W's start long road trip against struggling Wolves

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W's start long road trip against struggling Wolves

Feb. 27, 2011GOLDEN STATE (26-31) vs.MINNESOTA (13-46)Coverage starts at 1:30 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area
(AP) -- After two ugly losses following All-Star weekend, the Golden State Warriors will try to get back on track against the struggling Minnesota Timberwolves.Looking for a sixth consecutive win in the series, the Warriors hope to begin a season-high seven-game road trip by handing the Timberwolves a season-worst eighth consecutive defeat Sunday.Golden State (26-31), which has won five straight against Minnesota and six of seven at the Target Center, entered the All-Star break on a three-game winning streak and a 7-2 run.In two games since, though, the Warriors have been outscored by an average of 19.0 points while shooting 38.2 percent from the floor.Monta Ellis ranks among the league's top 10 in scoring with 25.0 points per game, but recorded 15 in a 115-93 loss to Boston on Tuesday night and was held to 16 in a 95-79 defeat Friday night at the hands of Atlanta. Ellis is shooting 33.3 percent over that stretch."We didn't have the kind of energy to play against a team that was going to be energetic, lost a couple of games and was desperate," coach Keith Smart said Friday. "We just have to find our rhythm coming back from the break."Despite its lackluster play of late, Golden State remains within striking distance of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Stephen Curry knows that the upcoming road trip, which features five stops against teams with losing records, will go a long way in determining the team's fate."We need to just get a win and start feeling good about ourselves," said Curry, who's averaging 9.7 points - 8.5 fewer than his season mark - in his last three games. "We have to dig deep on this road trip. Seven games to stay in this race, we still have a huge hole to get out of after these last two games."Ellis has averaged 25.3 points on 54.2 percent shooting in his last eight meetings with the Timberwolves - including 60 total points in two wins this season - while Curry has averaged 23.5 in his last two in the series.The Timberwolves (13-46) matched their lowest scoring output of the season Friday night and fell for the seventh consecutive time, losing 95-81 to New Orleans."I can't speak for everyone, but I don't get numbed to losing," said point guard Luke Ridnour. "It's something that's irritating and annoying. We play this game to win games, and it's not something that I believe you can get numbed to."Minnesota is averaging 89.6 points on 38.3 percent shooting over its season-high-tying skid, but will likely need to come out with a better effort offensively if it hopes to keep up with Golden State, which is scoring 102.4 points per game. The Timberwolves are 3-39 when allowing at least 100 points.Kevin Love barely recorded his 45th consecutive double-double with 11 points and 14 rebounds versus the Hornets, passing Moses Malone for the second-longest streak since the NBA-ABA merger in 1976.Love is averaging 18.7 points and 14.7 rebounds in his last seven meetings with Golden State and could inch closer to Malone's 51-game double-double run from Dec. 29, 1978-Oct. 12, 1979.Ridnour and rookie Wes Johnson each scored 22 points Friday but Michael Beasley, averaging 19.5 points, was held to eight on 4-of-16 shooting.

NBA Gameday: Cauley-Stein vs Gobert the matchup to watch

NBA Gameday: Cauley-Stein vs Gobert the matchup to watch

SACRAMENTO -- Riding a two-game win streak, the Sacramento Kings host the playoff bound Utah Jazz Wednesday at Golden 1 Center.

Sacramento knocked off the Memphis Grizzlies Monday evening, relying heavily on their veterans down the stretch to pick up their 29th win of the season. Darren Collison posted a team-high 23 points and seven assists in 37 minutes.

The Jazz sit a game and a half ahead of the Los Angeles Clippers for the fourth seed in the Western Conference playoffs chase. While they are a lock for the playoffs, with just eight games remaining in their season a win against Sacramento would go a long way towards cementing homecourt advantage in round one of the postseason.

OPENING LINE

Jazz by 7.5

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Willie Cauley-Stein vs. Rudy Gobert -- The Sacramento Kings would love nothing more than for Cauley-Stein to turn into the next Rudy Gobert. Since the All-Star break, the 7-footer out of Kentucky is dropping in 12.7 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 32 minutes per game. In his fourth season in the league, Gobert is posting career-best numbers across the board. The 24-year-old Frenchman is averaging 13.8 points, 12.9 rebounds and a league-leading 2.6 blocks per game.

WHERE THEY STAND

Kings: 29-45, third place in Pacific

Jazz: 45-29, first place in Northwest

INJURY REPORT

Kings: SG Malachi Richardson (right hamstring partial tear) out for the season, F Rudy Gay (torn left Achilles) out for season.

Jazz: SF Gordon Hayward (quad) is questionable, PF Derrick Favors (knee), George Hill (groin strain) and Raul Neto (groin strain) are out.

SERIES HISTORY

Utah leads the season series 2-1 over the Kings, including a 110-109 overtime win at Golden 1 Center on March 5. Utah leads the all-time series 101-82 and holds a 78-49 advantage during the Sacramento-era.

QUOTE

“We’re competing and that’s the biggest thing - we’re not laying down. Even though we’re not in the playoff race, we’re playing like we’re in the playoff race and that’s bigtime.” -Willie Cauley-Stein following the win over the Grizzlies

Three takeaways: Tierney takes over; Sharks finally score first

Three takeaways: Tierney takes over; Sharks finally score first

SAN JOSE – In desperate need of a win and without arguably their best forward over the past two months, the Sharks found a way to get past the New York Rangers, 5-4, in what was – from a purely entertainment standpoint – one of the best games of the season. Let’s dig a little deeper on what is a much happier morning in Sharks-land with our three takeaways…

1 – Tierney takes over

While several of the Sharks depth players contributed, no one was better than fourth line center Chris Tierney, who had a pair of goals, a plus-three rating, and five shots (tied with David Schlemko for the team lead).

His game-tying goal late in the third period was huge, and he credited Jannik Hansen getting him the puck, as Hansen made a slick play on the Mikkel Boedker rebound. Interestingly, Pete DeBoer put those three players out as a line for the first time that night, with less than three minutes to go in regulation.

"I think it was Jannik who made the play. It was a great play,” Tierney said. “I was kind of just wide open. That's a pretty easy goal for me when he makes that play."

Tierney continues to be somewhat enigmatic. Every once in awhile he’ll have a dominant performance like this one (such as Feb. 2 in Vancouver), but then he’s invisible offensively for weeks at a time. To be fair, Tierney doesn’t always have the most highly skilled linemates while centering the fourth line, but when he puts up the kind of game like he did on Tuesday night it does make you wonder why it doesn’t happen more often.

Still, his game against the Rangers provides hope that he’ll be able to fill a void while Logan Couture is out, and we’ve already seen that Tierney can be a very effective player in the postseason, too.

2 – Getting one early

It’s hard to believe that the Sharks didn’t have a lead in a game before Tuesday since March 14 in Buffalo. After that game, which they came back to win fairly easily, they allowed the first goal in all six games of their losing streak and never recovered.

It was evident early that the Sharks were poised to end both their first-goal streak and their losing streak, as the first three shifts were all played in New York’s end. Hansen capped it off by swatting in a loose puck that Boedker had put on net.

“It was critical. I don’t think it was an accident our record over the last six or seven without scoring first,” DeBoer said. “Traditionally we’ve been pretty good in that area. But it’s slipped here in the last six or seven. We found a way tonight. I thought we played a great game.”

Joe Pavelski said: "It was nice coming out in the first and scoring first. It’s been awhile since we had a lead. So, that was good to see. I think everyone was encouraged by that start."

The Sharks improved to 32-9-1 when scoring first. They are 11-17-6 when allowing the opening score.

3 – Melk man delivers one

Is there a more overlooked player on the Sharks roster than Melker Karlsson? He’s not a flashy guy, of course, but Karlsson plays that north-south game that coaches love, and he’s a tenacious penalty killer, too. He now has 10 goals on the season, good for fifth on the team.

His shorthanded goal, on a two-on-one with Tierney, gave the Sharks a 2-1 lead just before the first intermission.

“They took away the pass to Tierns there,” Karlsson said. “I looked up a little bit, and it went in. Low blocker is usually a good shot.”

Karlsson was playing in his first game since missing the previous eight with a lower body injury. As one of those depth guys, is there more responsibility for him and others to help fill the void left by Couture?

“Yeah. We’ve always got to be there, but especially when Logan is out. He’s a big player for us,” Karlsson said.