Stanford welcomes Colorado with 48-7 rout

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Stanford welcomes Colorado with 48-7 rout

BOX SCORE

STANFORD -- Andrew Luck brought out Stanford's stars and delivered his best passing performance of the season.Luck threw for a season-high 370 yards and three touchdowns to pad his Heisman Trophy resume, and the seventh-ranked Cardinal stayed perfect with a 48-7 victory over Pac-12 newcomer Colorado on Saturday night.With former Stanford standouts Tiger Woods and John Elway joining the crush of NFL scouts on the sidelines, Luck completed 26 of 33 passes to extend the nation's longest winning streak to 13 games. The latest romp delighted a rare sellout crowd of 50,360 that included some of the program's greats."I don't think we noticed it," Luck said, chuckling that he missed some of his favorite athletes. "It's awesome to hear that."Luck was the star attraction in this one.The strong-armed and fleet-footed quarterback called his own plays again for long stretches, although the no-huddle offense first displayed last week against UCLA was used sparingly. Only a 423-yard passing performance in a loss at Arizona in 2009 did Luck throw for more yards, and he didn't even play the final 10 minutes against Colorado."Every game he does something," Stanford coach David Shaw said, "that not many human-beings can do."Luck had all the help he could ever want.Max Bergen blocked a field goal and returned it for a score and fullback Ryan Hewitt caught two touchdown passes to help the Cardinal (5-0, 3-0) cruise past another opponent. Stepfan Taylor, Tyler Gaffney and Jeremy Stewart each had a 1-yard scoring run as Stanford matched the longest winning streak in school history, set over three seasons from 1939-41.Tyler Hansen passed for 202 yards with one touchdown and one interception in the third straight loss for the Buffaloes (1-5, 0-2), who had five defensive players suspended for undisclosed reasons. The program is still searching for its first league victory, and the worst loss of the season will do little to lift spirits."I expected more, I did," first-year Colorado coach Jon Embree said. "I understand the circumstances. I don't have to accept them, but I understand. We have to keep competing and finding a way."The Buffaloes limped onto The Farm after a blowing a 10-point lead in the final 3 minutes against Washington State last week. Afterward, Embree declared he was tired of losing and ripped into his team for crumbling again.They couldn't have asked for a better start at Stanford Stadium.Stewart fumbled a short opening kickoff to give Colorado the ball on the Stanford 36-yard line. The promising start quickly fizzled when the offense stalled and special teams imploded.Bergen ran untouched through the line and blocked a 29-yard field goal attempt by Will Oliver. Bergen picked up the ball on a bounce and ran 75 yards for a score, giving Stanford a 7-0 lead."I took a few looks to my side, but I just wanted to score," Bergen said. "That was the only thing on my mind."Even though Luck and the offense had a lengthy wait to take the field, they showed little rust.Shaw limited the no-huddle offense that gives Luck complete freedom to call plays, instead allowing his quarterback to take a few calls to the line of scrimmage for most of the game. With bigger matchups against Washington, Southern California and Oregon looming, there was no need to dig deep into the playbook against a struggling Colorado team missing a chunk of its secondary. Colorado receiver Paul Richardson also sat out with a knee injury.On one of the rare occasions Luck ran the hurry-up offense, he found Levine Toilolo for a 27-yard completion. Taylor capped the drive with a 1-yard scoring run to put the Cardinal ahead 13-0 after a missed extra point.Not everything for Stanford went smoothly.Luck threw only his second interception of the season in the second quarter, and again it came on a tipped passes by receiver Chris Owusu. This time, Terrel Smith benefited for an easy pick off that led to Colorado's first score.Rodney Stewart took a short pass on the far sideline, cut back across the field and sprinted 76 yards down the Stanford sideline. Two plays later, Tony Jones caught a 5-yard touchdown pass to trim the Cardinal's lead to 13-7.Just when the Buffaloes started to gain momentum, Luck turned a close contest into a rout.On third and 26, Luck stepped up in the pocket, moved to his right and connected with Griff Whalen in stride for a 27-yard completion. Jeremy Stewart followed with a 1-yard touchdown run to put the Cardinal ahead 20-7.Luck added a 1-yard TD pass to Hewitt just before the half to put Stanford ahead 27-7. Hewitt also caught a 10-yard touchdown pass on the Cardinal's first possession of the third quarter.Gaffney ran for a 1-yard touchdown on fourth down to push Stanford's lead to 41-7 late in the third quarter. Whalen caught a 30-yard pass from Luck for another score early in the fourth quarter"Sometimes he makes some pretty unbelievable plays," Whalen said of Luck. "At this point, I don't think we're exactly surprised."

Rewind: Warriors 'weren't on the same page' in loss to Memphis

Rewind: Warriors 'weren't on the same page' in loss to Memphis

He is a cheerful presence, a terrific teammate with considerable knowledge of how basketball should be played at the NBA level.

Only in exceedingly rare cases, though, is Anderson Varejao able to produce for the Warriors, and he’s no help at all when most of his teammates fail to show up.

Such was the case Saturday night in Memphis, when the Warriors, with Varejao starting at center in place of Zaza Pachulia, submitted their worst performance – worse, even, than that stunning setback to the Lakers on Dec. 4 – of the season in a 110-89 loss to a shorthanded Grizzlies team that, even when fully healthy, has difficulty scoring.

Though Varejao was a special level of awful, he was not alone in his ineptitude.

“It was one of those nights, you know,” Kevin Durant told reporters in Memphis.

Stephen Curry was careless on offense and indifferent on defense. Klay Thompson struggled with his shot and, therefore, his game. Draymond Green didn’t bring his usual energy but picked up a technical foul for beefing with an official. Durant didn’t meet his usual standard but acquitted himself relatively well.

The Warriors were smashed by a team of castoffs and hopefuls circulating around the established talents of Marc Gasol, Tony Allen and Zach Randolph. Most of the damage, however, was self-inflicted – as in 23 turnovers, resulting in 30 points for the Grizzlies.

Asked what went wrong with the offense, Warriors coach Steve Kerr didn’t hesitate.

“Everything,” he said. “Poor decision-making, poor ball-handling, good defense on their part. They were denying a lot of things and trying to knock us off our cuts, and they did a good job of that.”

So bad were the Warriors that Kerr, joked about his job status.

“I just checked with Bob,” he cracked, referring to general manager Bob Myers. “I’m not fired. I called him just to make sure.”

It was that kind of night, laughably bumbling, the kind of showing that has led to the firing of coaches on shaky status. It was stunning to watch the best team in the NBA, take the court at FedEx Forum and performed as if scrimmaging for season-ticket holders at team headquarters.

With stars Mike Conley, Chandler Parsons and Vince Carter out with injuries, the Grizzlies owned the night from the start, leading by as much as 30.

“We weren’t on the same page,” Thompson said. “We were trying to force too many things. We weren’t patient enough. When you play a team like that that plays at a slow pace you have to be patient. You can’t play at a fast pace like we have in the past. You have to be patient. You have to move the ball around the perimeter. You have to trust each other. It’s a bad night.”

The Warriors were playing without Andre Iguodala, who was resting, and Kevon Looney, who was nursing a sprained right ankle. Pachulia, with a contusion on his right wrist, was a late scratch.

The result was Varejao joining Green, Durant, Thompson and Curry in the starting lineup. It didn’t take long to get ugly, as Memphis took leads of 29-11 in the first quarter and maintained a double-digit lead until the final buzzer.

Varejao played 18 minutes and contributed five rebounds, two assists, one steal and two turnovers. He took only two shots, missing both, and finished minus-21.

“We definitely missed Zaza,” Durant said, “but that’s not the reason why we missed the basketball game. We waited too long to try to be physical. Once we started it was a little too late.

“We definitely want to have all our guys there, but sometimes it’s not in play. We still have to go out there, and play a better game than we played tonight. It’s just one of those games we have to throw out and get ready for the next one tomorrow.”

Well, that’s all there is to do. Every team, no matter how gifted, will have nights when its members stagger about like zombies. The Warriors have had two in 24 games.

The upside of this one was that Kerr could pull his starters early in hopes of preserving them for a game Sunday against the defective but frisky young Minnesota Timberwolves.

Rewind: Sharks get the bounces in imperfect win against Hurricanes

Rewind: Sharks get the bounces in imperfect win against Hurricanes

SAN JOSE – The Sharks’ performance over the Hurricanes on Saturday night at SAP Center won’t be one that the team re-watches and reflects back upon as a model for how they want to perform.

Still, after deserving better in last Wednesday’s loss to Ottawa, and maybe even Friday’s defeat to the rival Ducks, there was a sense that the 4-3 win was essentially an evening out of their recent luck. San Jose had just 20 shots on goal, tying their season low, but four of them beat Cam Ward. That includes the second period when their shooting percentage was a lofty 50 percent (four shots, two goals).

“It’s good to see the puck go in for a few guys,” Joe Pavelski said. “The bounces – that’s why you just have to keep playing. I would have thought we would have won the other two games before this one.”

Pete DeBoer said: “I think when you look at the week, out of the three games we played, it was probably our poorest of the three. But we found a way to win, and the other two we lost, maybe we deserved better. That's hockey.”

After falling behind 2-0 in each of their last two games, the Sharks jumped on the Hurricanes just 12 seconds in when Patrick Marleau scored on a two-on-one with Joe Thornton.

Aaron Dell was surely chuffed after that one. In a previous start against Carolina on Nov. 15, the first-year backup stood on his head but got no support in a 1-0 loss.

“It’s a good feeling to get one right away,” Dell said.

The difference in the game was the Sharks’ pair of second period goals, after they had leads of 1-0 and 2-1 wiped away. Logan Couture’s redirection of a Brent Burns shot put San Jose ahead to stay, 3-2, while Kevin Labanc’s second goal in as many nights on the rebound of a Dylan DeMelo blast was the necessary insurance, and the game-winner.

Labanc now has three goals in his last five games, generating the type of offense that was expected from others on the team, but just hasn’t come.

“It’s a confidence booster, that’s for sure,” Labanc said of scoring in consecutive games. “It’s just momentum, and you ride with it. You just keep going, and whatever opportunities come by you, you’ve just got to make sure it goes in the net.”

DeBoer said: "For a team that's had trouble scoring, he's one guy that's consistently scored for us. The puck follows him around. … He's done a great job, and he's a hard guy to remove from the lineup just because of how he's playing and how he's contributing.”

At the end of a three-game California road trip, Carolina pushed hard to start the third down 4-2. Derek Ryan’s power play goal brought the ‘Canes back to within one, and the way the ice was tilted over those first four minutes, it looked like the Sharks might be in trouble.

Instead, they buckled down in the defensive zone despite missing defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who is “day-to-day” with a lower body injury after leaving in the second period, according to DeBoer.

"They have a lot of talented guys on the team that can make plays,” said Paul Martin, who got the most fortuitous bounce of the night when his first period slap shot went in off of defenseman Brett Pesce's skate. “For us, it was just trying to find a way to win at that point, take care of our own zone, and Deller made some big key saves when we needed them."

Dell’s biggest stop came with about 20 seconds left, when he challenged Jeff Skinner on a rebound try – one of 11 shots for the Hurricanes forward – and saw the backhander hit him in the chest. He’s now 3-1 in his nascent NHL career.

“The last minute six-on-five is always a really, really long minute,” Dell said. “I think we played it pretty well.”

Carolina had plenty of zone time over the final two minutes with Ward pulled for an extra attacker. But this time, it was the Sharks’ opponent that never got that necessary bounce.