Capitals

Surging Lakers rout Trail Blazers 104-87

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Surging Lakers rout Trail Blazers 104-87

LOS ANGELES (AP) Dwight Howard had 21 points and 14 rebounds, Kobe Bryant scored 27 points and the Los Angeles Lakers never trailed in their sixth win in seven games, 104-87 over the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night.

Pau Gasol had 15 points and nine rebounds as the Lakers closed out their 2012 schedule by climbing back to .500 (15-15) in their rocky season. Los Angeles had little trouble rolling past the Blazers, taking a 20-point lead in the first half and holding star rookie Damian Lillard to 11 points on 4-for-17 shooting.

LaMarcus Aldridge scored 26 points before sitting out the final minutes with a bruised chest for cold-shooting Portland, which lost for just the second time in eight games.

Steve Nash had 10 assists and six points while playing just 27 minutes in his fourth game back from a seven-week absence with a small fracture in his leg, the result of a collision with Lillard on Oct. 31 in Nash's second game with the Lakers.

Nash's playmaking again set an impressive tone for the Lakers, who outrebounded the Blazers 52-44 and took a 27-point lead late while scoring 23 fast-break points. Howard played with noticeable urgency on both ends after a lackluster outing in Denver two days ago, blocking three shots and even hitting four straight free throws when Portland briefly played Hack-a-Howard with the 50 percent foul shooter in the second quarter.

Even Gasol had appeared to have little trouble getting open shots despite playing with plantar fasciitis in his right foot, a recently diagnosed condition that will only get better with rest. The Lakers have the weekend off before returning Tuesday against Philadelphia.

Will Barton scored 11 points for Portland, and Nicolas Batum added 10. Aldridge kept the Blazers fairly close during the first three quarters, but his teammates combined for 24-of-70 shooting.

The Lakers came out with more energy and aggression than they showed in Wednesday's defense-deficient loss at Denver, hitting 14 of their first 21 shots and jumping to a 12-point lead in the first quarter. Los Angeles then made a 12-0 run to a 20-point lead shortly before halftime, with Gasol hitting a 3-pointer from straightaway to cap it.

At halftime, the Lakers retired the No. 52 jersey of Jamaal Wilkes, the Hall of Fame scorer who won three of his four NBA titles with the Lakers. Wilkes, a three-time All-Star with an unorthodox jump shot, choked up while thanking his teammates and fellow Lakers greats including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jerry West, Elgin Baylor and James Worthy, who all joined Wilkes for the ceremony.

NOTES: G Wesley Matthews, the Blazers' fourth-leading scorer with 15 points per game, missed his third straight game with an injured left hip. ... Gasol made a 3-pointer in his third straight game, a first in his NBA career. ... Fans received a replica Wilkes jersey at the door, and director Penny Marshall wore it in her courtside seat.

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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.