Warriors host Hawks, Hinrich to make Atlanta debut

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Warriors host Hawks, Hinrich to make Atlanta debut

Feb. 25, 2011

ATLANTA (34-23) vs.
WARRIORS (26-30)

Coverage begins at 7 P.M. at Comcast SportsNet Bay Area

OAKLAND (AP) -- After struggling for two weeks, the Atlanta Hawks hope a new addition will help them get back on track.

Veteran Kirk Hinrich could make his Atlanta debut when the visiting Hawks try to avoid matching a season high with their fourth consecutive loss Friday night against the Golden State Warriors.

Atlanta (34-23) is fifth in the Eastern Conference, but has lost five of its last six. Its latest defeat, 105-97 at Phoenix on Wednesday, came hours after trading Mike Bibby, Jordan Crawford, Maurice Evans and a 2011 first-round pick to Washington for Hinrich and forward Hilton Armstrong.

With the 32-year-old Bibby having lost step at both ends of the court and second-year backup Jeff Teague averaging 4.0 points and 1.7 assists, the Hawks hope Hinrich can provide some stability at point guard.

In his eighth NBA season, Hinrich averaged 11.1 points and 4.4 assists in 48 games with 29 starts for Washington.

"We have been searching for a point guard, someone who can come in and run this club," Hawks coach Larry Drew said. "I am not saying that Mike didn't do a good job. There just comes a point with the team where a change has to take place.

"With Kirk he brings toughness at that position. He is a heady guy, a smart guy and can make shots, all the tangibles we were looking for."

While the Hawks sacrificed depth, the remaining players are willing to let the move play out.

"We have to wait and see what happens," Atlanta All-Star Joe Johnson said.

The Hawks hope Hinrich also can provide some improvement on offense over Bibby and help a club that's averaged 88.3 points and shot 43.8 percent over the last six games.

Atlanta shot 48.1 percent at Phoenix, but couldn't overcome an 18-point deficit. Josh Smith scored 26 points, but Johnson was held to 12 on 5-of-13 shooting.

Johnson is averaging 19.3 points per game - his lowest in six seasons with the Hawks - and 11.3 while shooting 39.2 percent over the last six contests. The veteran swingman has totaled 26 points the last two games overall against the Warriors, but averaged 26.0 in the last four at Golden State.

Though Smith had 22 points with 10 boards in a 103-93 home win over the Warriors (26-30) on Dec. 29, the Hawks have allowed 113.5 points per game while dropping their last two trips to the Bay Area.

Golden State is 4 12 games out of the final playoff spot in the West despite winning seven of 10.

The Warriors had a three-game winning streak snapped with Tuesday's 115-93 loss to Boston. Leading scorer Monta Ellis was held to 15 points - 10 below his average.

REWIND: Warriors falter in second half, lose to Boston

Ellis had 12 on 4-of-13 shooting at Atlanta in December, but has scored 26 in each of his last two at home against the Hawks.

Golden State also made a minor trade Wednesday, sending backup forwards Brandan Wright and Dan Gadzuric to New Jersey for veteran Troy Murphy and a 2012 second-round pick.

"Our draft-pick situation could use some help," Warriors general manager Larry Riley said. "Whenever we have an opportunity to acquire a draft pick within reason, we'll do that."

Murphy spent five-plus seasons with the Warriors after being selected 14th overall in 2001.

With Bumgarner sidelined, Blach 'taking full advantage' of opportunity

With Bumgarner sidelined, Blach 'taking full advantage' of opportunity

SAN FRANCISCO -- At some point over the next four days, Madison Bumgarner will pick up a baseball, stand a few feet across from a member of the training staff, and simply play catch. It'll be a huge step in Bumgarner's rehab, and should it go well, a boost to the psyche of a struggling team.

In the meantime, another lefty is making sure the Giants don't suffer too much without their ace, as improbable as that first seemed.

Ty Blach took a shutout into the eighth Saturday night and in true Bumgarner fashion, he added a pair of hits and an RBI. The Giants beat the Braves 6-3. They've won Blach's past three starts, and even with a 10-run outing in Cincinnati mixed in, he has a 3.71 ERA since taking the spot left open by a dirt bike accident.

"Because of what happened he's in the rotation," manager Bruce Bochy said, "And he's taking full advantage."

Blach has shown that long term, he might be a big part of this rotation. It's been years since the Giants locked a young, cost-controlled starter in, and Blach has backed up his big cameo last year. It's possible -- likely even -- that at some point the Giants will need to trade a veteran, perhaps Johnny Cueto, for young bats. Blach provides needed insurance. 

Short term, he's providing a huge boost to a team that doesn't have much going right. Blach has thrown at least seven innings in his past four starts. He has allowed just eight earned runs in four starts since the one in Cincinnati, throwing 28 2/3 innings. 

"I feel good," Blach said. "I've always been a starter, so it's been a pretty easy transition to make. I feel comfortable."

The Giants are comfortable behind him, as evidenced by a half-dozen strong defensive plays Saturday. 

"He's been consistent and he works quickly," first baseman Brandon Belt said. "He's just a great guy to play behind."

Blach even joined in at the plate. He had an RBI single in his first at-bat -- his first big league hit off Not Clayton Kershaw -- and later roped another single. Blach even showed off his wheels, busting it from first to third on Denard Span's ball to the corner before Phil Nevin held him up. 

"I worked into some good counts and I was able to get fastballs," Blach said of his night at the plate. "It's definitely a big confidence booster when your spot comes up and you're able to drive in runs."

The night was straight out of Bumgarner's playbook, and it was needed. The Giants had dropped five of six, but Blach was backed by homers from Nick Hundley and Brandon Belt. It got a little hairy late, but the bullpen held on, clinching Blach's third win of the season. He looks poised for many more, and Bochy is happy to keep running him out there.

"I'm not surprised by what he's doing," the manager said.

 

Instant Analysis: Blach does it all vs Braves, Giants snap skid

Instant Analysis: Blach does it all vs Braves, Giants snap skid

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — This spot in the rotation is the one reserved for the stopper, the pitcher who takes a game by the throat when his team really needs it. 

Ty Blach took the mound Saturday for a team that had lost five of six, and just as Madison Bumgarner often has, Blach ended the skid. The young lefty was dominant into the eighth and the bats finally provided enough support. The Giants won 6-3, tying this weekend series with the Braves.

Here are five things to know from a night we were reminded that Emilio Bonifacio is in the big leagues … 

--- Blach pitched 7 2/3 innings. He has thrown at least seven innings in his last four starts, and five of seven starts overall. Jeff Samardzija (6) is the only Giants starter who has gone that deep more often. Blach is tied with Johnny Cueto for second-most seven-inning starts on staff, and Cueto has made three additional starts. 

--- Blach’s RBI single in the fourth was -- at the time -- the fourth hit of his career, and the first against a pitcher not named Clayton Kershaw. The ball had an exit velocity of 101 mph. Blach tried to score from first on Denard Span’s double, but Phil Nevin held him. Still, the way he was moving, it makes you wonder if Samardzija really is Bruce Bochy’s best pitcher-pinch-running option. In the seventh, Blach picked up a second single. 

--- Blach’s only bad start has been the one he made in Cincinnati, where the Giants played like a Double-A team. If you take that one out, Blach has a 2.21 ERA since taking over Bumgarner’s rotation spot. 

--- Even though he gave up just two earned in 7 2/3, Blach’s home ERA actually went up. It’s 1.75, which ranks seventh in the National League. The sellout crowd gave Blach a standing ovation when he was pulled in the eighth. 

--- Blach had a season-high five strikeouts. When he got Nick Markakis to end the first, Blach ended a streak of 37 left-handers faced without a strikeout. He later struck out another lefty, Matt Adams. The new Braves first baseman came up as the tying run in the eighth but Derek Law got him to ground out to first. 

--- Bonus sixth “thing to know” ... on Blach of course: His first name is Tyson, not Tyler. It’s Tyson Michael Blach.