Marino grabs four-shot lead at Pebble Beach

385852.jpg

Marino grabs four-shot lead at Pebble Beach

Feb. 11, 2011
LEADERBOARD
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) Steve Marino is too busy soaking in the scenery and atmosphere at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am to get worked up over his four-shot lead going into the weekend.Marino made only one mistake - with his conversation and his clubs - on the par-5 14th for his only bogey of the tournament. He followed with three birdies over the last four holes for a 7-under 66 and a comfortable lead."This tournament is kind of strange," said Marino, who was at 13-under 141. "You play a different course every day. You're playing with amateur partners. It's a little more low key and laid back."That's just the way Marino likes it, and it shows. He has the low round of the tournament on both courses he has played, having opened with a 65 at Spyglass Hill.D.A. Points doesn't have that luxury, not with Bill Murray as his amateur partner. Points struggled from the start at Spyglass Hill and was slipping down the leaderboard until running off four birdies in a five-hole stretch around the turn. He salvaged a 70 and was four shots behind at 9-under par.Points worried for a moment that Murray started to feel the pressure - they opened the pro-am portion tied for the lead - and perhaps tried to tone down his antics."Bill was struggling a little today, so he was maybe down on himself," Points said. "We still had a great time."Next up for the celebrity rotation is Pebble Beach on Saturday, when the show is as much about the amateurs as the pros. Points says he plays his best when there are plenty of distractions, although he's not about to wish for more than he can handle."I'm not going to feed the beast," he said.Keegan Bradley had an impressive gallery of his own. He is the nephew of LPGA Hall of Famer Pat Bradley, who followed him along Spyglass as the rookie shot a 69 to finish at 8-under par. Bradley was born in 1986, the year his famous aunt won three of four majors."Pat and I have a lot of similarities in our game, in our approach to the game, our work ethic," he said. "I look up to her in a lot of different ways, and that's one of the ways. I try to emulate her toughness and work ethic."The large group at 7-under par included Padraig Harrington, who played with Marino; Hunter Mahan, Nick Watney and Sam Saunders, whose grandfather is among the owners of Pebble Beach - Arnold Palmer.Even with a four-shot lead, Marino won't know until Sunday how he really stands because of the three courses in the rotation. Still ahead of him is the Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula, where Points opened with a 63. The fairways are running fast at the Shore, and some players have said the greens are a little bumpy.That didn't stop David Duval on Friday. After opening with a birdie-free 77 at Pebble, he followed that with a 65 at Monterey Peninsula.Dustin Johnson, trying to become the first player to win three straight times at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, is more interested in making the cut. He had a 1-under at Spyglass Hill and was two shots below the projected playing cut - not to mention 13 shots behind Marino.Phil Mickelson did a much better job with a 67 at Spyglass, moving him to 4 under for the tournament.Marino, though, looks tough to beat at the moment.He knocked in a 15-foot birdie putt on the 13th, then made a mental error. After he and Harrington hit their tee shots on the 14th, they started reminiscing about the U.S. Open last summer, when the 14th was one of the toughest holes at Pebble Beach."It was silly," Harrington said. "We were talking about how tough this was at the U.S. Open, and that we both had made four pars and could have sold that to half the field. And then we both made a mess of it."Marino was in the right rough after his second shot, still a good angle at the flag. But his wedge ran up the ledge of the steep bunker and turned left instead of right, tumbling into the sand. He did well to blast out to 12 feet and narrowly missed the par putt.Harrington hit a fat shot with his sand wedge and plugged into the bunker. He hit a beautiful shot, running up the side of the bunker to see how it turned out just as it ran off the back of the green and down the slope. He had to scramble for a bogey on his way to a 68, a round he felt was much better than his score.The Irishman made pars the rest of the way. Marino poured it on.He stuffed his next shot into 5 feet for birdie, rolled in a 20-foot putt up the slope on the 16th and finished with a bunker shot to 15 feet and one last birdie.Along the way, Marino soaked up spectacular views of yet another sunny, mild day along the Pacific.He is the only American in an otherwise all-Irish group that features businessmen J.P. McManus and Dermot Desmond. Marino still isn't sure how he got invited to the McManus charity pro-am event last year - an event so popular that even Tiger Woods made the trip - but calls it one of the best weeks of the year."I think he had a good time," Desmond said. "He seems to be Irish. He's always smiling, and at the same time he has a fantastic golf game. He's got a great temperament. Even when he bogeyed the 14th, he didn't get irritated. He just said, 'I have to get that one back.' And he got it back."

Green: Wins over Cavs, OKC and Rockets 'our best week of the season'

Green: Wins over Cavs, OKC and Rockets 'our best week of the season'

It may have helped that they had been at home for roughly three weeks.

It surely was to their benefit that the NBA schedule provided three days without a game before they confronted perhaps one of the most rigorous weeks of the season.

The Warriors, however, still had to do the work. They still had to finish.

They still had to beat the team that had roughed them up 22 days earlier, and then squelch another squad coming into Oracle Arena on a wave of emotion and, finally, take to the road and get back at a team that handed them a loss in Oakland.

Done, done and done. And in such a fashion that forward Draymond Green referred to it as “our best week of the season.”

In putting away the Rockets 125-108 on Friday in Houston, the Warriors closed out the traditional worker’s week with a 3-0 record against three teams they could see in the postseason. They’d already routed the defending champion Cavaliers 126-91 on Monday and struck down the Thunder 121-101 on Wednesday.

“It’s three good teams in a row,” Kevin Durant told reporters in Houston. “We definitely wanted to come out and make a nice statement, and I think we did that.

“We always can get better. We can’t relax against Orlando, Miami and Charlotte, teams that can creep up on you and have been playing well lately.”

The Magic, Heat and Hornets -- all dreadful to mediocre -- are the kinds of teams that force the Warriors to compete. They don’t stir the senses like the Cavs or the Thunder or the Rockets, three teams with credentials that demand attention from a Warriors team that sometimes cruises against lesser competition.

So this week was not just about winning games. These weren’t just wins, they were emphatic statements, profound evidence that the team remodeled last summer around the addition of Durant is coming together in the heart of the season.

The defense was tight, with Cleveland shooting 35.2 percent, OKC 42.2 percent and Houston 20.0 percent from beyond the arc, which is the only place that matters for the Rockets.

The Warriors resorted to one of their signature turbocharged third quarters to separate from the Rockets. Shooting 61.9 percent and scoring 9 points off Houston turnovers, the Warriors outscored Houston 37-22 in the third, stretching a five-point halftime lead to 20 going into the fourth quarter.

The Warriors now have an NBA-best differential of plus-250 points in the third quarter this season.

“It’s just something that we put an emphasis on,” Green said. “Coming out and getting off to a good start in the second half. Not coming out flat and giving another team life or letting them go on a run and then trying to make it up. And once we go on our run, we can get rolling pretty well and make it tough on other teams.”

That was the case this week, as the Warriors topped 50 percent from the field in all three victories.

Durant scored 32 points against Houston and averaged 31 points over the last three games. Stephen Curry put in 24 points and averaged 22.7 for the week. Green, meanwhile, averaged 12.7 points, 10.7 rebounds, 7.7 assists and 3.7 blocks.

“It was our best week of the season because we’ve gotten better each time we’ve stepped on the floor this week,” Green said. “And that’s what’s most important. It’s not about blasting these three teams. It’s about getting better, and trying to reach our end goal. In order to do that, you have to get better each and every time you step on the floor.

“We did that these three games, so that’s the most important thing. That’s why it’s been a good week, not because of the margin of the wins that we had.”

Instant Replay: Warriors ground Rockets, run win streak to six games

Instant Replay: Warriors ground Rockets, run win streak to six games

BOX SCORE

The Warriors avenged yet another loss Friday night, rolling into Houston and laying a 125-108 beating on the Rockets at Toyota Center.

All five Warriors starters scored in double figures, with Kevin Durant totaling 32 points to lead the way. Stephen Curry finished with 24 points, Klay Thompson with 16, Draymond Green with 15 and Zaza Pachulia added 10.

The Warriors (37-6) suffocated Houston’s high-powered offense, which is predicated on 3-point shooting, holding the Rockets to 20 percent (7-of-35) beyond the arc. The Warriors forced 15 turnovers, off which they scored 19 points.

Backup center Clint Capela scored 22 points to lead Houston (33-13). MVP candidate James Harden was held to 17 points on 6-of-13 shooting, including 0-of-5 from 3-point distance.

Having beaten the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday, the Warriors this week evened the ledger against two elite teams. They lost to Houston on Dec. 1 in Oakland, 132-127, in double overtime that accounted for one of only three losses at Oracle Arena.

STANDOUT PERFORMER

The entire starting lineup played well, but Durant proved too much for anything the Rockets threw at him.

Durant’s line: 32 points (12-of-19 shooting from the field, including 2-of-7 from deep, 6-of-7 from the line), seven assists, four rebounds, two blocks and two steals. He played 34 minutes and was plus-25 for the game.

TURNING POINT

After Houston trimmed their lead to five (64-59) with 11:39 remaining in the third quarter, the Warriors responded with a 23-8 run, punctuated by a 28-foot 3-pointer by Curry to go up 87-67 with 5:58 left in the quarter.

The Warriors led by 20 entering the fourth quarter, and the Rockets got no closer than 15 over the final 12 minutes.

INJURY UPDATE

Warriors: C/F David West (L thumb fracture) was listed as out.

Rockets: F Ryan Anderson (flu) was listed as questionable but upgraded to available. He was in the starting lineup, but played only nine minutes before leaving for good.

WHAT’S NEXT

The Warriors return to action Sunday in Orlando, where they face the Magic at Amway Center. Tipoff is scheduled for noon Pacific.