Capitals

Mavericks-Thunder Preview

Mavericks-Thunder Preview

Kevin Durant said his back is fine after he appeared to injure it in the Oklahoma City Thunder's last game.

Dirk Nowitzki looks set to return after missing the last two contests for the Dallas Mavericks.

Durant has been simply brilliant in two overtime victories over the Mavericks this season, and both superstars should be eager to meet in Monday night's matchup in Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma City (35-12) fell 115-110 at Cleveland on Saturday. Durant appeared to injure his lower back in the third quarter while hustling back on defense and left briefly, saying afterward he was fine.

Nowitzki, meanwhile, has endured an injury-plagued season in missing 27 games at the start after knee surgery. He returned to practice Sunday after missing the last two contests with a right adductor strain.

The German superstar has shown his rust in averaging 13.5 points on 26.7 percent shooting in two losses to Oklahoma City this season.

That hasn't been the case at all for Durant, who has averaged 46.0 points in the two wins, including a career-best 52 the last time these teams met in a 117-114 victory at Dallas (20-27) on Jan. 18.

Durant presents a tough matchup for a Dallas team allowing opponents to average 26.1 free throws for the Western Conference's worst mark. Durant is 31 for 31 at the line against the Mavs this season.

Russell Westbrook is averaging 23.5 points and 8.0 assists in the two victories for the Thunder, who have won eight straight in this series including last year's first-round sweep in the playoffs.

The Mavs will also have to worry about Serge Ibaka, who is averaging 15.5 rebounds against them to help the Thunder to a edge of 17 boards over the two games.

New Dallas point guard Darren Collison, a former UCLA teammate of Westbrook, is averaging a team-high 23.5 points in the season series.

Collison says it has been a learning experience in his first season playing for coach Rick Carlisle.

"Just because he's being hard on us or easy on us in a difficult way you can't take it too seriously," Collison said. "He's trying to make us better and help us become the players we need to be in this league and it's been good for me. I think we've had steady improvement."

The season series has been proof of how these teams differing fortunes in the clutch. The Thunder are 4-1 in overtime while the Mavs are 1-8.

Dallas will seek to salvage a split of a four-game trip after winning 109-99 over Phoenix on Friday. The backcourt of Collison and O.J. Mayo combined for 39 points as the Mavs used a 35-point fourth quarter to pull away.

The Thunder are happy to start a three-game homestand after playing 12 of their last 15 on the road. They have a bitter taste of the contest that ended that stretch as they blew a double-digit lead against the Cavaliers.

"We were up 12," Durant said. "We can't just come in and play nonchalant basketball. (When) we are up 12, we have to put them away."

Oklahoma City has won 13 straight at home against West foes.

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Panthers honor Florida shooting victims before game against Capitals

Panthers honor Florida shooting victims before game against Capitals

Prior to their matchup against the Capitals, the Panthers honored the victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

Thursday night's game was the Panthers' first game on home ice since the shooting last week. BB&T Center, the home of the Panthers, is located about 20 minutes south of Parkland.

Both teams wore the school’s hat during warmups, and the Panthers will wear the school’s logo on their helmets and “MSD” patches on their jerseys for the rest of the season.

There was a was a moment of silence and ceremony prior to the game, during which the video board showed the pictures and names of all 17 victims.

Following the video Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo, who lives in Parkland, took the ice to give his own moving tribute. 

"It's time for us, as a community, to take action. Enough is enough." Luongo commended the school's teachers and said of the students, "You guys are an inspiration for all of us. You guys are giving us hope for the future." 

"When I'm done playing hockey, I want to spend the rest of my life in Parkland," Luongo said. "I love that city."

In addition to the ceremony and uniform tributes, the Panthers hosted a blood drive beginning at today noon and lasting through the second intermission of the game in an effort to replenish local blood banks.

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5 things to know about new Wizards player Ramon Sessions

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Associated Press

5 things to know about new Wizards player Ramon Sessions

The Washington Wizards signed point guard Ramon Sessions to a 10-day free agent contract on Thursday. Here are five things to know about the newest Wizards player...

**Sessions has played for Washington before. He was acquired by the Wizards at the trade deadline in 2015 and played out the 2014-15 season, appearing in 28 regular season games and 10 more in the playoffs. Sessions then spent the whole 2015-16 season with the team before leaving the following summer to sign a free agent deal with the Charlotte Hornets. In 1 1/2 seasons with the Wizards, Sessions averaged 9.2 points, 3.0 assists and 2.5 rebounds. He shot 46 percent from the field and 34.4 percent from three.

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**Sessions played one season for the Hornets and spent part of this year with the New York Knicks. The Knicks waived Sessions on Jan. 13. Over the past two seasons in Charlotte and New York, Sessions has averaged 5.7 points, 2.5 assists and 1.4 rebounds while shooting 37 percent.

**This is Sessions' 11th NBA season. In addition to the Wizards, Hornets and Knicks, he has spent time with the Bucks, Cavs, Lakers and Kings. He began his career in Milwaukee after getting selected in the second round of the 2007 draft.

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**Sessions went to the University of Nevada from 2004 through 2007 and left an impressive legacy as one of the best players in the program's history. The school's practice facility is, in fact, named after Sessions. It is called the 'Ramon Sessions Basketball Performance Center' and Sessions donated $1 million towards construction costs.

**Sessions overlapped with former Wizards player JaVale McGee at Nevada. Sessions was in his final season as a junior when McGee was a freshman. The Wolfpack were quite good that year. They peaked at No. 10 in the nation, the highest ranking in school history, and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

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