Luck maintains lead in tight race


Luck maintains lead in tight race

Rank PlayerPositionSchool Recent game stats Next game Comment 1 Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford 23-27, 227 yards, 3 TD in 45-19 win over UCLA Colorado To maintain the lead while playing against weak opponents he will have to be close to perfect -- does anybody doubt that he won't be? 2 Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama 29 rushes, 181 yards, 2 TD in 38-10 win at 12 Florida Vanderbilt He's the best running back in the country for the 2 team, and has more TDs and just 55 fewer yards than Marcus Lattimore, despite 31 less carries. 3 Russell Wilson, QB, Wisconsin 14-20, 255 yards, 2 TD, rush TD in 48-17 win over 8 Nebraska Idle, then Indiana Nobody did more for himself, or his team over the weekend than Russell Wilson -- only ranked opponent left is at 19 Illinois November 19. Will this hurt him? 4 Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor 23-31, 346 yards, 5 TD, INT in 36-35 loss at Kansas State Iowa State Would be sitting right behind Luck had K-State not converted his first INT of the season into the game-winning score. Nobody has been better in 2011, however. 5 Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State 19-33, 142 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT in 30-10 win over Nevada. At Fresno State (Friday) Lackluster performance dropped him significantly this week -- will be difficult to make up with no more ranked opponents on schedule. Come on Kellen, I picked you! 6 Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma 23-33, 425 yards, 5 TD, INT in 62-6 win over Ball State 11 Texas Coach Stoops didn't need to have Jones throwing touchdowns with OU leading 45-6 in the 4th, unless of course, he's trying to elevate his QB's Heisman stock. 7 Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State Idle Kansas 74.3 completion and 1,592 yards in four games for the 6 Cowboys. After Kansas, two road tests at 11 Texas and Missouri, then 25 Baylor and 20 K-State yikes 8 Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan 15-19, 169 yards, 2 TD, 6 rushes, 51 yards, rush TD in 58-0 win over Minnesota At Northwestern Ten years later, and we have ourselves another Eric Crouch (who did win the Heisman in '01). No chance for Robinson until the Wolverines beat somebody noteworthy. 9 LaMichael James, RB, Oregon Idle California (Thursday) Has 613 yards on just 65 rushes, for a cool 9.4 yards per carry! Oddly enough, he's flying under the radar right now, much like the Ducks. He, and they, won't be for long. 10 Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina 17 rushes, 66 yards, TD in 16-13 loss to Auburn Kentucky Without LSU or 'Bama on the schedule, it could have been a special year for Lattimore and South Carolina. But then they realized their QB was the inept Stephen Garcia.

How Warriors became better team right before the return of Kevin Durant

How Warriors became better team right before the return of Kevin Durant

When Kevin Durant returns, which could happen as soon as next week, the Warriors will be an appreciably better team than they were when he left.

Better because in Durant’s absence, veteran wing Andre Iguodala found the best of his game and fully regained his shooting confidence.

Better because David West, who spent the first two quarters of the season acclimating to his new teammates and the third on the injury list, has settled in and turned up his fire and production to a level that pleads for more playing time.

Better because Stephen Curry is dancing and Klay Thompson is cooking and Draymond Green is destroying opposing offenses.

Better because everybody on this team can sense the postseason and is making the mental adjustment, while knowing they’ll get an emotional bounce from Durant’s presence on the floor.

“Obviously, you hate to see KD go down; he’s going to be back soon,” Curry told reporters after a 110-98 win over the Spurs in San Antonio. “But we never really lost confidence in ourselves. There was no panic. We’ve just battled.”

Consider that the Warriors, who own the best record in the NBA, are coming off two nights during which they also proved to be the best team. Going into Houston and San Antonio on successive nights, they extended their seven-game win streak to nine, the longest active streak at a time when all playoff teams wish to peak.

By wiping out a 22-point deficit to a Spurs team that simply doesn’t allow that but did anyway even with Green completely off his offensive game.

And this was done with Durant observing and cheering from the bench in street clothes while also learning more about his teammates and appreciating what they’ve been able to accomplish.

Most notably, as a team, what they’ve done on defense. After recovering from the body blow that was losing Durant, losing five of seven in the process, the Warriors have pulled off a dazzling stretch during which they’ve taken apart all comers.

Prior to holding the Spurs to 41 percent from the field, the Warriors limited the explosive Rockets to 38.8 percent, the Grizzlies to 44.7 (34.8 in the decisive second half), the Kings to 48.2, the Mavericks to 35.9, the Thunder to 42.5, the Bucks to 40.4, the Magic to 37.2 and the 76ers to 43.8.

“We play a finesse style . . . but when we’re at our best, you talk about our defense,” Curry said. “It’s about having each other’s back, trying to do little things, physically, to keep teams out of the paint and off the glass.”

What has happened is most everybody in the playing rotation has grown in the absence of Durant. And while some had to if the Warriors were to withstand his loss, that they managed to do so is significant. The evidence is visible and palpable, never more than late Wednesday night.

“We have what it takes to win all sorts of ways,” Curry said. “Whether you’re down 15 and can’t figure out what’s going on in the first quarter, or you put together a beautiful performance for 48 minutes, it doesn’t matter. Night in and night out, you’ve just got to be ready to play."

At no point this season have the Warriors had reason to feel as good as they do returning home to Oracle Arena, where they will play six of their final seven games. Winning five more games gives them the No. 1 overall seed, regardless of what the Spurs do.

They’re on top of their game and they’re a few games away from adding the man who was their best player through the first 60 games.

By all appearances and insinuations, Durant will be back for the final two or three games of the regular season. That beats any trade-deadline deal eight days a week.

Instant Replay: Kings fight back, but succumb to Jazz

Instant Replay: Kings fight back, but succumb to Jazz


SACRAMENTO -- After winning two straight, the Sacramento Kings came out flat and the Utah Jazz made them pay. The Jazz quieted the crowd early, pushing their lead to 24 points in the second quarter, but the Kings bounced back to make it a game. In the end, Utah had too much firepower, coming away with the 112-82 victory.

All-Star Gordon Hayward used his height advantage at the wing to punish the Kings. Hayward scored 20 points on 8-for-14 shooting and added seven rebounds in the win.

Rudy Gobert pounded the Kings in the paint, finishing the night with 16 points and 15 rebounds.  

Rodney Hood knocked down 5-for-5 from behind the arc on his way to 17 points. Shelvin Mack shot 5-of-8 from the field for 14 points and Joe Ingles finished with 12 points and five assists off Quin Snyder’s bench.

There is no quit in Ben McLemore. The fourth-year guard has an uncertain in Sacramento after this season, so he made sure to put on a show for anyone who might be interested in his services. McLemore dropped in 17 of his 22 points in a wild first half run that got Sacramento back into the game.

Darren Collison was one of the few Kings to find success early as the Jazz built their big lead. The veteran point  guard finished the night with 12 points and one assist.

Willie Cauley-Stein didn’t back down from Gobert. The second-year 7-footer managed to score seven points and grab a team-high eight rebounds in the loss.

Ty Lawson came off Dave Joerger’s bench to score 11 points and dish out three assists. Skal Labissiere shook of a slow start to score nine points and grab seven rebounds, while rookie Georgios Papagiannis chipped in eight points.

McLemore caught fire. He singlehandedly stopped the Kings from getting blown out in the first half with his 7-of-8 shooting performance before the intermission.

Sacramento managed to make it a game in the third quarter, clawing all the way back to within one point. The Jazz responded to take a 78-67 lead into the fourth and then put the Kings away.

Garrett Temple and Kosta Koufos sat for scheduled rest. Arron Afflalo missed the game due to a personal matter. Rookie Malachi Richardson is officially out for the season with a right hamstring thickness tear. Rudy Gay is out for the year with a torn left Achilles.

The Kings travel to New Orleans where they’ll face DeMarcus Cousins and the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday evening. They’ll fly to Minnesota following the game to play the Timberwolves as part of a back-to-back.