Capitals

Cavaliers C Varejao still out with bruised knee

Cavaliers C Varejao still out with bruised knee

CLEVELAND (AP) A bruised knee. A couple games.

That was the diagnosis and estimate of how much playing time Cavaliers center Anderson Varejao would likely miss when he first went down Dec. 18 with what appeared to be an insignificant injury.

Turns out, it's much more than that.

Varejao still has not been cleared to practice or play and will miss his 11th straight game Wednesday night when the Cavs host Atlanta. The NBA's leading rebounder, who banged his knee in a game against Toronto last month, had been expected to practice Tuesday. However, the hustling Brazilian was not on the floor and disappointed coach Byron Scott said Varejao is not ready.

Scott, who is typically upbeat, seemed for the first time to indicate Varejao's injury is more serious - and potentially season-ending.

``I'm still trying to be very optimistic that he'll be able to play, I just don't know when,'' said Scott, whose young, struggling team is 8-28. ``I hope I'm not talking like it's long-term or for the season. I'm still optimistic he'll be able to play this year until the doctors tell me something different.''

The 6-foot-11 Varejao was having an All-Star-caliber season before he got hurt. After he injured his knee, the Cavs rested him and even chose to keep him home on road trips so he could get extra treatment on his knee. The team's doctors originally thought Varejao would only miss a few games, but the injury has lingered and could be something more severe than a bruise.

``I'm not a doctor and I'm not going to speculate on what it is,'' Scott said. ``I'm just hoping he can get healthy and he can play. Right now, my thoughts are with Andy. Forget basketball, I'm just hoping he's OK.''

It's the latest medical setback for Varejao, who is averaging 14.1 points and 14.4 rebounds.

Varejao has played his entire career with a reckless abandon, but his all-out hustle has caused two serious injuries. He missed 41 games last season after breaking his wrist. Two years ago, he tore a ligament in his foot while running in practice and missed 51 games.

Without him in the lineup, the Cavs have been exposed inside and gone 3-7. Because of an assortment of injuries, Cleveland has had its full roster available for only seven games.

On Monday, guard Daniel Gibson missed his fifth game with a concussion and Luke Walton was excused from the game at Chicago to attend to a ``personal matter.'' Also, C.J. Miles sat out Tuesday's practice with back spasms.

Star point guard Kyrie Irving, who missed 11 games with a broken finger and continues to wear a protective mask over his broken jaw, said it's been tough not having Varejao as an offensive option, rebounder and defender.

``It's disappointing,'' Irving said. ``Obviously for the second season in a row for me, I don't have the big man that I started with. We miss his effort. And more or less his intelligence as a basketball player. When he's not out there, we lose a little bit of leadership, but most importantly, we lose effort. We got 14 (points), 14 (rebounds) from him every single night. We miss that right now.''

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Blackhawks fans tossed after directing racist remarks at Washington's Smith-Pelly

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NBC Sports Washington

Blackhawks fans tossed after directing racist remarks at Washington's Smith-Pelly

CHICAGO—Four fans were ejected from United Center on Saturday night for taunting Devante Smith-Pelly as the Capitals’ winger sat in the penalty box.

The fans, according to a team spokesman, yelled “basketball, basketball, basketball” at Smith-Pelly, who is black. Smith-Pelly was in the box for fighting in the third period of an eventual 7-1 loss to the Blackhawks.

The taunts were confirmed by an off-ice official, the spokesman said, and the fans were subsequently removed from the arena.

Smith-Pelly did not speak with reporters after the game but is expected to address the incident at the team’s next media availability. The team is scheduled to practice Sunday at KeyBank Center in Buffalo.

Caps Coach Barry Trotz did not hold back when asked about the fans' comments.

“There’s absolutely no place in the game of hockey or our country for racism,” Trotz said. “I think it’s disgusting, and there’s no place for it. …It just shows ignorance.”

The Blackhawks responded on Twitter with an apology to Smith-Pelly, who is one of roughly 30 black players in the NHL.

February is Hockey is For Everyone month in the NHL.

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3 stars of the game: Caps suffer ugly loss to scuffling Blackhawks

3 stars of the game: Caps suffer ugly loss to scuffling Blackhawks

Just about everything that could go wrong did for the Capitals on Saturday in a 7-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Caps were coming off a strong 5-2 win over the Minnesota Wild on Thursday, but none of that carried over in the trip to Chicago. The Caps took on a Blackhawks team that had lost eight in a row, but Chicago quickly took control in the first period and never looked back.

Washington gave up 21 shots on goal in the first period and found themselves down 3-1 after the opening frame. Things did not get much better from there as they gave up another three goals in the final four minutes of the second.

Here are the three stars of the game.

1. Jonathan Toews: Toews opened up the scoring in the first period with a quick shot from the corner that caught Braden Holtby by surprise.

Later in the first, he recorded an assist as his pass sparked a breakout that led to Brandon Saad's deal that gave Chicago back the lead. The Caps tried to make a game of it in the second period, but Toews intercepted a pass from Brooks Orpik that led to a 2-on-0 with himself and Patrick Kane that Kane netted to give the Blackhawks a 4-1 lead and signaled to everyone that the rout was on. Saturday was only the second three-point night of the season for Toews.

2. Patrick Kane: Toews helped the Blackhawks take control early, but Kane helped provide the knockout punches in the second period. A bad pass from Orpik was intercepted by Toews that led to a 2-on-0 with Kane. Holtby made the initial save on Toews, but Kane was able to knock in the rebound for the goal.

Kane also added an assist on Artem Anisimov's power play goal which extended Chicago's lead to 6-1.

3. Tom Wilson: Before this one got out of hand, it looked like Wilson had erased the tough start for the Caps as he deflected a shot from Matt Niskanen into the net to get Washington on the board.

Saturday's tally was his third goal in two games and his 10th of the season, marking the first time in his career he has reached double digits in goals.