Warriors look to quiet Thunder down south


Warriors look to quiet Thunder down south

March 29, 2011

WARRIORS (32-42) vs.

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.

After another Giants clunker, Bochy tells players 'enough is enough'

After another Giants clunker, Bochy tells players 'enough is enough'

SAN FRANCISCO — A few minutes after yet another missed opportunity at the plate Sunday, a voice came over a speaker in the press box at AT&T Park and announced a 524th consecutive sellout. It nicely summed up this current stretch of Giants baseball. 

The seats are emptier than they used to be at first pitch, and they were just about abandoned in the ninth inning of an 8-2 loss, but for the most part the fans are still showing up in droves. One woman brought a toaster by the dugout Sunday morning and asked players and coaches to sign it, hoping to recapture the magic from across the bridge. Another, Bryan Stow, made his first appearance of the season at AT&T Park, met with Bruce Bochy, and said he hoped to see a win. As Matt Moore started warming up, a band set up on top of the visiting dugout to play hits that celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love. 

For a while, AT&T Park was rocking. And then, as has happened so often this summer, the game started. 

The Giants turned in another epic clunker in a season full of them. They have lost 12 of their last 13 games and 21 of 26, but it’s worse than the raw numbers. On most nights, some in the organization have noted privately, they are simply boring. It’s one thing to lose, it’s quite another to do it in this way. 

“There’s no getting around it,” Bochy said after the sweep. “I’ve been through some tough stretches here and this is as tough as any stretch I’ve seen. For some reason the baseball gods are really testing us here and (testing) this group. It’s not that they’re not coming out ready or trying, but enough is enough.

“At some point, we’ve got to find a way to get this thing turned around.”

Even a slight pivot would be welcomed by the faithful. There were scattered boos Sunday, the latest in a growing trend. This is a fan base that has seen the highest highs, but rarely in franchise history have the lows been this low. 

The crowd no longer turns to the rally lights that were used so often in an awful April, but the noise still grows with each new rally. And then, every single time Sunday, the Giants killed off any hope. 

In the second inning, a Brandon Belt bunt single and Brandon Crawford bloop put two on, but a pair of rookies flied out. 

In the third, the bases were loaded ahead of Buster Posey. He flied out to bring one run across, and there were still runners on the corners for Belt, who leads the team in homers. On a 2-2 count, Hunter Pence inexplicably took off for second. He was caught, the inning was over, and the two-run Mets lead was intact. Bochy said he did not send Pence. 

In the sixth, there were two on with no outs for Posey. Both runners bolted to stay out of a double play. Posey popped up to first -- for a double play.

“He’s not a guy that strikes out, so I’m pretty confident sending runners with Buster,” Bochy said. “We can’t keep laying back. We’re trying to force the issue a bit and stay out of double plays.”

In the eighth, the Giants loaded the bases for Posey and Belt. Posey grounded out. Belt struck out for the third time. 

“We’re getting guys out there,” Bochy said. “We’re not doing enough damage.”

Matt Moore’s damage was self-inflicted. He twice gave up homers to the guy — Rene Rivera — hitting in front of the pitcher. Moore said he has stopped throwing his cutter the past three starts and tried to get his four-seamer going, but the Mets were teeing off. Moore gave up five runs on seven hits. He was pulled in the fifth, left to think about mechanics that still aren’t right. 

“The cutter is a little bit different of a pitch and at times it can take away from the four-seam fastball location-wise, and command of the four-seam was starting to go down the more I threw (the cutter),” Moore said. “I’m anxious to get back to it, but the foundation has got to be throwing the four-seam fastball. I need to execute where they’re carrying through the zone, not running or cutting.”

Moore said his confidence is fine and his problems are not physical. Others can no longer say that. Austin Slater, a rare bright spot in this five-win month, was pulled with a tight hip flexor. He was headed for an MRI. 

Slater is too young to be one of the players Bochy approached after the game. He said he talked to a few, though, passing along that “enough is enough” message. Moore, last in the National League in ERA (6.04), was not one who needed a reminder. 

“I’m sitting on a six right now with not a lot of wins and not enough team wins when I’m throwing,” he said. “It’s been 'enough' for me for the last couple of months.”

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways as Giants get swept by Mets at home

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways as Giants get swept by Mets at home


SAN FRANCISCO — The Mets spent the first half of this week in Los Angeles, where they got swept by the Dodgers and outscored 36-11. Their beat writers publicly wrote an end to any thoughts of the postseason. The fan base renewed the calls for manager Terry Collins to be fired. 

That’s where they were. And then they flew to San Francisco. 

AT&T Park continues to be a place where others get healthy, and this weekend it was the Mets. The Giants lost 8-2 on Sunday, getting swept by a similarly disappointing team. They have lost 12 of their last 13 games. 

There’s not much more to be said about it, but I did anyway. Here are five things to know from the day a relief pitcher got an at-bat but it would have been far too cruel to text your friends … 

—- Matt Moore’s line: 4 1/3 innings, seven hits, five earned runs, three walks, five strikeouts. Through 16 starts, he has a 6.04 ERA and 1.61 WHIP. He ranks last among qualified NL starters in ERA. Only Matt Cain (1.73) has a worse WHIP. Good times. 

—- Mets righty Rafael Montero entered with an 0-4 record and 6.49 ERA. He gave up one run in 5 2/3 innings. Good times. 

—- With runners on the corners and two outs in the third inning, Brandon Belt strolled to the plate. He leads the team in homers. Hunter Pence tried to steal second for some reason and he was caught, ending the inning and keeping Belt from batting in a two-run game. Good times. 

—- With two on and no outs in the sixth, the Giants sent the runners to make sure Buster Posey didn’t hit into a double play. Posey popped up softly to first and Joe Panik was doubled off of second. Good times. 

—- One last bit of bad news: Austin Slater was removed from the game with a tight right hip flexor.