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.

Sharks need to 'figure it out pretty soon' after another thrashing

Sharks need to 'figure it out pretty soon' after another thrashing

NASHVILLE – Apparently, one wake up call wasn’t good enough for the plummeting San Jose Sharks.
 
Just one day after suffering what was arguably their worst game under coach Pete DeBoer, Nashville put up a touchdown on the Sharks in a 7-2 win, giving San Jose its sixth straight defeat – all in regulation.
 
After getting outscored 13-3 the last two nights, including Friday’s 6-1 loss in Dallas, where do they go from here?
 
“In two years, last year and this year so far, we haven’t had one night like this almost. Now we have back-to-back nights,” Joe Pavelski said. “I think it’s just a reality check. A gut-check time.
 
“It’s on us as players. Bottom line is we haven’t put the effort in that we need to have right now, and it snowballed on us a little bit at times. I think we’ve got to take a deep breath and really take a look in the mirror, refocus a little bit and understand there’s hockey out there, but it’s not going to fix itself.”
 
What has to be fixed immediately is the defensive structure that has been so vital to the Sharks’ success in the Pete DeBoer era. Even when the club was going through stretches of struggling to score, as it was earlier in the season, it was still collecting points in the standings with its ability to limit the opposition’s scoring chances.
 
While the game against the Predators was actually a little better in that regard, believe it or not, it was still nowhere near the level it needs to be for the postseason. Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s absence was partly to blame for that, but the Brent Burns-Paul Martin pair has been a disaster lately. Both have a minus-nine rating during the six-game losing streak, and that number is indicative of how they’ve looked, too.
 
“We’re giving up some goals. It’s a combination of things,” DeBoer said. “Obviously it’s not good enough to win games, so we’ve got to figure it out. I don’t have an answer standing here for you, but I know our group. Every team I’ve ever coached has a tough part of the season. This is obviously ours. We’ll regroup, and figure it out.”
 
Burns, who admitted to a “bad read” on Nashville’s second goal when Roman Josi sped around him, said: “It’s a tough league when you’re not executing little things.”
 
The Sharks actually looked strong early, poised to put the Dallas disaster behind them. The first few shifts, they had the puck in the Nashville end.
 
But Tomas Hertl was outmuscled behind the net by Colin Wilson on Colton Sissons’ goal at 4:14, Burns got beat on the second, and the Sharks never recovered. Patrick Marleau’s second period power play goal offered life, but that was extinguished 24 seconds later when James Neal answered with a power play goal of his own. The Sharks never got closer than two goals after that.
 
“When things are going bad, those are the things that are happening,” Burns said of Neal’s response to Marleau’s marker. “So, you’ve just got work through it."
 
Will they be able to work through it with just seven games left in the regular season, though? That this cold spell is happening in late March doesn’t speak well to the Sharks’ chances in the postseason, which begins in just two-and-a-half weeks.
 
Burns said: “Right now we should be just tightening up everything. … We've got figure it out pretty soon.”

Sharks forward Haley could face supplemental discipline from NHL

Sharks forward Haley could face supplemental discipline from NHL

NASHVILLE – Sharks forward Micheal Haley could be in line for supplemental discipline from the league, after earning a match penalty in the third period of Saturday’s 7-2 loss in Nashville.
 
After absorbing a borderline hit from behind by Calle Jarnkrok, Haley tracked down the Predators forward and promptly delivered a left jab to Jarnkrok’s face at 12:56 of the final frame, with the Sharks trailing 5-2 at the time.
 
Naturally, there were differing opinions from the two head coaches on the play.
 
Pete DeBoer said: “When you run someone from behind in a game like that, you probably deserve to get a punch in the mouth.”
 
Predators coach Peter Laviolette told reporters: "It's an ugly play. This isn't the wild, wild west. I mean, Calle hit him. We took a penalty. If we start doing that, we're in trouble, so hopefully it gets looked at."
 
Any player who earns a match penalty "shall be automatically suspended from further competition until the commissioner has ruled on the issue,” according to league rules.
 
In 54 games this season, Haley has two goals and nine assists for 11 points. His 110 penalty minutes is fifth in the league.
 
Jarnkrok did not return after the punch, but told reporters after the game he felt “OK.”
 
"I feel pretty good," Jarnkrok said. "Obviously, I saw him coming. There were a couple other guys coming, too. I didn't really know what to do. He got in a good punch on me.”