Capitals

Gasol help Lakers hold on to beat Pistons 98-97

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Gasol help Lakers hold on to beat Pistons 98-97

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) Pau Gasol had 23 points and 10 rebounds and was the last line of defense for Los Angeles, contesting Detroit's last-second alley-oop attempt and helping the Lakers hold on for a 98-97 victory over the Pistons on Sunday.

Los Angeles blew an 18-point third-quarter lead but went back ahead for good on Kobe Bryant's driving three-point play with 1:09 remaining. That gave the Lakers a 98-95 lead, and they held on despite missing four free throws in the final 16.8 seconds.

The normally reliable Steve Nash missed two with 2.7 seconds left, giving Detroit one more chance. Down by one, the Pistons inbounded from midcourt with 1.2 seconds to play. They tried a lob to rookie big man Andre Drummond, but with Gasol contesting the play, Drummond couldn't convert his one-handed dunk attempt.

The Lakers have won five of six, including their last two games without Dwight Howard. The All-Star center has been out with a right shoulder problem.

Detroit was still without guard Jose Calderon, who the Pistons acquired from Toronto on Wednesday. Calderon has not been available to play because of unresolved visa issues.

The Lakers trail eighth-place Houston by 3 1/2 games in the Western Conference playoff race.

Bryant scored 18 points but shot poorly from the perimeter. After an airball with the score tied at 95, he decided to drive to the basket the next time down. Bryant muscled through a foul and scored a basket that was counted on a continuation call.

Detroit's Will Bynum cut the lead to one, and after Gasol missed, Drummond missed a baseline fadeaway that would have given the Pistons the lead. Earl Clark missed two free throws for Los Angeles with 16.8 seconds left, but Bynum's driving shot over Gasol went off the glass and rattled in and out.

Nash entered the game as a 90.4-percent free throw shooter for his career - the top mark in NBA history for players with at least 1,200 attempts.

When he missed two in the final seconds, the Pistons shockingly had a chance to win, but Drummond just missed his dunk attempt and looked surprised that no foul was called on the play.

The Lakers scored 10 straight points early in the third quarter to take a 72-54 lead. Bryant highlighted that run with a one-handed dunk while Detroit's Brandon Knight tried in vain to prevent an easy basket.

The Pistons rallied quickly, with the 6-foot-11 Drummond showing off his athleticism around the basket. Drummond's two-handed dunk over Gasol made it 76-70, and the Lakers led 78-72 after three.

Bynum had 18 points and 10 assists for the Pistons, and Greg Monroe added 20 points and 12 rebounds.

Clark had 17 points for Los Angeles. Nash had 11 points and 10 assists.

Detroit's Rodney Stuckey was called for his third foul in the first quarter, then picked up a technical to boot. The Pistons did their best to exploit the Lakers in transition, but Knight missed a layup in the second quarter, and Kyle Singler missed one of his own moments later.

Detroit turned the ball over nine times in the half, and the Pistons finished the second quarter with a terrible defensive breakdown. Bryant was inbounding around midcourt with 0.4 seconds left in the half, and Clark somehow slipped free for an alley-oop dunk at the buzzer that gave Los Angeles a 62-51 lead.

The Lakers did a better job defending that situation on the final play of the game.

NOTES: Knight became tangled with Metta World Peace of the Lakers with 1:43 left in the first half. That got a rise out of the crowd, which no doubt remembered World Peace's role in the infamous ``Malice at the Palace'' brawl on the Pistons' court in 2004. World Peace was assessed a flagrant foul this time, but the situation didn't escalate. ... Bryant had five assists, snapping his streak of five straight games with at least eight.

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Capitals listed as underdogs in their first Stanley Cup since 1998

Capitals listed as underdogs in their first Stanley Cup since 1998

The odds have never gone the way of the Washington Capitals.

After years of being the common pick to finally break through and win the Stanley Cup, this was most definitely not the year.

Yet, here we are with the Capitals as one of the final two teams standing.

For their upcoming Stanley Cup Final, the Caps are the underdogs against the Las Vegas Golden Knights.  The opening line from OddsShark has the Golden Knights as -135 money line favorites to win the Stanley Cup. The Capitals were listed as +115 underdogs.

Vegas (the betting entity, not the team) has not exactly been the most reliable this year though. After all, the Golden Knights were 100/1 odds to win the whole thing. Now they are four games away.

In their past two series, Washington was not the favorites. The Capitals have not been favorites since the First Round against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

For years in the Alex Ovechkin era, they have been the favorites to not only go on to play for the Stanley Cup but winning it.

In 2018 they started the season tied for the fifth best odds to win the Cup (14/1), one of their lowest opening marks in the past decade. For the full perspective, Washington was tied with the Toronto Maple Leafs and behind the Dallas Stars at the start of the season.

Without question this underdog role has fit them quite well, they shouldn’t want anything to change heading into the biggest postseason series in 20 years for Washington D.C.

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Ty Lawson

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Ty Lawson

To wrap up the 2017-18 season, we are looking at each player on the Wizards' roster. Today, we evaluate Ty Lawson's season...

Player: Ty Lawson

Position: Point guard

Age: 30

2017-18 salary: $11.9K

2017-18 stats: 6 G, 19.2 mpg, 5.8 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 3.0 apg, 0.6 spg, 0.5 bpg, 34.6 FG%, 62.5 3P%, 1.000 FT%, 44.2 eFG%, 114 ORtg, 115 DRtg (all in playoffs)

Best game: 4/17 at Raptors (Game 2) - 14 points, 8 assists, 3 rebounds, 4-for-10 FG, 4-for-5 3PT

Season review: The Wizards made a surprise move the day after the regular season finished by signing Ty Lawson, giving them a fifth point guard for the playoffs. Not only did Lawson join the team last-minute, he actually got minutes in the postseason, immediately slotting in as their primary backup point guard.

Very quickly Lawson showed what the Wizards saw in him. He added a spark off the bench, particularly on offense. He showed no restraint in looking for his own shot and in Game 2 against the Raptors hit 4-of-5 from long range.

Lawson proved he still has the quickness that made him an above average NBA point guard in his prime. There were questions about his athleticism given he is 30 years old and spent most of the season in China, but Lawson was still noticeably faster than his contemporaries on the Wizards' bench.

Whether Lawson proved enough to stick around in the NBA is the real question. He only played six games for the Wizards and, though he impressed to a certain degree, teams had given up on him just a year before. 

The Wizards have five open roster spots entering this offseason and have only two point guards in the mix. They will be in the market for more backup help, though it is unclear at this point if they are interested in bringing Lawson back. They have two draft picks and the ability to add players via trades, as they have several times in recent years to address backup point guard.

Working in Lawson's favor to potentially stick around is that the Wizards do not have much money to spend. They are in the luxury tax and will likely need some cheap options to fill out the final spots on their roster. Lawson certainly would not cost much.

Potential to improve: Shooting, scoring, consistency

More player season reviews:

John Wall, PG

Bradley Beal, SG

Otto Porter, SF

Markieff Morris, PF

Marcin Gortat, C

Kelly Oubre, Jr., SF

Tomas Satoransky, PG

Ian Mahinmi, C

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