One last time? Sacramento, Lakers renew rivalry


One last time? Sacramento, Lakers renew rivalry

April 13, 2011
LA LAKERS (56-25) vs.

Coverage begins at 7:30 P.M. on Comcast SportsNet California

SACRAMENTO (AP) -- All of a sudden, the Los Angeles Lakers have major concerns other than their poor play down the stretch after an injury to center Andrew Bynum.

Concern that the Sacramento Kings could be moving south seems to have been replaced by the growing sense that it will soon become reality.
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The Lakers will be dealing with the aftermath of another injury to Bynum as they try to clinch the Western Conference's No. 2 seed Wednesday night in what will likely be the Kings' final game in Sacramento.

Los Angeles (56-25) ended a five-game skid with Tuesday's 102-93 home win over San Antonio, but it may have come at a cost. Bynum fell to the court after stepping on DeJuan Blair's foot during the second quarter and the shot-blocking 7-footer will have an MRI on Wednesday.

RELATED: Lakers snap skid, but lose Bynum to injury

Bynum was hurt while getting back on defense, awkwardly tumbling to the court and nearly doing the splits while putting an inordinate amount of weight on his right knee.

Coach Phil Jackson acknowledged that Bynum could be out for at least a few games.

"We've seen him go down a couple of times that have been debilitating, so there's a concern," Jackson said. "It was kind of a freaky play, but they usually are, and that's what basketball is."

The Lakers need a victory or a loss by Dallas to New Orleans on Wednesday to gain the No. 2 seed. Los Angeles has been the top seed in winning the NBA title the past two seasons.

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Jackson has won eight of his 11 titles as the conference's top seed. One of the seasons he didn't need a No. 1 seed to win it all brings back painful memories to Sacramento fans - 2001-02.

The Kings were the No. 1 seed that season and lost a dramatic West finals to the Lakers in seven games. It was part of an era when the franchise reached the playoffs eight straight times from 1999-2006.

Sacramento (24-57) hasn't been back to the postseason since, and likely won't be hosting NBA basketball again after 26 seasons in California's capital.

Anaheim's City Council issued the bonds needed to entice the franchise and new federal trademark rights have been requested.

The Kings' owners, the Maloof brothers, have until Monday to officially file for permission to relocate, and a vote would likely come within weeks of that request. Approval by a simple majority of the owners is virtually guaranteed.

"It's going to be a basketball funeral," said Robert Crashner, a Kings season-ticket holder for almost a decade. "Unless a miracle happens, I guess it's going to be over."

The Lakers have won eight of their last nine against the Kings, and four straight in Sacramento. The Kings could be without high-scoring guard Tyreke Evans, who sat out Monday's 120-112 loss to Oklahoma City with a sprained left ankle.

REWIND: Durant, Westbrook too much for Kings

Still, Sacramento wants to give its fans a memorable send-off.

"If it's the last game in this building, we want to close it out with a win over the Lakers and if it's something that will catapult us to next season here, we want to win it with a win over the Lakers," coach Paul Westphal said.

A's starter Paul Blackburn removed from game after being hit by line drive


A's starter Paul Blackburn removed from game after being hit by line drive

A’s starter Paul Blackburn left Tuesday’s start in the fifth inning after a liner struck him on the right wrist.

Blackburn was in obvious pain after the Baltimore Orioles’ Trey Mancini hit the line shot back up the middle to lead off the bottom of the fifth at Camden Yards. The ball hit Blackburn flush, and he exited the field shortly after being visited by team trainer Nick Paparesta.

There was no immediate word from the A’s on the severity of his injury. But it was a very unfortunate turn of events for Oakland’s rookie, who largely has impressed in 10 starts since being called up from the minors. He got through four scoreless innings Tuesday, showing sharp form after giving up 18 hits over his previous two starts.

Simon Castro came on in relief as the A’s led the Orioles 5-0 in the fifth. Ryon Healy has homered twice for Oakland.

Top draft pick is the latest Giant to be sidelined by a concussion


Top draft pick is the latest Giant to be sidelined by a concussion

SAN FRANCISCO -- At this point, the Giants have gotten used to some of the realities of this season. They have been a last-place team for months, and when they were officially eliminated from the National League West on Sunday the response was basically a "long time coming" shrug. 

But some parts of this season still stun team officials, and the continued injuries are at the top of the list. It's not just that players are getting hurt ... it's that key guys are getting hurt at every single level of the organization. The latest to go down is Heliot Ramos, this year's first-round pick. Per general manager Bobby Evans, Ramos suffered a concussion when he was hit by a pitch on Sunday night. 

Ramos was tearing up the Arizona League, hitting .348 with a .404 on-base percentage, six homers, six triples and 11 doubles. The 48 strikeouts in 138 at-bats are a bit of an early concern, but the Giants are not stressing too much over a 17-year-old with a 1.049 OPS in his first professional season. Ramos is expected to miss 7-10 days, which is disappointing because the Giants were hopeful he would get a big taste of postseason action, even if it is just in the rookie league in Arizona. 

The injury continues a stunning trend. Chris Shaw and Bryan Reynolds are the only prospects out of the organization's top seven -- per MLB Pipeline -- who have avoided an injury setback. There is some good news, however, for a couple of those players who have gotten hurt. Austin Slater is 10-14 days from starting a rehab assignment, although he would probably need the San Jose Giants to make their postseason to see significant game action.

Steven Duggar was promoted from San Jose to Triple-A Sacramento on Monday and had a good first night. He's unlikely to be a September call-up because of the injuries, and he's also in the same situation as Shaw and Andrew Suarez as a player who doesn't have to be added to the 40-man roster this offseason. 

--- As for the injured big leaguers: Johnny Cueto (elbow) is scheduled to throw three innings for Sacramento tonight and Joe Panik (concussion) will play five innings. Cueto will make at least one more rehab start. Panik will join San Jose on Wednesday and could return to the big league lineup on the next road trip. 

--- Bochy said Mark Melancon feels good after going back-to-back days. It doesn't sound like he'll return to the ninth inning anytime soon. It's easier to monitor Melancon's pronator strain when he's not the closer and Bochy said the two have talked about that situation. For instance, Matt Cain stayed warm after pitching the seventh on Monday. If Melancon had felt something while warming up for the eighth, Cain would have gone back out there.