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Heat snap 2-game slide, top Hornets 106-90

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Heat snap 2-game slide, top Hornets 106-90

MIAMI (AP) Dwyane Wade scored 26 points, LeBron James finished with 24 points and seven assists, and the Miami Heat snapped a two-game slide by topping the New Orleans Hornets 106-90 on Saturday night.

Chris Bosh scored 13, and Ray Allen and Shane Battier each added 11 for Miami, which took control by outscoring the Hornets 33-10 over the final 11 minutes of the first half. New Orleans started the game 10 for 12 from the floor, then shot 9 for 31 over the rest of the half.

Ryan Anderson scored 24 for New Orleans, which got 20 from Robin Lopez and 12 from Jason Smith.

Miami shot a season-best 58 percent and turned 19 New Orleans turnovers into 22 points.

James has scored at least 20 points in all 18 Miami games this season. He tied a Heat record by scoring 20 in 23 straight regular-season games (going back to last season) and 39 consecutive games overall, including playoffs. He made 10 of his first 11 shots on Saturday.

The Heat have been plagued by defensive issues at times throughout this season, especially lately, and they looked to have returned in the early going on Saturday. The Hornets ran out to a 25-18 lead by the time this game was 7 minutes old, playing nearly flawlessly in the early going.

It didn't last much longer.

Not only did Miami soon clamp down on the defensive end, the Heat offense began really clicking as well.

Take away Smith's 5-of-7 effort in the second quarter, and the rest of the Hornets shot 2 for 13 in those 12 minutes when the game turned. Miami outscored New Orleans 33-15 in the quarter - James, Bosh and Wade outscored the Hornets by three - and seven different Heat players had at least one assist in that period alone.

New Orleans' starters were 1 for 2 in the pivotal second quarter, both of those shots by Lopez. Anderson was limited to 31 seconds of time on the court in the second because of foul trouble, and the other three Hornets starters besides Lopez failed to get a shot off in more than 12 combined minutes.

By halftime, Miami's lead was 64-47, and the Heat weren't in much trouble again - though had to work in the final minutes to finish off the team with the worst record so far in the Western Conference. Anderson and Greivis Vasquez made consecutive 3-pointers to get the Hornets within nine late in the third quarter. And with 4:40 left, Lopez's three-point play got New Orleans within 95-87.

That was the last gasp for New Orleans. Battier took a pass from James and made a 3-pointer from the right corner with just under 3 minutes left, giving the Heat a 101-87 lead, and Wade sealed it with a jumper on the next Miami possession, part of what became an 11-0 game-deciding run by the hosts.

NOTES: Bosh missed three dunk attempts in the game, including two on one possession in the third quarter. ... Allen is now five points shy of tying Adrian Dantley (23,177) for 22nd on the NBA's career scoring list. ... Miami improved to 9-1 at home. ... Since a 3-2 start, New Orleans has dropped 12 of 14. ... The Hornets played without injured rookie Anthony Davis, the No. 1 pick in this year's draft, for the 11th straight game. He was on the court for a pregame workout.

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Barry Trotz finds contract he was looking for, expected to be named New York Islanders new head coach

Barry Trotz finds contract he was looking for, expected to be named New York Islanders new head coach

Barry Trotz did not remain unemployed for very long.

Trotz, who led the Capitals to the franchise's first-ever Stanley Cup title, resigned from his post less than a week after the team's championship parade in Washington, D.C.

But the former bench boss appears to be headed to New York to become the Islanders new head coach, according to Darren Dreger of TSN.

Trotz's contract was expected to expire at the end of the 2017-18 season, but upon winning the Stanley Cup, an automatic two-year extension was triggered, raising his $1.5 million yearly salary by $300,000. But Trotz wanted to be compensated as one of the top five coaches in the NHL.

While the terms of his deal have yet to be finalized, according to Elliotte Friedman, Trotz's deal could be in the 5-year, $20 million range.

With the Islanders, Trotz inherits a team that finished 35-37-10 last season under head coach Doug Weight, despite having John Tavares, one of the best centers in the NHL, and several young studs like Mathew Barzal, Jordan Eberle, and Josh Ho-Sang. But Tavares enters the offseason as a free agent, and many teams will be looking to pay top-dollar for his services. 

Trotz will report to Lou Lamoriello, who was named the Islanders' president and general manager in May after spending three seasons in the same role with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

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The Caps' Cup-winning roster is a lesson in building through the draft

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USA TODAY Sports

The Caps' Cup-winning roster is a lesson in building through the draft

Every year, the Stanley Cup-winning team shows the importance of building through the draft. This year, that team is the Washington Capitals.

With the NHL Draft starting on Friday, let’s break down the Capitals roster from the playoffs to see just how it was put together.

Acquired by the draft: Nicklas Backstrom, Madison Bowey, Travis Boy, Andre Burakovsky, John Carlson, Christian Djoos, Shane Gersich, Philipp Grubauer, Braden Holtby, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov, Alex Ovechkin, Chandler Stephenson, Jakub Vrana, Nathan Walker, Tom Wilson

Acquired as a free agent: Jay Beagle, Alex Chiasson, Brett Connolly, Matt Niskanen, Brooks Orpik, Devante Smith-Pelly

Acquired by trade: Lars Eller, Jakub Jerabek, Michal Kempny, T.J. Oshie

The first thing to note is that the vast majority of Washington’s roster is made up of draft picks. Specifically, the majority of the Caps’ top six on offense, three of its top six defensemen and both goalies were drafted by the team.

Of the free agent signings, only two were big money players in Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik. In 2014, defense was a major question mark for the Caps and Brian MacLellan made a splash as the new general manager by signing both blue liners to big deals. The majority of the signings, however, are cheap, low risk and high reward players.

Finally, the trades include players who filled obvious needs. The Caps needed Oshie to shore up the top six, Eller was brought in to be the third line center, Kempny stepped in as a top-four defenseman and Jerabek was brought in for defensive depth.

So what does this show us?

First, the draft is absolutely critical to building a team’s core. True superstar players are hard to come by. Once a team gets one, they do everything they can to keep them. The draft is a team's first opportunity to acquire a certain player and, if they have superstar potential, sign them long-term. John Tavares this season looks headed to free agency and the buzz around him stems from the fact that he is very much the exception, not the rule. The base of the Caps’ Stanley Cup team was built by drafting star players like Ovechkin, Backstrom, Kuznetsov, Carlson, Holtby, etc.

This also shows the importance of the draft for depth. In the salary cap era, teams need to find enough cap room for their stars and their depth players. Having young players is absolutely critical because their low cap hit allows for the team to sign the expensive stars and make the important addition in free agency  or by trade. This is a formula that only works if those young players are productive as well.

Players like Vrana and Burakovsky, for example, played big roles in the playoff run, but also carried low cap hits.

So the Caps built a core through the draft and filled key roles with trades and mostly cheap free agent signings.

There is no formula for how to win a Stanley Cup, if there was everyone would do it, but this is about as close as you can come to one. A team has to draft very well and then build around those draft picks to be successful. You cannot hope to build simply through trades and free agency because of the cost. Trades always require sending an asset the other way and very often that asset turns out to be prospects or draft picks. Free agency, meanwhile, requires team overpay for top targets leading to serious cap trouble down the line.

There are always trades and free agent signings that prove to be important, but those are only pieces to a much large puzzle. To win a Stanley Cup, you have to build through the draft.

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