Warriors

Saints send Eagles to 4th straight loss

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Saints send Eagles to 4th straight loss

From Comcast SportsNetNEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints are having fun again. They hope it's a sign of things to come in the second half of the season.Michael Vick kept picking himself up off the Superdome turf, the recipient of an awful beating.The Philadelphia Eagles are down -- and nearly out.Brees threw two touchdown passes, extending his NFL record streak to 51 games, and Patrick Robinson returned an interception 99 yards for a score to lead the Saints past the reeling Eagles 28-13 Monday night.New Orleans (3-5), which bounced back from a dismal 34-14 loss at Denver, also got a 22-yard touchdown run from Chris Ivory."There are defining moments throughout a season," Brees said. "Big plays, big wins, that kind of bring you together and let you see a vision of what you can be, what you can accomplish. Here we are the midway point. It's gone by fast."This," he added, "is the type of momentum we want going into the second half of the season."The Eagles (3-5) lost their fourth straight, which is sure to keep the heat on Vick and embattled coach Andy Reid. Vick threw a 77-yard touchdown pass to DeSean Jackson in the third quarter, but that was about the only highlight for the visiting team.The elusive Vick was sacked seven times."It's very frustrating," Vick said. "These are games that we have the opportunity to win, or get back in the game. At this point, everything has to be dead on. You can't miss, and you almost have to be perfect on every drive."Philadelphia was far from perfect, but sure had plenty of chances. Four times, the Eagles were staring at first-and-goal, but only managed two field goals by Alex Henery. In fact, they were outscored in those situations, with Robinson going the other way for a touchdown just when it looked like Philadelphia was on the verge of scoring.Rubbing salt in the wound, Philadelphia squandered a chance to get back in the game with a brilliant trick play on a kickoff return. Riley Cooper laid flat in the end zone, unseen by the Saints, then popped up to take a cross-field lateral from Brandon Boykin.Cooper streaked down the sideline for an apparent touchdown. Only one problem -- Boykin's lateral was actually a forward pass by about a yard, ruining the play with a penalty. Cooper stood with his hands on his hips, in disbelief, as the officials brought it back.Philadelphia finished with 447 yards -- the eighth straight team to put up more than 400 yards on the Saints. That was already the longest streak of 400-yard games given up by a defense since at least 1950, and maybe in the history of the NFL, putting New Orleans on pace to shatter the record for most yards allowed in a season.But New Orleans came through where it mattered most, giving up a season low in points. Their previous best was a 31-24 victory over San Diego."The most important stat at the end of the day is points," Brees said. "Our defense came up with some huge plays tonight. If we can hold teams to 13 points, we're going to win a lot of games."Philadelphia's last gasp was a fourth-down pass that Vick threw away in the back of the end zone with 7 seconds left, apparently more concerned about avoiding another pick than tacking on a meaningless TD.Brees kept his record touchdown streak going, hooking up with Marques Colston on a 1-yard scoring pass and Jimmy Graham from 6 yards out.The Saints quarterback finished 21 of 27 for 239 yards, a big improvement on his 22-of-42 showing against the Broncos. Brees also got plenty of help from the running game, which came into the league ranked last in the league.Ivory, Pierre Thomas and Mark Ingram combined for 136 yards, each breaking off double-digit gains. Ivory, the Saints' leading rusher two years ago but playing for the first time this year, provided a much-needed boost to the backfield.Meanwhile, the embattled Saints defense kept the heat on Vick, and the brutal beating made it tough for No. 7 to establish any rhythm. He finished 22 of 41 for 272 yards and really couldn't be blamed for Robinson's interception, which went off the hands of tight end Brent Celek.Cameron Jordan had three sacks, matching his total for the season, while Will Smith took down Vick twice -- also matching his sack total through the first seven games.Reid moved quickly to snuff out any talk about replacing Vick, which has become a weekly ritual."Michael Vick will be the quarterback," the Eagles coach said.Celek had a tough night. He also lost a fumble deep at the New Orleans 8 with just over 3 minutes remaining, essentially ending any hope of a Philadelphia comeback.The Saints raced to a 21-3 halftime lead, putting the Eagles in a big hole for the second straight game. Over the last two weeks, they have been outscored 45-10 in the first and second quarters.New Orleans was on the verge of blowing it open when it took the second-half kickoff and drove deep into Philadelphia territory. But the Eagles defense came up with a big turnover, as Brandon Graham stripped the ball from Brees and fell on it at the Eagles 17. Two plays later, Vick found Jackson wide open down the right side on a deep throw, and he took it the rest of the way for a touchdown.Rookie Travaris Cadet, filling in on returns for the injured Darren Sproles, fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Philadelphia recovered again. Vick broke off a 14-yard run to the 8, but yet another sack stifled the drive. The Eagles settled for Henery's second field goal from 37 yards.Henery connected from 22 yards early in the second quarter after the Eagles squandered a chance for more. Jackson appeared caught off guard by Vick's third-down pass in the back of the end zone, doing little more than sticking out his left hand in a halfhearted attempt to make the catch.Philadelphia moved the ball effectively in the early going and looked to strike first after Brown broke off a 40-yard run to the New Orleans 5. After losing 1 yard on a run, the Eagles went to the air looking for the touchdown.Instead, it was the Saints who scored. Vick's pass in the flats deflected off Celek's hands -- right into the arms of Robinson, the right cornerback. He took off down the sideline in front of the shell-shocked Philadelphia bench, matching Darren Sharper's franchise record for longest interception return.Notes: Graham, who has battled an ankle injury and had a problem with drops, led the Saints with a season-high eight catches for 72 yards. ... Jackson finished with 100 yards receiving on just three catches. ... Philadelphia's LeSean McCoy had 19 carries for 119 yards, but only 18 yards came after halftime.

What's caused Warriors' slow start and why it should come as no surprise

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USATSI

What's caused Warriors' slow start and why it should come as no surprise

It’s much too early to get legitimately nervous, much less start tumbling into a panic.

The Warriors are going to be fine.

Eventually.

They most certainly are not yet what they will become in about two weeks, when they settle in for a four-game homestand that begins Nov. 6. That’s 10 games into the season, and it’s conceivable the Warriors might be 6-4.

After a 111-101 loss to the ever-tenacious Grizzlies on Saturday in Memphis, the Warriors are 1-2 and, by their lofty standard, looking about as lost as a stray cat in a hurricane.

“We’re obviously not ready. We knew that,” coach Steve Kerr said. “We’re not ready to put together a full effort. And I’m not doing a great job of putting together combinations, finding the right motivation to get guys going, to get some joy and laughter in here.

“It’s just one of those rough patches. And, hopefully, we can climb our way out of it. I’m sure we will. It may take some time.”

It will take some time, and of that there is plenty.

Do not blame this lull entirely on China, not when there is so much more. The Warriors are coming off their third consecutive prolonged season, this one followed by the training camp disruption caused by spending eight days in Oakland, eight days in China, followed by eight days in Oakland leading up to opening night.

It’s easy to see the timing is off on an offense that relies on precision. The spacing is off on an offense that requires room to operate. The energy is lacking on a defense that lapses into ordinary without its bedrock intensity. Both body and spirit appear less than peak.

“We’ve been playing hard,” Kevin Durant told reporters at FedEx Forum, “but I think we’ve got to take it up a level.

“We’ll be fine. It’s 79 more games left. I’m sure we’ll figure it out.”

Understand, a team that won an NBA-best 67 games last season and posted a league-record 16-1 postseason doesn’t lose it because opponents load up. When the Warriors are on their game, opponents don’t matter.

For now, though, there is an individual listlessness that results in collective slumber. Stephen Curry has gambled himself in foul trouble in both losses and was booted in Memphis. Andre Iguodala missed an entire game and Draymond Green missed the fourth quarter of the first loss, a game in which the Warriors gave up a 13-point lead over the final 12 minutes.

And Durant’s 4.6 blocks per game is impressive. It also happens to be offset by his 6.3 turnovers per game.

“That’s on me,” he said. “I’m turning the ball over at a high rate right now. I’m really pissed at myself about it. I’ve just got to hold on to the ball. Just make the correct pass. I think I’m just rushing. I just need to calm down, settle down, and that would ignite the whole team. But if I turn the ball over, that’s contagious.”

The Rockets turned 17 Warriors giveaways into 21 points. The Pelicans turned 14 into 20. The Grizzlies turned 17 into 24.

Asked what has to change, Klay Thompson went to exactly the right place, saying “probably our defensive intensity from the jump.”

That’s where it starts, at least on the court. Meanwhile, there is more video work, more group texts about details and the need for more time for their bodies and minds to become one.

“We’ll be better,” Durant said. “We’re still finding a groove with each other. We’re still getting back into shape as far as playing our game, the flow, just the reads off not calling plays. We’ve got to get used to that again.”

Thompson is, however, displaying a modicum of impatience.

“We’ll come out Monday and we’ll play a great game,” he said. “I guarantee it.”

He’s probably right. The Warriors will be playing at Dallas, against a Mavericks team that is built to be devoured by the powerful.

That might be a quick fix. But it won’t be the final fix. That is weeks away.

Astros win two straight vs Yankees, advance to take on Dodgers in World Series

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USATSI

Astros win two straight vs Yankees, advance to take on Dodgers in World Series

BOX SCORE

HOUSTON -- Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers combined on a three-hitter, Jose Altuve and Evan Gattis homered and the Houston Astros reached the World Series, blanking the New York Yankees 4-0 Saturday night in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series.

Just four years removed from their third straight 100-loss season in 2013, the Astros shut down the Yankees for two straight games after dropping three in a row in the Bronx.

Next up for the Astros: Game 1 of the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night. Los Angeles opened as a narrow favorite, but Houston aces Dallas Keuchel and ALCS MVP Justin Verlander will have plenty of rest before the matchup begins at Dodger Stadium.

Houston has never won even a single World Series game. The only previous time the Astros made it this far, they were a National League team when they were swept by the Chicago White Sox in 2005.

Now, manager A.J. Hinch's club has a chance to win that elusive first title, while trying to boost a region still recovering from Hurricane Harvey.

Houston improved to 6-0 at Minute Maid Park in these playoffs and became the fifth team in major league history to win a seven-game postseason series by winning all four of its home games.

Morton bounced back from a loss in Game 3 to allow two hits over five scoreless innings. Starter-turned-postseason reliever McCullers limited the Yankees to just one hit while fanning six over the next four.

Combined, they throttled the wild-card Yankees one last time in Houston. Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and their New York teammates totaled just three runs in the four road games.

CC Sabathia entered the game 10-0 with a 1.69 ERA in 13 starts this season after a Yankees loss. But he struggled with command and was gone with one out in the fourth inning.

Houston was up 2-0 in fifth when former Yankees star Brian McCann came through for the second straight game by hitting a two-run double after snapping an 0-for-20 skid with an ground-rule RBI double to give Houston its first run on Friday night.

The Yankees, trying to reach the World Series for the first time since 2009, lost an elimination game for the first time this season after winning their first four in these playoffs. New York struggled on the road this postseason, with this loss dropping the team to 1-6.

After going 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position through the first three innings, the Astros got on the board with no outs in the fourth with the 405-foot shot by Gattis off Sabathia which made it 1-0.

Altuve launched a ball off Tommy Kahnle into the seats in right field with one out in the fifth for his fifth homer this postseason. It took a while for him to see that it was going to get out, and held onto his bat until he was halfway to first base before flipping it and trotting around the bases as chants of "MVP" rained down on him.

Altuve finished 8 for 25 with two homers and four RBIs in the ALCS after hitting .533 with three homers and four RBIs in the ALDS against Boston.

Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel hit consecutive singles after that before Kahnle struck out Gattis. McCann's two-strike double, which rolled into the corner of right field, cleared the bases to push the lead to 4-0. Gurriel slid to avoid the tag and remained on his belly in a swimming pose at the plate for a few seconds after he was called safe.

It was just the second Game 7 in franchise history for the Astros, who dropped Game 7 to the Cardinals in the 2004 NLCS 13 years ago today.

Sabathia allowed five hits and one run while walking three in 3 1/3 innings. He wasn't nearly as sharp as he was in a Game 3 win and just 36 of the 65 pitches he threw were strikes.

Morton got into trouble in the fifth, and the Yankees had runners at the corners with one out. Bregman fielded a grounder hit by Todd Frazier and made a perfect throw home to allow McCann to tag Greg Bird and preserve Houston's lead. McCann held onto the ball despite Bird's cleat banging into his forearm. Chase Headley grounded out after that to end the inning.

A night after Springer kept Frazier from extra-bases with a leaping catch, Judge returned the favor on a ball hit by Yuli Gurriel. Judge sprinted, jumped and reached into the stands to grab his long fly ball before crashing into the wall and falling to the ground for the first out of the second inning.

Springer had another nifty catch in this one, jumping in front of Marwin Gonzalez at the wall in left-center to grab a ball hit by Bird for the first out of the seventh inning.