Capitals

Barea leads T-Wolves to 101-97 win over Nuggets

201301032124770704387-p2.jpeg

Barea leads T-Wolves to 101-97 win over Nuggets

DENVER (AP) J.J. Barea scored 12 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter while All-Star forward Kevin Love sat on the bench with a sprained finger, lifting the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 101-97 win over the Denver Nuggets on Thursday night.

The Timberwolves were playing for the second straight night, but fatigue hardly appeared to be a factor as they handed the Nuggets a rare home loss. Denver, on the other hand, looked lethargic two days after snapping the Los Angeles Clippers' 17-game winning streak. Kosta Koufos and Ty Lawson led the Nuggets with 16 points each.

The game went back and forth in the final quarter before Luke Ridnour gave the Timberwolves the lead for good on a 3-pointer with 2:43 remaining. Barea then followed with another 3 to cement the win.

But it might be a costly victory for the Timberwolves after Love departed with a sprained finger on his right hand in the third quarter. Love broke his right hand in October, missing the opening nine games of the season, and has struggled to get on track with his jumper ever since.

Love was sliding past a Nuggets player in the lane when he suddenly clutched at his hand and headed into the training room. Love had 12 points and 17 rebounds before departing. He later returned to the bench to watch.

The Pepsi Center hasn't been kind to Love, who sustained a mild concussion and neck strain after a hit to the head in a game against Denver last April.

It was a big night for the usually modest Andre Miller, who scored the 15,000th point of his career on a mid-range jumper in the first quarter. He became only the eighth player to reach that scoring plateau while also compiling 7,500 career assists. Oscar Robertson, Gary Payton, John Stockton, Isiah Thomas, Magic Johnson, Jason Kidd and Steve Nash also accomplished the feat.

In typical Miller fashion, the 36-year-old downplayed the approaching milestone before the game. Said Miller: ``A big individual accomplishment ... I try not to dwell on it. I never even thought about it. It's good to get it over with.''

Nuggets coach George Karl said he would put Miller in the ``top five in basketball'' and that having a player with Miller's vision ``is a blessing to a coach.''

Miller started the game in place of Lawson, who's still recovering from a strained left Achilles tendon. Lawson sat out Tuesday when the Nuggets beat the Clippers and has been bothered by tightness in the tendon for the past week.

The speedy point guard provided a spark off the bench against Minnesota - the first time in nearly two years that Lawson entered a game as a reserve.

The Timberwolves were without point guard Ricky Rubio, who has been dealing with back spasms and remained in Minnesota during the two-game swing through Utah and Denver. The team is being cautious with Rubio, who is coming back from a torn ACL in his left knee. Minnesota hopes to have Rubio back Saturday against Portland.

NOTES: The Timberwolves had six players score in double figures. Alexey Shved also had 17 points. ... Asked about the chances of the Denver Broncos making the Super Bowl, Karl said, ``I like them.'' ... Otis Day of ``Animal House'' fame sang at halftime. ... Miller finished with 10 assists.

Quick Links

Stanley Cup Final 2018: Who could win the Conn Smythe Trophy?

Stanley Cup Final 2018: Who could win the Conn Smythe Trophy?

The Stanley Cup is not the only trophy that will be awarded at the end of the Stanley Cup Final series between the Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights. The Conn Smythe will also be given to the player deemed the most valuable to his team during the playoffs.

Who will that player be?

It's not hard to figure out who the frontrunner is right now. Marc-Andre Fleury hasn't just been the best goalie in the playoffs, he's been the best player with a dominant postseason in which he has posted a .947 save percentage and four shutouts. He has been so dominant, he could win it even if Vegas loses the series.

See the top contenders for the Conn Smythe heading into the Stanley Cup Final here.

The last player from the losing team to win the Conn Smythe was Jean-Sebastian Giguere from the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in 2003.

But what about the Caps?

Alex Ovechkin is the leader of Washington and has been absolutely dominant throughout the postseason. He even scored the series-clinching goal in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final.

Surprisingly, however, Ovechkin does not lead the team in points through the playoffs. Evgeny Kuznetsov holds that edge with 24 points to Ovechkin's 22.

Will their offensive dominance propel them to win the Cup and the Conn Smythe? Will a different player emerge as the hero of the series?

See the top contenders for the Conn Smythe heading into the Stanley Cup Final here.

MORE CAPITALS PLAYOFF NEWS:

Quick Links

Need to Know: A closer look at Alex Smith's contract with the Redskins

alex_smith_otas_2_ap.png
Associated Press

Need to Know: A closer look at Alex Smith's contract with the Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, May 26, 17 days before the Washington Redskins start minicamp.  

Note: I am vacationing in the Outer Banks this week. In this space, I’ll be presenting some of the most popular posts of the last few months. I hope you enjoy these “best of” presentations and I’ll see you folks when I get back. 

Contract makes Alex Smith a Redskins for at least three seasons

This post was originally published on March 19. 

When the Redskins traded for Alex Smith on January 30, news also broke that he had agreed to a four-year extension with Washington in addition to the one year left on his contract with the Chiefs. While we got some top-line numbers on the deal, we have gone since then without any details. 

Until now. 

The details show a deal that has a slightly higher cap hit in 2018 than was on his original Chiefs contract and the numbers rise gradually over the life of the deal, which runs through 2022. 

Smith got a $27 million signing bonus and his salaries for 2018 ($13 million) and 2019 ($15 million) also are fully guaranteed at signing making the total $55 million (information via Over the Cap, which got data from a report by Albert Breer). 

But there I another $16 million that is guaranteed for all practical purposes. On the fifth day of the 2019 league year, his 2020 salary of $16 million becomes fully guaranteed. He almost assuredly will get to the point where that money will become guaranteed since the Redskins are not going to cut him after one year having invested $55 million in him. So the total guarantees come to $71 million. 

His 2021 salary is $19 million and it goes up to $21 million in 2022. There have been reports of some incentives available to Smith but since we have no details we’ll set those aside for now. 

The cap hits on the contract are as follows: 

2018: $18.4 million
2019: $20.0 million
2020: $21.4 million
2021: $24.4 million
2022: $26.4 million

The Redskins can realistically move on from Smith after 2020. There would be net cap savings of $13 million in 2021 and $21 million in 2022. 

The first impression of the deal is that the Redskins did not move on from Kirk Cousins because they didn’t want to guarantee a lot of money to a quarterback. The total practical guarantee of $71 million is second only to Cousins’ $82.5 million. It should be noted that Cousins’ deal runs for three years and Smith’s contract is for five. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler