Steph steps up on Monta's off night as W's win


Steph steps up on Monta's off night as W's win


OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Monta Ellis satstoically on the Golden State bench in the fourth quarter, a toweldraped over his head and an emotionless expression. Even he lookedstunned.The only thing perhaps more surprising than his performance was the outcome.Stephen Curry had 27 points, sevenassists and six rebounds and the Warriors overcame Ellis' horrendousshooting performance to beat the undermanned Utah Jazz 96-81 on Sundaynight to snap a four-game losing streak."It was one of those rare nights where everybody had to pick him up," Curry said.Even rarer was that they did.Dorell Wright scored 16 points, andReggie Williams added 15 to help the Warriors build a 19-point lead inthe fourth quarter while Ellis was on the bench. Ellis, averaging ateam-high 25 points, was held to a season-low two points on 1-for-9shooting in 31 minutes.Warriors coach Keith Smart figured it was just "one of those nights" in the grueling NBA season."It rained today. Why did it rain?Blame it on the rain. I don't know why," Smart said. "But I thinkthat's why you try to formulate a basketball team so you don't rely onone particular player."If only the Jazz could do the same without their star.Al Jefferson had 16 points and 14rebounds, and Andre Kirilenko had 14 points and nine rebounds for aJazz team that has lost six straight road games. Utah never seriouslychallenged in this one with star point guard Deron Williams out with ahyperextended right wrist and center Mehmet Okur sidelined by astrained back."We're going through some toughtimes," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "We haven't played with a lot ofenergy and then Deron gets hurt. We get banged up and that's whathappens when you get in situations like that. But that's where you seewhere the fight is in you and see how bad you really like to play."The Warriors had to find new ways to win.They did some of their best workearly even with Ellis held scoreless for the first half. Wright made apair of 3-pointers, and Curry followed with another to lead an 11-2 runlate in the first quarter.Golden State pushed its lead to 14points in the second behind mostly reserves, although it struggled tokeep the pace - at first, anyway - without the starters, and the lackof production from Ellis showed.The Jazz regained their rhythm afterthe break and got within three points, smothering the Warriorsdefensively. They kept Ellis without a point until his only basket with7:39 remaining in the third quarter, and even that took some work:Ellis spun into the lane and made a floating layup over Utah'soutstretched front line."You could see he wasn't all the waythere, whether it was personal or whatever it was. I'm not takingcredit for that," Utah guard Raja Bell said.The Warriors managed just fine without him.They slowly went ahead 85-67 in thefourth quarter against team that was simply exhausted playingshort-handed. It was a rare night when Ellis had such low output andthe Warriors still won.The All-Star hopeful's previous lowthis season was five points in a 117-89 loss to the Los Angeles Lakerson Nov. 21 when he hardly even played in the second half because it wassuch a blowout. The last time Ellis scored only two points came againstPhoenix on Feb. 4, 2009."You have to win a lot of differentways if you want to be successful," Curry said. "Every night's notgoing to be pretty. Even if everybody is not on their game, you have tofind ways to win."NOTES: The Warriors improved to 2-1against the Jazz this season. The home team has won each game. Theywrap up their season series Feb. 16 in Utah. ... Jazz reserve C KyryloFesenko played the final 8 minutes after missing the previous gamebecause of a sinus infection.

Rewind: 'Elite' Martin Jones outplays Price in Sharks' win over Habs

Rewind: 'Elite' Martin Jones outplays Price in Sharks' win over Habs

SAN JOSE – The challenge for Martin Jones headed into 2016-17 was to repeat the kind of campaign he had in his first season as an NHL number one, when he helped the Sharks reach their first-ever Stanley Cup Final.

Having a strong season is one thing. Becoming a franchise goaltender is an entirely different animal. The Canadiens have one, of course, in Carey Price, viewed unanimously as the NHL’s best. 

Jones has some work ahead if he wants to be mentioned in the same breath as Price. But his latest performance – a 31-save effort against Montreal in which he slightly outplayed the former Hart Trophy winner at the other end in a 2-1 Sharks win – capped off a remarkable stretch for Jones, who is perhaps the team’s MVP as they sit in first place in the Pacific Division in the first week of December.

In his last 11 games, Jones is now 8-2-1 with a 1.46 goals-against average and .945 save percentage. His GAA for the season was lowered to a miniscule 1.99.

“We’ve got an elite goalie here,” Burns said. “We’re lucky to have Jonesy. He’s great to play in front of. He’s right up there to be the best goalie in the league. Every night he shows it.”

Dillon said: “He's just continuing to prove that he's an elite-level guy. For us, as defensemen, it's nice when he's back there. But at the same time, we want to do our best to eliminate as much as we can and help him out.”

Dillon, Burns, and the rest of the Sharks defense corps did a nice job against the Canadiens, who still lead the NHL standings even after the loss. But the Sharks wouldn’t have won this one without Jones, who made a number of stellar stops.

His best came in the first period with the Sharks enjoying a 1-0 lead, when Jones robbed Alex Galchenyuk after a sneaky pass from Paul Byron gave Galchenyuk all kinds of net to shoot at. Jones slid across and snatched it, freezing play. 

"I think at that point I was just kind of reacting to the play,” Jones said. “You're not going to see me pull that out too, too often. Just tried to get over and bring as much of my body as I could."

Later in the first, Jones stopped Brian Flynn on a breakaway with 2:53 to go. In the second period he again flashed the leather, this time on Max Pacioretty on a two-on-one with 14:53 remaining in the middle frame. Seconds later, it was his left lad that prevented Brenden Gallagher from cutting into the Sharks’ 2-0 lead, when Gallagher found himself alone in front of the net with the puck on his stick.

Facing Price, Jones knew he would have to be on top of his game. According to assistant coach Steve Spott, filling in for Pete DeBoer, that challenge gave Jones a boost.

“I think when he looked down 200 feet away and saw Carey Price – what a great challenge for Marty, and he was outstanding tonight, as was Price for them. That's as good a goalie duo as I've seen in a long time.”

Dillon said: “He just continues to rise to the occasion.”

The goals came from likely sources. Burns, firing the puck from all over the ice in the first, capitalized on a power play with a slapper from the top of the circle. Joe Pavelski finished off a rush with Joe Thornton in the final minute of the opening frame.

Thanks to Jones, that lead was maintained until late, before Logan Couture’s double-minor for high sticking Alexander Radulov left the Sharks shorthanded. They killed off the first two minutes without even allowing a shot on goal, but Montreal got on the board with a turn-around wrister by Artturi Lehkonen with 1:17 left and Price pulled for an extra attacker.

That spoiled the shutout for Jones, but not the night for the Sharks, who killed the rest of the clock and will now get some down time after 10 games in just 18 days. They don’t play again until Wednesday at home against Ottawa.

“Obviously it’s nice when you’ve got a little break to have that game going into it than something else,” Pavelski said.

Whether it’s a good time to take a break is up for debate, as the Sharks are playing their best hockey of the season, winning six of their last seven.

"You look at it 50/50,” Dillon said. “We're a confident group right now and I don't think come Tuesday or Wednesday of next week, we're going to be looking at it any differently. 

“We're going to take the positives out of [the time off], and try to keep this thing rolling.”

If Jones stays on the run he’s on, there’s a very good chance they will.

Washington waxes Colorado in Pac-12 championship game


Washington waxes Colorado in Pac-12 championship game


SANTA CLARA -- Taylor Rapp returned one of his two interceptions for a touchdown and Myles Gaskin ran for 159 yards to help No. 4 Washington strengthen its case for a playoff berth with a 41-10 victory over No. 9 Colorado in the Pac-12 championship game Friday night.

The Huskies (12-1, No. 4 CFP) broke open a close game when Rapp intercepted Sefo Liufau's passes on the first two drives of the second half for a touchdown and to set up a field goal that made it 24-7.

Washington rolled from there to its first conference title since 2000 with a performance likely to keep the Huskies in the top four when the College Football Playoff bids are handed out Sunday.

It was a rough day for Colorado (10-3, No. 8 CFP) and Liufau, who was knocked out of the game after injuring his right leg on a sack on the Buffaloes' first drive of the game. He returned to start the second half and threw three interceptions, including one on the first play from scrimmage that Rapp returned 35 yards for a score.

Liufau threw another interception on the ensuing drive and Colorado could never recover. Even a circus kick return in the third quarter couldn't help the Buffaloes. Anthony Julmisse returned a kick to near midfield and fumbled. Phillip Lindsay scooped up and ran down to the 2 but Colorado was held to a field goal.


Colorado: From the opening kickoff that went out of bounds, little went right for the Buffaloes, who were unable to cap an impressive turnaround season with a conference title. Liufau's injury didn't help the cause. Steven Montez went 5 for 12 for 60 yards in the first half and was unable to generate any consistent offense and Liufau was even worse when he returned. He threw as many interceptions in the third quarter (3) as he had all season and was just 2 for 12 for 12 yards after coming back into the game.

Washington: The usually efficient Jake Browning struggled throwing the ball but it didn't matter as the Huskies dominated the game with 265 yards on the ground behind Gaskin and Lavon Coleman (101 yards). Browning went just 9 for 24 for 118 yards but did throw two TDs. His second touchdown was far from his prettiest throw of the season. With a defender draped all over him, Browning threw a ball up from grabs that John Ross caught in front of Chidobe Awuzie and ran in 19 yards for the score. Browning's 42 TDs are one shy of Jared Goff's Pac-12 record.


Colorado: The Buffaloes must wait to see if they will remain ahead of No. 11 USC in the playoff rankings and get a Rose Bowl bid if Washington goes to the playoff or likely head to the Alamo Bowl if they drop behind the Trojans.

Washington: A likely berth in the playoff.