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Clippers beat Mavs 99-93 for 13th home win in row

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Clippers beat Mavs 99-93 for 13th home win in row

LOS ANGELES (AP) Chris Paul had 19 points and 16 assists, and the Los Angeles Clippers held on to beat the Dallas Mavericks 99-93 on Wednesday night, extending their franchise-record home winning streak to 13 games.

Matt Barnes added 19 points off the bench, and Blake Griffin had 15 points and 13 rebounds for the Clippers (29-8), who took sole possession of the NBA's best record from Oklahoma City with their third straight win overall.

Darren Collison scored 22 points for Dallas. O.J. Mayo added 17 and Dirk Nowitzki had 15. At 13-23, the Mavs fell 10 games below .500 for the first time since March 30, 2000, two months after Mark Cuban bought the team. They've lost four in a row overall and three straight on the road, where they are 5-16.

The Clippers led the entire first half, fell behind by 10 points in third quarter and then regained the lead for the first time in the fourth on Paul's steal and layup that made it 82-80.

They took the lead for good on Barnes' 3-pointer that keyed an 8-0 run. Los Angeles forced former Clipper Chris Kaman into two misses while Collison airballed another shot in that stretch as the Clippers went ahead 90-83.

Nowitzki's jumper pulled Dallas to 95-93. Griffin hit a turnaround jumper to give the Clippers a four-point lead before Collison missed a 3-pointer in the right corner.

Caron Butler came up with two big offensive rebounds off consecutive misses by Griffin and Paul with 39 seconds left. After taking two timeouts, Paul missed an 18-footer with 24 seconds left and Dallas called timeout. Collison scrambled looking for a shot before he passed to Vince Carter, who missed.

Paul got fouled and made both shots for a 99-93 lead while fans chanted ``MVP!''

Los Angeles played flatly in the third, when the Mavs used a 22-8 run to take a 75-65 lead. Shawn Marion's 3-pointer early in the spurt gave Dallas its first lead of the game and snapped the Clippers' streak of leading for 10 straight quarters. The Clippers rallied at the end of the period, scoring seven in a row, punctuated by Barnes' 3-pointer that beat the buzzer to trail 75-72.

The Clippers led the entire first half, sparked by Barnes' 11 points, including three 3-pointers. The Mavs scored seven straight points to tie the game at 50-all on Collison's hook before Paul got around Mayo to hit a running jumper at the buzzer, keeping the Clippers ahead 52-50 at the break.

NOTES: Clippers G Jamal Crawford returned after missing the last two games because of a sore left foot. ... Clippers F Grant Hill did not make his expected return after missing all season with a right knee bone bruise. Coach Vinny Del Negro said Hill has not had any setbacks and would practice a couple more days before being evaluated for Saturday's game against Orlando. ... The Mavs signed free-agent guard Mike James to a 10-day contract on Wednesday. The 10-year NBA veteran had played two games with the Texas Legends of the NBA D-League.

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The Kerrigans are having a baby and, WOW, this is all so very exciting

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@kerrigan91

The Kerrigans are having a baby and, WOW, this is all so very exciting

The Kerrigan family is about to make a big-time addition to its roster.

Ryan and his wife, Jessica, already have two very, VERY, very, very cute bulldogs in their household. 

But on Tuesday, the two announced in separate Instagram posts that Jessica is 18 weeks pregnant and that a third human Kerrigan will arrive in 2019.

"Can I eat dis sign aftur da picturr iz over?" George the bulldog said when reached for comment on the news.

"How did dey gett such a smawl jerzey for da baby alreddy?" Franklin the other bulldog added.

This is all very wonderful.

Come next March, the world is about to get a little precious-er.

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The Caps are a bad faceoff team, here’s what they’re doing about it

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USA Today Sports

The Caps are a bad faceoff team, here’s what they’re doing about it

Tuesday’s practice was a lot like every other for the Caps until the end. After working on the power play, the team gathered at one end of the ice and began working on faceoffs. It was not just the centers, but wingers and defensemen alike got into the action with every win celebrated by loud cheers from teammates.

It should could as no surprise to see faceoffs as a point of emphasis for Washington considering just how much the team has struggled with them in the early season. The Caps rank 30th in the league in faceoff win percentage at only 43.8-percent.

“Yeah, there's little details that can help our game,” Lars Eller told reporters after practice. “The more you have the puck, easier the game is gonna be for you. We have a little more time in between games than usual during the season here, so we have the time to work on something like that, which can be little things that makes the difference.”

The team as a whole watched video on faceoffs prior to practice and then worked as a five-man unit during the drill. The main point of emphasis head coach Todd Reirden wanted to drill into his players was that faceoffs are not simply the responsibility of the centers alone.

“The days of it just being center vs. center and a clean draw being won back are a rarity now so it's important to have all five guys helping, something we watched video on earlier today,” Reirden said.

“You ask any centerman if they have a good group of wingers that can help them out on draws, that makes a huge difference,” Nic Dowd said. “I've been lucky, I have [Devante Smith-Pelly] on my right and I'm a righty so I win all my draws my backhand side so a lot of pucks go his way and he wins a lot of draws for me. That's huge. You have a guy that's sitting over there that's sleeping, you could go easily from five wins to five losses and then that's your night. It makes a big difference.”

Faceoffs were always going to be more of a struggle for the Caps this season with the departure of Jay Beagle who was, by far, the team’s best faceoff man for several years. Whenever the team needed a big draw, Beagle was the player relied upon to win it. With him gone, it is no surprise to see the team struggle.

But the Caps don’t like the idea of keeping possession off a draw just 43.8-percent of the time.

“It's essentially like the ref is creating a 50-50 puck and you snap it back, you get possession, now you're forechecking and it makes a huge difference,” Dowd said. “You play against those top lines, they want to be in the O-zone. Well, if you lose the draw, now you're playing D-zone, you win the draw now you're playing O-zone. So effectively, you've shut down their shift.”

There is a school of thought suggesting that perhaps the importance of winning faceoffs is overrated and a team’s faceoff win percentage is not overly important. Eller himself admitted as much to reporters.

What no one can argue, however, is that while some faceoffs may not matter all that much, there are some that are hugely important in a game. The Caps recognize that. For them, being a strong faceoff team is not necessarily about improving the team’s win percentage, but more about being able to win those critical draws.

“It's something that for the most part the players understand and a neutral zone faceoff with 14 minutes to go in the first period is not nearly as important as one that's 5-on-6 at the end of the game,” Reirden said. “We all know that. It's important to put the right people on those situations and give them the best chance to have success.”

“A center ice draw, I could see where guys could make the argument, well you lose it you still will play hockey and stuff could still happen,” Dowd said. “But I think the game is such a possession game now that any opportunity you can win a 50-50 puck whether that's a faceoff or a board battle, it makes a huge difference.”

 

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