Capitals

Clippers-Wizards Preview

Clippers-Wizards Preview

The Los Angeles Clippers are struggling without Chris Paul, and they're still not sure when he's coming back.

That may not matter against the lowly Washington Wizards.

The Clippers attempt to begin reversing a sluggish stretch without their All-Star point guard by continuing their dominance of the Wizards on Monday night.

Los Angeles (34-15) has dropped six of eight, and five of those defeats have come in the seven consecutive games without Paul, who is hampered by a bruised right kneecap. Overall, the injury has sidelined him for 10 of the past 12 games, and there's no timetable for his return.

The Clippers are 1-2 to begin this eight-game road trip after committing 21 turnovers in a 106-104 loss at Boston on Sunday.

"We're just a little out of rhythm," said forward Matt Barnes, who missed all six of his shots and failed to score. "Guys are just playing a little out of position, but that's no excuse."

Los Angeles hasn't needed any excuses when facing the Wizards lately. The Clippers have put up 108.0 points per game while winning eight straight in the series, including three consecutive wins at Washington by an average of 20.3 points.

Paul was a major reason that dominance continued Jan. 19, posting 22 points and 11 assists in a 94-87 home victory.

Blake Griffin turned in one of his worst shooting performances of the season in that game, needing to hit 7 of 10 free throws to get to 17 points since he was just 5 of 18 from the floor. Still, the All-Star forward is averaging 24.0 points and 11.8 rebounds in five career meetings with the Wizards.

Washington (11-35) is tied with Charlotte for the worst record in the NBA, and is struggling again even with John Wall back in the lineup.

The Wizards won six of their first nine after Wall returned from a stress injury to his left kneecap, but they've since dropped four in a row. They scored a season-low 26 points in the first half Saturday, and their comeback attempt fell short in a 96-86 loss at San Antonio.

"That's the way we gotta play throughout the whole game," Wall said. "We're not a team that can just turn it on in the second half. Everyone felt embarrassed to only have 26 points in a half."

The second quarter has been particularly troubling for Washington over the past three games, with a combined 30 points on 19.7 percent shooting - 0 for 15 from 3-point range.

Wall is trying to find some consistency himself after scoring 21 points - but needing 22 field-goal attempts to do so - against the Spurs. He's averaging 13.4 points over eight games since scoring a season-high 24 off the bench against the Clippers last month.

He has 22.6 points per game over five career meetings with Los Angeles.

Jordan Crawford managed only three points while making 1 of 5 from the floor in the latest matchup with the Clippers, and he's had a tough time scoring of late. Averaging 13.8 points on the season, he's totaled 21 during the Wizards' four-game skid while shooting 29.6 percent.

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'He's a heart-and-soul guy:' Capitals begin to process Oshie injury after Game 4 loss

'He's a heart-and-soul guy:' Capitals begin to process Oshie injury after Game 4 loss

RALEIGH — T.J. Oshie shuffled out of the Capitals locker room, hunched over, half dressed, his face a mask of anguish and pain, his right arm pinned against his body. 

He made it to the X-ray room at PNC Arena on his own, two medical staffers at his side, moaning as he entered to learn his fate. Moments later, his teammates came off the ice at that same spot, 2-1 losers to the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 4 of a Stanley Cup playoffs first-round series. 

Players clomped past in various states of frustration and distress. Nicklas Backstrom smashed his stick against a wall and, when it only half broke, finished it off with one last theatrical whack. 

It was a perfect summation of Washington’s visit to Raleigh, where it arrived with a 2-0 series lead and left tied 2-2 with a critical Game 5 back home at Capital One Arena on Saturday. 

Oshie will not be with them. He will be out “for quite some time,” said Capitals coach Todd Reirden. Carolina forward Warren Foegele nudged Oshie from behind as both skated near full speed and he crashed hard into the boards in Washington’s offensive zone. 

Oshie yelled out in pain and lay on the ice for several minutes. He was helped off the ice and Foegele received a two-minute penalty for boarding. That did not sit well with Oshie’s teammates, who failed to score on the power play. They thought the play deserved more – a major penalty, for sure, and supplemental discipline by the NHL Department of Player Safety. They didn’t get the five minutes. They might get a suspension when the league looks at the play.   

“It was a defenseless player that was quite a distance from the boards,” Washington coach Todd Reirden said. “It’s an extremely dangerous play and (Oshie) will not be with our team for a while.”

Added captain Alex Ovechkin: "Did you see that? What did you think? I was on the ice, I watched the puck, so I didn't see what happened there, but if you think it's not a dirty play, you have to watch it again."

The frustration was understandable. Oshie had 25 goals in 69 games this season. He missed 11 with a concussion in November before returning. On Thursday, he’d moved up to the top line with Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom and he’s been a staple on the second line much of the season. He is as skilled a player as there is on the Capitals and has a goal and an assist in the series. 

“It’s always tough. He plays the game so hard,” goalie Braden Holtby said. “He’s a heart-and-soul guy. I have no idea what it is or whatever. But the thing with [Oshie] is no matter what he’s going to find a way to have a positive impact on our team - whether in or out. It doesn’t matter. He’s a leader and he’s a guy that guys want to fight for.”

Carolina didn’t agree with the Capitals, of course. Foegele called it “an unfortunate play” where he was just trying to lift Oshie’s stick and he lost an edge and careened into the boards. It doesn’t matter now. With the series now even, Washington will have to build on a much better game than it played Monday night in a 5-0 loss, but without one of its best players. On Friday they can begin figuring that out. On the plane ride home Thursday night they were still trying to process what happened to Oshie. 

“We have all those meetings. GMs make meetings with referees and watch the video and it's two minutes?” Ovechkin said. “We're players and we have to go out there and play, but those guys have to make a decision. They can't be afraid. If the guy hurt, it's a dirty play, it has to be not two minutes. It has to be different call."

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'He barely hit him': Rod Brind'Amour finds a way to downplay T.J. Oshie injury

'He barely hit him': Rod Brind'Amour finds a way to downplay T.J. Oshie injury

The Capitals were incensed by Warren Foegele’s shove to the back of T.J. Oshie in Game 4 on Thursday that sent Oshie dangerously into the boards and knocked him out of the game. Carolina Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour, however, does not know what all the fuss is about.

“You see a lot of hits that are way, way worse than that,” Brind’Amour told the media after the game.

Oshie entered into the offensive zone with the puck and Foegele came in on the backcheck. Oshie had a good position on the puck, blocking Foegele out with his back. Foegele responded with a cross-check to the back of Oshie that knocked him over face-first awkwardly into the boards. Oshie appeared to strike the boards with his right shoulder and was doubled over in obvious pain as he slowly made his way off the ice.

Ovechkin was so angry that he followed Foegele and continued yelling at him after he went into the penalty box.

But Brind’Amour did not see it as a dirty play.

“I think [Oshie] just went in awkward,” Brind’Amour said. “I don't know the extent of the injury or whatever. Barely hit him I thought, really. He gave him a little shove, but it certainly wasn't what we've been seeing out here.”

In fact, Brind’Amour did not think a penalty was going to be called at all until Oshie stayed on the ice.

“There wasn't a penalty being called and then obviously he crashed into the boards hard and that's when the arm went up because he stayed down,” Brind’Amour said. “You don't like to see that, but I think more than anything he just was not ready for the hit.”

For those of you keeping track at home, Brind’Amour took issue with two consenting players fighting one another, but a cross-check to the back leaves a guy doubled over in pain and, well, he just was not ready for the hit.

Right.

Of course, you can file this away under, “What is he supposed to say?” It’s not as if Brind’Amour would come out and bury his own player for an illegal hit. He is going to defend his guy. Having said that, there were probably better ways to handle the injury of an opposing player rather than diminishing it quite as much as Brind’Amour seemed to.

“We've got way more injuries than they do,” Brind’Amour said. “I don't worry about their team.”

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