Slumping Warriors look to deal blow to Rockets

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Slumping Warriors look to deal blow to Rockets

March 23, 2011

WARRIORS (30-41) vs.
HOUSTON (37-34)

Coverage begins at 5 P.M. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area

HOUSTON (AP) -- The Houston Rockets are outside the Western Conference playoff picture, but led by Kyle Lowry, they're playing like they want to change that.

Coming off his first career triple-double, Lowry looks to help the Rockets win their fifth in a row and extend their home dominance over the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night.

Houston (37-34) has won 11 of 14 but trails Memphis by two games for the final playoff spot in the West. The Rockets earned a key win Sunday over one of the teams chasing them for that postseason berth, defeating Utah 110-108.

RELATED: NBA conference standings

Houston built an early 12-point lead and then held off the Jazz by not allowing a field goal for more than seven minutes of the fourth quarter.

"These guys, they're laying it out on the line," coach Rick Adelman said. "Everything they've got, they're laying it out there right now. They know what's ahead of them, they know what's going on and they're busting their tails. I think that's the difference. The attitude is we're going to do whatever it takes to win the game."

Kevin Martin scored 34 points and made all 18 free-throw attempts, while Lowry finished with 28 points, a career-high 11 rebounds and 10 assists.

Lowry has averaged 20.4 points in 10 games this month, up from his season average of 13.2. He scored seven points in the final three minutes of the fourth quarter against the Jazz, hitting all five free throws.

Lowry has the highest fourth-quarter scoring average on the Rockets in March at 5.8 points.

"We have to execute at the end of games," Lowry said. "I think it's not that you play, it's just that you make sure you do what you've got to do to try and win the game."

Houston will try to close its six-game homestand on a high note before beginning a three-game road trip versus East opponents. The Rockets have won two of three against the Warriors this season, giving them 11 victories in 12 matchups, and they've taken the last six meetings at home.

Martin has averaged 27.7 points in his last three against Golden State.

The Warriors (30-41) have dropped five in a row, falling 111-96 at San Antonio on Monday. The Spurs scored 23 points off 17 turnovers and led 32-21 at the end of the first quarter.

REWIND: Spurs get past Warriors as Duncan gets hurt

"We can score the ball pretty good," point guard Acie Law said. "We've just got to finish it out defensively. It's been a long season and it's a work in progress. Hopefully we can get better ... We won't give up, we are going to continue to fight it out."

Golden State has given up 112.2 points the last five games, up from its season average of 105.9 that is second worst in the league.

Leading scorer Monta Ellis will try to bounce back after another rough night, as he finished with 10 points and shot 4 of 13. Ellis is averaging 24.2 points but has scored 12.0 per contest while shooting 33 percent over the last three games.

Ellis, though, should be very happy to see Houston. He scored a career high-tying 46 points in a 132-128 home win over the Rockets on Oct. 27 and had 44 in a 121-112 home loss to Houston on Dec. 20.

The guard struggled at the Toyota Center on Nov. 24, scoring 18 points and going 7 of 21 from the field as the Warriors fell 111-101, but he's averaged 32.0 points in his last six games in the series.

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.”