Wounded Warriors focus on stumbling Mavs

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Wounded Warriors focus on stumbling Mavs

March 16, 2011

DALLAS (47-20) vs.
WARRIORS (30-37)

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

OAKLAND (AP) -- If shots are falling for the Dallas Mavericks, they're awfully difficult to beat. Their latest game proved to be a surprising exception.

After falling to third place in the Western Conference, the Mavericks try to bounce back and avoid a third consecutive defeat - and fifth in seven games - when they wrap up a quick two-game road trip Wednesday night against the Golden State Warriors.

RELATED: NBA conference standings

Dallas (47-20) shoots the ball better than any team in the West, connecting on 47.7 percent of its attempts, and when Dirk Nowitzki and his teammates are hitting they've been practically untouchable. When the Mavericks shoot at or above their average, they were 30-5 heading into Tuesday's visit to Portland.

With that in mind, it's hard to believe Dallas' season-best 59.7 percent shooting performance - which included an 11-for-11 start - could have led to anything but a comfortable victory. But with Tyson Chandler battling foul trouble and Brendan Haywood out, the Trail Blazers used 15 offensive boards to create extra possessions in a 104-101 victory that dropped the Mavericks behind the Los Angeles Lakers.

RELATED: Nowitzki's game-tying 3 off the mark, Mavs fall to Blazers

Dallas fell to 36-4 when it scores at least 100 points while losing for the fourth time in is last six games overall. Those defeats have been by a combined 10 points.

Neither of Golden State's past two games has been close. The Warriors (30-37) turned in one of their best defensive efforts of the season Sunday, holding Minnesota to 36.6 percent in a 100-77 win, but that didn't carry over Monday against the West's worst team.

Sacramento shot exactly 20 percent better than the Timberwolves had a night early, outscored Golden State 66-38 in the paint and led by as many as 25 in a 129-119 victory.

REWIND: Warriors fall to last-place Kings

Warriors coach Keith Smart wasn't surprised with his team's lackluster effort even though it was hardly taxed the night before.

"I knew we were going to be flat," said Smart, who kept Monta Ellis, Stephen Curry and the rest of his starters out for the fourth quarter. "I was hoping that we wouldn't, but we didn't have the juice. We couldn't match up to the speed of the game. We didn't have the energy."

Sacramento's Marcus Thornton, who averaged just 9.8 points coming in, had a career-high 42 points, but that's not the first time Golden State has let an unheralded guard have a career night. Dallas' Rodrigue Beaubois had 40 points - hitting 9 of 11 3-pointers - in his team's last trip to Oakland, a 111-90 rout on March 27.

Beaubois, who missed 55 games this season with a fractured left foot, has never scored more than 24 points in another game.

In the lone meeting this season, Nowitzki and Jason Terry combined for 45 points in a 105-100 win over the Warriors on Dec. 7 in Dallas - the Mavs' fourth straight win in the series.

REWIND: Highlights -- Dallas 105, Warriors 100

Golden State and Dallas will get well acquainted over the next few weeks, though. They'll play again Sunday at American Airlines Center before meeting once more in Oakland on April 2.

One problem for the Mavericks lately - particularly as Chandler has found himself in foul trouble - has been a spike in the second-chance points they've allowed. Portland had 18 Tuesday thanks to their dominance on the offensive glass, and Dallas has given up 17.0 per game - 4.4 more than its previous average - during its 2-4 stretch.

It's unclear if Haywood, who's battling a sore back, will return Wednesday.

Williamson stuns Davis in ninth, but earlier mistakes haunt Giants

Williamson stuns Davis in ninth, but earlier mistakes haunt Giants

CHICAGO — Had a half-dozen other things gone differently Wednesday night, the Giants might have spent the hour after the game shrugging off a blowout loss or celebrating one of the best at-bats of the year. 

Three innings after the game was nearly lost for good, Mac Williamson saw 12 pitches from Wade Davis, who entered with a perfect ERA in 19 appearances, fouling eight of them off before slamming a two-run homer to right. The play came with some comedic value, as Williamson nearly passed Eduardo Nuñez on the bases. It also came with some historic value, as it snapped a streak of 19 consecutive solo shots that was two shy of the MLB record. 

The homer was not, however, the talking point after the game. A few minutes after Williamson went deep, Joe Panik was tossing his bat into the grass in frustration over a called third strike that ended the game and clinched a 5-4 win for the Cubs. Ten minutes after that, Bruce Bochy watched the highlight and tossed his phone onto his desk. 

“It’s a shame to end on that call, it really is,” Bochy said. “We had him on fumes and that’s not a strike. But they got the call and that’s it.”

The Giants were left with their third loss in four games, a run that has halted their momentum. They again are 11 games back in the National League West, with so many nights like this one: A comeback seemed real, but the mistakes were too much to overcome. 

Williamson, in talking about his homer, pivoted and pointed to a blunder of his own. In a tied game in the fifth, Miguel Montero hit a single to right with Addison Russell on first. The speedy shortstop watched Williamson as the ball rolled into the outfield, and when Williamson didn’t charge as hard as he otherwise might, Russell took off for third. The throw was perfect, but late. Russell scored on a fly ball. 

“The home run is really cool but it would have been a lot cooler if I hadn’t have made the mistake earlier in the game and given them the extra run,” Williamson said, explaining that he has tried to focus on being smooth to the ball and not rushing on fast outfields. In the past, rushing has led to bobbles and extra bases. 

Another costly sequence came in the eighth. After the Giants left the bases loaded in the top of the inning, Steven Okert gave up a triple to Jason Heyward, who scored on a sacrifice fly. Okert, so good when he was first called up, has been less effective of late. 

“We’ve got to get our lefties going,” Bochy said. “We gave them a run there and that put it at three and that’s just enough to cover it for them.”

Truth be told, the Giants were probably lucky to even have worries at that point. The wind blew a three-run Heyward homer inches foul in the sixth, and while the Giants grumbled about the final call of the game, an earlier call on Heyward for running inside the base path took a Cubs run off the board and killed a rally. It was correct by the letter of the law, but one you rarely see. The Giants escaped, but they wouldn’t come all the way back, despite Williamson’s late push. 

The young outfielder has been looking to make an impact since coming back up on the last homestand. He knew how tough Davis has been. 

“He’s been the best in the game this year and the numbers speak for themselves,” Williamson said. “He has phenomenal stuff. You get in the box and figure you’ve got nothing to lose, battle as tough as you can.”

Williamson fouled off good strikes and tantalizing balls. When he lofted a 2-2 pitch toward right, he took off out of the box. The ball carried just over the wall, and Williamson didn’t look up until he rounded third. That’s when Phil Nevin started yelling at him to slow down. Nuñez, who had a tight hamstring, turned and told Williamson to slow down.

“I kinda blacked out for a second there,” Williamson said. 

“I was like, ‘Bro, it’s a homer — just jog,’” Nunez said.

The moment temporarily sent a rush through the dugout. Minutes later, the Giants were left livid over a game that probably shouldn’t have been so close, but nonetheless was right there for them to steal. 

Instant Analysis: Giants' rally falls short in 5-4 loss to Cubs

Instant Analysis: Giants' rally falls short in 5-4 loss to Cubs

BOX SCORE

CHICAGO — The Giants will need a win on getaway day to clinch their first winning road trip.

Wednesday's comeback attempt fell just short, as the Giants scored two in the ninth but lost to the Cubs 5-4. Since taking the first two games in St. Louis, they have dropped three of four, falling 11 games back of the Rockies in the division.

Here are five things to know from the coldest Giants game of the year … 

— Mac Williamson fouled off eight pitches before going the opposite way against Wade Davis, who entered with a 0.00 ERA in 19 appearances. The two-run homer ended a run of 19 consecutive solo shots by the Giants, two short of their own MLB record. It was the first homer off Davis in two years. 

— The sixth inning was one of the stranger escapes we’ve seen from a pitcher this season. With two on and one out, Jason Heyward blasted a Matt Moore pitch right down the line and it looked like it would give the Cubs a 6-2 lead. The wind blew the ball a couple of feet foul. Heyward then topped one down the line and Moore’s throw bounced away from first, allowing a run to score. But the umpires called — correctly — Heyward out for running inside the line. It’s a call you rarely see. Moore then struck out Addison Russell to keep what could have easily been a 6-2 or 4-2 game at 3-2. 

— Before the first game of this series, a Giant asked in the dugout, “I wonder what some of the Cubs’ numbers would look like at our place?” Anthony Rizzo is a .159 hitter with no homers in 18 career games at AT&T Park, but he had no issues on a night when conditions were worse than they are most nights in San Francisco. Rizzo homered off Moore in his first two at-bats. 

— Rizzo will occasionally put a bunt down to beat the shift — he had an accidental bunt in his third at-bat — which the Giants have long wanted Brandon Belt to do. Belt pushed one away from the shift in the sixth, and even though it was too close to pitcher Kyle Hendricks, the throw was off and Belt reached second. One of those a week would open up a few more holes. 

— This lineup has made a habit of making mediocre and downright bad pitchers look good, and the actual good ones are taking advantage, too. A night after Jon Lester recorded his first complete game of the year, Hendricks threw seven innings for the first time.