Sharks set to face Coyotes in Pacific showdown


Sharks set to face Coyotes in Pacific showdown

March 26, 2011

SHARKS (43-23-9) vs.PHOENIX (41-24-11)
CSN California Saturday lineup5:00 p.m. -- Shark Byte 5:30 p.m. -- Sharks Pregame Live6:00 p.m. -- Sharks vs. Phoenix

PHOENIX (AP) -- The Phoenix Coyotes and first-place San Jose Sharks are separated by two points in the race for the Pacific Division crown.

For the Coyotes to capture the franchise's first division title, they need to figure out a way to win a game in this series.

Meeting for the first of three times in the final two weeks of the season, Phoenix looks to avoid losing its eighth straight to the Sharks and move into a first-place tie Saturday night in Glendale, Ariz.

The Coyotes (41-24-11) moved a point closer to San Jose (43-23-9) with Thursday's 3-0 win over Columbus, coupled with the Sharks' 4-3 shootout loss to Los Angeles. Phoenix now has 93 points, while San Jose has 95 and a game in hand on the Coyotes.
REWIND: Marleau's late pair forces overtime; Kings win

The division race might go down to the wire, with the Coyotes and Sharks set for a home-and-home series to conclude the season April 8 and 9.

"We've got six left and San Jose three times, so those are obviously going to be big games for us," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. "Going into Saturday night's game you've got to recognize your opponent, and what could be at stake."

San Jose finished six points ahead of second-place Phoenix last season to win its third straight Pacific title.

The Coyotes could be in a first-place tie with a regulation win, but they've lost seven in a row to the Sharks since a 2-1 victory Dec. 12, 2009. They've been outscored 13-6 in this season's three meetings.

Phoenix was on the verge of snapping that losing streak in the last matchup Feb. 1, leading 3-0 late in the second period, but San Jose rallied for five unanswered goals. Joe Pavelski scored twice to start the comeback, and Patrick Marleau's short-handed goal with 6:05 remaining put the Sharks ahead.

RELATED: Joe Pavelski stats splits game logs

Antti Niemi was pulled midway through the second period after allowing three goals, but he's been instrumental to San Jose's playoff push lately. He has made 30 straight starts, going 21-4-4 with a 2.19 goals-against average and three shutouts.

Niemi and the Sharks were fortunate to earn a point Thursday.

Marleau scored the tying goal twice in the final 3:32 of the third period, getting his second with just 4.1 seconds left after the Kings went back in front with 1:42 remaining. Marleau has six goals in his last four games.

"Patty's really played well lately and he's scored big goals for our team," coach Todd McLellan said of Marleau, who has seven goals in his last five contests against Phoenix.

While Marleau is carrying San Jose, which had a four-game winning streak snapped Thursday, goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov is leading a Phoenix team seeking its first division title in the franchise's 31-year history.

Bryzgalov made 27 saves Thursday to move into a tie with Nikolai Khabibulin for the franchise lead in shutouts with 21. He is 6-1-0 with a 1.29 GAA and two shutouts in his last seven starts.

"He is top notch, and we rely on him heavily," Tippett said.

Bryzgalov, though, has a 3.56 GAA in two starts against San Jose this season.

The Coyotes have won seven of eight, but Bryzgalov feels his team must get off to a better start to have a chance against the Sharks. Phoenix has no goals in the first period of its last four games, averaging just 6.5 shots.

"If we start the game against San Jose like (Thursday) and the previous game, we're going to be behind," Bryzgalov said. "We need to be ready as soon as the puck drops."

Russell Westbrook wins NBA MVP; Rockets, Bucks take two awards


Russell Westbrook wins NBA MVP; Rockets, Bucks take two awards

NEW YORK — Russell Westbrook moved past Oscar Robertson and kept right on going to the top of the NBA.

Westbrook was voted MVP on Monday night after setting a record with 42 triple-doubles during his historic season. He led the league with 31.6 points and added 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists per game, joining Robertson as the only players to average a triple-double for the season and breaking Robertson's single-season record of 41 triple-doubles in 1961-62.

"I remember growing up just being home, playing the video games and stuff with my pops, and my mom sitting there and my brother and just talking about maybe one day I could be the MVP. Obviously I was joking at the time," Westbrook said.

"But now to be standing here with this trophy next to me is a true blessing, man, and it's an unbelievable feeling, something that I can never imagine."

Westbrook's victory ended the first NBA Awards show, which included two wins apiece for the Houston Rockets and Milwaukee Bucks.

He received 69 first-place votes and 888 points from a panel of 100 media members and a fan vote to easily beat Houston's James Harden, who had 22 first-place votes and 753 points. Kawhi Leonard was third with nine first-place votes and 500 points.

Westbrook succeeded Stephen Curry, who had won the past two MVP awards. The point guard who plays with defiance on the court got choked up during an acceptance speech in which he brought some teammates onto the stage with him.

The Thunder went 33-9 when he had a triple-double, riding Westbrook's record run into the playoffs in their first season after losing Kevin Durant to the Golden State Warriors.

"Oscar, guys like him, Magic Johnson, those guys, obviously I wasn't able to see those guys play, but just to look back at history and see the things that they did, it's something that I looked up to as a kid," Westbrook said.

"I never thought I would be able to say that I broke Oscar Robertson's record, and that's just a true blessing."

Earlier, Milwaukee's Malcolm Brogdon became the first player not picked in the first round to win NBA Rookie of the Year in the common draft era, beating out Philadelphia's Dario Saric and Joel Embiid.

Brogdon was the No. 36 overall selection out of Virginia. The common draft era began in 1966.

"I think it's an example for guys that are told they are too short, they are not athletic enough, they are not real point guards, they are not real shooting guards," Brogdon said. "I just think it's an important message for people to see, and it can be done. It just takes a lot."

Teammate Giannis Antetokounmpo won the Most Improved Player award.

Houston coach Mike D'Antoni won his second Coach of the Year award, and the Rockets' Eric Gordon was Sixth Man of the Year after setting a record for most 3-pointers off the bench in his first season as a reserve.

"Obviously I'm just proud of the team and the way they responded all year. Great organization," D'Antoni said of the Rockets' 55-win season.

"This is not an individual award. This is a lot of people, a lot of hard work goes into it, and I'm the recipient of some pretty good players."

In his first season coming off the bench, Gordon set a single-season record with 206 3-pointers by a reserve. He averaged 16.2 points to help fuel the Rockets' run to the surprising No. 3 seed in the Western Conference and edged former NBA Finals MVP Andre Iguodala of Golden State by 32 points.

Golden State's Draymond Green won the Defensive Player of the Year, ending Leonard's two-year run. Leading the league in steals from his do-everything role with the NBA champions. He had a franchise-record 10 steals in a Feb. 10 game at Memphis while recording the first triple-double in NBA history without scoring in double figures, adding 11 rebounds and 10 assists.

The NBA formerly gave out its individual awards at various points throughout the postseason before switching to the awards show this season and presenting them all at once in front of the league's top players and stars from the entertainment world.

Two of the best moments came during segments that didn't include the NBA's six individual awards.

Bill Russell was presented the first Lifetime Achievement award, welcomed on stage by fellow Hall of Fame centers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, David Robinson, Shaquille O'Neal, Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo. The 11-time champion as a player and the league's first black coach first pointed at them and joked that he would have kicked their butts, then told them: "You have no idea how much respect I have for you guys."

Former Thunder assistant coach Monty Williams was given the SagerStrong Award for the strength he showed after his wife was killed in a car crash in Oklahoma City. He was given a colorful jacket like the ones worn by Craig Sager, the longtime Turner Sports reporter who died of cancer this past season.

Draymond Green named 2016-17 Defensive Player of the Year

Draymond Green named 2016-17 Defensive Player of the Year

Two days after Draymond Green said, in the wake of the Warriors winning the NBA Finals, that he no longer cared about the Defensive Player of the Year award, he got it anyway.

And he was very happy about being the first player in Warriors history to win it.

After finishing in second place in the balloting in each of the past two seasons, Green received the top honor Monday night during the NBA Awards Show from New York, beating out fellow Rudy Gobert (Jazz) and Kawhi Leonard (Spurs). Leonard topped Green in each of the past two seasons.

Green received 73 of the 100 first-place votes, totaling 434 points. Gobert received 269 points, including 16 first-place votes. Leonard received 182 votes, 11 for first place. The three finalists accounted for all 100 first-place votes.

Green posted impeccable overall statistics, leading the league in steals (2.03 per game) for the team that led the league in that category and averaging 1.39 blocks, as the Warriors also led the NBA in that category.

The 6-foot-7 forward finished third the NBA in defensive rating and second in defensive win shares, largely due to his ability as an irreplaceable force on that end of the court. Though Green starts at power forward, he spends considerable time at center -- while also playing point forward on offense.

Yet Green, smiling during his acceptance speech, also pointed out the work of his teammates, particularly Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, as the Warriors led the league is nearly every significant defensive category.

“This isn’t an individual award,” Green said. “There are five guys out there on the floor at a time. I can’t do this all by myself, so I appreciate them. With KD and Klay not making the All-Defensive team, I appreciated everything they do.”

Green earlier Monday led the media balloting for the NBA’s All-Defensive team, racking up 198 of a possible 200 points. He was voted to first team on 99 of 100 ballots yet completely omitted from one ballot.

If you want a splashy number, try this: Opponents shot 27 percent against Green when he switched a pick-and-roll and activated one-on-one defense, according to good folks at Synergy Sports Tech.

Green, who finished fourth in real plus-minus, averaged 10.2 points and 7.9 rebounds. He also led the Warriors in assists, averaging 7.0 per game.