Suddenly hot Kings look to keep rolling vs. Suns


Suddenly hot Kings look to keep rolling vs. Suns

March 29, 2011

PHOENIX (36-36) vs.
KINGS (20-52)

Coverage begins at 7 P.M. on Comcast SportsNet California

SACRAMENTO (AP) -- The Phoenix Suns' playoff hopes are getting slimmer as they continue to fade in the Western Conference.

The Sacramento Kings will miss out on the postseason for the fifth year in a row, but find themselves in the midst of a season-best winning streak.

Phoenix hopes to avoid a fourth loss in five games while host Sacramento tries for a fourth consecutive win overall and third straight in the series when the teams meet Tuesday night.

The Suns' postseason chances took a major hit Sunday as they fell for the seventh time in 10 games, losing 91-83 to Dallas.

That defeat, along with a Memphis victory, dropped 10th-place Phoenix (36-36) four games back of the Grizzlies for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West.

The Suns, who rank fourth in the league with 105.0 points per game, have scored 100 or fewer in six of their last 10 games, losing all six and falling to 5-21 in such situations this season.

Steve Nash, averaging 15.5 points, continues to play at less than 100 percent and has scored a total of nine points on 4-of-20 shooting in his last two contests.

"I am having a hard time getting the ball in the basket right now. It has been a tough year," said Nash, averaging 23.3 points and 14.6 assists in three meetings with the Kings in 2010-11. "We are facing some pains right now because of the mountain we had to climb all year. I think we have to play with class and dignity and go on fighting every night."

Center Marcin Gortat - averaging 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds in his last six games - and swingman Jared Dudley started in place of Robin Lopez and Vince Carter on Sunday. Gortat and Dudley combined for 40 points and 20 rebounds.

Despite Nash's impressive numbers against Sacramento (20-52), Phoenix has lost back-to-back games to the Kings, partly due to getting outrebounded by an average of 21.5. The Suns had taken 17 of the previous 19 matchups in the series.

After winning four of their previous 22 games overall, the Kings went 4-1 on their recently completed road trip - including Sunday's 114-111 overtime win over Philadelphia, their third consecutive victory.

REWIND: Kings prevail in overtime vs. Sixers

"We know our record is not very good. We always felt we had a good team," coach Paul Westphal told "We're learning. We're becoming a good defensive team and we're sorting things out."

Guard Marcus Thornton, averaging 22.0 points since joining Sacramento from New Orleans prior to the trade deadline, scored 32 on Sunday and was one of seven Kings to reach double figures.

Sacramento trailed by as many as 12 points but outrebounded the 76ers by 22 and recorded its first OT win in six tries.

"Our team has a tendency to hang our heads and not bounce back from those kinds of things," Westphal said. "We haven't been a good closing team for most of the year, but lately, we've improved in that area, too."

Center Samuel Dalembert had his third straight double-double with 13 points and a season-best 19 rebounds. Tyreke Evans scored 10 points off the bench in his second game back since missing 19 with plantar fasciitis in his left foot.

Thornton averaged 20.5 points - 7.3 more than his career mark - in his last four games against the Suns while with the Hornets. He had 10 points and 10 rebounds Jan. 30 at Phoenix for his only career double-double.

GMs have taken all the fun out of Trade Deadline day


GMs have taken all the fun out of Trade Deadline day

The NHL trade deadline came and went Monday night when the Washington Capitals went chips-in on St. Louis Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk.

(For the record, the actual details of the trade are so absurdly complicated that all you will be permitted to know here is that the Caps got Shattenkirk).

But the fact is that, yet again, all the air rushed out of Wednesday’s trade deadline balloon for the hockey media, and the poor sods on set to babysit all the deal-lets and non-deals will weep bitterly as their phones spit out hour after hour of non-information.

At least that’s the way it is playing now. Maybe Pittsburgh will finally close that long-rumored (well, by me, anyway) Sidney Crosby-for-Phil Di Giuseppe deal, but that’s not the way to bet.

But the trade deadline has been slowly but surely dying as general managers find far greater advantage in making their deals away from the time crunch and the persistent phone calls from other general manager, agents and worst of all, media weasels.

For example, the Sacramento Kings and New Orleans Pelicans broke the NBA trade deadline as well as the All-Star Game by doing the DeMarcus Cousins deal four days early and midway through the first half, in that order.

And though this wasn’t actually a trade, the Golden State Warriors broke the market back in July by maneuvering their way for the prize of the summer – Zaza Pachulia.

Oh, and the other guy.

In short, the general managers seem to have figured out the simplest way to foil the pressures of the trade deadline – by ignoring the deadline and acting ahead of time, creating their own spoiler alerts by spoiling everyone’s fun before they were fully alerted.

And that leaves the rest of us faced with an empty day of blather after we’ve all gone to the trouble of doubling down on beer and chips.

Ultimately the idea behind the coverage of a trade is to break the news of the trade whenever it happens. And the idea of the trade from the general manager’s view is to better the team and minimize the chance of being fired.

All laudable goals, by and large.

But a trade deadline without some recognizable trades is just another day when you can’t fake working, and who needs that?

What’s needed here then is a trade deadline with teeth and real tangible punishments for everyone involved. I mean, we have chips and guacamole to think of.

For instance, there is no reason why the leagues couldn’t install rules that say that no trade can be announced even to any of the principals (players, agents, medioids, et. al.) except on the day of the deadline. Any teams involved in a deal that breaks the embargo is fined a massive amount of the owners’ (as in both teams’ owners) money.

To make this work, the teams would have to agree no trade could be made between, say, Thanksgiving and the deadline. Or Christmas, depending on how you feel about tryptophan overdosing. But the point is, nothing could get done until the agreed-upon deadline, and it could only be announced to anyone on the day of the deadline.

This is profoundly unfair to the players, of course, but that little issue has never bothered management before when the alternative was money.

It is also not much fun for the media, which has to twiddle its opposables floating rumors that can’t be proven or disproven except on that one day when everyone works from midnight to midnight, wired to the eyelids on six-buck coffee and enough green tea to turn a gall bladder into a souvenir ash tray.

No, this is about making a worthwhile and ironclad trade deadline for the good of the sport, and the business.

Okay, this is about our amusement.

We all like trade deadlines. It gives order to the market, and it centers everyone’s focus on one hyper-adrenalized day to watch out for double-, triple- and quadruple-crosses from general managers wanting to jump each others’ action in search of their own personal Shattenkirks.

It spikes Verizon stock, it makes lots of business for movers and real estate vultures, it provides cheap and disposable fame for about two-thirds of the players in the league, and it makes everyone involved look like twitchy red-eyed zombies on television.

It beats the Bachelorette every time, because among other things it looks a lot more like parents do when they’ve been up all day and night with the colic farms.

In short, a trade deadline is a precious thing not to be discarded just because it’s inconvenient for a few suits and about-to-be-moved employees.

So yeah, Kevin Shattenkirk could have held another day or so. You know, for the good of the game.


Curry blames weatherman for career-worst 0-for-11 from 3-point range

Curry blames weatherman for career-worst 0-for-11 from 3-point range

In the wake of a 119-108 Warriors win over the 76ers Monday night in Philadelphia, Stephen Curry had a ready explanation for his 0-of-11 shooting 3-point distance.

He didn’t properly account for the change in weather.

“The weatherman said it’s like a low-pressure system that was coming in (and) I forgot to adjust to the thickness of the air,” he told reporters at Wells Fargo Center.

Curry’s comment may open to interpretation, but it was clear his sense of humor remained intact even after a career-worst shooting night beyond the arc.

He wasn’t the only Warrior finding it difficult to score from deep. Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green combined to go 5-of-20. The Warriors were 6-of-29 from deep, their second-lowest total of the season.

“It’s weird,” he said. “Not to discredit anything they did. The first half we had a lot of open looks that didn’t go in. Klay made a couple down the stretch. KD made one. Draymond made one from the corner.

“Other than that we still took really good shots that didn’t go in. But for us to still have moxie to withstand that and still pretty much have the lead the whole game and allow our defense to get us a win tonight was kind of our M.O.”

Given that Curry owns the single-game record for triples (13) as well as the single-season record (402), it was most alarming that he couldn’t find at least one. And he had opportunities.

“It happens but you have to try and find other ways to impact the game,” he said. “I was trying to get to the paint a little bit more and just try to make plays. One thing is I don’t get down on myself. Obviously, that’s why I got 11 of them up. I still have confidence the next one is going in and that will stay the same tomorrow.”

The Warriors face the Wizards Tuesday in Washington. In Curry’s last appearance at the Verizon Center, last Feb. 3, he went for 51 points. He was 11-of-15 from deep.

“What I love about Steph is he went 0-11 tonight from three but you wouldn’t know it if you looked at his face,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “He never loses confidence; he never hangs his head. It is a sign of a guy with ultimate confidence in his ability and the awareness that it is one of those nights.

“He is likely to come out tomorrow and make about seven in a row at some point. So that’s what I love about Steph. He keeps playing.”