Memphis able to hold off Sacramento surge

Photo Credit: Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press –

By Pearl Allison Lo

The Grizzlies were able to overcome a second half surge by the Kings Sunday in a 97-86 win.

Memphis’s Zach Randolph had all 9 of his 22 points after a three by Travis Outlaw with 7:18 left to go in the game, put Sacramento within three.

Randolph was the only player to get a double-double, as he also got pulled down 10 rebounds.

Outlaw led the team with 18 points and 6 rebounds from the bench, with all his scoring done in the second half.

The Kings’ John Salmon, Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Thornton and Travis Outlaw all hit double digit points.

The Grizzlies led for the majority of the first quarter but there were five ties. Memphis pulled away to 25-18 with an 11-4 run after the last one. 7 of those points came from Jerryd Bayless who entered the game with 2:51 left in the first.  Bayless also had a rebound.

The first 3 minutes and 42 seconds of the second quarter were filled with fouls and free throws. At one point, the Grizzlies’ Mike Miller committed a foul and then turnover and Kosta Koufos was called for a foul immediately after. Memphis extended their lead to 17 points during the quarter, converting on five straight possessions. Koufos and Marc Gasol each scored 4 points then and Mike Conley, who had 9 assists in the game, assisted on 3 straight possessions. Gasol had 9 points in the quarter. The Grizzlies ended the first half with a 13 point lead, 47-34.

Memphis extended their lead to 20 several times during the third quarter. The Grizzlies’ Tony Allen started out early with steals on consecutive possessions, leading to points by Tayshaun Prince and himself. After a timeout with 7:37 left to go, coach put in reserves Salmon, Thomas, Thornton, Outlaw and Chuck Hayes into the game, leading to a 24-13 run. Outlaw and Thomas started out with three-pointers on consecutive possessions and combined for 17 of the 19 points scored after. Thomas’s layup with 2:33 left to go put within single digits at the time and Outlaw had 9 points during the quarter.

Thomas made at least two nice passes to teammates up front for points in the fourth. With the shot clock winding down with 9:55 left to go, Thomas was fouled and got a new clock.  After Outlaw put the game within three, he missed two shots and committed a foul and Sacramento went scoreless for over 3 minutes. The Grizzlies shaved a minute off the clock when on one possession, they consistently missed and got the rebound three times until Hamady Ndiaye blocked the ball, Randolph got the rebound and Memphis missed again.

Game notes: Regarding shooting percentage, rebounds and assists, they went in favor of the Grizzlies in the ratios of 55.6% to 37.9%, 49-35 and 30-21. Gasol had 19 points, 8 rebounds and 9 assists. When Randolph scores at least 15, Memphis is now 5-1, as the Grizzlies beat Sacramento for the sixth straight time. The Kings next play Tuesday versus the Phoenix Suns at 7pm.

Pistons nab first road win against “loudest” competition

Photo Credit: Ed Szczepanski, USA TODAY Sports

By Pearl Allison Lo

On a night when the Sacramento Kings’ fans set two Guinness world records, Detroit got their first win in five games in a 97-90 win Friday.

A well-rounded Josh Smith led the Pistons as the Kings’ supporters created the “Loudest Crowd Roar at an Indoor Sports Stadium.”

Smith had 21 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists, 5 steals and 4 blocks.

Sacramento crushed the previous Guinness World Record of 106.6 decibels by the Milwaukee Bucks in 2008, soaring to a sound of 124.9 decibels in the first half, and then surpassing themselves in the second half with a record of 126 decibels.

DeMarcus Cousins led the Kings with a double-double, scoring 26 points with 13 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 blocks.  Detroit’s Andre Drummonds, whose sprained ankle put his status as uncertain before the game, was the only other player to have a double-double with 15 points and 18 rebounds.

The Pistons’ consistently strong three quarters set the pace for their win.

Detroit received the lead 16 seconds into the game with a two-pointer by Greg Monroe and held it throughout the first quarter until Ben McLemore tied the game at 34 with 8:41 left to go in the 2nd period.

Two turnovers and a foul gave the Pistons their largest lead (9 points) within that stretch, as Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 5 points within less than 30 seconds.  A  three by John Salmons put the game within four, but McLemore missed a flying dunk and Cousins lost the ball out of bounds.

After Sacramento’s third tie, they got their first lead with 4:52 left in the first half, as Cousins made a consecutive shot.  However, it was also short-lived as Monroe followed up with a basket.  He then missed a free throw but also stole the ball, which eventually resulted in two points by Josh Smith and then a free throw. This was part of a 10-1 run since the tie right before the Kings short lead, which also featured Rodney Stuckey hitting two technicals and a three-pointer.

With 1:19 left in the first half, Sacramento got a 51-50 lead upon a three by Isaiah Thomas.  However, Jonas Jerebko then tied it with a free throw and Detroit got the lead back after two fouls and a turnover by the Kings.

Greivis Vasquez’s second three in a row put the Kings back ahead 64-62 with 5:05 left in the 3rd.  The teams then went back and forth until a three by Brandon Jennings with 4:18 left in the 3rd put the Pistons ahead for good.  As part of a 14-4 run, Detroit finished the 3rd with a 10 point, 80-70 lead.  Stuckey hit another technical, Drummonds had 6 points, Smith had 2 blocks and both Drummonds and Smith worked hard along the glass.

The closest Sacramento got afterwards was reflected in the final score, despite the Pistons going scoreless the last 2:28 of the game.

Game notes: Thomas, Stuckey and Detroit’s Kyle Singler contributed double-digit points off the bench.  Fast break points and points in the paint for the Pistons and the Kings were reflected as 24-16 and 46-34.  Sacramento next plays the Memphis Grizzlies at 3pm PST.

 

Boyle’s back bar shot seals comeback OT win

Photo Credit: Unknown

By Pearl Allison Lo

It was a swift and abrupt end for the Vancouver Canucks, after upon video review, the referee acknowledged San Jose Sharks’ Boyle’s goal had entered the net for a 2-1 win Thursday.

31 seconds after Vancouver’s Henrik Sedin went off for hooking at 2:07 of overtime, Boyle made the Sharks’ fourth time on the power play count. Boyle was aided by Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture for San Jose’s second consecutive overtime win, as they took the season series over the Canucks 3-1 in an early finale.

Couture had a chance with 3:11 left to go in the first period, moving across the ice against traffic, but his shot was muffled up front by goalie Roberto Luongo. The Sharks later controlled the majority of the possession as the first period neared its end. San Jose’s Marc Edouard Vlasic with three shots on goal, was the only one with multiple shots. Ryan Kesler led with almost half of Vancouver’s blocks with four.

The Sharks’ second power play was majorly controlled by the Canucks, and included an offensive blocked of a shot attempt by Luongo with his stick.

Vancouver’s Alexandre Burrows was called for interference to give San Jose their third power play at 11:10 of the second period. The set up for the Canucks’ go-ahead goal then started when Pavelski was called for interference 40 seconds later. After the then even matchup expired, Vancouver was given a 36 second man advantage, with which they capitalized.   After a faceoff win and Burrows’ wide shot, Kevin Bieksa was awarded his first goal of the season, slapping the puck in the net from 56 feet away. Bieksa was helped by Sedin with his 18th assist and Burrows.

The Sharks were outshot 20-9 in the second period.

In the third, it looked like the Canucks would be ending their two game losing streak amidst their momentum since the second period. However, with an extra attacker, San Jose was able to stay alive. Joe Thornton went down, but was able to pass it to Boyle, who eventually got it to Tomas Hertl, on Luongo’s left side, as Hertl scored with just over a minute left. Thornton had his 18th assist and Hertl had his 11th goal.

Re the goal, Boyle responded, “The puck came out and I was going to shoot originally, and then…guys kinda came together and I changed my mind at the last minute…”

Game notes: Vlasic led the team in shots at the end of the game with six and led in ice time, along with Boyle, as both stayed on for 22:34. Vancouver’s Dan Hamhuis led all skaters in ice time with 25:40. Thornton extended his points streak to six games. The Sharks will go for three in a row when they face the Edmonton Oilers at 7pm PST Friday.

Kaepernick key to win

Photo by Bob Martin

By Pearl Allison Lo

LONDON– San Francisco 49ers’ (6-2) quarterback Colin Kaepernick had a season-high two rushing touchdowns in a 42-10 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars (0-8), who were playing in their inaugural International Series game at Wembley Stadium Sunday evening.

The final count of 83,559 fans marked the 4th best attendance of the eight NFL games played here so far, outranked by the two New England Patriots games and the other San Francisco game. It was the third lopsided scoring margin at Wembley Stadium, with the two other games New England games. It was a mainly red jersey crowd, but the fans were equally supportive of their “home” team until 2016. Dan Skuta thought, “It seemed pretty split to me,” and “they cheered for things that I don’t think Americans usually cheer for. They were fired up for extra points and stuff like that, which is pretty cool.”

Both teams had a number of drops, including miscues returning the football for the first time. The 49ers’ Kyle Williams fumbled off the kickoff reception but retained possession. Josh Scobee dropped the ball on his return, but was able to recover the ball before the players reached him.

San Francisco scored during their first four drives and Kaepernick scrambled during them as well, overall running seven times for 54 yards. Coach Jim Harbaugh commented, “He used his legs on third down to pick up valuable first downs.”

During the 49ers’ opening drive, Kaepernick found Bruce Miller wide open on the far right for 43 yards. Teammate Frank Gore found a hole up the middle later, to give San Francisco the opening touchdown with 19 yards and 11:48 left in the first quarter.

Kaepernick looked like he was going to run a third time before he connected with Anquan Boldin for 21 yards. It was Kaepernick’s fourth rush that brought him into the end zone the first time as he went to the far left, knocking over the orange cone in the process. It was Kaepernick’s longest rush of the game at the time, 12 yards with 2:36 left in the quarter.

The 21-0 first score of the second quarter, almost mirrored the time of the first score in the first quarter, with 11:52 left. Kaepernick had his longest rush of 17 yards and eventually found Vernon Davis, just before Davis went out of bounds at the back of the end zone.

The first play of the 49ers’ fourth drive was a 32-yard pass to Davis. Jacksonville cornerback Alan Ball got a hand on the ball in the end zone to prevent the third pass of the drive to Davis. However, this was followed by Kaepernick’s second rushing touchdown as he traveled nine yards to make the score 28-0. This was the first drive Kaepernick did not run in any of the plays before the score.

The Jaguars’ Jordan Todman returned the ball 40 yards after muffing a catch, but the drive ended quickly, with Williams muffing a catch on the other end.

San Francisco finally went scoreless on their fifth drive. It was also a drive in which Kaepernick’s scramble was taken back by a holding penalty.

Jacksonville followed their defensive performance with their first journey into enemy territory and score. Cecil Shorts, who was the main target during the drive, made a nice break from one of the tackles. Josh Scobee kicked a 38-yard field goal to make the score 28-3 at halftime.

The Jaguars received the ball again to start off the third quarter, but had several battles, including two penalties. Maurice Jones-Drew ran for 30 yards. On fourth down and less than a yard, they converted. Shorts dropped the ball in the end zone, leading to fourth down again. This time,the pass was incomplete to Mike Brown.

Just under three minutes later though, Jacksonville got the ball back as Frank Gore fumbled on his own 34 yard line and Russell Allen recovered the football. The Jaguars were able to turn the fumble into their first touchdown eventually, when Chad Henne passed to Mike Brown for 29 yards.

The 49ers wasted no time getting the score back afterwards. Kendall Hunter had a 41-yard rush and Gore made up for his fumble with a two-yard score with less than a minute left in the quarter.

In the fourth, Jacksonville went for their third fourth down conversion and were successful. Marcedes Lewis fumbled, however, and Dan Skuta turned the game’s first straight fumble into a score, with a run of 43 yards.

Regarding keeping morale high, Jones-Drew replied, “We’re competitors. We’re never going to let anyone break our will. Some guys are saying, ‘Why are you still playing?’ I say, ‘Why are you talking to me about that? We’re trying to get our job done, play football, and play it at a high level.’ We’re going to continue to work and do what we have to do…we can make a change and we will.”

Notes: The most special of the four honororary captains of the game was Brandon Bell from Scotland, who has been a fan since receiving brain tumor treatment in Jacksonville. His “Make-A-Wish” was to see the play in Wembley Stadium. It was Henne’s third straight start at quarterback in place of Blaine Gabbert. The Jaguars’ Will Rackley received a blow to the head during the game and did not return. San Francisco next gets a bye week and then plays the Carolina Panthers November 10th. Jacksonville also gets a bye next week and will aim to get their first win again against the Tennessee Titants. The Jaguars’ next game at Wembley will be against the Dallas Cowboys and will also feature four other teams, as 2014-2015 will mark the first season three NFL games will be played in London, a step in a bigger direction.

Niners take on the Jaguars in London

By Pearl Allison Lo

London – The San Francisco 49ers will be playing their third international game, second at historic Wembley Stadium, while the host Jacksonville Jaguars will be playing their first, when the two teams meet on the field Sunday, October 27th at 5pm London Time. This is a part of the NFL’s International Series with the help of the Mayor of London.

Re the scene before the game for the public, I haven’t seen much besides the Fan Rally, but there were glimpses. I’ve seen ads in the subway, on street vehicles and banners hanging between buildings. There were multiple going-ones during the week though.

Yet to be back in San Francisco, after arriving in London Monday, the team got together with the famed Tottenham Hotspurs for a community event encouraging young ones to be more active. Both sporting teams got to indulge in each others’ respective sport.

NikeTown hosted an evening on Tuesday that centered around Jacksonville Jaguars’ players.

After 49ers practice on Friday, re the yet to win Jaguars, coach Jim Harbaugh said his players “respect the team…They play with great effort, very physical, so I’ll just say that. I haven’t had to say anything along those lines. They’ve seen it on the tape.” Re his own 5-2 team, Harbaugh expressed, “hopefully we play our best football. That’s what we’re looking for. We’ve played good football, but I think we could do better…”

When asked about plans for London, Harbaugh pulled out a list that included Marble Arch, Park Lane, Buckingham Palace and Parliament Square to received laughter. He grinned while inquiring afterward; “think we’re hitting the right spots?”

NFL jerseys started popping up Saturday on the day of the fan rally on the train, before the Commisioner’s Fan Forum and after the rally elsewhere. They were most prominent, however, with the 49ers heavily supported, decorating the invited fans at the forum who were to be bused to the rally after Q&A. Commissioner Roger Goodell, 49er quarterback legend Joe Montana and former Jacksonville Jaguars’ offensive Tony Boselli, who sat in a circle in the middle of the fans, were the other components of the equation.

Eager questions surrounded the possibilities of Monday and Thursday night games, 2015, women in the NFL and the Super Bowl to a collective intake of inhaled breaths and gasps. When asked if a Los Angeles franchise or a U.K. franchise would be first, Goodell stated, “it doesn’t matter to me. I would like to be able to continue to expand our game,” but moreover, emphasized “success” and “doing things right…Ultimately, I would love to see us doing both.” Goodell also mentioned the possibility of women in the NFL as referees.

Bare chested young men sported painted letters, numbers and symbols during the off part of off and on rain at the rally, with a message that read, ‘U.K. Franchise in 5 years? Odds 8/1.’

We’ll see Sunday if the game can help with the “success” Goodell emphasized during the forum, thereby improving the odds and the possibility of more burgeoning American football fans not only in the U.K., but Europe.

NOTES: My experience being in London so far is that people are pretty nice, friendly and helpful. The roads being reversed and other oddities like the light switches being the opposite way, cell phone stores being called car phone warehouses, a lot of hookah bars, the European smoke and free wifi in telephone booths provide additional interest. The UK accents are quintessential.

A-Rod’s grand slam puts Yanks on top of Giants

By Pearl Allison Lo

Behind in the count with two outs , Alex Rodriguez changed the game and also passed Lou Gehrig for most grand slams with 24, as New York beat San Francisco 5-1 Friday.

Giants’ starter Tim Lincecum was lifted in favor of George Kontos after 121 pitches and the bases loaded.  Rodriguez entered the inning just 1 for his last 25 and was behind 2-1 when his hit landed with the spectators in deep right field, leading to a much needed win for his team.

It was a tie game since early on in the matchup.

The Yankees’ Alfonso Soriano hit a leadoff home run in the bottom of the first to make the score 1-0.

The Giants tied the game the following inning.  Brandon Crawford was issued a leadoff walk.  One out later, rookie Juan Perez doubled Crawford back to home plate to make it 1-1.

Rodriguez’s grand slam set up came in the bottom of the seventh.  Eduardo Nunez led off with a single and stole second after one out. Brendan Ryan was then hit by a pitch and a fielder’s choice left runners on first and second once again.  Ichiro Suzuki then walked to load the bases.

Sabathia was lifted in the top of the eighth after 107 pitches and issuing a leadoff single in the game that featured two former Cy Young winners .

Lincecum threw two wild pitches in addition to his two walks in his first game playing against New York

San Francisco had a one out, runners on the corners scoring opportunity in the top of the first.

The Yankees also had the bases loaded with two outs in the bottom of the third.

Game notes: During the game, Lincecum became the first Giants pitcher with 1,500 strikeouts since  Gaylord Perry in 1971.  Both teams get right back to playing Saturday at 10:05 am with two morning games in a row.