Zito looks sharper in Giants' win over Dodgers


Zito looks sharper in Giants' win over Dodgers

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) Barry Zito has heard the doubters who question whether he can still pitch. Heck, he even thinks he's got something to prove to himself.The left-hander took a step toward answering some of the questions by striking out two in three innings as a split squad of San Francisco Giants defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-3 on Friday night."I definitely have work to do, but I'm encouraged," Zito said. "I want to prove that I have what it takes to be productive."He gave up one earned run on two hits and walked one in his second spring start, two days after manager Bruce Bochy confirmed Zito remains the team's No. 4 starter."There's been some talk and things like that around camp. I don't know how much of that is based in truth, but at the end of the day this is the major leagues and you got to prove yourself every year," Zito said. "I've proven that I have good stuff in me, but it's a matter of making that happen on the field. I'm taking this very seriously."Thomas Neal and Buster Posey homered for the Giants, who earned their Cactus League-leading sixth victory on a 75-degree night at Camelback Ranch, where 11,261 fans poured in to see the World Series champions take on their California rivals.The Giants open the season at Dodger Stadium on March 31.Zito had a better outing than he did Monday against Milwaukee, when he allowed two earned runs on three hits, walked five and struck out two."I just want to stay in the moment when I'm out in the game," he said. "A lot of the times when I got off track last year, I was looking with too broad a lens instead of just pitch to pitch."Bochy said he thought Zito was better in the third inning."In the first two innings, he was out of sync," he said. "In that third inning, he slowed things down and had a better rhythm going, so he finished up on a good note, which is good news."Zito is 40-57 with a 4.45 ERA in his first four years with the Giants after signing a 126 million, seven-year contract before the 2007 season. He was left off the postseason roster for all three rounds last year as the Giants won their first World Series title since 1954."I don't think he quite gets the credit that he deserves. Wins and losses are things he can't control," Bochy said. "We've had a tough time getting him runs. He makes every start and gives us everything he's got, and that's all we can ask."Right-hander Jon Garland made his spring debut for the Dodgers after signing with them as a free agent. He allowed one run and one hit in three innings, struck out two and walked none. Garland will be the team's No. 5 starter after spending last season in San Diego."Very nice," first-year Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "He made it look pretty easy. He threw the ball pretty good."Garland hit Giants right fielder Cody Ross on the left wrist in the second. Zito struck designated hitter Marcus Thames on the right hand in the bottom of the inning.Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton walked one in one inning in his second spring appearance.Neal's first homer of the spring on the first pitch from Matt Guerrier landed in the Dodgers' bullpen in left field, giving the Giants a 2-1 lead in the fifth. Posey followed with his second homer on a 3-2 pitch from Ron Mahay in the sixth.San Francisco extended its lead to 5-1 in the seventh when Mike Fontenot lined a two-run, two-out single to left field off Travis Schlicting.The Giants led 1-0 in the second when Ross scored on Travis Ishikawa's soft fly to center field and Matt Kemp's throwing error.Zito walked Jamie Hoffman to load the bases in the second. Ivan DeJesus Jr. grounded into a double play, with Thames scoring on a fielder's choice to tie the game.Giants center fielder Andres Torres, out of the starting lineup since last weekend because of a sore left oblique, returned as the leadoff hitter and was 1 for 3 with a strikeout in five innings.Notes: The Dodgers made their first cut of the spring, reassigning LHP Dana Eveland to minor league camp. He didn't pitch an inning because of a strained left hamstring sustained in the first day of drills. ... Giants backup C Eli Whiteside, bothered by right elbow inflammation, threw long toss on Friday and could play in a game next week. ... It was San Francisco's second game of the day, with a split squad having beaten Milwaukee 7-2 in Scottsdale. ... The Giants beat the Dodgers 8-3 last weekend, and the teams meet twice more this spring.

Warriors stay ready, strike gold amid the 2017 NBA Draft scramble

Warriors stay ready, strike gold amid the 2017 NBA Draft scramble

OAKLAND -- Considering their status as reigning champs without a pick, members of the Warriors personnel department could have turned out the lights and left team headquarters to watch the NBA Draft from a nearby tavern.

They instead stayed in business mode Thursday night, observing the draft-night chaos up close, waiting for the right moment and the right player.

And for the second consecutive year, the Warriors paid a team for its 38th overall draft pick, sending a reported $3.5 million to the Chicago Bulls in exchange for the rights to Oregon big man Jordan Bell, the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year.

“Everybody we talked to had a lot of good things to say about him,” president/general manager Bob Myers said. “He’s one of the few guys we looked at and really wanted to see if we could get. I actually was not optimistic we would be able to get him. But somehow it came to fruition.”

Myers added that the Warriors, along with many mock drafts, projected Bell as a first-round pick.

Bell led the Pac-12 in field-goal percentage (63.6) while shooting almost exclusively in the paint. The 6-foot-9 center/forward was sixth among Pac-12 rebounders at 8.8 per game and 13th in steals at 1.3 per game.

The Long Beach Poly High product possesses a wingspan a fraction shy of 7-feet and bears, by some accounts, a resemblance to Draymond Green inasmuch as he is a defense-first player with a deep reservoir of energy.

It’s a comparison that Bell, asked about it, embraces.

“Draymond, because people always say I’m undersized,” Bell told Basketball Insiders last month. “He’s one of those players you can’t really say what position he is, but he’s a force on defense.”

Moreover, Myers cited Green as one of the players best suited to mentor Bell.

“Draymond is a good one,” the GM said. “He’s not afraid to tell players what he thinks. He’s going to be a good teacher.”

Bell in three seasons became the Ducks’ all-time leader in blocks. He blocked eight shots in a Midwest Regional win over Kansas that sent Oregon to the Final Four. He became during the NCAA Tournament the first player since Hakeem Olajuwon (in 1985) to snag at least 12 rebounds in five consecutive tournament games.

“Defending is one of my best attributes,” Bell told Basketball Insiders. “Being able to switch 1-through-5. Play small ball. Blocking shots. Timing. Decision-making on offense.”

These are the characteristics that prompted the Warriors to put a red-letter “B” next to Bell’s name on their draft board -- even though his offensive skills are unrefined.

“We love his ability to defend,” Myers said. “He could probably defend most positions, and in the NBA that’s huge. To be able to switch pick-and-rolls, rebound, block shots, finish, there are a lot of boxes he checks.

“ . . . We just like the way he plays basketball. We’ll find a place for him.”

The Warriors also are closing in on a deal for one of Bell’s Oregon teammates. Forward Chris Boucher is expected to sign a two-way contract with the team.

“That’s something we’re trying to move toward,” Myers said of Boucher, who is rehabilitating an ACL surgery.

“But we like players that win. We like players that can play. I don’t care what school they are or what their background is, or what position. Winners. That’s what we’re trying to do, is win. If we end up getting that done, that’s another player that was on a very good team.”

Kings finish 2017 NBA Draft with night that can turn franchise around

Kings finish 2017 NBA Draft with night that can turn franchise around

SACRAMENTO -- The Kings had a big draft night. The kind of night that might turn a franchise around. They entered the evening with three picks, including two in the top 10. With their first selection, they filled the franchise’s biggest need when they drafted De’Aaron Fox and then they went to work.
Vlade Divac and his team of front office execs jumped on an early trade, dealing the No. 10 overall selection to the Portland Trail Blazers for No. 15 and No. 20. North Carolina’s Justin Jackson was too appealing to pass on, and like Fox, he fit a major position of need. 
Sacramento came back with the 20th selection, taking one of the biggest risk/reward picks in the draft. Duke’s Harry Giles is playing on rebuilt knees, but before that, he was one of the top prospects in all of basketball. If he can stay healthy, the Kings may have drafted the biggest steal of the night. 
They topped off the evening with the selection of Wooden and Naismith Award winner Frank Mason III with the 34th overall pick. The Kings entered the night without a single point guard and they ended it with two very exciting options. 
“I’m very excited about the talent that we brought here tonight,” Divac said. “They’re going to just be an addition to what we’re trying to build here in the second half of the season.”
The Kings turned down overtures to move up to draft Fox. The 19-year-old speedster will step in and immediately compete for the starting point guard spot and he’s very excited to be a King.
“It’s just the vibe that I got when I was out there,” Fox told local Sacramento media via phone. “I felt like they really wanted me.” 
John Calipari is known for his bevy of All-Star bigs throughout the league, but he’s also produced a long line of big-time guards. Sacramento is hoping that Fox can live up to the billing of other former Calipari guards like Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans and John Wall. According to Divac, the Kings were so high on Fox, they would have taken him higher. 
“Screaming,” Divac said about the reaction in the room to Fox falling in their lap. “It was a guy that we all loved and in some way, if we had the number 1 pick, he would’ve been our guy.”
“De’Aaron is our future,” Divac added.
Without a perfect fit at 10, Divac made an adjustment on the fly to add more assets. The decision to trade 10 for 15 and 20 was very similar to the last season when the Kings dealt the eighth overall pick for No. 13, 28 and the draft rights to Bogdan Bogdanovic. By splitting the pick in two, the Kings were able to land two talented pieces that mesh with the current roster build.
Jackson and Fox know each other well. The duo played AAU ball together and Fox says he considers Jackson an older brother.  He is friends with Willie Cauley-Stein and Skal Labissiere from their Kentucky connection.
“I feel like we can grow together,” Fox said of the Kings’ young core. “Of course, it’s going to take some time, but every franchise takes time.”
Fox is the jewel of the night and Jackson will compete for time at the wing, but Giles is the wildcard. The 19-year-old big can play the four and the five and has elite potential. 
“I’m so excited he was there for us at the 20,” Divac said. “That kind of talent you can’t pass.”
The Kings have done their homework on Giles. The type of knee injury that he sustained is similar to former NBA players Danny Manning, Amaré Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin. Manning and Martin each played 15 years in the league and Stoudemire lasted 14 seasons before retiring in 2016. After meeting him in person in Sacramento and working him out, they are very confident that he will be able to overcome his injuries and have a successful career in the NBA. 
Mason III will remind Kings fans of Isaiah Thomas, another undersized point guard that fell to the second round. The Kansas star posted 20.9 points, 5.2 assists and 4.2 rebounds for the Jayhawks last season. He’s a hard-nosed leader that can jump out of the gym and will instantly become a fan favorite in Sacramento. 
It’s a huge haul. Sacramento added two points guards, a wing and a big from some of the best basketball schools in the country. More than that, they added high character winners to a changing culture. 
For the first time in a while, the Sacramento Kings have accumulated assets. They have hit the ground running in their attempted rebuild and for one night, they are the talk of the NBA.