Empty Sac: Kings battle back only to come up short, lose to Magic 114-112

By Morris Phillips

SACRAMENTO–Slow starts, heartbreaking finishes, the Kings have seen enough of those this season.

But the reality is that’s what the Kings are about, and Monday’s heartbreaking 114-112 loss to the Magic–decided on Aaron Gordon’s three-point play with 1.1 seconds remaining–was another painful reminder.

“You don’t want to come down to these one-point games because crazy things happen,” coach Luke Walton said. “You have to take care of business before that.”

The Magic came in as the NBA’s lowest-scoring team, averaging just above 103 points per game. But the Kings immediately made the visitors feel comfortable by allowing them 33 first quarter points, which matched their best output in the opening quarter this season. Orlando didn’t have to up the tempo, they just took what the Kings gave them: 26 shot attempts, ample second chance opportunities, four made threes and five made free throws. Down 33-25 after a period, the Kings were already trending negatively.

With the threes falling, and the free throw opportunities swinging dramatically in Orlando’s favor, the Magic took their biggest lead of the night, 65-48 with a minute remaining before halftime. At that point the Kings not named Nemanja Bjelica started to play, constructing a 15-2 run ending the second quarter and starting the third that got them back into it.

Bjelica was keeping the Kings afloat at that point, scoring 25 of the team’s first 63 points. Bjelica would go on to put up 34 points and eight 3-pointers, both career bests, but his super efficient output wasn’t what consumed his thoughts after the game.

“We lost the game earlier, and we need to stop that,” Bjelica said. “We need to start the game like we finished the last five minutes.”

In the game’s final five minutes, Kings’ guard De’Aaron Fox turned on the jets and helped his club wipe out a 100-93 deficit. As the capper to his 31-point, 10-rebound, 8-assist night, the speedy guard got into the lane and converted a three-point play that gave the Kings a 112-111 lead with 15 seconds remaining. As a small consolation, Fox thoroughly outplayed Markelle Fultz in matchup of guards taken in the first five picks of the 2017 NBA Draft. Fultz finished with 16 points and two assists.

On the Magic’s final possession, Evan Fournier patiently dribbled down Fox, but didn’t gain much advantage, and seemed content to settle for an off-balance jump shot at the free throw line extended. Instead Fournier got the ball to Gordon in the lane, who flipped the ball in the basket as Cory Joseph fouled him for the three-point opportunity. The resulting free throw put the Magic up 114-112 with little time remaining.

The Kings felt a foul should have been called on the game’s final play in which a pass in bounds gave Harrison Barnes a four-foot shot opportunity that fell short. But whistles weren’t blowing in Sacramento’s direction on Monday: the Magic converted 25 of 30 free throw attempts to the home team’s 10 of 11.

The Kings fell to 15-25 with the loss, and it was eighth time this season they’ve lost by three points or less.

Marvin Bagley Jr. returned to the lineup after missing the previous ten games and had a strong game with 18 points, six rebounds and two blocks in 23 minutes. Buddy Hield added 16, but Barnes and Trevor Ariza combined to miss 11 of their 14 shots.

The Kings continue their homestand on Wednesday when the Dallas Mavericks come to town looking to break a four-game losing streak to Sacramento that dates back to last season.

 

 

 

 

In A New York Minute: A’s go from winners to losers in game’s final, seven pitches, Yankees win 5-4

By Morris Phillips

In New York, the subway is ever active, and a train is always coming. In the Bronx, that same certainty exists at Yankee Stadium: Murderers Row is now a nine-man cycle with a home run off a Yankees’ bat every 21 plate appearances.

Yes, a Yankees’ home run is always coming, and that’s how the A’s found themselves in the cross hairs on Sunday, clinging to a 4-3 lead in the ninth with the Yankees somehow 32 plate appearances into their muggy afternoon without a homer.

Liam Hendricks was tabbed by Bob Melvin to complete a five-out save, entering with the bases jammed and Gary Sanchez–the ring leader of the high-scoring New York attack–at the plate in the eighth. But after Sanchez popped out, Didi Gregorius lined a two-run single up the middle to trim the A’s lead to 4-3.

Now, in the ninth, Hendricks would face the bottom of the Yankees’ order, a welcome break with a caveat: in 2019, Murderers’ Row provides no breaks, and the A’s closer would see Brett Gardner first–the number seven hitter–more than capable with 18 home runs coming in.

Afterwards, Hendricks would complain that on this occasion he was a little off, missing several pitches off the plate. Ahead in the count, 2-1, Gardner would pounce, sending the next pitch into the right bleachers to tie it, 4-4.

“We believe in ourselves right down to the very end even if we’re down by a few runs,” said Gardner. “Our fans, I feel like, feel the same way. So we feel that, we feed off that.”

Manager Aaron Boone elected to lift Clint Frazier for pinch hitter Mike Ford with the game tied. Boone, awash in options with the September 1st roster expansion, chose a career minor leaguer who had hit 10 home runs in his first 36 major league games after receiving his first promotion at age 27, over Frazier, not a bad option with 11 home runs in 53 games this season.

Boone’s decision paid off when Ford smashed Hendricks’ offering on a 3-2 count, the ball landing in the bullpen beyond the right centerfield fence. Afterwards, Ford said the moment was a blur.

“I didn’t hear anything, which is crazy,” Ford said. “Just a whole rush of emotion.”

The Yankees became the first club to reach 90 wins on the season, and they found a response to the challenge put forth by the A’s, who won the first four contests in the season series.

The A’s get to erase the disappointment of consecutive, walk-off losses with a cross country flight home before facing the Rangers on Tuesday at the Coliseum.

Sean Manaea made his season debut in the contest, and pitched beautifully, shutting out the Bombers for five innings, allowing just one hit. Manaea gives the A’s tremendous flexibility as a sixth starter in the season’s final month.

Relievers Jake Diekman and Yusmeiro Petit also pitched effectively before Lou Trivino and Hendricks ran into trouble.

Sheldon Neuse’s first major league hit drove in a pair of runs in the seventh to break the scoreless stalemate. Neuse had 58 extra base-hits at Triple-A Las Vegas, forcing himself into the A’s crowded but underwhelming situation at second base. Ironically, Neuse’s double came off Ryan Dull, the former Athletic making his Yankees’ debut.

 

That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary: A’s Radio History, Can It Repeat Itself in 2019?

Photo credit: sportsradiopd.com

By: Amaury Pi-Gonzalez

In 1978, A’s owner Charlie O Finley gave the broadcast rights for free to the UC Berkeley campus radio station, KALX 90.7 FM, with Larry Baer and Bob Kozberg at the microphone, calling the action. That same season I was calling the weekend games in Spanish for the old KBRG 105.3 FM San Francisco, with studios in the Merchandise Mart in Market Street. Carl Finley asked me to give the score every half inning in English because our signal was covering the Bay Area and the UC Berkeley campus station could not be heard at the Oakland Coliseum parking lot. By the way, if the name Larry Baer sounds familiar; yes, he is the same Larry Baer running the San Francisco Giants today.

The A’s ended their partnership in 2018 with 95.7 FM The Game, and as of today, there’s less than one month until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training in Arizona, and the team has not signed a new flagship station. Could it be that the A’s will not have a radio station to carry their games? How can they find sponsors if they might just go into Spring Training with no radio signal? They could even be broadcasting the games on the A’s website, but no commercial over-the-air radio station? Can history repeat itself from 1978?

Of course, the A’s will have full coverage of all their games on television, but if they cannot secure a local radio signal, that would be news that they are not looking forward to announce. At this time last year, the A’s were already advertising their Fanfest at Jack London Square. But today just a week and days away (their Fanfest is on January 26th at Jack London Square) and that fan favorite is not advertised on a their radio station because they simply do not have a carrier.

Unfortunately, it’s embarrassing and ridiculous, but these are the times we are living these days, radio is not the medium that it once was back in the day. With the advent of social media (Facebook has done live MLB games in recent years) and local team television, the absence of local radio in 2019 is very possible. The A’s have their network station aligned, but no local flagship station to provide the coverage

Welcome to 2019!

That’s Amaury News and Commentary: Old-School Al

Photo credit: Oakland A’s Spanish radio KIQI 1010; Amaury Pi-Gonzalez (pictured) was close friends with the late Al Dougherty, a salesman for KBRG 105.3 FM.

By: Amaury Pi-Gonzalez

OAKLAND–Al Dougherty passed on Friday September 7, 2018 in San Rafael, Calif. I knew Al for around 40 years. We met when he was top sales person at the old KBRG 105.3 FM, a Spanish radio station in San Francisco with main offices and studios at the Merchandise Mart building on Market Street. A good man with a sense of decorum and good work ethics from whom I learned a lot about the radio business, way before social media. Al was really old-school. He was not into social media, just email. Nothing new, most people over 70 do not care much about social media.

Al knew the inner workings of radio, from sales management to programming. He loved the game of baseball and we clicked right away the first time. I met him late in the 1970’s. He helped put together the first scheduled broadcast of A’s games on Spanish radio.

Al was a sales person in the whole sense of old-school. At the station or when he went on a sales call, he will always be immaculately dressed. When he wrote a letter to a potential sponsor (in those days pitching sponsors), he corresponded with the teams via letters and in-person visits. The draft letters he wrote, he expected to be typed correctly by the secretary and he would be very strict about accuracy–no mistakes.

Al was a wordsmith. One time he was sending a sales proposal to a sponsor and he noticed that the letter did not leave on the same day it was written, he was very upset. He detested inefficiency, and at the office, he ran a tight ship.

When he sold the first schedule games of baseball as I was doing the play-by-play, he told me I should learn the commercial log and I did. It was an experience, but soon I found out how important that was, since when you sell spots you have to show the sponsors when and at what time they ran on the air.

Everything Al did had a purpose and a plan. He was very anal when it came to his business. Focused would be an understatement.

We went on sales calls and learned a lot from him. In those days it was paramount that you were always well-dressed to meet the client have a cohesive sales plan and explain to the potential sponsor about what they were getting in the market they were in. He also worked for the San Francisco Giants at Candlestick Park–in charge of Diamond Vision. Len Shapiro remembers very well that the Oakland Seals went on the air because of Al’s efforts. He worked at various Bay Area radio stations. He was a real baseball fan, always talking trivia with me, as well as a great movies aficionado.

During his last few years on this earth, I would often travel to his place in San Rafael, go out to lunch, where he always talking about business and baseball. He loved corned beef and cabbage. After all, he was an Irishman, and when I went to see him, my wife Gail would cook him corned beef and cabbage for me to take home. That was his favorite spread. He was a happy man, and told me that would make a few meals out of that and make sure I thank Gail for her kindness.

I wish I would have spent more time with Al towards the end of his life. He was like an older brother and always gave me the best advice money could not buy.

Al was a conservative in every sense of the word. He was very independent and didn’t like people that felt entitled. He always had a sense of responsibility for his actions, not blaming somebody else, but he would take full responsibility, and if he made a mistake, he would tell you. He had a great sense of humor. We would joke at many things in life, because ‘after all’ life is funny in many ways, things that happen day-to-day, especially in the radio business. You did not need a script. They are just funny sometimes.

I can go on and on about the many years I knew Al. We shared some very good moments at ballgames, playoffs, World Series and also shared some disappointment when a broadcast deal could not be reached. His favorite baseball play-by-play announcer was Walter Lanier Barber, better known as “Red Barber,” who called games for the Cincinnati Reds, Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Yankees. Interesting because Al was born in New York and was a N.Y. Giants fan since he was a young man.

I have met his two sons, and as soon as I got the email from Brian, I didn’t even had to open that email. I knew instinctively that Al had left us.

A good man has left us and my sincere condolences go to his immediate family.

Rest in peace, my friend.

Kings get winded at 5280 feet and lose to Denver 96-79

by Charlie O. Mallonee

Den-ZBo
Zach Randolph scored 11 points and grabbed 9 rebounds on Saturday night Photo: USA Today

NBA teams have only a 33-percent chance of winning the second game of a back-to-back set on the road. Sacramento won in Dallas on Friday night. The odds were against them going into Denver on Saturday which is why they entered the game as a -12.5 point underdog.

When the final buzzer sounded, the Kings had lost their second game of the season as the Nuggets outscored them 96-79. Denver   did not play that spectacular. They just played less sloppy than the Kings did in the game.

For all of the Sacramento rookies, this was their first back-to-back set of games on the road. Add in the fact that the game was played at “mile high” altitude” in Denver and it becomes a real learning situation. This is not an effort to make excuses for the Kings but rather an opportunity to explain the literal uphill battle they faced on Saturday night.

Rebound stats may explain the entire game

The Nuggets out-rebounded the Kings 58-39 in the game. There are very few games where a team can give up 19 more rebounds to their opponents and walk away with a victory.

When the rebounding stats are broken down even further, the impact of Denver’s efforts becomes even greater. The Nuggets pulled down 18 rebounds on offense which created 13 second chance point opportunities. Denver converted eight of the second chance situations which turned into 19 points.

The Kings had only 12 offensive rebounds that turned into 10 points. Eight of those rebounds on offense came in the second half when the Kings had a significant scoring deficit to make up so they did not have the impact they might have had earlier in the game.

The problem — tired legs. You could see that the Kings did not have the spring in their legs like they had in Dallas on Friday night. Fatigue and altitude can be brutal. Yes, the young players will to learn how to deal with these adversities, but that is why fans have been cautioned to remember this is going to be a season of learning.

Top Performances

Den-Skal
Labissiere came off the bench to score 13 points for SAC Photo: USA Today Sports

Kings

  • De’Aaron Fox continued to amaze on Saturday night as he scored a team-high (tied for game-high) 18 points shooting 8-for-13 from the floor. He sank one 3-pointer, grabbed five rebounds and had one assist. He did all of that while being double-teamed by the defense much of the game.
  • Skal Labissiere came off the bench and brought some offense to the game for the Kings. He finished with 13 points in 25-minutes on the floor. He shot 6-for-12 including one 3-pointer. Labissiere also pulled down four rebounds and dished out four assists.
  • Z-Bo showed the young kids how an “O.G” plays in a back-to-back on the road. He put up 11 points in 20-minutes. He also grabbed nine rebounds (four offensive). Randolph spent much of the game being very frustrated with the officials and the lack of foul calls.
  • Rookie Frank Mason III played in his first NBA game and scored seven points.
  • Malachi Richardson saw some playing time most of which came in the fourth quarter and scored eight points.
  • Coach Dave Joerger used all 13 of his active players in the game on Saturday night.

Nuggets

Den-Farid
Faried came off the bench to score 18 points for the Nuggets Photo USA Today Sports
  • Denver had two players who tied for team-high in scoring and game-high in scoring with De’Aaron Fox. Paul Millsap put up 18 points to go with nine rebounds. The hyperactive Kenneth Faried came off the bench to score 18 shooting 7-for-10.
  • Guard Gary Harris scored 17 points going 7-for-11 from the field including three 3-pointers. Early in the game, he just broke loose and worked the backdoor for easy buckets under the basket.
  • Will Barton quietly scored 15 points for the Nuggets. He shot 6-for-13 overall and went 3-for-8 from 3-point land.

Team Performances

It was not a beautiful game for either team.

Sacramento (1-2)

  • The Kings shot just 36.6-percent (31-for-85) for the game. They went just 8-for-23 (34.8-percent) from beyond the 3-point arc.
  • Free throw opportunities were in short supply again on Saturday night. SAC went to the line just 13 times in the game and hit nine of those opportunities. They have to increase the number of free throw attempts per game.
  • They dished out 15 assists but turned it over 14 times which resulted in 19 Denver points. That ratio is not acceptable.
  • Rebounding — that has already been discussed.

Denver (1-1)

  • The Nuggets shot an acceptable 43.5-percent (37-for-85) from field. They hit 10-of-30 3-point opportunities (33.3-percent).
  • Denver went 12-for-20 from the charity stripe.
  • Their 58-39 rebound advantage really made the difference in the game for the Nuggets.
  • The Nuggets distributed 25 assists and turned the ball over 16 times. Those TOVs resulted in 13 points for the Kings.

Up next

Sacramento

The Kings will have Sunday off in the Valley of the Sun and then will face the 0-3 Phoenix Suns on Monday night. The Suns lost to the Clippers in Los Angeles on Saturday night 130-88. FiveThirtyEight.com gives the Suns a 66-percent chance to win the game. They make Phoenix -4-point favorite.

Denver

The Nuggets will return to action on Wednesday in Charlotte versus the Hornets. Denver is a 2.5-point underdog according FiveThirtyEight.

Final Note

Den-Malone
Denver head coach Michael Malone Photo USA Today Sports

The rivalry between Denver and Sacramento because they are facing former Kings coach Michael Malone is officially over. No player on the Kings roster was ever coached by Malone. Wow! How quickly things can change in the NBA.

SJ Barracuda Games to be Broadcast on AM 1220 KDOW

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Barracuda have announced a broadcasting agreement with the AM radio station KDOW. The arrival of the AHL in California gives fans a chance to see more live hockey at a lower price point, but radio coverage continues to be a staple for any fan who wants to follow a team. This agreement is good news for hockey fans.

Games will be aired live on KDOW and also streamed on the station’s website at www.kdow.biz. Coverage will begin with the team’s final preseason game at Bakersfield on Sunday October 3 at 7pm. All 61 games will be streamed on the website and 58 of them will be on the radio.

The games will be called by Eric Lindquist, familiar to Worcester Sharks fans after eight seasons doing the play by play for that team. This is Lindquist’s twelfth season in professional hockey and he has called over 800 games. For some games, he will be joined by Sharks alumni for color commentary.

KDOW has been broadcasting business and financial news in the Bay Area for seven years. The station reaches all nine San Francisco Bay Area counties and is also the broadcast partner for the San Jose Sabercats arena football team.

In the Sharks press release, KDOW’s general manager Mike Sheilds said, of the partnership:

“AM 1220 KDOW is thrilled to be partnering with The Barracuda and look forward to adding American Hockey League action as part of our sports programming line-up,”  said KDOW General Manager Mike Shields. “Our listeners love to work hard and invest hard, but they also play hard and professional hockey is a sport they surely will enjoy!”

Visit the Barracuda website for full schedule information.

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