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Warriors’ defeat more weird than crushing

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 06:50:58 UT

When you’ve won two championships in three seasons, facing the reality of another long season, perhaps it’s appropriate to take the long view. That appeared to be head coach Steve Kerr’s plan Tuesday night as an apparently certain victory turned to dust in a season-opening 122-121 loss to the Houston Rockets. It was one thing to watch Nick Young get 26 minutes of playing time. The Warriors needed to see him in a real game, and he did not disappoint with a sensational, 23-point effort. But Kerr’s thirst for experimentation ran well down the roster, and in that sense, it wasn’t a true heart-breaker. It was just a bit strange to witness.

Cal’s shocking upset of WSU ranks with its finest

Sun, 15 Oct 2017 01:40:38 UT

When a .500 team knocks off a national powerhouse in college football, it’s usually a down-to-the-wire thriller that could have gone either way. Such was the case Friday when Syracuse upset second-ranked Clemson 27-24. For those lucky enough to attend the Washington State-Cal game that same night in Berkeley, the residue still seems unfathomable. Bears 37, Cougars 3? How is that even possible against an eighth-ranked, unbeaten team? When a Pac-12 school hasn’t been to the Rose Bowl since the 1958 season, it rightly can call this one of its greatest wins. And it was no accident.

To the rescue in fire country: a big-wave surfer

Thu, 12 Oct 2017 02:30:48 UT

Hall of Fame hockey goalie Grant Fuhr and his wife were among those fleeing the Wine Country fires in the wee hours Monday morning, and as an increasingly chaotic scene unfolded, they realized they were stuck — without a ride to San Francisco, where they were scheduled to catch a flight later in the day. They made it, thanks to one of the many great Bay Area athletes in Santa Rosa for Ronnie Lott’s charity event and golf tournament. That man, it came to light Tuesday, was legendary Mavericks big-wave surfer Jeff Clark of Half Moon Bay. Clark, a regular at the annual event, had been seated with the Fuhrs at the evening dinner. He was asleep at the Vintners Inn around 2 a.m.

A’s Bob Melvin makes the smart call with his extension

Fri, 29 Sep 2017 02:07:44 UT

A’s manager Bob Melvin signed an extension Thursday, expanding his contract through the 2019 season, and that sounds about right. He loves the organization and its players, but he has seen too much over the years to commit himself long-term. These are pretty good times for the A’s. They’ve settled on a ballpark site, although there’s a long list of complications that could skewer the deal. They have a sterling assemblage of young players with a future, including Matt Chapman, Matt Olson, Ryon Healy, Franklin Barreto and Chad Pinder. And Melvin, typically doing the best with what he has, is regarded near the top on any list of the best managers in the game. Behind the scenes, Melvin has known frustration.

Possible offseason targets for Giants to consider

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 00:14:02 UT

Tampering rules prevent the Giants from discussing specific names, but by consensus among a number of sources, these are some potential targets for the offseason, going into 2018: Giancarlo Stanton: His power-hitting presence would change everything in the Giants’ lineup, and they contacted the Marlins as soon as it became evident they might trade him. His contract is worth some $290 million through 2028, and that would place a financial burden on the Giants for years to come. They’re also likely to be out-bid by teams with more attractive prospects and veterans. But the Giants will take a shot.

History unkind to win kings

Fri, 15 Sep 2017 05:33:53 UT

There’s nothing like some old-fashioned skepticism to ruin a really good time. You can bet there’s a healthy dose of concern in Cleveland right now, for as impressive as the Indians have been with their 22-game winning streak, the question arises: Have they peaked too soon? Fans of the Warriors are all too familiar with the subject. They steamed through the 2016 regular season and set a record with 73 wins, but lost in the Finals, putting a serious damper on what had seemed a monumental achievement. In baseball, it almost seems counterproductive to be historically good.

Cleveland streak impressive — but what does it mean?

Thu, 14 Sep 2017 23:55:12 UT

There’s nothing like some old-fashioned skepticism to ruin a really good time. You can bet there’s a healthy dose of concern in Cleveland right now, for as impressive as the Indians have been with their 21-game winning streak, the question arises: Have they peaked too soon? Fans of the Golden State Warriors are all too familiar with the subject. They steamed through the 2016 regular season and set a record with 73 wins, but lost in the Finals, putting a serious damper on what had seemed a monumental achievement. In baseball, it almost seems counter-productive to be historically good.

Pac-12 Football Preview

Fri, 25 Aug 2017 05:12:51 UT

North WASHINGTON Coach: Chris Petersen Last year (including postseason): 12-2, 8-1 in conference (1st) Key players: QB Jake Browning, RB Myles Gaskin, WR Dante Pettis, LB Azeem Victor, DL Vita Vea, S Taylor Rapp Story lines: Browning’s reputation lost a bit of luster in losses to USC and Alabama (in the playoff semifinals), but he is surrounded by great talent once again. Fleet receiver John Ross will be tough to replace, but Pettis had 15 touchdowns last year. ... Big break this year: The Huskies won’t play the Trojans, at least in the regular season. ...

Kyrie-Isaiah deal rocks the NBA landscape

Wed, 23 Aug 2017 06:08:58 UT

The NBA makes a point of scheduling attractive matchups at all the best times, and it’s no accident that the two best teams in the Eastern Conference, Cleveland and Boston, will open the season against each other Oct. 17. That game just became twice as appealing, thanks to Tuesday’s trade that sent Kyrie Irving from the Cavaliers to the Celtics for Isaiah Thomas, forward Jae Crowder, center Ante Zizic and the Brooklyn Nets’ first-round pick in the 2018 draft. It’s that last bit of information that shocked many observers. Considering the Cavaliers’ recent difficulty in getting any kind of a deal done, they’ve scored heavily with Thomas and Crowder. To get that draft pick, which could wind up being No.

Too much CoCo for CiCi at West of the Bank Classic

Sun, 6 Aug 2017 04:31:16 UT

Bellis leaves on Sunday morning for her next tour stop, Toronto, and won’t be able to catch the final, but it should be an afternoon treat (2 p.m.) for those in attendance and an ESPN2 audience. Madison Keys knocked off Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza 6-3, 6-2 in the evening semifinal, setting up a significant match in the hierarchy of American women’s tennis. The Williams sisters rank so far above the rest, it’s difficult to remember the last time another American woman won a Grand Slam event (it was Jennifer Capriati, at the 2002 Australian Open). No one is quite certain what gets into Muguruza at the majors, but the spectacle can be wondrous — she also won last year’s French Open, defeating Serena Williams — and very much for real. On the regular tour, not so much. Muguruza struggles with her motivation and consistency, and she never found her rhythm against Keys, who had a 3-17 lifetime record against top-5 players (Muguruza ranks fourth) heading into the match. Called “the future of American tennis” by the great Chris Evert several years ago, she’s still just 22 and savoring her renewed good health. There was a bit of suspense in the first set when Bellis, trailing 2-1, had a break point at 30-40. Vandeweghe rallied to clinch that game with an ace, then broke Bellis’ serve for a 4-1 lead — a game that ended when Bellis tried a backhand drop shot but missed wide. Bellis did manage to break serve — a first for Vandeweghe in the tournament — for 5-3, nailing it down with a cross-court backhand winner, but Vandeweghe broke right back, taking advantage of a double-fault (at 15-30) and wrapping it up with a big cross-court forehand.

At home and in charge, Bellis routs Kvitova at Stanford

Sat, 5 Aug 2017 06:55:44 UT

Up against two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the quarterfinals, Bellis staged a commanding 6-2, 6-0 victory in an hour and two minutes, thrilling a packed house at the Taube Family Tennis Center. The second semifinal, requiring a separate ticket at 7 p.m., will be a big-time showcase of power tennis between Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza, who defeated 20th-ranked Ana Konjuh 6-1, 6-3 earlier in the day, and Madison Keys, back from a lingering wrist injury and looking solid after defeating Lesia Tsurenko 6-4, 6-3. Vandeweghe had an easy quarterfinal run as well, 6-2, 6-3 over fourth-seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Alone in her apartment, Kvitova was attacked by a knife-wielding man who gained entry on the pretense of checking the utility meter. Kvitova fought back with a vengeance and the man fled, but not before inflicting wounds that lacerated the tendons in all four fingers and thumb on Kvitova’s left hand. [...] Kvitova won one of those events, the Wimbledon warm-up tournament in Birmingham, England. Everyone knew she could play, that she’s a fighter and a problem solver, and that the future looked pretty good. Double-faults (six) consistently set her back, and Bellis was by far the steadier player from the baseline, often turning defense into offense with her lightning-quick footwork and court sense. Within moments of the first game, she cracked a running cross-court backhand winner to earn herself the first of many break points. At set point, she delivered a clean, perfect ace — her only one of the match — right down the T. Closing out the game for 4-0 in the second set, she went to the slice on a running forehand for a stunning cross-court winner. With everyone in the press room focusing on Bellis, Kvitova was not asked to come in for an interview. [...] she offered insight into her mental state earlier in the week, saying, The worst was in Paris (the French Open, her first tournament upon returning), when I couldn’t put the bad thoughts away. Saturday marks the first-ever meeting between Bellis and Vandeweghe, 25, who reached the 2012 Stanford final (losing to Serena Williams) and has beaten a number of top-20 players — including Muguruza, Angelique Kerber, Johanna Konta and Caroline Wozniacki — this year. Without question, Vandeweghe and Keys are considered the top American heirs to the throne so comprehensively shared by the Williams sisters.

Darrall Imhoff, who helped Cal win NCAA title, dies

Mon, 3 Jul 2017 02:23:12 UT

Darrall Imhoff, who helped Cal win NCAA title, dies Darrall Imhoff, the starting center on Cal’s 1959 NCAA championship team and an NBA player for 12 seasons, died Friday evening near his home in Bend, Ore. Friends said Mr. Imhoff was playing miniature golf when he had a heart attack and collapsed. Earl Shultz, a fellow freshman who went on to play on the 1958-59 team, immediately dismissed Mr. Imhoff as any kind of player. The turning point came in a game at USC in Mr. Imhoff’s sophomore season. “Big, tough guy named Jim Hanna went up for a hook shot, and Darrall sent it all the way to halfcourt,” Shultz recalled. He had Bob McKeen (a former Cal forward) work with Darrall every day in practice, working on positioning, center moves, little hook shots. “The kind of players Pete had, they might not be the material I’d pick,” said UCLA’s John Wooden in a 1990 interview. Mr. Imhoff wound up being a teammate of West’s on the 1960 Olympic team, coached by Newell and featuring a number of future NBA greats. Mr. Imhoff was the Knicks’ starting center that night. Two nights later, the teams met again at Madison Square Garden. Newell was proud to proclaim that all of the players on the ’59 championship team graduated, although it took Mr. Imhoff a while. The previous season, facing the last of Russell’s championship teams with the Boston Celtics, Mr. Imhoff averaged 18.2 points and 16.4 rebounds in a five-game series loss in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

The prodigy: Judge on display in Oakland

Fri, 16 Jun 2017 06:25:17 UT

Things to know about Aaron Judge, in town with the Yankees this weekend and the hottest story in baseball: Looking hopeless at the plate last season, when he hit .179 and struck out 42 times in 84 at-bats, Judge worked diligently on his patience and plate discipline — and is now a threat for the Triple Crown, including his major-league-leading 22 homers. When the Oakland Coliseum had charm — no Mount Davis, clear views of the Oakland hills — there was a strip of ice plant beyond the bleachers and the long cement wall. Teammates scoffed Sunday when Judge’s massive blast against the Orioles was measured at 495 feet, longest in the big leagues so far this season. The mind drifts back to other gargantuan power hitters, such as Frank Howard and Mark McGwire, but at 6-foot-7 and 282, Judge is the largest position player in MLB history. Why not something more elaborate? “I don’t want to put all my cards that I’m going to be in New York and then go to Triple-A,” he said. Maris had 27 homers by the end of June, following up with 13 in July, 11 in August, nine in September and the final blast Oct. 1, the last day of the season. With Judge and teammate Gary Sanchez (20 homers in a 53-game stretch last year) leading an awe-inspiring youth movement, some wonder if the Yanks need to focus on Bryce Harper in the 2018 free-agent market.

Warriors need only to stay in character

Mon, 12 Jun 2017 23:34:28 UT

Warriors need only to stay in character Enough with the unrest over the same teams meeting in the NBA Finals for the third straight year. In a team game - a concept so well defined by the Warriors - LeBron cuts a figure so large and imposing, nothing is beyond the Cavaliers’ reach. Kevin Durant, just 48 minutes away from his lifetime dream, needs to be a devastating force around the basket and beyond the three-point line. What’s unlikely to happen is the sight of a Warriors team lacking the motivation that befits a series of this magnitude. “Every player has to get himself ready, based on his own personality,” coach Steve Kerr said before Monday night’s game. The Warriors will have a game on their hands if Tristan Thompson owns the boards, if J.R. Smith hits a couple of outside shots, if Kyle Korver and Deron Williams are ready to deliver a few big shots off the bench. Kevin Love, who has played well in the series, could be a difference-maker if he throws down a couple of three-pointers and establishes some sort of defensive presence.

Warriors’ Attles wins lifetime achievement award

Mon, 5 Jun 2017 03:28:38 UT

Warriors’ Attles wins lifetime achievement award Attles and fellow coaching legend Hubie Brown were honored at the NBA Finals Sunday with the Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement award, presented annually by the National Basketball Coaches Association for “special contribution” over the years, joining a prestigious list of honorees including Pat Riley, Lenny Wilkens, Tommy Heinsohn, Jack Ramsay, Dick Motta, K.C. Jones and Tex Winter. Attles was an obscure, fifth-round draft pick out of North Carolina AT&T and figured he had no chance to make the team, but he wound up playing 11 years as one of the toughest, most defensive-minded guards in the league. Attles started out as a player-coach, replacing George Lee, with 30 games left in the 1969-70 season, and when he was promoted to full-time duty in 1971-72, he became the first African American man to hold that distinction in any of the major sports. [...] when the Warriors reached the 1975 Finals against Jones’ Washington Bullets, it was the first time two African American coaches had faced each other - another American pro-sports landmark. Just as Attles’ Warriors won the 1975 title in a four-game sweep - “the biggest upset in the history of the three major sports, in my opinion,” said team mainstay Rick Barry - Brown coached the Kentucky Colonels to the ABA title that season, winning the finals in five games over the Indiana Pacers. Brown went on to coach the Hawks, Knicks and Grizzlies over a 13-year NBA coaching career. Most of the publicity went to K.C. Jones as a backcourt defender, because he was on more of a sexy team (the Celtics), so people tended to overlook Al.