Spurs look as dominant as ever

752650.jpg

Spurs look as dominant as ever

From Comcast SportsNetSAN ANTONIO (AP) -- Tony Parker shooed away the NBA coach of the year. The San Antonio Spurs were ahead 36 points and he didn't want Gregg Popovich to end his night just yet."To stay in shape," Parker said.That's how bad it got for the Utah Jazz. It was the third quarter of a playoff game, and Parker by then was practically treating it as just another workout.Pummeling the Jazz in a fashion not seen since Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls humiliated them in the 1998 NBA Finals, San Antonio handed Utah its second-worst playoff loss, winning 114-83 on Wednesday night to take 2-0 lead in the first-round series.Parker scored 18 points, while Popovich -- a day after receiving the NBA's highest coaching honor -- could practically put the Spurs on autopilot after a 20-0 run in the second quarter. Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin had admitted to being unusually jittery before losing Game 1, but this time, it was center Al Jefferson summing up how this shiner felt."Embarrassing," he said.The only bigger embarrassment for the Jazz in the playoffs was that 42-point loss to Jordan's Bulls in 1998.Game 3 is Saturday night in Salt Lake City.It's the first time the Spurs have led a series 2-0 since opening the 2008 playoffs against Phoenix. San Antonio won that series in five, and unless the Jazz can shake this off, this one will be over just as quick.If not sooner."I can't explain it. I couldn't explain it the other night," Jazz forward Paul Millsap said. "They came out and just whipped us."It was a total collapse by the Jazz in spite of flying back to Salt Lake City after Game 1 and regrouping with two days of practice back home. There they had talked about adjustments and maybe giving Parker "a hard foul or two" to get him thinking twice about driving, but Parker didn't seem to have a dent on him before taking the entire fourth quarter off.Jefferson and Millsap weren't any more imposing on offense than they were defensively. Jefferson scored 10 points, and Millsap had nine.Popovich chalked the blowout more to the Jazz having a bad night -- they shot 23 percent in the first half -- than the Spurs dominating. Parker played 28 minutes and Popovich said the decision on when to take his star out was a struggle between keeping him in condition and not risking injury."He wanted to get the whole quarter, but we compromised and got two more minutes," Popovich said. "He's been special for us all year, obviously. We got to keep him ready to go."The Spurs held the Jazz scoreless for nearly 7 minutes in the second quarter while rookie Kawhi Leonard and unheralded swingman Danny Green outplayed the Jazz's stars. The Jazz filed off the court at halftime walking slow, heads down and quiet after being as close as 31-26 minutes earlier.Jefferson and Josh Howard, who also had 10 points, were Utah's leading scorers.It was the most lopsided postseason win for the Spurs since beating the Nuggets by 28 in 2005. San Antonio's playoff record is a 40-point victory over Denver in 1983."You don't expect to win a playoff game like that," Green said. "They're a very good team, but they didn't shoot it as well as they liked. They didn't shoot it as well as they did, and we shot the ball pretty well. Stuff like that happens."The Spurs have won 12 in a row, a season high after surrendering two 11-game winning streaks this season by not playing Parker, Duncan and Manu Ginobili.Duncan finished with 12 points and 13 rebounds. Leonard scored 17 points, and Green had 13.At least the Jazz didn't look the most embarrassed the entire night. Popovich again had to show off his coach of the year trophy before the game, this time for fans while standing between Duncan and Spurs great David Robinson. Popovich obliged for several seconds before scrambling to hand the trophy off to one of his assistants as fast as possible.Notes: The last Jazz team to rally from an 0-2 deficit and win a playoff series was 2007, when Utah came back to beat Houston in the first round. The Spurs later beat that team on their way to their fourth championship. ... Backup Spurs C Tiago Splitter (sprained wrist) was available to play but the rout gave Popovich the luxury of letting the big man continue to heal. Popovich said Splitter should be better by Game 3.

Five Things from Blackhawks-Canucks: Corey Crawford rebounds

Five Things from Blackhawks-Canucks: Corey Crawford rebounds

The Blackhawks’ starts have been all over the map this season but their finishes have usually been strong. That was the case again on Sunday night as the Blackhawks took a lead, lost a lead and regained a lead for good in their 4-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks.

This one featured a little bit of everything. So let’s just get to the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ victory over Vancouver.

1. Jonathan Toews breaks through. If the Blackhawks captain’s confidence was a little shaken with his lack of scoring this season, it should’ve gotten a boost with his Sunday outing. Toews’ goal and three assists were as big for him as they were the Blackhawks, who needed every bit of it late against the Canucks. In his last 12 games Toews has three goals and eight assists. He’s getting there. Said coach Joel Quenneville, “it seems like he was around the puck way more and when he does that, usually good things happen.”

2. Great start. This hasn’t been written very often but it was more than evident on Sunday night. If this wasn’t the Blackhawks’ best opening period of the season it was pretty close, as they broke out to a 2-0 lead against the Canucks. The Blackhawks, outside of a 3 ½-minute sequence without a shot on goal, were tenacious and ready to shoot, taking an 18-9 shots-on-goal edge in that first.

3. Corey Crawford rebounds. Quenneville considered Scott Darling for this game, an understandable thought with Darling coming off a 30-stop shutout. But he wanted Crawford to get back to where he was prior to his appendectomy, and Crawford took a step in that direction on Sunday night. In stopping 25 of 27 shots Crawford got his 18th victory of the season and 200th of his career. Quenneville said Crawford “looked like he was in control.”

[SHOP: Get your Blackhawks gear right here]

4. Michal Kempny’s tough stretch. When Kempny has been good this season he’s been very good. When he’s been bad... The defenseman was in the penalty box when the Canucks scored their first goal and he was beaten by Bo Horvat on the Canucks’ second goal. Kempny didn’t play the final 14 minutes of the game. Quenneville, who liked what Kempny brought on the team’s road trip, said Kempny just has to work through some things. “Coverage with awareness and knowing sometimes it’s man coverage, sometimes it’s playing the puck and clearing the loose stuff,” Quenneville said. “Defenseman is a tough position as you’re growing and learning it, but the more you play the better you play and I still think he’s making progress.”

5. Brian Campbell gets to keep No. 500 this time. Campbell thought he had his 500th point against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night but it was taken away. Well he got it back on Sunday night, setting up Richard Panik’s 11th goal of the season in the first period.

Jonathan Toews' four-point night paces Blackhawks past Canucks

Jonathan Toews' four-point night paces Blackhawks past Canucks

Jonathan Toews has been doing a lot of things right this season. The offensive production, however, has been hit and miss as the Blackhawks' captain looked for the same consistency on the score sheet he had in the rest of his game.

On Sunday, he hit pay dirt.

Toews recorded a four-point night, including the game-winning goal, and Corey Crawford won his 200th career game as the Blackhawks beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-2 on Sunday night. The Blackhawks remain in second place in the Western Conference. They and the Minnesota Wild each have 65 points, but the Wild still have three games in hand.

It was a milestone night for a few Blackhawks. Marian Hossa had an empty-net goal late to record his 400th point in a Blackhawks uniform. Toews' three assists put him 13th all-time among Blackhawks in that category with 331. Brian Campbell recorded his 500th career point.

Richard Panik had a goal and an assist.

The Blackhawks had arguably their best start of the season in this one, outscoring the Canucks 2-0 (Panik and Patrick Kane) and outshooting them 18-9. But in less than a minute in the third period, the Blackhawks lost the lead, thanks to Troy Stecher's power-play goal and Bo Horvat's rebound goal.

[SHOP BLACKHAWKS: Get your Blackhawks gear right here]

But Toews, who played his part in the Blackhawks' start, was there for the finish. Panik's late third-period shot caromed off the backboard and went right to Toews, who scored for the 3-2 lead with 1:18 remaining in regulation.

"I guess the goals have scored lately are just getting those bounces and being in the right spot at the right time. Nice to get that one on my stick," Toews said. "I just keep telling Hartsy (Ryan Hartman) and Panner to keep shooting — they both have unbelievable shots — and we're going to generate stuff whether it hits the end wall, goes in or hits the guy's pads. We'll find something around the net. It's nice to get that bounce late in the game."

The Blackhawks had some bad luck — and Michal Kempny had a rough shift or two — during the Canucks' third-period comeback. It was a bit of frustration at the time, but coach Joel Quenneville said the Blackhawks kept their cool.

"I still thought we didn't get away from our game at that point, which could have happened," he said. "Finding a way to get it to overtime or scoring a late goal tonight is something our guys have been good at. Just (the) play at the net, Johnny in the right spot with the finish. I still thought we kept our composure at that point."

Crawford, meanwhile, stopped 25 of 27 shots and looked better than he has in some recent outings.

"We gave him some looks where he could feel comfortable again, and he had some great plays in close from post to post on their power plays, especially in the second," Toews said. "He was finding them all night. Nice to see Crow play the way he did tonight and obviously he was a big part, as usual, in the win."

The Blackhawks had a bit of a gaffe early in the third period, but they were able to weather it. Toews has been steady in most facets of his game this season but was looking to build on his production. Sunday’s game was a step in the right direction.