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Johnson makes 3 at Buzzer, Kings beat Knicks

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Johnson makes 3 at Buzzer, Kings beat Knicks

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) James Johnson made a 3-pointer at the buzzer Friday night, lifting the Sacramento Kings to a 106-105 victory over the New York Knicks after blowing an early 27-point lead.

With time running out, John Salmons found Johnson above the top of the key and Johnson's shot left his had just ahead of the final buzzer. The shot helped the Kings avoid a collapse after building a big lead in the first half.

Marcus Thornton scored 18 points and Johnson had 17 for the Kings.

The Knicks played their second straight game without injured Carmelo Anthony, who leads all Eastern Conference scorers, averaging 28.5 points per game. Anthony has a hyperextended left knee and his hoping to return Jan. 1 when the Knicks play Portland at home.

J.R. Smith scored a season-high 28 points for the Knicks, who outplayed the Kings throughout most of the second half. Rookie Chris Copeland had 23 points and Tyson Chandler had 21 points and 18 rebounds.

Knicks point guard Jason Kidd had 16 points, five assists and seven rebounds. But he also committed a turnover on New York's final possession.

Cousins had 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Kings, who led by 21 points at intermission. Jimmer Fredette also had 15 points and Isaiah Thomas had 11 points and nine assists for Sacramento, which made a season-high 15 of 30 3-pointers.

After Francisco Garcia cut the Knicks lead to a point, Chandler made a free throw and Copeland hit a jumper to put New York ahead 105-101 with 2:51 left. Two free throws by Thomas pulled the Kings to 105-103 with 33 seconds remaining.

New York was also without starting point guard Raymond Felton, who has a broken left pinkie finger and is expected to miss at least a month.

Cousins was back in the starting lineup after missing the previous two games after Sacramento suspended him for unprofessional behavior and conduct detrimental to the team after a verbal confrontation with coach Keith Smart during a Dec. 21 game against the Clippers.

Chandler dunked on an alley-oop pass from Kidd midway through the third quarter. The next time down the court, Kidd stepped back for a 3-pointer, giving the Knicks a 97-95 lead, their first lead since the game's opening minutes.

Smith scored 11 points in the third quarter when the Knicks used a hustling defensive effort to outscore the Kings 31-16 and pull to 87-81 heading into the fourth.

Following a lethargic first half, the Knicks showed much more energy in cutting into Sacramento's 21-point halftime lead. Back-to-back three-point plays by Smith and Chandler trimmed the Kings lead to 85-77 with 2:17 left in the third.

Thornton scored 11 first-quarter points to help the Kings take an 11-point lead into the second. Fredette took over the offensive load in the second quarter, making three 3-pointers and scoring 15 points, helping the Kings to a 71-50 lead at the half.

Copeland and Smith had 13 first-half points for the Knicks, who trailed 68-41 late in the second quarter.

The Knicks poor perimeter defense in the opening half cost them repeatedly with the Kings making 10-of-15 attempts and producing a season high for points in one half. Sacramento shot nearly 60 percent overall and had 19 assists, another season-high for a half.

NOTES: In the first quarter, the Kings connected on four straight threes in four possessions, building their lead to 26-14. . Knicks coach Mike Woodson was a starting guard for the inaugural Sacramento team that relocated from Kansas City for the 1985-86 season. . Kings starting guard Tyreke Evans has missed six straight games and 11 of the last 15 due to an injured left knee. He may try to play Sunday against Boston. ... Knicks reserve forward Rasheed Wallace was out with a sore left foot. . The Knicks are hoping injured forward Amar'e Stoudemire will return sometime next week. A knee injury has kept Stoudemire inactive all season.

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Capitals vs. Pengiuns Preview: Three keys to how this year could be different for the Caps

Capitals vs. Pengiuns Preview: Three keys to how this year could be different for the Caps

The Washington Capitals enter the 2018 NHL Playoffs Eastern Conference Second Round in a similar position. A Metro division championship in hand and a seven-game series with the Pittsburgh Penguins. But while this year appears the same, the Caps are hoping for a different outcome. Will they finally be able to beat their arch rival and reach the conference final?

Here are three keys that will determine if this year will be different for the Caps.

Capitals vs. Penguins Preview:

Key to Victory No. 1: Discipline:

In the Capitals' two victories over the Penguins this season, Washington did not give up a power play goal. No team had a better power play unit during the regular season than the Penguins and we already saw how much foolish penalties hurt the Caps in the first round. Washington took 24 penalties in six games against the Blue Jackets and that is far too many.

They cannot win that way against the Penguins.

The problem is that in the second round with a heated rival, tempers can flare a bit. Just look at the last time these two teams played when Malkin was shooting Oshie's stick off the ice and tried to fight Kuznetsov for speaking Russian to him. Still, the Caps are going to have to keep their emotions in check.

Key to Victory No. 2:  Getting the goaltending advantage: 

The scoring depth of Pittsburgh is unmatched. The fact that a team can have Crosby, Malkin and Kessel all on the same team in the salary cap era is mind-boggling. Oh, and by the way, Jake Guentzel scores every time he touches the puck in the playoffs. Washington cannot win this series if they do not get better goaltending than Pittsburgh.

The good news is that Murray was not lights out in the first round. Yes, he had two shutouts, but there were also three games in which he let in at least four goals. A .911 save percentage is not where the Penguins really need him to be. The bad news is that while Holtby is statistically one of the best playoff netminders in NHL history, he struggles against Pittsburgh. In last year's series, Holtby managed only a .887 save percentage and 2.57 GAA.

One thing to keep in mind, on April 1 Grubauer started a critical game in Pittsburgh and was phenomenal. Could Trotz possibly think of going back to Grubauer if Holtby struggles against the Penguins?

Keys to Victory No. 3: The Mind Games

 Let's face it, there is a mental aspect to the Capitals' postseason struggles. When it comes to beating Pittsburgh or getting past the second round, this has become a mental hurdle. They have to come into this series with confidence they can win and maintain that confidence throughout, regardless of whether they get down in a game or in the series, regardless of whether there is a bad penalty call, regardless of whether Murray stands on his head again, regardless of any of the struggles they may face, they have to stay mentally confident.

When the Caps went down 0-2 against Columbus, Ovechkin said that the series would return to Washington tied at 2. The way he said it, it wasn't a guarantee or some massive proclamation, it was a statement of fact. Both he and the rest of the team believed they were going to come back and win the series. They need that level of confidence against Pittsburgh as well.

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Dez Bryant turned down multi-year deal from Ravens, is banking on himself in 2018

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Dez Bryant turned down multi-year deal from Ravens, is banking on himself in 2018

If you want to sign Dez Bryant in 2018, it will have to be on a one-year deal.

The 29 year-old wide receiver turned down a multi-year offer from the Baltimore Ravens in hopes of finding a one-year deal that enables him to test the open market again in 2019, Ed Werder of The Doomsday Podcast first reported.

Bryant - who finished 2017 with 69 receptions, 838 yards and six touchdowns -  is predicating a bounce back season in 2018 with hopes of a big money, long-term contract in 2019.

The offer was similar to that of Michael Crabtree's three-year, $21 million deal, according to NFL Insider Ian Rapoport. The Ravens had to offer Bryant a multi-year deal in order to fit his number under the salary cap.

Since turning down their offer, the Ravens signed former Saints WR Willie Snead to a two-year, $10.4 million contract. 

Bryant will now have to wait until after the 2018 NFL Draft to work out a deal with an organization, if one is still searching for a wide receiver going in to the tail end of his career. 

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