Warriors

How did Crosby fare in his return to the ice?

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How did Crosby fare in his return to the ice?

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW YORK (AP) -- The questions surrounding the Pittsburgh Penguins are quickly being answered. Questions such as: How good would the Penguins be if Sidney Crosby and the rest of their injured players were healthy in time for the NHL playoffs? Will the return of Crosby to a club surging without him disrupt the mojo that had the Penguins storming toward the top of the Eastern Conference? On Thursday, under the glare of intense media attention in the heart of New York, Crosby returned from a three-month absence caused by recurring concussion symptoms and helped the Penguins thoroughly beat the New York Rangers 5-2 for Pittsburgh's 10th straight victory. Not only didn't the Penguins skip a beat as they welcomed their captain back into the lineup, they thrived. Crosby earned only one assist on the score sheet, but he was on the ice for three of Pittsburgh's goals. Now the questions gaining lots of steam throughout the NHL: Are the Penguins the new threat to come out of the East, and can anyone stop them? "I don't like to say stuff like that," said Marc-Andre Fleury, who was overshadowed despite making 29 saves in his 38th win of the season, and ninth in the streak. "We're playing pretty solid hockey these days. It's a long season and nothing is over. We have to keep going, trying to get points, trying to catch the Rangers. Everybody feels pretty confident." The Penguins are suddenly the picture of health, and the NHL's hottest team is making the playoff race a fight to the finish. Crosby returned from a 40-game absence along with defenseman Kris Letang, who missed the past five because of concussion issues. That gave the Penguins their most complete lineup in months, and Pittsburgh responded by thumping the slumping and beat-up Rangers. The Penguins have beaten the Rangers twice during their spurt and now trail them by four points. Pittsburgh has 13 games left, compared to 12 for New York. Crosby was hoping he wouldn't mess up any chemistry created by his teammates while he was out. "I didn't want to be that guy," said the center, who got rare playing time at wing. "I obviously knew we were playing really well. There was a little bit of adjustment, playing wing, things like that. I thought everyone played great, and I'm happy we got the win." Crosby played for the first time since he was forced to the sidelines on Dec. 5. His presence was felt way beyond what can be analyzed by numbers. He took 18 shifts, and the Penguins scored on three without allowing any. "I think he played a great game," said Matt Cooke, who scored twice while playing on a new third line with Crosby. "He draws so much attention when he is on the ice. People are worried about how good he is. That makes the players on the ice with him that much better." That showed throughout as the Penguins became the first team this season to score five goals against the Rangers. Crosby joined Cooke and Tyler Kennedy on a line. Kennedy had two assists, and NHL points leader Evgeni Malkin added a goal for the Penguins, who haven't lost since Feb. 19 at Buffalo. Pittsburgh's winning streak started two days later with a 2-0 home victory against the Rangers. "That was the only way we could catch them, by beating them because they were winning a lot," Fleury said. Crosby is expected to play in each of Pittsburgh's remaining games -- including two this weekend at New Jersey and Philadelphia to complete a span of three games in four days against divisional foes.

Warriors the establishment, and the field the barbarians at the gate

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AP

Warriors the establishment, and the field the barbarians at the gate

Programming note: Warriors-Rockets coverage starts tonight at 6:30pm on NBC Sports Bay Area, and continues immediately after the final buzzer.

The NBA offseason ended as it began – with someone burning money for our amusement.

The San Antonio Spurs re-upped center LaMarcus Aldridge, with whom head coach Gregg Popovich had an off-season hug-it-out to repair what seemed to be a fraying relationship.

Thus, after the Golden State Warriors boatraced the field, the NBA responded by firing out $1.942 billion in free agent signings. This proves yet again that the problem with rising salaries in sports is not the fault of the players, but of the owners.

And that contreacts and player movement are an increasingly powerful turn-on in a sport that is facing an existential crisis.

Namely, how to build suspense into a season that looks foreordained for the Warriors without hoping for catastrophic injuries. Indeed, as the Warriors open with Houston tonight, there is far more national buzz around the new-look Rockets than the seemingly invulnerable Warriors.

[SHILLER: Draymond responds to D'Antoni's 'they're not gonna stop us either' claim]

It’s a bit like the old comic book conundrum – why was Wolverine a more compelling character than Superman?

Now this may be our fault as consumers for wanting something new to support our pathetically small attention spans. Or more intriguingly, being drawn to the flawed unknown rather than the excellent known.

But changing the American character is not an easy thing to do, as our most recent political developments have shown. We are who we are, and while we will watch the superb team every time, we will be more interested in the one that looks like it could blow itself to bits at any moment (Houston, or Cleveland, or Oklahoma City), or the long-downtrodden failure that suddenly looks like it might no longer be so downtrodden (Philadelphia, Minnesota, or maybe even Philadelphia again).

Or, weirdest of all, the team that used to be the standard, fell off the edge of the planet to the nation’s glee, and is just now showing signs of reconstruction (the Los Angeles Lakers).

Evidently what we want to say is that we like is change – violent, bizarre change, the crazier the narrative the better.

But here, we have the Golden State Warriors, who have chosen a far more conservative path – winning four of every five games, no matter what month, no matter what opponent, and winning nine of every 10 at home, no matter what month, no matter what opponent. And the measured eyeballs of media ratings say the Warriors are the bait behind which all other teams draft.

In short, the Warriors are the establishment, and the field is the barbarians at the gate. It’s just a matter how you feel about the barbarians, and the gate.

I know how the voting here would go. The rest of you are on your own, watching money getting thrown around in hope of some kind of regime change before the end of the decade.

Draymond responds to D'Antoni's 'they're not gonna stop us either' claim

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AP

Draymond responds to D'Antoni's 'they're not gonna stop us either' claim

Programming note: Warriors-Rockets coverage starts tonight at 6:30pm on NBC Sports Bay Area, and continues immediately after the final buzzer.

A couple weeks ago, Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni said something about the Warriors that made headlines.

"You're not gonna stop them. It's just not gonna happen. They're not gonna stop us either. Should be fun."

On Monday, Draymond Green was asked about D'Antoni's comments.

"You should believe that. I'm turning over a new leaf," Draymond began, before giving his real thoughts. "Number 1 -- they want it to be a shootout, which is fine. But we're gonna play some defense.

"We score pretty well, but we're a damn good defensive team, too. So we're gonna play some defense."

The Rockets made some significant changes to their roster this offseason, most notably the addition of Chris Paul.

But Houston also added defensive-minded guys in P.J. Tucker and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute.

But as Draymond pointed out:

"I don't know how serious they take defense with that comment, but I know they added some good defensive players."

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders and a Web Producer at NBC Sports Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller