Urban: Sandoval's return pumps life into Giants


Urban: Sandoval's return pumps life into Giants

June 14, 2011


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Mychael Urban

Knowing his teammates expected the world from him, if not a couple of moons and perhaps a star or six, he went out and delivered on virtually every front.Pressure?No. Not to Pablo Sandoval.He gets it.Pressure is struggling to make rent on your one-bedroom apartment, in which your three kids are staring longingly into an empty refrigerator.Being asked to breathe a little life into a clubhouse, boost a struggling offense and make a few plays? That's straight-up fun for the Panda, and he shows it in every way.Before Tuesday's 6-5 win over the host Diamondbacks, Sandoval, in his first game back since surgery to remove a broken bone near his wrist, gave Giants manager Bruce Bochy a big hug in the dugout. That Bochy accepted it spoke volumes about what the man-child of a third baseman brings to the defending world champs.NEWS: Giants hold off D'backs, preserve win for Cain
Bochy, you might have noticed, isn't exactly the cuddly type. His fairly gruff appearance and demeanor suggest he's far more likely to kill a bear than to hug a Panda, but hug Sandoval he did.Similarly, the rest of the Giants embraced the notion of Sandoval's return, hoping his energy, positivity and goofy perma-grin would somehow make the still-fresh memory of Freddy Sanchez -- the Giants' second All-Star candidate to go down in a heap of pain in the past three weeks -- fade. That's a lot to ask. Pretty much impossible, in fact. But Sandoval did what he could, loving every minute of it.First he set an early tone with an RBI single in his first at-bat back.
After lining out in his second at-bat, he drew a walk and scored in the fifth inning.That's right. A walk. Patient Panda? Eh. Probably not. Ever. But a more patient Panda is progress enough.Just as important, Sandoval played a rock-solid third base, highlighted by the tremendous play he made on a tough short-hop before making a stellar off-balance throw, getting a force at second base for the first out of the eighth after a leadoff walk. The D'Backs didn't score in the inning. Nor did they score in the ninth, when Sandoval made a selfless play that ended up meaning nothing but deserves mention.He took a spike to the leg from Kelly Johnson, who was advancing to third on a wild pitch, because he expertly blocked the base with his foot. The umpire missed the call, and the game ended shortly thereafter, so it didn't really matter that the call was blown. But you can bet the play mattered to Sandoval's teammates.The guy's fresh off the DL and he's putting himself in harm's way trying to nail down a win? Some might call that overzealous. In baseball your teammates consider it heroic.A real-life hero, of course, finds a way to make that rent, to fill that fridge.But in Sandoval, the Giants were looking for a baseball hero Tuesday, and they got one. A big, silly, smiling one that you can't help but want to hug back.

Draymond to Curry to Durant earns Assist of the Year

Draymond to Curry to Durant earns Assist of the Year

The Draymond Green to Steph Curry to Kevin Durant lob resulted in "Assist of the Year" at the first-ever NBA Awards show on Monday night.

With 9:25 remaining in the third quarter against the Pacers on Dec. 5, Zaza Pachulia won a jump ball (against Paul George) in the backcourt.

Draymond threw a fullcourt football pass to Curry, who tracked the ball like a wide receiver on a go-route.

As he caught the ball inside the free throw line, he flipped it behind his head to a charging Durant, who guided the ball towards the rim with his left hand before flushing it with both hands.

Oracle Arena went nuts as the Warriors took an 88-56 lead.

In that same game, Klay Thompson racked up 60 points in 29 minutes.

Golden State beat Indiana 120-83 to improve to 12-2.

The Warriors recorded 45 assists, the second highest output of the season (47 against the Lakers on Nov. 23).

Nikola Jokic and Chris Paul were also nominated for the award, which was voted on by the fans.

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders and a Web Producer at NBC Sports Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller

Iguodala does not capture Sixth Man of the Year award

Iguodala does not capture Sixth Man of the Year award

Andre Iguodala spent much of the season doing whatever he could to fight off any momentum that might result in him being named Sixth Man of the Year in the NBA.

The Warriors forward need not have worried, as the award once again went to a scorer.

Rockets guard Eric Gordon won the balloting, beating out Houston teammate Lou Williams and Iguodala.

Iguodala averaged only 7.6 points per game, but shot a career-high 52.8 percent from the field and is widely considered the league’s No. 1 defender off the bench.