Sans Monta, W's blown out in Denver, 134-111

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Sans Monta, W's blown out in Denver, 134-111

April 11, 2011BOXSCORE WARRIORSVIDEONBAPAGE NBASCOREBOARD

DENVER (AP) The Denver Nuggets found themselves without a superstar but sporting one of the deepest rosters in the NBA after sending Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups to Broadway.Good thing, too, because their injuries just keep piling up.J.R. Smith's 22 points led nine Nuggets in double figures and Kosta Koufos tied his career high with 18 points in Denver's 134-111 win over Golden State on Monday night, when the injury-riddled Nuggets reached 50 wins for the fourth straight season and clinched the fifth seed in the Western Conference.NEWS: Warriors' decision on Smart's future not imminent
It marked the first time the Nuggets had that many players score 10 or more points since Nov. 24, 1987, when they had 10 guys do it in a game against New Jersey."The bench is deep, there are opportunities for guys to make plays," Kenyon Martin said. "That's what it's all about. Can't worry about who's not playing, got to worry about who's playing, and I think we do an excellent job of that."Yet, the Nuggets are limping into the playoffs.On the same night forward Arron Afflalo and center Chris "Birdman" Andersen returned to action, center Nene strained his left groin and missed the second half, joining four teammates who were sitting this one out.The Nuggets said Nene was day to day.STEINMETZ: Lin might be third guard Warriors are seeking
Afflalo left the game 2 12 minutes into the second half and didn't return. He walked gingerly to the bench during a timeout after scoring 10 points in 17 minutes and said afterward his strained left hamstring tightened up."I immediately got out," Afflalo said. "This ain't the time to make it worse."He insisted he'll be fine by week's end even though this injury has dogged him for six weeks."We've got a week now before playoffs and that's clearly my focus now," Afflalo said. "... If there was a minor setback from today, I'll be over it by playoff time."Afflalo had missed 11 of the team's previous 15 games and had aggravated his strained hamstring before."I've never dealt with an injury like this," Afflalo said. "It's not painful, but it's annoying. It's not one of those things you can play through."Smith said he wasn't worried about all the injuries, "but at the same time I just want everybody to be healthy so we'll have no excuses" come playoff time.Andersen had 14 points and 12 rebounds in his first game since spraining his right ankle April 1."He was dynamite," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "I mean, his bounce, his step and blocked shots and defensive energy and rebounding, he's a force. ... I think he'll be in the rotation when it counts."Especially if the Nuggets face Oklahoma City in the first round, as expected. The Thunder beat the Nuggets twice last week when Andersen was sidelined and there's bad blood brewing between the Northwest Division rivals."I'm not going to comment on that because everybody says I'm stirring the pot," Karl said, "but we did have some injuries in those two games."Andersen had five rim-rattling dunks to spark the Nuggets along with Smith's bevy of 3-pointers that helped them pull away late in the third quarter.Every Nuggets player who played scored in double figures, including Koufos, who didn't play at all in the first half. He finished one board shy of joining Andersen and Raymond Felton (15 points, 10 assists) with a double-double."You have guys that will come off the bench and they can do just as well as the starters," Warriors coach Keith Smart said. "You don't drop off much when Felton comes in the game."Or Anderson. Or Smith. Or even Koufos, for that matter.It's rare to have a roster where so many players produce so much."We've got a lot of good bigs, a lot of good guards," Koufos said. "Our depth is going to help us in the playoffs, so we've just got to get better every day."And healthier.Stephen Curry and Dorell Wright each scored 27 for Golden State. Wright scored 1,333 combined in his first six NBA seasons and has 1,324 already this season with one game left.Curry only played 12 seconds of the fourth quarter after spraining his right ankle. He's also day to day.The Warriors were without guard Monta Ellis, who sustained a concussion in the final minute of a game against Sacramento on Sunday night."Well, you miss your go-to guy," Smart said.The Nuggets were 32-25 when they traded Anthony and Billups to the New York Knicks in a blockbuster traded that netted them five new players, including Danilo Gallinari and Felton.Since then, they've done better than anyone could have anticipated to reach the 50-win plateau again."It's a great run, it's a special year because of it," Karl said. "It's one of my more enjoyable years. The NBA is all about persevering, it's all about not getting too high not too low."Our yo-yo, it was up and down quite often, we had to fight through a lot of interesting circumstances and situations and guys kept hanging together."Even with so many of them sidelined.Notes: The Nuggets were without F Wilson Chandler (left ankle), Gallinari (right ankle), F Al Harrington (rest) and C Timofey Mozgov (left ankle and knee). ... The Warriors have lost in nine of their past 10 trips to Denver.

Giants notes: Melancon gets injection; Kontos gets an at-bat

Giants notes: Melancon gets injection; Kontos gets an at-bat

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants were annoyed by Monday’s “rubbing teammates the wrong way” report for a number of reasons, but near the top of the list was the fact that the target, Mark Melancon, has been pitching hurt to try and help a last-place team. That’s no longer the case. 

Melancon went on the DL on Wednesday morning and later had a PRP (platelet rich plasma) injection in his right arm to try and ease some of the discomfort in his pronator. He is expected to be out the rest of the first half. Melancon would be eligible to return with two games left until the break, but there’s no point in rushing him. He missed 12 games the first time this came up and he now has more than two weeks to rest before the second half kicks off. 

In the meantime, Sam Dyson is the closer, but he was unavailable Wednesday because of a heavy workload. So Bruce Bochy got creative to close out a 5-3 win over the Rockies. George Kontos came on for a sharp Ty Blach in the seventh and carried the lead to the eighth. Steven Okert got through the 26th out and Hunter Strickland came in to get Ian Desmond to fly out for his first save of the year. 

Because Bochy wanted Kontos to face Pat Valaika in the eighth, he got an at-bat 15 hours after Cory Gearrin got to take his hacks. It at first looked like Kontos had “don’t swing” orders, but he fouled a ball off. 

“The second fastball I got, if it was near the plate, I was going to swing,” he said. 

Kontos said he doesn’t have bragging rights over Gearrin because he fouled a ball off, noting that Gearrin is 1 for 2 in his career and he is 0 for 8. It turns out that they used the same bat, too. Yes, there is a Cory Gearrin model.

“It’s just been hanging out since last year,” Gearrin said, looking down at his equipment bag. “Just in case.”

--- Dan Slania woke up a 4:30, drove to Philadelphia, and boarded a flight that was went down through Nashville to fuel up. He arrived in San Francisco in time for the second inning. And then he watched, met with old teammates, showered … and prepared to fly all the way back to Pennsylvania. 

“I’m going to pass out as soon as I get on the plane,” Slania said. 

He wasn’t complaining at all. The Giants needed a potential innings-eater with Melancon on the DL, and if Slania is sent back down before Friday’s game, he’ll at least be back near Double-A Richmond and the flight back will have been taken on a chartered jet with a bunch of former teammates. Plus he gets a couple of service days. 

“I can tell you it’s well worth it,” Bochy said. 

--- The main story today is about Jae-gyun Hwang, who brought some more life to a team that got its first sweep of the year. The standings are what they are, but the Giants are playing much better, and some players started talking Wednesday about how they’re looking forward to being a spoiler for teams like the Rockies and Diamondbacks. 

More than anything, the players are just happy that they got to listen to the victory soundtrack again and walk out of this park with smiles. 

“We did a really good job of coming into this series and decided what the intent should be,” Nick Hundley said. “We weren’t going to worry about what’s been going on. You control what you can control. It’s nice when the results match up.”

There was a players-only meeting on Monday and Hundley said “everybody got on the same page again.”

Now the tricky part: Keeping it going on the road. 

--- Nolan Arenado is a freak and the Giants should give him a blank check, a ton of Facebook stock, and the rights to the Salesforce building when he’s a free agent in two and a half seasons. 

--- Ryder Jones is hitless in 16 at-bats but he was keeping his head up. He was an inch or two from a double down the line Wednesday and the Giants feel he’s having good at-bats. More than anything, he's not taking those results into the field and he talked about that at length when we sat down for a podcast the other day. If you subscribe on iTunes here, you’ll have it in the morning. 

Rockets GM: Chris Paul trade 'gives us a real shot' vs NBA juggernauts

Rockets GM: Chris Paul trade 'gives us a real shot' vs NBA juggernauts

The NBA took a massive power shift Wednesday with the Clippers trading point guard Chris Paul to the Rockets for seven players, a 2018 first-round pick (protected Nos. 1-3) and $661,000. 

Houston GM Daryl Morey is going all in on a mission to compete with the Warriors and he believes the Rockets are now there with the pairing of Paul and MVP runner-up James Harden. 

"You know, it's a guards-based league. It's a weapons race in the NBA and you're either in the weapons race or on the sidelines," Morey said at the team's press conference, as captured by Mark Berman of Houston's FOX 26. "With James Harden in his prime and Chris Paul in his prime, this gives us a real shot to chase the juggernaut teams in this league." 

Paul, who turned 32 in May, is a nine-time All-Star. He spent his last six seasons with the Clippers and averaged 18.1 points, 9.2 assists and 5.0 rebounds per game during the 2016-17 season in 61 games played. 

This past season, Harden became a primary point guard for the first time under Mike D'Antoni's fast-paced offense and the bearded lefty excelled in his new position. Harden led the NBA with 11.2 assists per game while putting up 29.1 points per game. 

Houston received guards Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams, forwards Sam Dekker and Montrezl Harrell, plus the non-guaranteed deals of DeAndre Liggins, Darrun Hilliard and Kyle Wiltjer from Los Angeles. 

The Rockets went 55-27 last season, four games ahead of the Clippers, but were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs to the Spurs.