor of any deal. That makes all the sense in the world given their organizational needs, particularly in center. It’s also in line with what I’ve heard that the A’s would prioritize getting position players in return since they worked so hard over the past couple of years to acquire and draft young starting pitching (though it stands to reason a deal for Gray would be a multi-player package that could also include pitching prospects as well).

Morosi specifically mentions Yankees Single-A center fielder Estevan Florial as a player the A’s like. He’s just 19 and at least a couple years away from the majors. But Billy Beane, the head of Oakland’s baseball operations, said after making the Doolittle/Madson trade that the emphasis moving forward would be on acquiring high-end talent, not necessarily prospects close to being major league-ready.

Other potential Gray suitors have elite outfield prospects in their system: The Astros boast Kyle Tucker, the Nats have Victor Robles and the Mariners have Kyle Lewis, though it’s doubtful whether Seattle has enough elsewhere in its farm system to assemble a package to land Gray.

Just a hunch, but keep an eye on the Dodgers as a team that could enter the Sonny Sweepstakes in light of Clayton Kershaw’s lower back injury. There’s strong ties between the Oakland and Los Angeles front offices, and the teams struck a deadline deal last summer that sent Rich Hill and Josh Reddick to the Dodgers. They have one of the majors’ top outfield prospects in Alex Verdugo, who’s currently at Triple-A.

Though much mystery remains, an eventual trade of Gray is inevitable. The A’s have a solid base of young pitching depth, both in the majors and coming up through the system. And Gray’s rebound from a poor 2016, combined with his favorable contract status, makes him too tantalizing a trade chip for the A’s not to make the move.

The key question is not “if” but “when.”

 

Report: Blazers trade Allen Crabbe

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USATI

Report: Blazers trade Allen Crabbe

Allen Crabbe will end up in Brooklyn after all.

The Blazers will trade the shooting guard to the Nets, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

In exchange, Brooklyn will send big man Andrew Nicholson to Portland.

Nicholson will not suit up for the the Blazers, as Portland will waive and stretch his contract.

Last summer, Crabbe -- who was a restricted free agent -- signed a 4-year, $75 million sheet from the Nets.

The former Cal star returned to the Pacific Northwest because the Blazers matched the offer.

Last season, Crabbe averaged a career-best 10.7 points per game, while shooting just under 47 percent from the field and over 44 percent from deep.

He averaged just 5.5 points in the opening round of the playoffs against the Warriors.

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders and a Web Producer at NBC Sports Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller