Capitals

DeRozan scores 23 as Raptors top Suns to snap skid

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DeRozan scores 23 as Raptors top Suns to snap skid

TORONTO (AP) DeMar DeRozan scored 23 points, Amir Johnson added 16, and the Toronto Raptors beat the Phoenix Suns 101-97 to snap a six-game losing streak on Friday night.

Kyle Lowry scored 15 points, and Jose Calderon had 13 points and nine assists for the Raptors, who ended Phoenix's seven-game winning streak in Toronto. The Suns hadn't lost there since Jan. 4, 2004.

Marcin Gortat, Shannon Brown and Jared Dudley all scored 14 points for Phoenix. Goran Dragic had 13, and Michael Beasley chipped in with 12.

It was the second straight loss for the Suns, who were routed 117-77 at Detroit on Wednesday. That marked their third-biggest margin of defeat in franchise history.

Phoenix's Luis Scola scored the first basket of the fourth quarter, but the Raptors answered with a 7-0 run - including five points from Johnson - to lead 87-78 with 9:04 left.

A 3 by Calderon made it 92-85 with 6:54 remaining before back-to-back baskets by Scola cut it to 92-89. Mickael Pietrus, in his Raptors debut, made a 3 from the corner before Sebastian Telfair and Jermaine O'Neal answered for the Suns to make it 95-93 with 3:53 to go.

Phoenix trailed 96-95 with just under two minutes left when Dragic committed a turnover. Johnson finished the breakaway with a running dunk, putting the Raptors ahead by three points.

Brown's layup made it 98-97 with 1:07 left, but the Suns couldn't take the lead. Gortat missed a shot, and Scola failed on the next two possessions. Lowry grabbed the rebound on Scola's second miss and was fouled. He made one of two from the line to put Toronto up 99-97 with 14 seconds to play.

Brown tried to drive for the tying basket but missed a layup. Andrea Bargnani was fouled on the play and sealed the Raptors' win by making two free throws with 3 seconds left.

After trailing by as many as 10 points in the first quarter, Toronto went ahead for the first time on a breakaway dunk by Terrence Ross at 6:42 of the second. Johnson followed with a running dunk, putting the Raptors up 40-36.

Dudley scored 11 points in the second to put the Suns back on top, but Lowry's 3 pointer at the buzzer got the Raptors within 52-51 at halftime.

Beasley scored eight points in the third quarter, but DeRozan rebounded his own blocked shot and made a buzzer-beating jumper. He then converted the free throw to put Toronto up 80-76 heading into the fourth.

After signing with Toronto earlier Friday, Pietrus had six points and two rebounds in 30 minutes.

NOTES: Bargnani returned to Toronto's lineup after sitting out Wednesday's loss at Memphis because of a sore left ankle. ... Toronto waived F Dominic McGuire to make room on the roster for Pietrus. ... Singer Drake watched from a courtside seat. ... Toronto's losing streak was the longest current skid in the NBA.

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Possible playoff opponents for the Capitals are starting to come into focus

Possible playoff opponents for the Capitals are starting to come into focus

With their 3-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday, the Capitals' playoff future is starting to come into focus. Washington has only one game remaining and can finish in either third or fourth in the round robin standings. That limits the number of possible playoff opponents for the Caps when the games really start to matter.

First, before talking about who the Caps may play, it is important to remember why. Under the NHL's regular format, a normal year would see teams advance in a bracket, meaning each team knows going in they will be playing the winner of a specific matchup if they advance. This year, the NHL is going back to its old format of re-seeding after each round. This makes determining matchups a bit harder to figure out.

Here's what we know. The Caps are going to finish in the bottom half of the round robin meaning they will play one of the highest two seeded teams coming out of the qualifying round. The Carolina Hurricanes swept their qualifying round series against the New York Rangers. As the No. 6 seed coming in, Carolina is going to be one of the top two qualifying round teams.

RELATED: DEFENSIVE BREAKDOWNS AND MORE FROM CAPS LOSS TO FLYERS

Washington's final seed will be determined by Sunday's game against the Boston Bruins. A win in regulation, overtime or a shootout will mean the Caps are No. 3, while a loss in any fashion will bump them down to No. 4.

The simplest scenario for Washington is that If the Pittsburgh Penguins rally to win their series against the Montreal Canadiens, the Caps are guaranteed to play either Pittsburgh or Carolina as the No. 5 and 6 seeds, respectively. It gets a little trickier if the Penguins lose. If that happens, the Hurricanes become the top qualifying team and will play No. 4. The top team behind them then becomes No. 6 which, as of now, could be the New York Islanders, Toronto Maple Leafs or the Columbus Blue Jackets.

So a rematch with the Hurricanes is a definite possibility for the Caps, as is a matchup with the rival Penguins.

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Current Packers and ex-Washington LB Preston Smith unnecessarily jabs at FedExField crowd

Current Packers and ex-Washington LB Preston Smith unnecessarily jabs at FedExField crowd

Playing in front of no fans due to the coronavirus pandemic will feel unusual for many NFL players this fall. But for Green Bay Packers pass rusher Preston Smith, it's not a new feeling at all.

"My first four years in the league, there weren't that many fans in the stands anyway," Smith said to local Green Bay media on Friday. "Might be kind of normal again."

Smith, of course, spent the first four seasons of his NFL career with the Washington Football Team. And over that span, Washington made the playoffs just once with zero victories in the month of January.

So, it makes plenty of sense why Washington fans wouldn't want to waste their money to watch a game at FedEx Field, anyway. 

While FedExField is one of the largest stadiums in the NFL, the Landover, Md. complex is usually filled with just as many rowdy Eagles and Cowboys fans when those NFC East foes visit as it is supporters of the Burgundy and Gold. If someone wanted to rename the stadium Lincoln Financial Field South, I'm sure there would be many residents in the Philadelphia area in favor. Enough of them show up every year. 

But we're also talking about Washington here, not to Los Angeles Chargers. Despite loss after loss after loss, many Washington fans braved bad weather and traded the comfort of watching their favorite team on TV for the mediocre fan experience of FedEx Field during Smith's time in D.C.

And it's not like Smith gave local football fans many reasons to come watch them play, either.

Smith had an up-and-down tenure in Washington. The pass rusher showed tremendous promise as a rookie, registering eight sacks as Washington made the playoffs. He even produced a safety in a playoff game against the Packers. But over the next three years, Smith's play was inconsistent, and Washington let him walk in free agency last offseason.

In typical Washington fashion, Smith broke out with his new team, the Packers, finishing with a career-high 12 sacks a season ago alongside fellow pass rusher Za'Darius Smith.

In Green Bay, Smith plays in front of some of the best fans in the entire league. So, when the pass rusher takes the field at Lambeau Field this fall without anyone in attendance, it's natural for him to feel a little weird about it.

However, it's also easy to show up when your team is good every single year. Smith should probably have a little more sympathy for Washington Football Team fans and be thankful for the ones who did show up. 

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