Second time in three nights, Nuggets beat Kings

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Second time in three nights, Nuggets beat Kings

April 1, 2011BOXSCORE KINGS VIDEONBAPAGE NBASCOREBOARD

SACRAMENTO (AP) Although Carmelo Anthony was clearly the focal point on a talented team during his tenure in Denver, the Nuggets are making a good case for being a better club without the perennial All-Star forward.Raymond Felton scored 14 of his 17 points in the final quarter, and Nuggets won their fifth straight game with a 99-90 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Friday night.The Nuggets used a big third quarter to distance themselves from the cold-shooting Kings. Denver has gone 14-4 since the trade of Anthony on Feb. 22.It's been a different Nuggets team since the departure of Anthony. The scoring has been balanced among the starters and a core group of reserves, making Denver a difficult team to defend."It's fun being around guys that don't have worries about who is going to play, and when they are going to play," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "I think we can do that for 25 games with basically 10-11 guys that deserve to play. There's a lot of guys to give minutes. Tonight was frustrating trying to find minutes for everybody."Denver (46-29) remained 2 12 games ahead of Portland for fifth place in the Western Conference with seven games left in the regular season."We're ready for the playoffs right now," Felton said. "We just need to get a few guys healthy, but I think mentally and physically we're ready to go."Felton was certainly ready in the fourth quarter. He had three points through three quarters and was hardly a factor at the offensive end.With the Nuggets shooting 6 of 22 in the fourth, Felton felt it was time to be more assertive. He shot 3 of 4 in the fourth and connected on 7 of 9 free throws in accounting for 14 of Denver's 20 points in the final period.Felton made a jumper and followed with a fast-break layup with 2:46 left to put the Nuggets ahead 95-84."I decided to be aggressive and tried to get to the free throw line," Felton said. "As a point guard you've got to pick and choose when you need to score."Francisco Garcia scored 17 points for the Kings, who are tied with the Cleveland Cavaliers for the worst home record (10-28) in the NBA. Tyreke Evans had 13 points, while Beno Udrih, Jason Thompson and Marcus Thornton all had 11."Denver is playing terrific ball, you can't really sit there and focus on what player you have to stop," said Kings rookie DeMarcus Cousins, who missed 12 of 15 shots and finished with 10 points and eight rebounds."Tonight it was Kenyon Martin, he was a man child. The last game (Wednesday in Denver) it was Ty Lawson."Martin scored 14 points for Denver, which had six players in double figures. Nene had 12 points and 12 rebounds, and Aaron Afflalo scored 11.Trailing by 17 points, the Kings scored nine straight to cut the Denver lead to 86-78 at the 7:56 mark. Yet poor shooting plagued the Kings over the next five minutes, when they scored just six points.Not even a minor altercation between Samuel Dalembert with Danilo Gallinari, following a hard foul by the Nuggets forward, could inspire the Kings."It was just one of those games where if it goes that way, you have to keep attacking the basket and not take jumpers, and putting it on the referees to make the calls," Dalembert said.Sacramento, which shot 40 percent, had 16 turnovers, and made just 2 of 21 3-pointers.The Nuggets are outscoring opponents by nearly 16 points during their five-game win streak, including a convincing 104-90 victory over the Kings. In Wednesday's win in Denver, the Nuggets trailed the Kings by as many as 13 points, but pulled away in the second half, outscoring Sacramento 63-39."It's tough playing a team back-to-back, they are a little better prepared for you," Affalo said. "You've just got to out there and make the plays and we were able to do that when we needed to tonight."Despite a good chance of the Kings departing, Sacramento fans have shown no outward signs of animosity at Power Balance Pavilion. Attendance was 15,871 against the Nuggets and boos were a rarity throughout the game.On Tuesday night, the Anaheim City Council voted 5-0 to approve a 75 million financial package to lure the Kings from Sacramento. The council also voted 5-0 to pay for the Kings' relocation, a decision that makes the likelihood of the team relocating to Anaheim next season even stronger.In the third quarter, the Nuggets ran off eight straight points to build a 70-59 lead by the midway point. Gallinari, who went scoreless in the first half, scored nine points and Martin had eight. Denver outscored the Kings 31-16 and headed into the fourth with a 79-67 lead.Notes: Denver forward Chris Anderson sprained his right ankle in the fourth quarter and left the game. Karl said he is not expected to play Sunday against the Los Angeles Lakers. ... Former Kings owner Jim Thomas sat in a courtside seat that on many nights has been occupied by one of the Maloof owners. The Maloofs have not attended a home game in over a month. Evans made his first start since missing 19 games with plantar fasciitis in his left foot. Last year's rookie of the year had come off the bench in his previous three games. The Denver bench outscored the starters 29-19 in the opening half.

Warriors complete Phase 1 in preparation for trilogy Finals vs Cavs

Warriors complete Phase 1 in preparation for trilogy Finals vs Cavs

OAKLAND -- The Warriors studied video and practiced for nearly two hours Saturday, completing Phase 1 of the plan they’ll take into the NBA Finals.

Everybody on the roster is healthy, including starting center Zaza Pachulia, who missed Games 3 and 4 of the Western Conference Finals with a heel contusion, and seldom-used forward Kevon Looney, out for seven weeks with a hip strain.

“We had a great film session with the team, a great discussion with the team and put our keys up on the board for our guys and went over that stuff with them before practice,” acting head coach Mike Brown said after practice.

Defending Cavaliers star LeBron James surely was among the topics to generate considerable dialogue. It provides some relief that Andre Iguodala says he feels fine after battling knee soreness in the Western Conference Finals.

It was Iguodala, after all, who earned the NBA Finals MVP award after doing such a fine job as a primary defender of James in 2015. It’s an altogether different test now that the Cavs are healthy and have a surplus of shooters surrounding James.

“You still try to watch film, any new sets or anything that they try to implement for their team, because he’s the type of player that is so dynamic he can hurt you in different ways, especially with his passing ability,” Iguodala said.

When facing elite scorers, the Warriors typically vary their defensive looks. In addition to Iguodala, James will see some Kevin Durant, some Draymond Green and probably some Matt Barnes.

Nearly as important as Iguodala’s health is that of Pachulia. Though Cleveland is more willing to go small than in the past, there will be times when a big body, such as Pachulia, will be needed to keep Cavs big man Tristan Thompson off the glass.

Thompson had five of Cleveland’s 18 offensive rebounds last Christmas Day, when the Cavaliers came back for a 109-108 victory over the Warriors in Cleveland. The Warriors lost the rebounding battle by nine (60-51).

When the teams met three weeks later in Oakland, the Warriors pulled off a 126-91 rout largely on the strength of outrebounding Cleveland 58-35. Thompson had two offensive rebounds and five overall, while Pachulia gobbled up 13 rebounds -- 10 on the defensive glass.

The Cavs outscored the Warriors 17-8 in second-chance points in the first game, but the teams tied, 12-12, in that category in the rematch.

“It’s part of their strength,” Pachulia said. “Second-chance points are a killer. It’s something we have to take away. That’s one of the keys for us.”

 

Klay's next assignment: Slow down Kyrie...and he's got a gameplan

Klay's next assignment: Slow down Kyrie...and he's got a gameplan

OAKLAND -- Klay Thompson spent nearly eight minutes Saturday answering a variety of questions, many of which were related to his diminished offense this postseason and his primary defensive assignment in the upcoming NBA Finals.

Mired in a shooting slump, by his standards, the Warriors guard now has to confront the fabulous offensive arsenal of Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving.

As much as Thompson would love to rediscover his shooting touch in Game 1 on Thursday night at Oracle Arena, the Warriors may be more delighted if he can prevent Irving from finding his.

“I take pride in (playing) both sides of the ball, defense as equally as offense,” Thompson said after practice at the team’s downtown facility. “Whether or not my shot falls, I can always control that part of the game.”

The Warriors are undefeated (12-0) this postseason despite Thompson averaging only 14.4 points (compared to 22.3 in the regular season) on 38.3-percent shooting from the field (46.8 in the regular season), 36.4 percent beyond the arc (41.4 in the regular season).

That spotless postseason record is, in part, a reflection of Thompson’s work on defense. In all three rounds, he has guarded the opponent’s most dangerous backcourt player.

“I couldn’t be happier with how he’s helped us win games,” acting head coach Mike Brown said.

Next up for Thompson is Irving, who has hit game-winning shots in each of the last two times Cleveland has beaten the Warriors, a 3-pointer in Game 7 of the 2015 Finals and a midrange fadeaway jumper last Christmas Day at Quicken Loans Arena.

Irving has played well this postseason but lately has lifted his game to another level. In the five-game Eastern Conference Finals against Boston, Irving averaged 25.8 points per game, while shooting 62.2 percent.

He was particularly dazzling as the Cavs finished off the Celtics in Games 4 and 5, averaging 33.0 points on 64.9-percent shooting.

Irving’s recent run prompted Cleveland teammate LeBron James to label him one of the best one-on-one players of all time, a compliment Brown did not argue.

“There are a lot of guys that can shoot the 3, but that’s all they can do,” he said. “There are a lot of guys that can dribble drive and finish at the rim, but that’s all they can do. Here’s a guy that can shoot the 3 off the catch-and-shoot, he could shoot the 3 off the dribble. He has medium-game pull-up. He has medium-game floater. And then he can get to the rim. And when he gets to the rim, he can finish in traffic among 7-footers.

“The way he puts English on the ball, how high he gets it off the glass when he needs to, all those things play into a factor of why he is one of the greatest one-on-one players of all time.”

Thompson said Irving’s offense “easily” belongs in the discussion with the league’s best, a group including the likes of MVP candidates Russell Westbrook and James Harden, as well as Thompson’s teammate, reigning MVP Stephen Curry.

“He’s done it in big moments, so you’ve got to give him credit,” Thompson said of Irving. “Not only have I seen him do it in the pros, but I’ve seen him do it with the USA Team, too. Kyrie’s a very tough guard. We’ve got a game plan for him, and it’ll be fun.”

Thompson said he will try to crowd Irving, contest every shot and not be outhustled. Still, he concedes that may not be enough.

There is, however, one other thing Thompson cited that could impact Irving’s offensive production. Make him work on defense, something both Warriors guards have the ability to do.

For Thompson, that means finding his stroke.

“I’d like to see the ball go in the basket,” he said. “It has, just not as frequently as I want. But that means nothing now. That’s in the past. It wouldn’t have mattered if I shot lights-out if we didn’t finish the job off.

“Now that we’re here, it’s a clean slate. It’s time to go. Can’t be worried about a few bad shooting games or the percentages when you went 12-0. You’ve just got to do what you can and have the intentions to win the game, not to go out there and score a number of points but to just go out there and win the game and make winning plays. That’s what I’m focused on.”