Warriors turn focus to West, fading New Orleans


Warriors turn focus to West, fading New Orleans

Feb. 15, 2011
NEW ORLEANS (33-23) vs.
WARRIORS (24-29)

Coverage begins at 7 P.M. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area

OAKLAND (AP) -- The New Orleans Hornets seemingly couldn't miss when they visited Golden State last month, turning in their best shooting effort of the season while extending their winning streak to 10.

Right now, the Hornets will take any victory they can get.

New Orleans has dropped to fifth in the Western Conference with seven losses in nine games, a slump it'll look to break out of Tuesday night when it visits the suddenly surging Golden State Warriors.

The Hornets (33-23) shot 62.2 percent and scored 60 points in the paint in a 112-103 win at Oracle Arena on Jan. 26 that pushed them into third place in the West, behind only San Antonio and the Los Angeles Lakers.

NEWS: NBA scoreboard

During its recent downturn, New Orleans has allowed 99.7 points - 8.5 more than it surrendered while allowing the fewest points in the league through 47 games.

The Hornets led visiting Chicago by 11 at halftime on Saturday, but surrendered 55 second-half points in a 97-88 loss that left coach Monty Williams seething.

"I didn't see any effort from a number of positions. ... For the most part we just didn't play smart tonight," Williams said. "They put pressure on us and we pretty much just backed down. There is no other way to put it.

"To me, that was like a playoff game and we just didn't respond."

New Orleans' defense hasn't been good lately, but Chris Paul hasn't offered much help on the offensive end. He's shot a woeful 30.6 percent over his last three games, averaging 13.0 points and 8.0 assists.

"My rhythm is off. I'm missing everything I shoot at the rim. I've just got to keep shooting," Paul said. "I've got to somehow, some way, find a rhythm and find a way to get some easy baskets."

A visit to Golden State, where he shot 7 of 9 last month and finished with 18 points and 17 assists, might be just what Paul needs. The four-time All-Star has averaged 24.7 points and shot 54.9 percent in nine games in Oakland - his best numbers against any Western opponent.

RELATED: NBA stats leaders

The Warriors (24-29), however, have hardly been pushovers lately during a home-heavy stretch. They've won five of seven overall and five of six at home, with Monta Ellis' 33 points leading the way in a 100-94 victory over Oklahoma City on Sunday night.

Stephen Curry chipped in 23 points and 13 assists while David Lee had 23 points and 19 rebounds. Golden State outrebounded the Thunder 47-33, just the 16th time its edged its opponent on the boards.

REWIND: Warriors own the glass in win over Thunder

"I think you just have to keep emphasizing rebounding," coach Keith Smart said. "That's something we said from the beginning of the year. We dropped off a little bit here and there, but we're capable of doing that when everyone does their part of rebounding."

While the backcourt of Ellis and Curry certainly gets the Warriors going, Lee's contributions have been immense. They're 14-9 when he records a double-double.

Golden State was outrebounded 35-28 in the loss to the Hornets last month, but it could have an easier time Tuesday with Emeka Okafor out. The big man hasn't played this month because of a hip strain, and the Hornets have been outrebounded in their past four losses - including a dismal 47-26 margin against Chicago.

Cubs' Epstein: 'History doesn't really weigh on this club'


Cubs' Epstein: 'History doesn't really weigh on this club'

The Cubs are going to the World Series.

Yes, you read that right.

The Cubs are going to the World Series.

The Curse of the Billy Goat is broken. 

The 71-year drought is over. 

The truly once-in-a-lifetime moment has finally come to Chicago.

Holy cow.

The Cubs punched their ticket to the promised land with a 5-0 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Best Pitcher on the Planet in front of 42,386 fans in the most euphoric moment in Wrigley Field's history.

Theo Epstein's vision is one step closer to coming to fruition.

"History doesn't really weigh on this club," Epstein said before Saturday's Game 6. "Just trying to win tonight's game. 

"These guys - a lot of them are in their early 20s and they're not burdened by that stuff. The organization isn't. It's just about trying to win and keeping it simple."


Rewind: Sharks slow, sloppy and undisciplined in loss to Wings

Rewind: Sharks slow, sloppy and undisciplined in loss to Wings

DETROIT – The Sharks had just one scheduled practice on their 10-day road trip, set to take place on Friday in Detroit prior to the fifth and final game against the Red Wings. It was canceled, though, as the coaching staff opted for rest rather than work.

The result was a 3-0 loss to the Red Wings in which the Sharks were sloppy in their own zone, were smoked in the faceoff circle, surrendered a plethora of odd-man rushes, and took eight minor penalties. They just couldn’t keep pace with a Detroit team that was playing its second game in as many nights. 

San Jose looked like a club that has held just a single solitary practice since the season began on Oct. 12.

“Some breakdowns, guys not being above [the puck], some giveaways in our own end, we’re kind of leaving [the defensive zone] early,” Logan Couture said. “We just don’t seem like we’re dedicated to defense like we were at the end [of] last year.”

[KURZ: Instant Replay: Sharks blanked by Wings, end road trip with thud]

“It wasn’t very good tonight,” added Martin Jones, who lost his third in a row in goal. “Too many penalties, too many turnovers. Just wasn’t very good tonight.”

The start was actually a decent one, as the Sharks were attempting to put Thursday’s third period collapse in Pittsburgh behind them, but Detroit eventually took over. Gustav Nyquist broke the scoreless tie four minutes into the second period, and added to the Red Wings’ lead with a second marker about 11 minutes later.

On the first, Paul Martin was caught flat-footed in the offensive zone, leading to a two-on-one rush by Detroit. Nyquist abruptly stopped on the faceoff dot in front of Justin Braun, and rifled a shot though. On the second, Matt Nieto had control of the puck and was headed up the ice before he stumbled and turned it over to Ryan Sproul, who found Nyquist in the slot. 

A bad line change resulted in Andreas Athanasiou powering a slap shot to Jones’ far side six minutes into the third period, giving Detroit a commanding three-goal lead. 

“We were late everywhere tonight,” Pete DeBoer said. “When you’re a step behind a good team they expose you, and I think that was the story. We’ll have to go back and figure out why, and get our game back in a better place.”

“We played into their hands. They’re a transition team, a speed team, and if you’re going to play east-west and turn the puck over they’re going to make you pay for it. We talked about it, but we still fell into that trap. Obviously the penalties didn’t help, and we’re playing catch up all night.”

Among those penalties was a double minor to Joe Pavelski for spearing Steve Ott, just a few seconds after Athanasiou’s goal. The captain seemed agitated for much of the night.

Pavelski said he didn’t think he got a whole lot of Ott with his stick, but “it’s a play you don’t want to make.”

DeBoer didn’t take issue with the play which nullified what would have been a Sharks power play after a Drew Miller interference.

“Pav is a competitor. He was probably our best player tonight. He’s competing right until the final buzzer,” DeBoer said. “I don’t have a problem with that. It doesn’t bother me.”

The power play, though, is one area that the coach may need to focus on when the Sharks finally get a practice in on Monday at home. Despite being together for so many years, the top unit seems tentative with the puck and is misfiring on passes that are typically routine.

On one power play in the second period when the game was still scoreless, Pavelski was open in front of the net, but Patrick Marleau missed him on what would have been a tap-in goal. The Sharks finished 0-for-4 with a man advantage and have just one goal in a manned net this season during five-on-four play.

What has to change?

“Quite a few things,” Couture said. “We’re breaking in fine, [but] we’re too stationary, I think. I don’t know if we’re moving the puck well enough. Not attacking holes, not shooting the puck and getting it back.”

The Sharks will open up a three-game homestand on Tuesday with the Ducks. There is work to do before that.

“We’re 3-3. That’s the good news,” DeBoer said. “I think we’ve played some good hockey, but we have a lot of things we’ve got to clean up, too.”

Jones said: “Obviously it wasn’t the way we wanted to end the road trip. We’ll bounce back, and we’ve got a lot of games left.”