Shocker at Staples -- Kings upset Lakers, 100-95


Shocker at Staples -- Kings upset Lakers, 100-95


LOS ANGELES (AP) The Sacramento Kingsseemed downright stunned by what they had just done, throwing towelsand hollering with unfamiliar joy in Staples Center's sparse visitors'locker room. DeMarcus Cousins led the festivities, bubbling with jokesand busting on everything from Carl Landry's shoes to Omri Casspi'sdeodorant."I feel like I won a championship now," the big man said with a joking smirk.Cousins realizes Sacramento'ssurprising 100-95 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday nightwasn't for a title. It's certainly the high point of this young team'smiserable season - and for one improbable evening, the Kings werebetter than the champions.Cousins had 27 points and 10rebounds, and Casspi added 20 points as the club with the NBA'sthird-worst record (11-33) beat the two-time defending champs in theirown building, snapping an eight-game losing streak to Sacramento'sformer archrivals in the process."Obviously they're the best team inthe league, they're the champions, and it feels good," Casspi said."It's a great way to get our first win down here together, and it's agreat way to start a tough stretch of games. We feel really good."Samuel Dalembert scored 18 points asthe Kings (11-33) jumped to a 20-point lead in the third quarteragainst the Lakers' uninterested defense. The Kings then survived theLakers' late rally for their first win over Los Angeles since December2008.Kobe Bryant passed Hakeem Olajuwonfor eighth place on the NBA's career scoring list while scoring 21 ofhis 38 points in the first quarter, but the Lakers sure appeared to getcaught looking ahead to Sunday's NBA finals rematch with Boston."I don't think so," Bryant said in his clipped postgame comments. "Maybe a little bit, but I doubt it."Even though captain Derek Fisher puta two-day ban on all talk and thought about the Celtics duringThursday's practice, the Lakers resembled the disorganized,disinterested bunch that overlooked Milwaukee in an embarrassing homeloss four days before the Miami Heat's visit on Christmas - anotherblowout defeat.Shannon Brown scored 17 points, butPau Gasol struggled with nine points on 4-of-11 shooting, and LamarOdom had just four points while missing all seven of his field goalattempts. Los Angeles has won 10 of 13, but just three of its last sixheading into Sunday."We didn't execute defensively verywell," Bryant said. "We blew so many coverages and gave so many openlooks. We were a little out of sync and slow in our rotations, and itcost us. We just weren't sharp defensively at all. We've still got workto do. We still have to continue to work at it and get moreconsistent."Cousins scored 22 points in thefirst half before finishing one point shy of his career high for theKings, who pulled the upset after losing eight of their previous 10.The Kings earned their thirdimpressive road win in the past three weeks. Sacramento also won at NewYork and Portland before posting its first road victory over the Lakerssince March 2008.Dalembert and Casspi led a crisp18-4 run after halftime, and Sacramento eventually went ahead 81-61midway through the third quarter. Dalembert took over where Cousinsleft off exploiting Los Angeles' 7-footers from the perimeter, hittinghis first five shots after halftime."The start of the third quarter wascertainly the key to the game," Sacramento coach Paul Westphal said."Everything went great for us. We were able to build up that big lead,and they weren't able to chip it away. We did struggle a lot at theend, but we did hold on. That's big progress from some of the thingswe've had happen to us earlier in the year."The Lakers trimmed the lead to 14points heading into the fourth quarter, and consecutive dunks by Bryantand Gasol cut Sacramento's edge to 93-89 with 3:19 to play. But theLakers got just one point out of their next three possessions, andCasspi tipped home Tyreke Evans' missed jumper with 1:29 to play beforethe Kings hit free throws in the final minute."I think we're surprised," Lakerscoach Phil Jackson said. "We played some defense in the fourth quarter,but it seemed to be the only quarter we could really get up and defend.... Their big guys came out and really took it (to) our guys andcarried the day for their team."In Bryant's first game since earninga starting spot at Staples Center next month in his 13th All-Star game,the leading All-Star vote-getter needed 13 points to pass Olajuwon. Hegot them all in the first 8 12 minutes, breaking downcourt for aone-handed jam for the decisive 24,947th point.NOTES: Cousins and Gasol exchangedangry looks and lightly bumped chests with 2:52 to play after Gasolforced a turnover by pressuring Cousins near the Lakers' bench. ...Fans entering Staples Center were told they might appear in "Jack andJill," a movie starring Adam Sandler, Al Pacino and Katie Holmes.Director Dennis Dugan ("Happy Gilmore") was in the building with acrew.

Bruce Maxwell: Kneeling for anthem not 'disrespecting my country or my flag'

Bruce Maxwell: Kneeling for anthem not 'disrespecting my country or my flag'

OAKLAND — Bruce Maxwell’s gesture to take a knee during the national anthem Saturday night at the Coliseum was no knee-jerk reaction by the A’s catcher.

It was something he’s considered for a long time, balancing his own personal convictions to make a statement with how it might affect his teammates and organization.

Think it was bold of Maxwell to become the first player in baseball to kneel during the anthem, in protest of racial discrimination and the inflammatory remarks of President Trump? It took just as much guts to stand before his teammates, manager Bob Melvin and GM David Forst and explain why he felt he needed to do it.

He did so in a pregame meeting Saturday that made for a degree of discomfort in the room, but also seemed to have played out in a healthy way.

“I didn’t want them to sugarcoat or aid me when it comes to the media and their personal feelings,” Maxwell said, “because the whole point of this is the ability to protest (based on) our personal beliefs and our personal choices.”

Many athletes have been critical of the President, with things intensifying across the sports landscape Saturday after Trump, among other things, withdrew an invitation for the Warriors to visit the White House and harshly criticized athletes who have knelt during the anthem, saying they should be booted off their teams.

After blasting Trump on both Instagram and Twitter, Maxwell took the field for the anthem and took the action that will define him in the eyes of the baseball world. Maxwell had been wanting to make a statement in some way. He said he and his sister dealt with racial discrimination growing up. Watching Trump’s rally play out in his hometown of Huntsville, Ala. on Friday further persuaded Maxwell to finally do so.

“This goes beyond the black community, it goes beyond the Hispanic community, because right now we’re having … a racial divide in all types of people,” said Maxwell, who is African American. “It’s being practiced from the highest power we have in this country and it’s basically saying it’s OK to treat people differently. And my kneeling, the way I did it, was to symbolize the fact that I’m kneeling for a cause. But I’m in no way or form disrespecting my country or my flag.”

A’s outfielder Mark Canha stood next to Maxwell during the anthem with his hand on Maxwell’s shoulder, a show of support. Canha said he’s considered kneeling before in protest himself but had chosen not to. As he listened to Maxwell address the team, Canha wasn’t going to let his teammate make his statement on his own.

“I could tell he was getting kind of choked up and emotional about his beliefs and how he feels about the racial discrimination that’s going on in this country right now,” Canha said. “I felt like every fiber of my being was telling me that he needed a brother today.”

Canha added that he sensed some “discomfort” in the room as Maxwell addressed the team. But he also said there was support.

“It was an open forum to ask him questions. It was as articulate as I’ve seen him,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “This wasn’t an emotional thing just today for him. … I think he handled it really well and everybody was comfortable after the session. I’m proud of him for the fact he went about it the way he did.”

Maxwell, who was born in Germany while his father served in the Army over there, said he will continue to kneel for the anthem. He doesn’t expect his teammates to do the same, only to stick to what they believe in.

“I have plenty of family members, including my father, who have bled for this country,” Maxwell said. “At the end of the day, this the best country on the planet. My hand over my heart symbolized that I am, and will forever be, an American citizen. But my kneeling is what’s getting the attention because I’m kneeling for the people that don't have a voice.”

Madison Bumgarner, Gorkys Hernandez make statements in win over Dodgers


Madison Bumgarner, Gorkys Hernandez make statements in win over Dodgers

LOS ANGELES — A 2-1 victory Saturday night at Dodger Stadium all but assured that the Giants will not lose 100 games. They still could, sure, because any sort of downslide is possible in this 2017 season, but they would really have to finish with some sort of ugly stretch. 

Still, it’s been a long season, so it was no surprise when Madison Bumgarner admitted to some sleepless nights since Opening Day. As for Saturday night …

“It’s going to be much easier to go to sleep tonight, because we won,” Bumgarner said.

The big lefty did the heavy lifting, throwing 7 2/3 dominant innings and offering one more reminder that his shoulder is 100 percent fine after a season-halting dirt bike accident. Bumgarner topped out at 93.5 mph, and even though Bruce Bochy thought Dodger Stadium might have had a hot gun on this night, the swings told the story of a good fastball. Bumgarner said this was as good as he has felt in a while. 

“He did look strong,” Bochy said. “He did have really good stuff tonight. It was really crisp.”

It was the kind of night that reminds you that, for all their issues, the Giants will start 2018 with a leg up on many others. They have Madison Bumgarner and you don’t, and that should lead to plenty of good over the course of 32 or 33 starts. 

“I think it’s good for the club to know, hey, he’s back,” Bochy said. “This is the kind of ball we can play.”

It was the brand Bochy appreciates: A strong start, a good bullpen, strong defense, and just enough offense. That’s how the Giants will win in 2018, if they are to do so, which bodes well for the man at the center of Saturday’s offense. The Giants plan to move Denard Span to left field and acquire a new center fielder, but they still lack depth in the organization, and Gorkys Hernandez has made it clear he would like to stick around. He had three hits — including two doubles — and a walk, scoring both Giants runs. 

After a slow start that almost got him released, Hernandez took off over the summer, providing a high average and sparkling defense at three spots. A left wrist tendon issue has slowed him in September, but he surprised the staff by being available for the final two weeks of games, and he said he’ll play through the end of the year before considering any rehab options 

“He certainly has made a statement,” Bochy said. “He’s one of our better athletes. He can play anywhere in the outfield, and what’s impressive is how he’s come on with the bat. A kid like this that plays defense the way he can, and shows he can do some things with the bat, he’s in the mix.”

Hernandez said he loves playing in San Francisco. He intends to spend his offseason getting healthy at his home in Scottsdale before competing for an outfield job. 

“Every time Bochy puts me in the lineup I’m trying to show everyone that I can be here and that I can be part of this team for a long time,” he said.