Reunited Kings head to face Oklahoma City

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Reunited Kings head to face Oklahoma City

Feb. 15, 2011 KINGS (13-38) vs.
OKLAHOMA CITY (34-19)Coverage begins at 5 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet California (AP) -- Just as DeMarcus Cousins was becoming better known as one of the NBA's most talented rookies rather than a potential trouble-maker, the Sacramento Kings center became the center of controversy again after a weekend loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.A night later, his team proved it can get by without him.Cousins didn't travel with Sacramento for its latest road game after a postgame incident against the Thunder, but he'll be back on the court for Tuesday night's rematch in Oklahoma City as the Kings seek a fourth consecutive victory away from home.
RELATED: Kings fine Cousins, rejoins team in Okla. City
Sacramento (13-38) has the league's third-worst record, but it's discovering that it may have a building block in the middle for years to come in Cousins.
The fifth overall pick in the 2010 draft has averaged 19.6 points and 11.3 rebounds in his last seven games, a stretch that seemed to indicate Cousins had matured since a string of three earlier incidents that began in the preseason - including one with coach Paul Westphal.
RELATED: DeMarcus Cousins stats
He had 14 points and 12 boards in a 99-97 loss to the Thunder (34-19) on Saturday, but no one was talking about his play on the court afterward.Displeased that teammate Donte Greene passed the ball to Tyreke Evans rather than him in the waning seconds, Cousins reportedly took a swing at Greene in the locker room after the game. He was then left off the team plane to Phoenix.The Kings didn't let the situation affect them. Greene and Samuel Dalembert each had 12 points in the fourth quarter Sunday, helping Sacramento rally from a three-point deficit after 36 minutes for a 113-108 win.
REWIND: Kings get first win in Phoenix since 2005
"We missed Cuz tonight but we couldn't dwell on it," said Greene, who finished with 19 points. "We had to come out and still play well."Things happen. Everybody is not perfect. We try not to let things off the court distract us on the court. It is life. Everybody is not perfect and we've got to move on."
DAVE: Finding the silver lining in the Cousins-Greene-Evans fight
The Kings announced Monday that Cousins - who apologized for his actions - will be fined but will rejoin the team in Oklahoma City, where Sacramento will look for its first four-game road winning streak since Dec. 11, 2004-Jan. 4, 2005.That won't be easy to accomplish against the Thunder, who have won seven of eight against Sacramento and all four meetings in Oklahoma City.The Thunder, though, have sandwiched two losses around the win over the Kings, with turnovers proving costly in both defeats.Oklahoma City gave the ball away a season-high 23 times - Russell Westbrook had eight - in a 105-101 overtime loss to Memphis last Tuesday, then committed 20 turnovers in a 100-94 road loss to Golden State on Sunday.Westbrook, who had six of those, took responsibility for his team's sloppy play."I blame it on me," Westbrook said. "I've been not taking care of the ball and it's been rubbing off on my teammates. I have to figure out how to take care of the ball and make smart decisions for my teammates and not put them in bad situations."Aside from the turnovers, the Thunder need to do a better job on the boards. The Kings outrebounded them by 13 on Saturday and the Warriors held a 14-board edge Sunday.Oklahoma City is 22-6 when it outrebounds its opponent.Durant, who scored 35 at Sacramento on Saturday but missed two late free throws, has averaged 35.0 points in his last 11 home games. The Thunder are 7-0 when he reaches 35.

Hoesen leads the ways as Earthquakes take down Real Salt Lake

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USATSI

Hoesen leads the ways as Earthquakes take down Real Salt Lake

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE — Danny Hoesen scored his second goal of the season and assisted on Marco Urena's second goal, lifting the San Jose Earthquakes to a 2-1 victory over Real Salt Lake on Saturday night.

Hoesen opened the scoring in the 13th minute, off a long cross from Nick Lima. After touching the ball down, Hoesen gathered it off a defender's foot, stepped inside and unleashed a left footer into the top corner from just off the penalty spot.

Hoesen's long through ball down the right side sent Urena free and from a tight angle he rolled the ball past Nick Rimando in the 68th minute.

San Jose (6-6-5), which has battled injuries and call-ups to score just 16 goals in 16 games, won for just the second time in its last seven games.

Lima picked up two yellow cards in the second half and the Quakes played a man down from the 71st minute.

David Bingham made only one save in each half but was denied his seventh shutout when Jose Hernandez scored his second goal in the fourth minute of stoppage time for Salt Lake (5-11-2).

Latest round of bullpen auditions go poorly in Giants' 50th loss

Latest round of bullpen auditions go poorly in Giants' 50th loss

SAN FRANCISCO -- Practically speaking, the 50th loss is no different than the one before or the one after, but this sport is built on milestones, and this one came quickly.

The Giants lost their 50th game on August 12 last year. This season, it was clinched when Ryder Jones grounded out in his fourth career at-bat, handing the Mets a 5-2 win on June 24. 

Bruce Bochy called losing 50 of your first 77 games "hard to believe" and "embarrassing." Johnny Cueto, who went seven strong, said the reality was "hard and sad." Brandon Belt, who got Cueto off the hook for a loss, agreed with his manager.

"That's a pretty good word to use -- it is embarrassing to come out and lose every day, especially with the group of guys we have," Belt said. "When you're losing as much as this, it is embarrassing. We're trying to do whatever we can to turn this thing around."

Lately, that has meant changes to the roster. It is officially audition season, and in that respect, it was not a particularly inspiring day for the bullpen. The Giants felt they would have a better mix this year, but it hasn't played out. Instead, they're once again trying to find pieces for the next successful Giants bullpen.

With Hunter Strickland suspended and Derek Law in the minors, two young relievers, a middle-innings stalwart, and a newcomer pitched the final two frames. They gave up four runs.

Sam Dyson was the first on the mound in the eighth. Belt had homered a few minutes earlier, tying a good starter's duel. Dyson gave up a leadoff triple to Curtis Granderson and walked Asdrubal Cabrera before throwing two good sliders past Yoenis Cespedes for the strikeout. With two lefties coming up and the go-ahead run still on third, Bochy turned to Steven Okert. He immediately gave up a seeing-eye RBI single to Jay Bruce. Wilmer Flores doubled off George Kontos later in the frame to make it 3-1. 

In the ninth, Kyle Crick showed some of the wildness that kept him in the minors for seven years. He, too, gave up a leadoff triple, a sin you always pay for. A walk helped put another run into scoring position and a wild pitch extended the Mets’ lead to four. 

Before the game, Bochy talked of getting an extended look at Jones. He was 0-for-4 in his first big league game but he’ll be back out there tomorrow. It’s time to fight for a job, and the same holds true of some relievers who didn’t fare well Saturday. It is a group with a closer locked into a longterm deal and little else decided. 

Are Strickland or Law eighth-inning guys? Will Dyson be a worthwhile reclamation project? Will Kontos be back, and will he carve out a different role? Are Okert and Josh Osich capable of giving Bochy lefties he trusts? Is Crick’s improvement in Triple-A a sign of things to come? There are many questions to be answered over the next three months. 

“This is a good time for them, this is what players get up here for, to show what they can do,” Bochy said. “Because of our situation, we’re going to take a look at these guys and we know there are going to be growing pains.”