Second time in three nights, Nuggets beat Kings

433457.jpg

Second time in three nights, Nuggets beat Kings

April 1, 2011BOXSCORE KINGS VIDEONBAPAGE NBASCOREBOARD

SACRAMENTO (AP) Although Carmelo Anthony was clearly the focal point on a talented team during his tenure in Denver, the Nuggets are making a good case for being a better club without the perennial All-Star forward.Raymond Felton scored 14 of his 17 points in the final quarter, and Nuggets won their fifth straight game with a 99-90 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Friday night.The Nuggets used a big third quarter to distance themselves from the cold-shooting Kings. Denver has gone 14-4 since the trade of Anthony on Feb. 22.It's been a different Nuggets team since the departure of Anthony. The scoring has been balanced among the starters and a core group of reserves, making Denver a difficult team to defend."It's fun being around guys that don't have worries about who is going to play, and when they are going to play," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "I think we can do that for 25 games with basically 10-11 guys that deserve to play. There's a lot of guys to give minutes. Tonight was frustrating trying to find minutes for everybody."Denver (46-29) remained 2 12 games ahead of Portland for fifth place in the Western Conference with seven games left in the regular season."We're ready for the playoffs right now," Felton said. "We just need to get a few guys healthy, but I think mentally and physically we're ready to go."Felton was certainly ready in the fourth quarter. He had three points through three quarters and was hardly a factor at the offensive end.With the Nuggets shooting 6 of 22 in the fourth, Felton felt it was time to be more assertive. He shot 3 of 4 in the fourth and connected on 7 of 9 free throws in accounting for 14 of Denver's 20 points in the final period.Felton made a jumper and followed with a fast-break layup with 2:46 left to put the Nuggets ahead 95-84."I decided to be aggressive and tried to get to the free throw line," Felton said. "As a point guard you've got to pick and choose when you need to score."Francisco Garcia scored 17 points for the Kings, who are tied with the Cleveland Cavaliers for the worst home record (10-28) in the NBA. Tyreke Evans had 13 points, while Beno Udrih, Jason Thompson and Marcus Thornton all had 11."Denver is playing terrific ball, you can't really sit there and focus on what player you have to stop," said Kings rookie DeMarcus Cousins, who missed 12 of 15 shots and finished with 10 points and eight rebounds."Tonight it was Kenyon Martin, he was a man child. The last game (Wednesday in Denver) it was Ty Lawson."Martin scored 14 points for Denver, which had six players in double figures. Nene had 12 points and 12 rebounds, and Aaron Afflalo scored 11.Trailing by 17 points, the Kings scored nine straight to cut the Denver lead to 86-78 at the 7:56 mark. Yet poor shooting plagued the Kings over the next five minutes, when they scored just six points.Not even a minor altercation between Samuel Dalembert with Danilo Gallinari, following a hard foul by the Nuggets forward, could inspire the Kings."It was just one of those games where if it goes that way, you have to keep attacking the basket and not take jumpers, and putting it on the referees to make the calls," Dalembert said.Sacramento, which shot 40 percent, had 16 turnovers, and made just 2 of 21 3-pointers.The Nuggets are outscoring opponents by nearly 16 points during their five-game win streak, including a convincing 104-90 victory over the Kings. In Wednesday's win in Denver, the Nuggets trailed the Kings by as many as 13 points, but pulled away in the second half, outscoring Sacramento 63-39."It's tough playing a team back-to-back, they are a little better prepared for you," Affalo said. "You've just got to out there and make the plays and we were able to do that when we needed to tonight."Despite a good chance of the Kings departing, Sacramento fans have shown no outward signs of animosity at Power Balance Pavilion. Attendance was 15,871 against the Nuggets and boos were a rarity throughout the game.On Tuesday night, the Anaheim City Council voted 5-0 to approve a 75 million financial package to lure the Kings from Sacramento. The council also voted 5-0 to pay for the Kings' relocation, a decision that makes the likelihood of the team relocating to Anaheim next season even stronger.In the third quarter, the Nuggets ran off eight straight points to build a 70-59 lead by the midway point. Gallinari, who went scoreless in the first half, scored nine points and Martin had eight. Denver outscored the Kings 31-16 and headed into the fourth with a 79-67 lead.Notes: Denver forward Chris Anderson sprained his right ankle in the fourth quarter and left the game. Karl said he is not expected to play Sunday against the Los Angeles Lakers. ... Former Kings owner Jim Thomas sat in a courtside seat that on many nights has been occupied by one of the Maloof owners. The Maloofs have not attended a home game in over a month. Evans made his first start since missing 19 games with plantar fasciitis in his left foot. Last year's rookie of the year had come off the bench in his previous three games. The Denver bench outscored the starters 29-19 in the opening half.

Aldon Smith shows off athleticism, strength in workout videos

Aldon Smith shows off athleticism, strength in workout videos

Raiders linebacker Aldon Smith is awaiting word from the league regarding his possible reinstatement.

In the meantime, the 2012 First-Team All-Pro is preparing his body for the physical grind that is playing in the NFL.

Personal trainer Steven Fotion posted multiple videos to social media of Smith's recent workouts:

https://twitter.com/fotion_steven/status/804330227191181312
 

GM McKenzie: Raiders can sustain success, ‘we’ve built this thing to last’

GM McKenzie: Raiders can sustain success, ‘we’ve built this thing to last’

ALAMEDA – Reggie McKenzie doesn’t talk to the media often, maybe a handful of times per year. That’s been the case since he became Raiders general manager in early 2012 and, throughout that time, those interactions come with a common line of questioning.

Everyone wanted to know about his grand plan to return the Raiders to greatness, or a progress report on it. It was a tall order, and McKenzie never said it was going to happen fast.

He had to get right with the salary cap and completely overhaul the roster, actions nearly impossible to do in tandem. He radically deconstructed, then reconstructed in a method that would set the team up for long-term success.

This was not a steady ascent. Poor play was expected early on, though mistakes intensified tough times and muddled his vision to the short sighted.

McKenzie never wavered, trusted his internal compass and steered this pirate ship through a storm. The skies have finally cleared. His Raiders are 9-2 heading into Sunday’s game against Buffalo, armed with a franchise quarterback, elite pass rusher and a respected head coach.

There’s a hulking offensive line, a pair of top receivers and quality cornerbacks secured for the long term.

Those old questions aren't valid anymore. 

Deconstruction is long done. Reconstruction is clearly complete. Now it’s on to the next phase: Sustaining success.

“The key is that your drafted players become your core,” McKenzie said on Thursday in a meeting with local press. “As far as (what's next), you need to know you can sign them and keep them and continue that process.

“That’s where we are right now, and we feel good about where we are. We think we’ve built this thing to last.”

McKenzie has done so with a three-pronged attack.

1. He has drafted extremely well, over the last three years especially, building a young core headlined by Derek Carr, Khalil Mack, Amari Cooper, Gabe Jackson and Karl Joseph.

2. McKenzie found a respected head coach in Jack Del Rio guys want to play for, with a staff focused on development.

3. McKenzie has supplemented well in free agency – importing Kelechi Osemele, Rodney Hudson Michael Crabtree and Donald Penn, to name a few -- generally without saddling himself with burdensome contracts.

The Raiders were so flush with cap space a few years ago they were able to fork out huge amounts up front on contracts that become pay-as-you-go deals without dead money later on.

They often use roster bonuses over signing bonuses -- roster bonuses hit the cap all at once; salary bonuses impact the cap over the life of the contract – to help mitigate long-term impact. In short, that gives the Raiders financial flexibility and cap space to play with each year. 

They’ll need it soon. Raiders premier players have come cheap, but the taxman is coming. Carr and Mack are still on rookie deals, but big contract extensions are a fait accompli. The same goes for Cooper when the time comes.

“The premier players will get paid, and we’ll try and keep everything intact as much as we can,” McKenzie said. “But what happens when your talented players play well? Contracts come up at times where they can benefit from it.”

Some teams -- New Orleans, for example -- suffer with a few players consuming significant cap space. Other teams, like New England and Seattle, keep on trucking with a good quarterback, defensive cornerstones and cheaper replacements through the draft or free agency.

“You have to continue to function with some young players,” McKenzie said, “and you have to find some mid-tier veterans who can step in and play well.”

The Raiders have been good mining undrafted free agents – McKenzie takes particular pride in those – to help keep the cupboard stocked.

While the Raiders rise may seem concentrated, from 3-13 in 2014 to 9-2 nearly two completed seasons later, it wasn’t quite so quick. McKenzie’s first two seasons were extremely lean while disposing of bad contracts, with a few hiccups that led many to question his vision.

Owner Mark Davis wasn't one of them. He stuck with McKenzie, a decision that looks pretty darn smart. His GM is certainly thankful for that.

“We were in constant communication the four years leading up to this year,” McKenzie said. “Nobody’s excited about losing seasons, but he did see the promise, and he believed in me. That was enough said. I told him my process, and he knew it wasn’t going to be a quick fix. We could try, but that wasn’t my style. That says a lot, because he was probably getting it from a whole lot of people to hurry up.”