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Houston beats Louisiana-Lafayette 85-63

Houston beats Louisiana-Lafayette 85-63

HOUSTON (AP) Joseph Young scored a career-high 27 points and Houston defeated Louisiana-Lafayette 85-63 Saturday night.

Danuel House added 22 points, also a career best, and TaShawn Thomas had 15 points and 13 rebounds for the Cougars (8-2), who have won three in a row. Houston was 14 for 28 from 3-point range with Young going 6 for 11 and House 4 for 5.

Thomas, Young and Brandon Morris also had six assists for Houston, which committed just nine turnovers.

Shawn Long led the Ragin Cajuns (4-7) with 20 points. Elfrid Payton scored 12 points for Louisiana-Lafayette. The Cajuns led in the first minute but Houston took the lead for good shortly after that. The Cougars made eight of their 3-pointers in the first half and led 45-29 at the half.

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'The holidays mean more,' which is why John Wall gives back this time of year

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NBCSW

'The holidays mean more,' which is why John Wall gives back this time of year

Locals who showed up to Bright Beginnings in Southeast Washington last week didn't need to trot all the way up the hill and into the heated tent to see Wizards All-Star John Wall. With icy rain pouring down, Wall stood on the back of a box truck, handing out turkeys to those in need, just days before Thanksgiving.

Wall has long favored charitable causes that hit close to home for him. That includes a backpack and school supplies giveaway in the summer. He himself was once a young kid who showed up to school unprepared.

The holidays used to be a difficult time for Wall, who grew up in poverty in Raleigh, NC. He knows how much it means to simply have a Thanksgiving meal with family and friends.

That connection is why he shows up every year to distribute turkeys, hoping to make the holiday season a little easier on those who need some help.

"The holidays mean more," Wall said. "Thanksgiving, Christmas, they mean more because it's the time where kids are like 'why I ain't get nothing, why don't I have anything under the tree?'

"I know how I was brought up and where I came from. My mom had to work multiple jobs to try to provide for me and my sisters and brothers. It can be a tough time and I'm in the position where I have the opportunity to give back but also be there and be involved."

Wall has worked with Bright Beginnings for years now. The program helps families with young children who are homeless, in shelters or transitional housing.

Wall has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the initiative and lends his time to events like the turkey giveaway. But according to Bright Beginnings executive director Dr. Marla Dean, Wall's involvement doesn't stop there.

"It is always a great day when John stops by," she said. "He's family to us. He comes in, he stops by to check on us. He checks on families. Today is very important because this is a tough season for people who are less fortunate."

Dean said Wall and others gave out 500 turkeys that afternoon. After handing out food, Wall took pictures and signed autographs with children.

This is an interesting time for Wall. His Wizards are struggling and last week tensions boiled over in a now-infamous practice.

Wall stood and surveyed the room at the turkey giveaway, recognizing the cause he was supporting as much bigger than the game of basketball.

"Whatever ups and downs you go through throughout a season is the course of life. But these types of events around the holidays, that's what cheers you up. They're always going through probably more than we are going through," he said.

"When I have an opportunity to put a smile on their face or uplift them through their problems and take that burden off their back, why not do it?"

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Capitals defenseman Michal Kempny helps take down former team in 4-2 win over Blackhawks

Capitals defenseman Michal Kempny helps take down former team in 4-2 win over Blackhawks

CAPITAL ONE ARENA — Michal Kempny tried to say it was just another game, but he could not keep up the ruse. Playing his former team meant too much. 

The Chicago Blackhawks gave up on Kempny last February. He was traded to the Capitals after months in and out of the lineup. He wondered if his time in the NHL was coming to an end. Maybe it’d be better to just go back to the Czech Republic.

Good thing he didn’t. Kempny found a home in Washington and quickly became a top-four defenseman who helped stabilize the blueline and help the Capitals to their first Stanley Cup. The disappointment upon leaving Chicago was behind him. That didn’t make Wednesday’s game against the Blackhawks any less weird.  

“It feels really nice. I have to say it wasn’t an easy game for me to play,” Kempny said. “I know a lot of guys from Chicago. I spent almost two seasons there. But big win for me and our team.”

Kempny made sure of that. He scored a goal at 9:28 of the second period – his first of the season – and that proved to be the game winner in a 4-2 victory against Chicago. It wasn’t quite as big as Kempny’s last goal, which came in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final on June 4 against the Vegas Golden Knights, but it meant something nonetheless. 

“It’s huge. After every practice I see him shooting pucks,” teammate and fellow Czech Republic native Jakub Vrana said. “He works on his shot and today it went through for him. Helps his confidence. I bet it feels pretty good.”

Kempny became the second Caps player in two games to score against his former team. At Bell Centre in Montreal on Monday, Lars Eller was being booed by the fans who used to cheer him there. He promptly scored the game-winning goal in overtime to stick it to them. Eller always loves playing the Canadiens, where he never felt he was given a chance. Kempny was more conflicted. Joel Quenneville, Chicago’s coach when he was there and a three-time Stanley Cup champion with the Blackhawks, was fired on Nov. 6. It wasn’t quite as personal. But like Eller he has landed in a good spot. 

“It always adds a little bit of extra fire to guys,” Capitals coach Todd Reirden said. “I thought [Kempny] was skating well. Great to see him get rewarded with a goal there and I thought he had a strong game. Made some good plays at the end, some good blocks, and his skating was a factor, which is always important. I thought he did a good job of breaking pucks out, but he was ramped up for it for sure and then he settled into it and had a real strong game.”

Kempny almost added a second goal with a chance in the slot in the third period at 9:40. He had a tip on goalie Corey Crawford in the second period. It’s all part of the Capitals asking more of their defensemen given a brief lull in their five-on-five play and without key forwards T.J. Oshie and Evgeny Kuznetsov, who are out with upper-body injuries. 

After the game, Kempny caught up with his former teammates. Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews approached in the hallway outside the Chicago locker room and other former teammates stopped by to say hello. 

“I don’t know. It feels a little bit weird,” Kempny said. “The first period I was really excited from the game. After the first I was trying a little bit to settle down and keep playing my game and help my team to win.”

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