No. 14 San Diego State tops California 77-57

No. 14 San Diego State tops California 77-57


BERKELEY (AP) When San Diego State was ranked for the first time when the preseason poll came out, coach Steve Fisher told his players to wait until Dec. 9 to see how good they really were.How does the best start in the 90-year history of the school sound, coach?Kawhi Leonard had 20 points and D.J. Gay scored all 14 of his points in the second half to give No. 14 San Diego State its ninth straight win to open the season, 77-57 over California on Wednesday night."That means we've not fallen on our face, which sometimes happens," Fisher said. "You get rated and then you don't live up to what expectations are held by others. Our town, they are a bit unrealistic in terms of what they think we are. They think we could probably play the Celtics and if Kevin Garnett would not play we'd have a chance."While the Celtics might be a bit too much, the Aztecs (9-0) have won on the road already at the teams that won the Pac-10 and West Coast Conference regular season titles last season, having also beaten Gonzaga.The Aztecs surpassed their 1984-85 and 2006-07 teams that opened the season with eight straight wins and gave Fisher his best start in 20 full seasons as a head coach.San Diego State wore down the Golden Bears (5-3) with their athleticism in the second half to win a road game against a Pac-10 school for the first time since December 1982 at Oregon. They had lost 20 straight road games to Pac-10 teams and hadn't beaten any team on the road from one of the six big conferences since knocking off Northwestern in December 1996."We've proven that we have a very good team," Gay said. "The potential for this team is endless. We're going to be as good as we want to be and as hard as we work. We're just enjoying this ride and not ready for it to end."Jorge Gutierrez scored 19 points for the Bears and Harper Kamp added 18 for the Bears, who had won 22 straight nonconference home games since falling to Utah three years ago.The Aztecs took control of the game with a 15-2 run that began shortly after Cal big man Markhuri Sanders-Frison briefly went to the bench midway through the second half with a right leg injury.Gay started the spurt with two 3-pointers, James Rahon added two baskets and then Leonard hit a 3 from the corner to give San Diego State its first double-digit lead.Billy White's uncontested jam on a breakaway sent Cal coach Mike Montgomery into a stomping tirade as he lashed out at his team during a timeout for failing to get back on defense. The Aztecs led 58-44 at that point, which proved to be too large a hurdle for the Bears to overcome."We just needed to make more hustle plays and that's what we did," San Diego State guard Chase Tapley said. "We needed to make our energy better."White added another breakaway tomahawk dunk with to make it 67-52 just over 4 minutes to go, generating big cheers from the sizable contingent of Aztecs fans who made the trip north to watch their team beat the defending Pac-10 regular season champions.This version of the Bears isn't nearly as good, having lost Jerome Randle, Patrick Christopher, Theo Robertson and Jamal Boykin to graduation. But Cal was coming off a win at Iowa State and had also knocked off No. 21 Temple last month.But they proved to be no match for the Aztecs, who also got 15 points from James Rahon, 10 from White and shot 71 percent in the second half.The first half was far from an artistic masterpiece with White's airball on the opening possession for San Diego State an omen for things to come.Rahon, a transfer from nearby Santa Clara, made three straight 3-pointers midway through the half as the Aztecs took advantage of a long Cal shooting drought to turn a five-point deficit into a six-point lead."They kicked it out three times for wide open 3s," Montgomery said. "It was lost vision. We tried the zone. They have the reputation for not being a great zone team but they found the open guy and we didn't cover very well."The Bears missed 13 straight shots over a span of more than 10 minutes before Kamp's tip-in ended the 13-2 run for San Diego State. Long scoring droughts are not new for the Bears, who were held to five points in the first half of a loss to Notre Dame last month.This wasn't nearly as bad even though Cal had as many turnovers as baskets with seven and shot just 24.1 percent in the opening half. The Bears trailed only 28-26 at the break when Gutierrez made three free throws after being fouled by Mehdi Cheriet on a 3-pointer with 5.6 seconds to go.

Rewind: Vlasic the unlikely hero in Sharks OT win

Rewind: Vlasic the unlikely hero in Sharks OT win

SAN JOSE – Prior to the season’s start, Marc-Edouard Vlasic mentioned that the Sharks’ blue line group might not get the league-wide respect it deserves due to it only having “one offensive defenseman.” He was, of course, referring to Brent Burns.

Through the first six games, that was the truth. Burns entered Tuesday night’s action with nine points, tied for the league lead in scoring, while the other five Sharks defenseman had just three assists – combined.

For at least one night, though, it wasn’t Burns who was the offensive hero. That honor went to Vlasic, who seized a loose puck in the neutral zone in overtime against Anaheim, raced ahead towards goalie John Gibson on a partial breakaway, and finished off a beautiful goal in giving the Sharks a much-deserved 2-1 win at SAP Center.

“Put my head down, breakaway, cut across and I was able to put it in,” said Vlasic, who had the presence of mind to use his skate to keep a backchecking Corey Perry from knocking the puck away. 

Pete DeBoer said: "He's got some speed when he wants to use it, and he's a big game player. That's what he does. Those guys find another level at key times, and he's one of those guys.”

The goal served as poetic justice in that the Sharks were the much better team throughout three periods. San Jose held a 35-20 advantage on the shot clock but only managed one goal, a power play marker by Joe Pavelski in the first period. Chris Wagner answered that late in the second period, despite San Jose registering 15 of the 20 shots in the middle frame.

DeBoer rearranged all four of his forward lines after the Sharks were shut out in Detroit on Saturday, and the Sharks looked much more dangerous despite just the single lonely marker before overtime.

“There’s a lot of good little things that we did well,” Pavelski said. “We were on the attack, felt like we were on the inside. We just weren’t cashing in or getting that bounce.”

Couture said: “We created some chances. We could have had a couple. Each line played pretty well.”

DeBoer, too, liked what he saw from his new combos.

“If we keep playing like that, it's going to come,” he said. “But, it was a nice response game after the Detroit game.”

Perhaps the most consistent part of the Sharks’ game through seven games has been their penalty kill. San Jose fought off all three Ducks advantages, including a brief five-on-three in the first period shortly after Pavelski had opened the scoring.

Micheal Haley took exception to a high hit by Clayton Stoner on Patrick Marleau, and dropped the gloves with the Anaheim defenseman. He was issued an instigation minor to go along with a fighting major and 10-minute misconduct, and one minute and 24 seconds later, Tomas Hertl was busted for a faceoff violation.

Couture, Burns and Paul Martin worked to nullify the two-man advantage, and the Sharks proceeded to kill the remaining time on the Hertl penalty, too.

“It was an important time of the game with a one-goal lead,” said Martin Jones, who made seven saves on the PK and 19 total.

Penalties like Haley’s, where he was sticking up for a teammate, are also easier to get up for according to the goalie.

“I don't think he was expecting to get an instigator call on that one, but yeah, we'll kill that off, for sure,” Jones said. “Hales is a good team guy to go out and do stuff like that."

San Jose is 18-for-22 on the penalty kill overall, including a third period kill of a Joe Thornton holding-the-stick minor at 4:09.

“We’ve allowed [four] goals against, but they were unfortunate bounces or really nice shots from them that we could do nothing about,” Vlasic said. “Penalty kill has been good. Guys have been bearing down, blocking shots when we need to.”

The Sharks will remain at home where they will host the rebuilding Blue Jackets on Thursday and Predators on Saturday. After an odd training camp with many players missing and a tough five-games-in-eight-days road trip after the home opener, they’ll get a chance now to enjoy a much more normal day-to-day routine, with practice.

Tuesday’s win could serve as a solid foundation on which to build.

“That was definitely one of our better games this year,” Couture said. “It was good from basically start to finish.”

Especially the finish.

Spurs show early superiority over Warriors with sum of their parts

Spurs show early superiority over Warriors with sum of their parts

The Golden State Warriors wasted no time dismissing one of the 95 Narratives for this season – namely, the one that has them gunning secretly for 82 wins.
In a game very reminiscent of last January’s 120-90 win over San Antonio, the Warriors played the role of “90,” or to be more specific, “100” in a richly deserved 129-100 mauling. They provided a fiercely anticipatory and Beyonce/Jay-Z-enriched crowd everything they came to see – in the Spurs.
Kevin Durant? Did swell. Won a lot of hearts. Draymond Green? Had bursts of good and moments of not. Stephen Curry? Numbers but not a lot of impact. Klay Thompson? Didn’t shoot well, and didn’t do much else to mitigate that fact.
But the real failures came not from the individual components but the sum of their parts. A disrhythmic offense that highlight moments obscured too infrequently, an undistinguished defensive effort across the board, no bench presence of any kind, a casual attitude toward possessions in general and an almost dogmatic refusal to engage in rebounding skirmishes – in sum, they exhibited a severe pre-title hangover nine months before the fact.
So with all that as prelude, coach Steve Kerr attacked the media horde with a squinty-eyed “Anyone got any good jokes?”
And knowing that nobody did – at least none better than the game that had just been concluded -- he got down to the duties of the postgame presser. He broke the ice with the throwaway platitude (“I didn’t have them ready to play, obviously”), the dismissive swat (“I think they were embarrassed tonight. I know I was”), the quick nuts-and-bolts analysis (“We missed easy shots, didn’t get a lot of loose balls, second efforts, third efforts, and we didn’t play with much physicality”), said the collective performance was massively inadequate at best (“’Strength In Numbers,’ it’s got to be about the group”), and the one dagger that will be the emphasis of Wednesday’s unpleasantness (“We didn’t really look engaged, like we were taking for granted that things were going to go well”).
Which brings us to the box score, where the locals were outrebounded, 54-35 (20-8 on the offensive end), outscored on second chances (24-4), and crushed by the non-starters (54-16 points, 24-6 rebounds). Durant had a less effective game than Kawhi Leonard, Green had a less impactful game than LaMarcus Aldridge, and Curry and Thompson were not as dynamic as second-year shooting guard Jonathon Simmons, local deadeye Patty Mills and the forever-young Manu Ginobili.
In short, it was not a coming-out party for the new dynasty, but a reminder that this is not last year, or the year before, and the Warriors are not nearly the finished product they seemed to present in 2014-5 or 15-6.
Their rotation is still a work in progress, and their combinations are even further away still. Kerr has been saying as much all summer and fall, and logic supports the fact that all teams take time to coalesce.
This is not to say they are going to be minus-29 bad; that would be, well, typical morning-after media analysis, for all fetid air that is worth.
But tonight was a good bucket full of icy well water to everyone’s sensibilities. Just as a year ago, the Warriors have been crowned champions by far too many amateurs before the rite of succession has even begun, and Kerr just received all the fodder he needs to drive home an early-season rebuttal to the ones most in need of hearing it: His players.
As for anyone else who needs to hear such a lesson – well, narratives don’t die that easily. The Warriors are the most covered team in NBA history (imagine the Bird Celtics or the Showtime Lakers in this era), and their failures will resound as much as their triumphs, and it’s all background noise come April 15.
You know, when the season actually starts.