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Randolph leads Memphis past Milwaukee 90-80

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Randolph leads Memphis past Milwaukee 90-80

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) The Memphis Grizzlies' ramped up defensive pressure has led to some impressive wins.

Memphis held Milwaukee to a season-low in points and Tony Allen locked down Bucks leading-scorer Monta Ellis to help the Grizzlies win 90-80 Wednesday night.

Ellis, who entered the game averaging 19 points a game, missed his first 13 shots with Allen on him, and didn't score a field goal until 2:30 was left in the game. He ended the night with four points.

``I'm aware he's not hitting any on me. I'm aware of that,'' Allen said when asked if he realized Ellis was struggling. ``He's a talented scorer. He'll jump out of that slump before you know it.''

Memphis coach Lionel Hollins simply said: ``Tony Allen's defense on Monta Ellis was outstanding.''

Zach Randolph had 15 points and 17 rebounds, Marc Gasol added 12 points and 12 rebounds for Memphis, which entered the game allowing a league-low 90 points a game. Rudy Gay added 13 points, Mike Conley had 11 points and six assists, while Marreese Speights scored 10 points.

Brandon Jennings led Milwaukee with 26 points, even though he missed his first eight shots. Marquis Daniels was the only other Bucks player in double figures with 12 points on 5 of 8 from the field.

``I said before the game if we could get it to where neither (Jennings nor Ellis) had a huge game, we'd be all right,'' Hollins said. ``Nine of 26 for 26 points (from Jennings) is not a huge game to me.''

Memphis benefited from an intense defense in the second half, causing 12 Bucks turnovers after halftime leading to 18 points. Memphis committed 10 of its 16 turnovers in the first half.

Milwaukee shot 35 percent for the game.

``It was tough,'' Milwaukee coach Scott Skiles said. ``We had a ton of open looks. We just missed them. There's not much to say. We couldn't make a shot, and we were only down nine at halftime. It was tough.''

While Ellis said it was ``just a bad night,'' Jennings, who had his own shooting problems in the first half, noted Ellis' misfiring stymies the Bucks offense.

``He's our scorer, so he's the most important player on this team for us,'' Jennings said. ``I know he's angry right now, but with great scorers like that you shouldn't be too worried because they always come back strong.''

Both teams started the game shooting poorly as the Grizzlies hit just a third of their shots, while the Bucks were 6 of 26, including Ellis and Jennings, the Bucks two top scorers, missing all 12 of their combined shots in the first quarter.

Jennings missed eight shots before connecting, while Ellis missed all 10 of his in the half.

``That's a game-changer to have a guy who can do that,'' Conley said of Allen's play. ``To take a guy (like Ellis), who is so good, out of game offensively is unbelievable. As long he can do that, he is able to be a game-changer for us.''

Memphis led 43-34 at halftime by shooting 40 percent, despite Gay and Allen hitting 2 of 7 each and Conley missing his three shots.

Neither team had a scorer in double figures at intermission.

Memphis took the first double-digit lead of the game on its initial possession of the second half, and eventually extended it to 60-45 as the Grizzlies turned up the defensive pressure. The Bucks, meanwhile, looked like a team struggling to catch their breath on the second night of a back-to-back.

``We just couldn't get anything going on the offensive end,'' Skiles said. ``We can't score one of three possessions and expect to come back and win.''

Memphis would eventually build the lead to 16 in the third and finished the quarter with a 66-51 advantage.

``That's where we lay our hat at is on the defensive end,'' said Allen, who had a season-high four steals. ``Ever since I got here, that's been our motto, holding it down on the defensive end, playing in and out basketball. Whenever we do that, I think we are more effective.''

NOTES: Memphis defeated Milwaukee 108-90 on Nov. 7. .Memphis has won five straight in the series and swept the season series three straight years. The teams played only once in last year's lockout-shortened season. .Memphis had 20 rebounds in the first quarter, the most for a period this season. They ended the night outrebounding Milwaukee 56-44. ... Conley needs one assist to tie Jason Williams for the most assists in Grizzlies franchise history. Williams had 2,069. ... The Bucks, who defeated the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday night, are now 2-3 in second night of a back-to-back. ... The previous low point total for the Bucks this season was 81 at New Orleans on Dec. 3. .Randolph now has a league-best 19 double-doubles in 23 games.

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Trade to Caps potentially offers Jerabek what he never got in Montreal

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USA TODAY Sports

Trade to Caps potentially offers Jerabek what he never got in Montreal

Defenseman Jakub Jerabek is really happy about the opportunity to play with the Washington Capitals, but it could have come at a better time. The trade came with his parents already on their way from the Czech Republic to visit him.

“It was crazy days past three days because I had my parents on the way to Montreal and they didn't know so it was a big surprise for them,” Jerabek told reporters Saturday after his first skate with the team.

A native of the Czech Republic, Jerabek signed his first NHL contract with the Montreal Canadiens in May 2017. After spending some time in the AHL and struggling to consistently earn a spot in the Canadiens’ lineup, he knew a trade was possible.

“My family, maybe we expected some trade. When its come with Caps and it was Washington, I was really happy.”

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Jerabek said he came into the NHL with no expectations and was simply happy for the opportunity, but it is fair to wonder if he was not just the least bit frustrated with how he was utilized by Montreal.

For a player with experience playing for the national team, the Czech league and the KHL, getting only 25 games with a bad Montreal team seems a bit low.

“In first two weeks, I didn't know what's going on because the coaches just told me that I played well, but we just make some competition between the [defensemen] and that I have to wait for my next chance,” Jerabek said. “It was hard, but now I'm happy down here.”

Washington now offers a very different opportunity. In need of help on the blue line, Jeraebek has the chance to earn consistent playing time for a team on pace to reach the postseason.

Jerabek will not play in Saturday’s game against Buffalo, but he was hopeful he would be in the lineup for Monday’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

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For now, Jerabek and head coach Barry Trotz are unclear as to what his ultimate role on the team will be. With eight defensemen now on the roster, Trotz cautioned any lineup decision could not be rushed because of the trickle-down effect it will have on the other players.

“You always look at chemistry and all that with your group depending how high that player goes up the lineup, it affects different people,” Trotz said. “In a forward group, if you get a guy that you all of a sudden stick on the first line, there's four other guys that are bumped down and one guy's bumped out.”

The addition of Jerabek, however, offers the Caps another defenseman who can quickly move the puck out of the defensive zone, something the team has struggled with immensely throughout the season. Though he shoots left, he also said he is comfortable playing on the right said and has played there regularly over the past few years. That provides the lineup with some flexibility on the third pair behind Matt Niskanen and John Carlson.

As for Jerabek’s parents, they will be arriving in Washington on Saturday.

“I tried to figure out the situation with them to get them to here and they will come today,” he said. “So I'm really happy.”

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Warriors will visit D.C. kids instead of White House when they play Wizards

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USA Today Sports Images

Warriors will visit D.C. kids instead of White House when they play Wizards

Instead of visiting the White House when they come to Washington this week to play the Wizards, the defending-champion Golden State Warriors plan to hold an event with D.C.-area kids.

Their invitation was rescinded by president Donald Trump following a back-and-forth between the two sides last year. After the Warriors won the title, they openly questioned whether they should follow the tradition given many of the players and coaches disagree with his policies. Trump took the opportunity away before they came to a final decision.

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The Warriors' event will be closed off to the media and held at an undisclosed location. It is set for Tuesday, the day before they play the Wizards at Capital One Arena. The Warriors had the option of holding a ceremony with other politicians in the Democratic party, but decided that would send the wrong message. 

"It's their championship. They got disinvited to the White House, so it's up to them what they wanted to do. So they made their plans," coach Steve Kerr said. "I want the players to have a good day and to do something positive and to enjoy what they're doing."

The Warriors are the first NBA team to make this choice since Trump was elected president. Last season, the Cleveland Cavaliers held their celebration with president Barack Obama in November. They did so just days after Trump was elected and LeBron James questioned at the time whether he would visit the White House with Trump in office.

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Sports teams visiting the White House goes back to the mid-1800s. The first World Series title team to visit was the 1924 Washington Senators. By the 1960s, NBA teams were going and by the 1980s NFL and NHL teams made it a tradition.

Entire teams snubbing the White House is unusual, but many players have turned down the opportunity. In the NBA, some famous cases include Larry Bird in 1984 and Michael Jordan in 1991, according to Rolling Stone.

Perhaps the Warriors start a trend, or maybe it will be a one-off thing. Regardless, the alternative they chose is a respectable one. 

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