Warriors

Sharks rally to keep roadie rolling, beat Columbus

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Sharks rally to keep roadie rolling, beat Columbus

Feb. 9, 2011BOX SCORE SHARKS VIDEONHL PAGE NHL SCOREBOARD
BRAZIL: LITTLE THINGS MAKE BIG DIFFERENCE

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) As might be expected from a team four games into a 13-day, seven-game road trip, the San Jose Sharks were late starters.Thanks to goalie Antti Niemi, they made up for lost time.
RELATED: Sharks notebook: Niemi getting comfortable
Patrick Marleau scored from a sharp angle with 4:51 left to lift San Jose to a 3-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday night."This wasn't the plan by any means," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "The first period we weren't alert, we didn't have our legs underneath us and we weren't very competitive. To come back was a nice thing. Our goaltender had a huge part in that."Niemi made 42 saves, including 28 in the final two periods. He was at his best late in the first, as Columbus threatened to turn it into a rout, and in the final 5 minutes while preserving the lead.The Sharks have earned at least one point in 10 straight games (9-0-1).Joe Pavelski dug the puck off the back wall and passed to Marleau, who flipped the puck at goalie Steve Mason from a couple of feet away from the goal line on the left wing. Pavelski helped distract Mason as the puck slipped into the net."It got in on the short side," Columbus coach Scott Arniel said. "(Mason) was playing a heck of a hockey game and it just squeezed in."Marleau had an assist to go with his goal, and Pavelski had two assists as the Sharks rallied from a 2-0 deficit. The Blue Jackets had applied most of the pressure in the third before Marleau's goal, outshooting the Sharks 16-9 in the period and 44-32 overall.
RELATED: Focus on defense paying dividends for Sharks
Kent Huskins and Kyle Wellwood also scored for the Sharks, who have won five straight.The last four have come on the road. Rather than wilt on the lengthy trip, San Jose has strengthened its position in the West. The Sharks came into the night in fourth place."As (assistant coach) Trent Yawney said, 'A win is a win right now.' Beggars can't be choosers and we'll take it," McLellan said. "Some areas that we are not happy with, but we will see what we can do at practice tomorrow and move on."Kristian Huselius and Grant Clitsome had first-period, power-play goals for the Blue Jackets, who had won three in a row.The loss damaged Columbus' playoff hopes. The Blue Jackets began the night four points out of eighth place in the West. Like the Sharks, they were also playing for the second night in a row."It was a tough one," Columbus captain Rick Nash said. "We had a great first and then sat back after that and lost on a tough goal. We had a lot of energy in the first. In the second period they seemed to take it to us and take over the game."They cut the lead to 2-1 about 2 minutes into the second period when Huskins scored his first of the season - in his 45th game - with an otherwise innocent shot from the left point. Mason was screened by teammate Kris Russell, and the puck might have been tipped as it slowly made its way from the blue line.San Jose controlled play in the offensive zone before Logan Couture's centering pass from the left of the net deflected off Ryane Clowe's skate. The puck bounced to Wellwood near the right hash and he punched it in for his second of the season to tie it.
BRAZIL: Little things make big difference for Sharks
Before that, the Blue Jackets had all the jump.Huselius, who earlier in the power play had given up the puck with a bad pass, scored his 12th on a wrister from the top of the right circle. The shot went through the legs of Huskins and then through the legs of Blue Jackets forward R.J. Umberger, who was providing traffic in front.The Blue Jackets were 0 for 13 with a man advantage the last four games, yet they made it 2 for 2 on the power play with 9 seconds left in the opening period. Clitsome's hard slap shot from just outside the left dot beat Niemi on the glove side.Notes: With three weeks left until the NHL trade deadline, there were scouts from Vancouver, Colorado, Atlanta, Carolina, the New York Islanders, Tampa Bay and Detroit in attendance. ... San Jose's Devin Setoguchi had his six-game point streak end. ... D Fedor Tyutin was on the ice for Columbus, 24 hours after he was crunched headfirst into the boards on a flagrant hit by Pittsburgh's Matt Cooke. Cooke was suspended four games by the NHL for the hit. ... The Blue Jackets had mustered two power-play goals in only one of their previous 53 games.

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.