As Curry Sits, Warriors Drop 11th Straight to Memphis in OT

By Matthew Harrington

One streak came to an end while another continued on strong in after 88-81 overtime defeat for the Golden State Warriors at the hands of the Memphis Grizzlies (7-5) Wednesday night at Oracle Arena. With Stephen Curry sitting due to what is being termed a concussion, the Warriors were handed their first loss in six homes games this season, continuing a string of 11-straight losses to the Memphis Grizzlies.

Klay Thompson dropped a game-high tying 21 points on 9 of 19 shooting, while David Lee added 18 points on 9 field goals in 17 attempts. Andre Iguodala notched 14 assists in Curry’s absence. Zach Randolph scored 21 points to tie Thompson for the game best while pulling down 12 rebounds, most by any side Wednesday night. Marc Gasol also nabbed a double-double on 18 points and 11 rebounds.

The Warriors (8-4) raced out to a 26-16 lead and held a ten-point lead at the midway point for a 44-34 halftime score. Memphis outscored Golden State 25-13 in the third quarter to take a two-point 59-57 lead in to the fourth.

The wild fourth quarter saw the Warriors storm back from an early six-point deficit to chisel away at a 63-57. Thompson capped the comeback with a 3-pointer with 7:20 left to give Golden State the 68-66 lead. From there, the lead would change four more times before the quarter ended in a 75-75 deadlock.

Memphis controlled the overtime session, outscoring the Warriors 13-6. Mike Conley had five points in the extra frame and Tayshaun Prince added a pair of daggers on two contested desperation jump shots that hit their mark.

The Warriors coughed up 14 turnovers to Memphis’ 6. Golden State was limited to only 4 fast break points, struggling without the normal starting point guard against a stout Grizzlies defense.
Another Warrior went down with injury as Ognjen Kuzmic injured his right arm on the backboard during the first quarter. He now joins Toney Douglas, Jermaine O’Neal and Stephen Curry as wounded Warriors.

Golden State travels to Los Angeles to face the Lakers Friday night in a rematch of the opening night 100-95 victory. Tip-off is at 7:30 pm.

Blackhawks Embarass Sharks, Hand San Jose Toughest Loss of the Season

By Matthew Harrington

The San Jose Sharks were downed by the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks 5-1 Sunday evening at the United Center, suffering their worst defeat of the season. Patrick Sharp had 3 points (2 goals, 1 assist) while Brandon Pirri and Kris Versteeg notched a goal and an assist each. Joe Pavelski scored the lone goal for the Sharks who saw a three-game win-streak snapped with the loss.

Chicago opened up the scoring in the first period when a Patrick Kane shot deflected off Scott Hannon’s leg. The puck landed on Brandon Pirri’s stick and he fired it past an out-of-position Antti Niemi with 3:26 remaining in the first for the 1-0 lead.

Pavelski evened the score 8:16 into the second period when what appeared to be a harmless wrist shot popped out of Corey Crawford’s glove and trickled in to the back of the net. Tyler Kennedy and Justin Braun were credited with the assists. Crawford would go on to turn away the rest of the Sharks shots, making 23 saves in the game.

Patrick Sharp scored the game-winner just 3:58 after Pavelski’s tally, cashing in on a Marcus Kruger one-timer feed to beat Niemi. Niemi made 22 saves on 27 shots.

Jonathan Toews and Kris Versteeg, who made his first appearance back in a Blackhawk jersey following a trade with the Florida Thursday, added third period scores. Sharp finished the scoring with a penalty shot goal with 1:11 left in the game after Marc-Edouard Vlasic hooked him on the original breakaway attempt.
The Sharks faced a 27-24 shot deficit. San Jose failed to score a power play goal on two opportunities, while the Sharks foiled the Blackhawks on their lone chance.

The Sharks will have a few days to dwell on the loss. They return home to face the Tampa Bay Lightning at the SAP Center for a Thursday night contest.

Warriors Cruise Past Utah 102-88, Thompson Drops 25 Points on Jazz

By Matthew Harrington

The Golden State Warriors maintained their unblemished record at home Saturday night, besting the Utah Jazz 102-88 at Oracle Arena to improve their record to 7-3 on the season, keeping pace atop the Pacific Division standings with the Los Angeles Clippers. Klay Thompson led the warriors with 25 points on 9 of 14 shooting. Thursday’s hero Andre Iguodala pitched in 16 points and Stephen Curry added 15 to go with a game-high 11 assists. Derrick Favors lead the Jazz with 17 points and 7 rebounds. Andrew Bogut led all players with 11 boards.

The Warriors raced out to an early 27-13 lead after the first quarter in front of the sell-out crowd and by the half the advantage had increased to 51-34. The Jazz outscored Golden State in only one quarter, 29-23 in the third frame, to draw as close as down six points. The Warriors coasted to the victory though with a 28-25 final quarter for their fifth-straight win at home this season.

Victory came with a price for the Warriors. Backup center Jermaine O’Neal sprained his right knee and strained his right knee going to the basket with 11:26 left in the fourth. He was helped off the court and did not return.

Golden State will next head to Salt Lake City for a Monday night tilt that will have the Jazz seeking revenge for the Saturday night loss. Tip-off begins at 6 p.m.

Stanford Regains Defensive Form, Tops Northwestern 71-58 at Home

By Matthew Harrington

STANFORD, CALIFORNIA- The buzzword around Maples Pavilion Thursday night was “inside-out” as the Stanford Cardinal downed visiting Northwestern University 71-58 in a non-conference showdown. The Cardinal turned Monday’s lackluster defensive effort that saw Brigham Young University hang 112 points on Stanford inside-out to hold their Big Ten foe Thursday to a season-low 58 points while flipping the trend on what has been a historically tight match-up.

“We should never give up that many points, regardless of who we play,” said senior forward Josh Huestis of Monday’s loss to BYU. “Defense is something we take pride in. We were embarrassed Monday night so we got back to our roots and worked on defense. We made sure that was what we fell back on. That’s what we need to do to be successful.”

The Cardinal were so successful on defense that its offensive contributions were almost overshadowed. Stanford worked the ball from the outside in to help Huestis and center Stefan Nastic crack double-digits in scoring then worked the ball outside to Chasson Randle and Anthony Brown at the guard positions who put the ball inside the basket to the tune of 14 and 12 points respectively. Dwight Powell was the only one of the five Cardinal starters to not break double figures. The forward ended the night one-point shy with nine in the scoring column.

“We like to play inside-out,” said Brown. “Anytime (Nastic) can get easy baskets then the defense has to start sinking in and we can start making easy threes.”

Nastic, a junior, matched a career-high with 11 points while Huestis lead all Cardinal shooters with 18 points. Wildcat guard JerShon Cobb led all scorers with 19 points while teammate Drew Crawford added 15 on 6 of 15 from the field.

“We knew coming in to this game he was a guy we had to look out for,” said Huestis of Crawford. “He got going early. At half-time we made it a point to talk about that. We had to make sure we took him out of the game in order for us to be successful tonight.”

Crawford had a then game-high 13 points going at the half on 5 of 7 field goal attempts in a wild first half that saw the lead change hands six times , but Stanford went in to the locker room with a 29-27 lead that it would not relinquish.

“He’s the guy who gets them going,” said Brown. “If we can cut the head off then a lot of people have to step up. One of their guys stepped up and started make threes but other than that they started to fall apart.”

The Cardinal defense held Crawford to just two second-half points on eight attempts. With Crawford’s output diminished, so too went the Wildcat offense. From Nikola Cerina’s lay-up with 3:04 left in the first half to Cobb’s three-pointer with 9:33 left to play, the hosts held their opponents to six points on 14 attempts. In that span Stanford saw its lead grow from the slim two points to a comfortable 50-39 margin.

“I’m really happy with our guys defensively,” said Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins. “I’ve really challenged them the last few days. I really liked the way they responded. (Northwestern) can really shoot the basketball. Coach Collins (of Northwestern) inherited a Princeton offense so they’re all capable shooters. We knew we had to guard the perimeter. They knocked some down but for the most part we really contained their three-point shooters.”

Tonight marked the first meeting between Stanford and Northwestern in eight games where the final score was decided by more than 11 points. The 13-point margin of victory certainly eclipsed Stanford’s slim two-point advantage when the two teams met last season in Evanston. Stanford was victorious 70-68. Stanford now holds a commanding edge in the series 6-2.

The Cardinal will now leave the friendly confines of the Farm for its first road trip this season. They head to Denver to face the Pioneers in a Sunday morning tilt where coach Dawkins will surely hope they keep their defense from flipping outside-in while the offense continues to thrive from the inside to out on the perimeters.

No. 13 Stanford Bounces Back from Loss at Utah, Knocks Off No.9 UCLA

By Matthew Harrington

STANFORD, CALIFORNIA – They are forward thinkers down on The Farm. Mere minutes after the no. 13 ranked Stanford Cardinal (6-1, 4-1 PAC-12) upended visiting PAC-12 rival no. 9 UCLA’s bid at an undefeated season with a 24-10 victory Saturday afternoon at Stanford Stadium, coach David Shaw and company already were thinking about next week’s match-up at Oregon State. More importantly, they had put last week’s defeat against underdog Utah, one that may have put Stanford’s BCS title game hopes on hold until next season, in their rear-view.

“It was the last thing on my mind,” said Shaw of the 27-21 loss at Utah. “Guys wanted to bounce back. They wanted to turn the page and move on. My advice that I gave them was to bring last week with you. Last week we got outplayed. We just got beat, flat out beaten by a good football team. This week we had to come back. We knew it was not going to be any easier and our guys played extremely hard all game long.”

In the rematch of last season’s PAC-12 championship( A 27-24 Cardinal victory), Stanford did something every other UCLA opponent found especially hard to do in the third quarter this season, scoring on the baby blue and gold, not once, but twice. UCLA (5-1, 2-1 PAC-12)entered Saturday’s contest with a 71-0 scoring differential in the third frame, but a pair of Cardinal touchdowns put a blemish on the Bruins streak and proved to be the difference maker after a low-scoring first half.

“We talked a lot about the third quarter,” said Shaw. “We talked about the adjustments we’d have to make on defense. We talked about saving some calls for the second half we didn’t show in the first half. Offensively, we made it a point to get on the board, be smart, be efficient and get down there and get points.”

With only a field goal apiece halfway into the third, it appeared Shaw and staff may have been burned on their gamble to shrink the playbook in the first half. Then Kodi Whitfield submitted his bid for catch of the year to turn the tide in Stanford’s favor 10-3. Cardinal quarterback Kevin Hogan lobbed a pass on 2nd down and 18 from the UCLA 30 yard line that the sophomore wide receiver had to fully commit to in order to make the catch. He did so, elevating himself over safety Anthony Jefferson and corner Ishmael Adams while corralling the ball with his extended right hand before pulling it in to his body in the end zone.

“Unbelievable,” said Hogan, who was 18-25 with 227 passing yards and two touchdowns. “He just went up and made a play. I can’t wait to see it on Sportscenter.”

The Cardinal wasn’t finished yet. Three plays in to the ensuing Bruins drive, Stanford safety Jordan Richards would intercept an errant Brett Hundley pass from the UCLA 27-yard line and take it to the end zone for an apparent touchdown. The officials would ultimately rule holding on the play, bringing the ball back to the spot of the interception at the UCLA 40 yard line. Stanford would however maintain possession on Richards’ first of two interceptions on the day

It was one of many examples of Stanford’s ability to neutralize UCLA’s star quarterback, as the Cardinal limited Hundley to just 192 yards passing on 24 of 39 completions and 27 yards on the ground one week after he torched Cal for 428 yards of total offense.

“The biggest thing was just working together,” said linebacker Trent Murphy. “We wanted to keep him in the box. Unfortunately he got out on us a couple times, but that’s going to happen. He holds the key to their offense. The key is us all hunting together, keeping it in the box and putting pressure on them. It was definitely a team win for us.”

Stanford would make the most of the offensive possession gained, marching down the field for 39 yards on six plays before Tyler Gaffney would punch home a one-yard touchdown, ultimately the game winner, on third down to give Stanford a 17-3 lead with 3:33 left in the quarter. Gaffney, a workhorse for the Cardinal on Saturday, would finish the game with 171 rushing yards on 36 carries and tack on the backbreaker on a four-yard touchdown run, his second on the day, with 1:42 left to play. Hundley and Shaquelle Evans would connect on the Bruins lone touchdown, a 3-yard touchdown strike four seconds in to the fourth quarter to make the score 17-10 in favor of the home team.

Connor Ukropina, hailing from Bruins territory in Pasadena, CA, provided all of the scoring in the first half. The sophomore, starting in place of the injured Cardinal kicker Jordan Williamson, kicked a 31-yard field goal, splitting the uprights for his first collegiate field goal with 1:08 remaining in the first quarter. He would miss a 46 yard attempt later in the contest, but would be a perfect three for three in extra point attempts. His counterpart Ka’imi Fairbarn connected on a 38-yarder for UCLA nearly five minutes in to the third quarter, knotting the score at 3-3.
“Jordan kicked yesterday,” said Shaw. “He kicked Friday and actually kicked pretty well and got a little sore so we thought the smartest thing to do would be to rest him, get his treatment through the weekend. There is a chance for next week. The way it looks right now, definitely for Oregon (in two weeks).

The Cardinal was on its way to expanding their first-half lead, but Ishmael Adams wrestled a Hogan pass from the hands of a prone Cardinal receiver. After a conference of the officials, the play was upheld. Adams was assessed an unsportsman-like conduct penalty for his celebration, but the Bruins still took over at their own 3-yard line. Hundley would take a knee to run out the clock on an otherwise uneventful first half. The Cardinal defense held UCLA to only 84 yards of total offense in the first half, including limiting Hundley to only 37 yards on five completions in a scant 10 attempts.

Stanford received a scare when wide receiver Devon Cajuste, led the Cardinal receiving corps with 109 yards on seven catches, couldn’t get back to his feet after he was downed early in the fourth quarter. He eventually would be helped off the field while favoring his right leg and would not return to game action.

“It wasn’t as bad as originally thought,” said Shaw on the injury. “There will be MRIs and X-rays and all. It’s tough to see if he’s going to be out for any length of time or if he’s going to be back up and ready to play. It was good to see him at the end. He took the ice off, didn’t have the knee brace on and walked back into the locker room with a smile on his face. I’m not if part of that is because we won but he told me it doesn’t hurt so we’ll check him out and make sure we do the right thing.”

For now, the right thing for the Cardinal is to keep thinking about the upcoming week and the upcoming match-up in Corvallis against Oregon State, as they continue their quest to capture their second-straight PAC-12 title.

“We’re just looking to go 1-0 every week,” said Murphy. “Our focus will be on the Beavers this week. If we can go 1-0 this week, we’ll be in good position and end up where we want to be when it’s all said and done.”