Warriors look to quiet Thunder down south

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Warriors look to quiet Thunder down south

March 29, 2011

WARRIORS (32-42) vs.
OKLAHOMA CITY (48-24)

Coverage begins at 4:30 P.M. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Kevin Durant's shooting touch has been a bit off lately. A game against the Golden State Warriors could be what he needs to regain his scoring prowess.

Durant, who has routinely frustrated the Warriors, looks to lead the playoff-bound Oklahoma City Thunder to a fifth straight home win over Golden State on Tuesday night.

Oklahoma City (48-24) clinched its second straight playoff berth Sunday with a 99-90 victory over Portland. It was the ninth win in 10 games for the Northwest Division-leading Thunder, who own a 4 12-game lead over second-place Denver with 10 to play.

RELATED: NBA conference standings

"A couple of years ago we were the worst team ever," Durant told the Thunder's official website. "Two years later we have clinched consecutive playoff appearances, so it feels good. We just have to keep pushing."

Russell Westbrook led the way Sunday with 28 points and hit three 3-pointers in the final 5 12 minutes, including the clincher with 21 seconds remaining. Oklahoma City is 16-3 when Westbrook scores at least 28.

"Russell has a tremendous amount of pride and confidence in his game and he's improving everyday with us," coach Scott Brooks said. "He made the big shots."

While Westbrook had a strong shooting performance, Durant had another tough time finding his rhythm.

He missed 13 of 18 shots to finish with 21 points, six in the second half. In his last four games, the two-time All-Star is shooting 36.2 percent and averaging 23.3 points - 4.4 fewer than his league-leading average.

Durant has had no such trouble scoring against Golden State (32-42).

In 13 career games against the Warriors, Durant is averaging 30.2 points for his most versus any Western Conference opponent.

Oklahoma City beat Golden State 114-109 at home Dec. 5 and lost 100-94 at Oracle Arena on Feb. 13. The Thunder, 7-1 in Oklahoma City this month, have won all four home games against the Warriors since moving from Seattle prior to the 2008-09 season.

The Oklahoma City Arena isn't the only venue giving Golden State trouble.

The Warriors have lost a season-worst six straight road games, getting outscored by an average of 16.6 points in the last five.

They are coming off Sunday's 114-104 win over Washington, their second straight following a six-game skid. Golden State hasn't won three in a row since Feb. 13-16.

REWIND: Monta leads Warriors over Wizards

Although they were officially eliminated from playoff contention earlier Sunday, Monta Ellis is still determined to help lead the Warriors to a strong finish. He played all 48 minutes against the Wizards and finished with 37 points, a career high-tying 13 assists and seven rebounds.

"This is our job. We're pros. Our season is not over with yet," said Ellis, who has averaged 32.0 points in his last two games after averaging 15.4 in his previous seven. "We still have eight more games, just go out there and see how many we could win."

The Warriors already have won six more games than they did last season.

Ellis is averaging 31.0 points in the two games against the Thunder this season and has topped the 25-point mark in five of the last six meetings.

Golden State's Stephen Curry had a season-high 39 points on 14-of-21 shooting in December's matchup.

A's option catcher Bruce Maxwell to Triple-A; 37 players remain in camp

A's option catcher Bruce Maxwell to Triple-A; 37 players remain in camp

The A's optioned catcher Bruce Maxwell to Triple-A Nashville Sunday, the club announced

Maxwell, 26, went 3-for-4 with two home runs and four RBI in the A's 11-1 win over the Brewers Sunday. Both home runs were his lone of the spring. 

In 2016, Maxwell played in 26 games with the A's after his promotion from Triple-A. He hit .283 with one homer. 

The 2012 second-round draft pick is a career .266/.346/.370 hitter in the minors with 25 home runs. Maxwell is the A's No. 10 prospect by Baseball America. 

The A’s now have 37 players in big league camp. 

Giants spring training Day 42: Blach still in the fifth starter mix

Giants spring training Day 42: Blach still in the fifth starter mix

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Ty Blach is the young one in the race to be the fifth starter, but on Sunday he sounded like a veteran. Asked if he has gotten a hint one way or the other about his opening day role, Blach smiled.

“I’m just taking it day-by-day and trying to get better,” Blach said. “I’m enjoying the process and having fun.”

Smooth. 

Those days are adding up to a nice spring for Blach, the left-hander trying to unseat Matt Cain. While Bruce Bochy didn’t shed any additional light on the current lean, team officials hinted Sunday that this is not as open-and-shut as it seems. Matt Cain, who will start Tuesday, looked like a lock to be the fifth starter a week ago, but the Giants are considering all options because they have an off day during the first week and two more shortly thereafter. 

“We’ve had discussions every day,” Bochy said. “We’ve got some tough calls.”

The Giants are expected to announce their official rotation when they return home for the Bay Bridge Series. Whether he’s starting, long-relieving, or pitching in a completely new role, Blach has certainly done all he can to make sure he’s in the big leagues on April 2. He gave up two runs over six innings Sunday, walking one and striking out one while giving up seven hits. Blach has allowed 10 runs in 20 1/3 innings this spring, but four of those came when he was ambushed coming out of the bullpen one day.

“Wherever I’ll be, I know I’ll be in a good spot,” Blach said. “I’m just looking forward to getting the season rolling.

After pitching out of the bullpen most of the spring, Blach got his pitch count up to 85 on Sunday. 

“We’ve gotten him stretched out,” Bochy said. “That’s a solid, solid job. We’ve got guys stretched out where you want them. We’ve got some flexibility. We’ll see as we get close here which way we’ll go.”

POSITION BATTLES: The Giants will carry a backup for Denard Span, and for about a month it looked like Gorkys Hernandez would be that guy. But Hernandez has slumped so badly this spring that he went over the minor league facility Sunday to get a ton of extra at-bats, and Justin Ruggiano has emerged, reaching base in nine of his last 16 plate appearances. The plan a few days back was for Ruggiano to go to Sacramento and get 50 or so at-bats to see where he’s at, but this is another race that could change in the coming week. 

Cory Gearrin has done his part to hold off any charging relievers, throwing two sharp innings while going back-to-back for the first time this spring. 

FAMILIAR FACES: A rough day for a couple of longtime Giants. Ehire Adrianza and Gregor Blanco both have oblique injuries, hurting their odds of breaking with the Twins and Diamondbacks, respectively. Elsewhere, David Hernandez showed that he made a smart decision asking for his release. He was signed by the Braves. 

AROUND CAMP: Hunter Pence really does do all he can to make every single teammate feel welcome in the clubhouse. He spent some time with young right-hander Roberto Gomez on Sunday morning, learning a few Spanish phrases. When the players went out to warm up, Pence threw with Jae-Gyun Hwang. These are small gestures, but for the new guys, they matter. 

BARRY’S BACK: We all knew Barry Bonds would step into the cage at some point, and on a quiet Sunday morning, there he was. Bonds, 52, took about five or six easy hacks before crushing one out to deep right. He’s still got it. The other day, reporters asked Bonds if he could suit up in the WBC if asked. He said he can absolutely still hit, but he would need to DH and he would need a day or two off before games. Being a big league hitter is not easy, even if he always made it look that way.