Sharks edge Ducks, start road trip with 4-3 win


Sharks edge Ducks, start road trip with 4-3 win


ANAHEIM (AP) One night after the San Jose Sharks rallied from an early three-goal deficit, they came agonizingly close to blowing a three-goal lead of their own.Joe Thornton knows that's just the way it's going to be down the stretch while San Jose and Anaheim both look to carve out playoff berths in the tight Western Conference.
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Dany Heatley scored 14 seconds in, Ryane Clowe had a goal and an assist, and the Sharks hung on to beat the Ducks 4-3 Wednesday night for their second straight win after the All-Star break.Ben Eager scored his first goal with his new team and Antti Niemi made 27 saves one night after getting pulled for the Sharks, who moved even with Anaheim in the Western Conference standings. Defenseman Jason Demers even scored a rare goal during the Sharks' three-goal first period, but San Jose finished the game simply surviving the Ducks' late surge."We know there are going to be close, wild games," said Thornton, who assisted on Heatley's goal on the opening shift. "You hope there's not too many three-point games to keep everybody bunched up. We'd like to win them outright, the way we did the last two nights."After the Sharks rallied from an early 3-0 deficit for a 5-3 win over Phoenix on Tuesday night in San Jose, the Sharks went ahead 3-0 against Anaheim in the first 11:15. The Ducks got to 4-3 early in the third period and had several late scoring chances, but Niemi made just enough big saves.
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"I really liked our start," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "We thought having played last night, we might have our legs underneath us while they were trying to find theirs, and that's what happened. It wasn't going to be easy tonight. We were fortunate to get out to the good early lead."San Jose has won six of seven during the best stretch of the defending Pacific Division champions' up-and-down season, but just five points separate fourth place and 12th in the West standings.
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Anaheim climbed back into the playoff picture by winning eight of 11 during January, improbably thriving while captain Ryan Getzlaf is out with broken bones in his face. But Jonas Hiller made an ugly return from his first All-Star game for Anaheim, getting pulled after giving up three goals on 10 shots. The Ducks lost for the fourth time in 14 games."You can't win a lot of games when you're down 3-0 within the first 10-12 minutes," said rookie defenseman Cam Fowler, who scored a power-play goal in his third straight game. "I'm not sure if we were a little rusty after the break, but there are no excuses. We can't have a start like that. Our guys did a good job of battling back, but it just wasn't enough."Joffrey Lupul and Bobby Ryan also scored, and All-Star Corey Perry had two assists as the Ducks' four-game home winning streak ended. Curtis McElhinney made 17 saves and picked up an assist in relief of Hiller for Anaheim, which will play six of its next seven on the road.But the Swiss goalie's struggles against San Jose put the Ducks in a deep early hole. Hiller is 4-9 in his career against the Sharks, and Heatley scored his 19th goal on the Sharks' opening shift."The first shift was the worst-case scenario," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. "Later in the game, we got it going, but we still weren't sharp with some of the decisions with the puck. We haven't played that type of hockey in a long time."Eager followed several minutes later with his first goal since Nov. 19, when he played for Atlanta. Demers then capitalized on an assist from Clowe, chasing Hiller with his second goal in 46 games this season.Lupul scored the Ducks' first goal early in the second period, but Clowe converted a long rebound on a power play for his 14th goal.Fowler answered with a power-play goal on another rebound with 2:08 left in the second period. Ryan trimmed the Sharks' lead to one goal with 14:24 to play, putting a wrist shot through traffic behind Niemi for his eighth goal in 10 games."We got off our forecheck and kind of sat back and let them come at us," Heatley said. "We had to come back after that tough start yesterday and do things a little different this time, and it was the opposite game."Notes: Sharks C Logan Couture missed his second straight game with an apparent case of the flu. San Jose's top goal-scorer is among the favorites for the Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie. ... Fowler has scored a power play goal in three straight games. ... Getzlaf is expected back next week during the Ducks' road trip through Western Canada. ... The Ducks wore their third jerseys.
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Gameday: Curry out for payback against Conley, new-look Grizzlies


Gameday: Curry out for payback against Conley, new-look Grizzlies

When the Warriors set foot in FedEx Forum on Saturday, they’ll find a very different atmosphere as well as a barely recognizable team of Memphis Grizzlies.

The Grindhouse is not the same. Zach Randolph and Vince Carter have left the building. So, too, has the “Grindfather” himself, Tony Allen.

So in their only trip to Memphis this season, the Warriors will focus mostly on point guard Mike Conley and center Marc Gasol, the remaining core members of the team that reached the playoffs in each of the last seven seasons.

The Warriors (1-1) will be playing for the second night in a row, while the Grizzlies (1-0) have not played since their season opener Wednesday. Tipoff is scheduled for 5:05 p.m.

Warriors by 8.5

Stephen Curry vs. Mike Conley: Curry has a long memory, and he will remember not only that the Warriors last season lost twice to the Grizzlies but also that Conley’s 27 points and clutch play offset Curry’s 40 points and led Memphis to an overtime win in Oakland. It won’t matter to Curry that the Warriors posted double-digit wins over the Grizzlies in the last two meetings last season. He may want to take over.

Warriors: F Omri Casspi (L ankle sprain) is listed as questionable.

Grizzlies: F JaMychal Green (L ankle sprain), G Ben McLemore (R foot surgery) and G/F Wayne Selden Jr. (R quad injury) are listed as out.

The Warriors have won five of the last seven in Memphis and 10 of the last 13 meetings overall.

BREEZE OR WHEEZE: Coach Steve Kerr has expressed some concern about the team’s conditioning level. On the second night of their first back-to-back set -- with the Warriors arriving at the hotel at 2:30 a.m. -- it could provide a glimpse of their progress. Kerr said he would consider resting one or two players. Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala, both coming off injuries, would seem logical candidates.

GEORGIA VS. SPAIN: The Republic of Georgia’s Zaza Pachulia and Spain’s Marc Gasol know each other well, having spent years battling internationally and in the NBA. There will be no surprises, but Pachulia will have to avoid foul trouble to remain a part of his team’s defensive rotation against one of the league’s best big men.

HOT KLAY: Klay Thompson is off to a torrid start, shooting 11-of-18 from beyond the arc through the first two games. And now he won’t have to worry about Allen, who relished in opportunities to defend the Warriors All-Star. Memphis replaced Allen with Andrew Harrison, who is not in the Grindfather’s class as a defender.

Gameday: Big underdogs, Kings face Nuggets looking for second straight win


Gameday: Big underdogs, Kings face Nuggets looking for second straight win

With a win over the Dallas Mavericks on Friday night, the Sacramento Kings are feeling good heading into their first back-to-back on Saturday. They’ll face a Denver Nuggets team that lost their season opener to the Utah Jazz and is looking for their first victory of the season.

The combination of George Hill and De’Aaron Fox at the point guard position was too much for Dallas to handle on Friday. Hill poured in 21 points, including two huge shots down the stretch and Fox came away with his first 10-assist game of his career.

Denver added veteran Paul Millsap in the offseason to match with rising star Nikola Jokic. Jokic struggled in the opener, but still managed to post seven points, eight assists and 12 rebounds. The Kings will have their hands full trying to slow the 7-footer.  

Nuggets by 11

Willie Cauley-Stein vs. Nikola Jokic -- Cauley-Stein has posted back-to-back double-doubles to start the season and comes in averaging 15.5 points, 10.5 rebound and two blocks in 29 minutes per game. Jokic is one of the more versatile bigs in the game. He picks and chooses his spots to score, but his passing ability makes him a dangerous player.

Kings: 1-1

Nuggets: 0-1

Kings: SG Bogdan Bogdanovic (right ankle sprain) out, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out

Nuggets: No injuries to report

These two teams split the season series last year and hold an identical 86-86 record against each other all-time. The Kings lead the Nuggets 65-63 during the Sacramento-era.

MORE TIME FOR FOX - The Kings speedy young guard is showing that he’s ready to carry more of the load. In his first game, he posted 14 points and five assists. In Game Two, he set up his teammates for a team-high 10 assists while adding nine points and six rebounds. He’s averaged 25 minutes a game in the first two, but his play is already commanding more.

GIVING BUDDY SOME LOVE - Lost in the shuffle of the team’s first win was an nice all-around performance from Buddy Hield. The second-year guard was one of eight Kings to grab five rebounds or more against the Mavs, but Hield’s late board in traffic was probably the play of the night. If he can post more 13 point, six rebound, three assist games early in the season, he’ll find himself on the court more often than not.

MORE FROM SKAL NEEDED - Skal Labissiere has all the potential in the world, but he’s off to a quiet start through two contests. He needs to be more aggressive calling for the ball and continue to hit the glass hard. He’s averaging 10 points and 7.5 rebounds in 23 minutes per game, but one of those came with Zach Randolph on the shelf. He’ll need to earn minutes like everyone else on this team.

“My coach has that much confidence in me, a 19-year-old kid to stay on the floor in crunch time, and when he has that confidence in me, my confidence goes up that much more.” -De’Aaron Fox on coach Dave Joerger sticking with him down the stretch in the Kings’ first win.