Capitals

Knicks end Spurs' 7-game winning streak in romp

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Knicks end Spurs' 7-game winning streak in romp

NEW YORK (AP) Carmelo Anthony scored 23 points, J.R. Smith kept up his surge with 20 and the New York Knicks snapped the San Antonio Spurs' seven-game winning streak with a 100-83 victory Thursday night.

Steve Novak added 15 points and Tyson Chandler had 10 points and 14 rebounds to help the Knicks bounced back from consecutive losses by dominating the final period against the Spurs, who may have run out of gas in their second game in two nights.

Tim Duncan and Tony Parker each had just 11 points for the Spurs, who lost Stephen Jackson to an unusual injury, then lost what had been the NBA's longest winning streak.

Jackson played just three minutes off the bench before spraining his right ankle when he took a shot then fell back into a waitress working the sideline in front of Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Smith, who had scored 25 points in his last four games as a reserve, highlighted his outing with an acrobatic dunk in the fourth quarter that brought fans to their feet. The pass came from reserve point guard Pablo Prigioni, who had one of his most complete games since coming to the NBA at age 35, finishing with six points and nine assists.

The Knicks put away what had been a close game for three quarters, scoring the first 10 points of the fourth to take a 17-point lead. The Spurs, playing for the fourth time in five nights, went with reserves from there and never put much of a dent in it.

San Antonio, which averaged 111.7 points on 53.4 percent shooting during its winning streak and rang up 117 points on Wednesday in Milwaukee, shot just 36 percent. Gary Neal led the Spurs with 12 points.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich praised the Knicks' defense before the game, though it had slipped during their stretch of three losses in four games. Looking for a fix, coach Mike Woodson gave Marcus Camby a start at forward in hopes of ending the Knicks' slow starts, and they allowed just 19 points in the first quarter.

Amare Stoudemire had 10 points on 4-of-10 shooting in his second game of the season after knee surgery. He seemed more aggressive than in his debut Tuesday but is clearly without his typical explosiveness, having a number of shots blocked when he tried to power his way inside.

Leading 67-60 after three, the Knicks opened the fourth with a 10-0 run that made it 77-60 on Novak's 3-pointer with 10:24 remaining. New York poured it on from there, the lead growing to 20 when Smith caught a lob from Prigioni around his waist while in the air and slammed it home. Novak followed with another 3-pointer on the next possession to make it 95-72.

Jackson entered the game just 13 seconds in, but his night was over late in the period after his bizarre injury. Jackson launched a 3-pointer from the corner with 3:23 left, stepping backward out of bounds after the miss and falling onto the waitress. He limped back onto the court as the Knicks played with a 5-on-4 advantage that led to Anthony's 3-pointer. The Spurs then took a timeout and Jackson limped off toward the locker rooms.

It was unclear if the waitress was serving Bloomberg, who was seen eating a box of popcorn shortly after.

Woodson said before the game he thought the Spurs were the best team in basketball right now, though Popovich dismissed that as gamesmanship he learned from Larry Brown. San Antonio sure didn't look its best while losing for the first time since a 112-106 setback at Denver on Dec. 18 and getting held well below its NBA-best 105.9 points per game.

Notes: The Spurs hadn't played here since January 2011, so this was their first time back in Madison Square Garden since renovations began. Popovich jokingly yelled at Parker for not knowing how to get from the locker room to the court before the game. ... Manu Ginobili, Prigioni's teammate with Argentina's national team, was held to eight points on 2-of-10 shooting.

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Stanley Cup Final 2018: Players to watch

Stanley Cup Final 2018: Players to watch

It doesn't take an expert to tell you players like Alex Ovechkin or Marc-Andre Fleury will play a big role in the Stanley Cup Final.

Both the Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights will need their best players to be at their best to take home the Cup. But who will be the unexpected heroes? Who are the players no one is talking about who will have a big hand in their team's success or defeat in this series?

Here are five players you should be watching in the Stanley Cup:

1. Devante Smith-Pelly: Smith-Pelly had seven goals in 79 games in the regular season. Now he has four goals in just 19 playoff games.

Smith-Pelly has been one of those unlikely playoff heroes for the Caps this postseason with very timely performances such as scoring the series-clinching goal in Game 6 against the Columbus Blue and scoring the goal that put the game away in Game 6 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The physical play has really stood out as well for him, which fits well on the fourth line role he has settled back into now that the team is healthy again. Barry Trotz tried moving him to the top line in the absence of Tom Wilson and the results weren't great. He is best suited for the role he currently has and that will allow him to thrive.

2. James Neal: Neal came up just short of the Stanley Cup last season as a member of the Nashville Predators. He totaled nine points in 22 games during that run, a number he has already matched in just 15 games this postseason.

There are very few players on either team that boast the kind of postseason experience Neal has. He will be leaned upon this series for his leadership.

Vegas is a young team and their unprecedented success in the playoffs may make this feel like the first run of many for the Golden Knights, but not for Neal who is on the last year of his contract and came tantalizingly close to the Cup last season. He will play like there is no tomorrow because, for him, there may not be in Vegas.

3. Andre Burakovsky: Burakovsky was one of the heroes of Game 7 with two goals to put away the Tampa Bay Lightning. That marked just the latest peak in a career full of peaks and valleys for the young winger. Just two games before, Burakovsky was a healthy scratch and spoke to the media about his plans to speak with a sports psychologist in the offseason.

The talent is there and it certainly appears that the injury that kept him out earlier in the playoffs is largely behind him. Burakovsky’s issues have always been mainly between the ears. In a series against a fast team with strong depth, he can be an absolutely critical piece for the Caps. Hopefully, his Game 7 performance gave him the confidence he needs to continue to be effective.

4. Ryan Reaves: Vegas acquired both Reaves and Tomas Tatar around the trade deadline. If I were to tell you that through three rounds of the playoffs, both players were healthy, had played the same number of games (6) and had the same number of points (1), you’d think I was crazy. Yet, here we are.

Reaves was largely an afterthought in a complicated trade between Vegas, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Ottawa Senators, but he has carved a nice role for himself on the Golden Knights’ fourth line and even scored the goal that sent Vegas to the Stanley Cup Final against the Winnipeg Jets.

Reaves is also an agitator on the ice, but what do the Caps do against a player like that when their normal fighter plays on the top line? We may see Reaves and Wilson come to blows this series, but it won't be very often because that is a bad tradeoff for the Caps.

5. Brooks Orpik: The elder statesman of the blue line, Orpik is the only player on the Caps with a Stanley Cup to his name and is the only one who has any idea what this experience is going to be like for the team.

Orpik is very diligent about keeping in shape which has allowed him to play in 81 games this season and all 19 playoff games despite being 37 years old, but you do have to wonder how much is left in the tank. Despite being the favorite whipping boy for the proponents of analytics, his physical play has been effective this postseason. The focus he placed on the skating in the offseason has paid dividends so far in matchups against the speedy Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning, but the Golden Knights will be the fastest team they have played yet. There is no denying Orpik is much more suited towards a physical style of game. Wil he continue to be effective or will Vegas exploit the Caps' third defensive pairing?

MORE CAPITALS PLAYOFF NEWS:

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Capitals vs. Golden Knights Game 1 Stanley Cup Final: Date, Time, TV Channel, Livestrem

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Capitals vs. Golden Knights Game 1 Stanley Cup Final: Date, Time, TV Channel, Livestrem

The wait is finally over. 

After two decades, the Capitals are back in the Stanley Cup Final. 

After a convincing 4-0 win in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Capitals are in Vegas to take on the Golden Knights. They'll be facing off against a handful of familiar names, with former Caps GM George McPhee, fan favorite Nate Schmidt, and ex-Penguins goalie Marc Andre-Fluery are just a few of the names that'll be suiting up for Vegas. 

What will the X-factors in the series be? Who will be the unexpected heroes of Game 1? The action is almost underway, and here are all the details you need to know.

Game 1 Capitals at Golden Knights
Date: Monday, May 28
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
Location: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, NV.
TV Channel: NBCSN 
How To Watch Live StreamingNBC Sports App Live Stream
Radio: Capitals Radio Network (106.7 FM)

WHEN IS GAME 1 OF THE CAPITALS-GOLDEN KNIGHTS SERIES?

Game 1 of the Capitals-Golden Knights 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Final takes place on Monday, May 28 at 8:00 p.m. at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV.

WHAT TV CHANNEL IS GAME 1 OF THE CAPITALS-GOLDEN KNIGHTS SERIES ON?

The TV broadcast of Game 1 between the Capitals and Golden Knights is on NBC. Capitals pre- and postgame coverage takes place on NBC Sports Washington. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

5:00 p.m. — Caps Cup Preview
6:00 p.m. — Caps GameDay Live
6:30 p.m. — Caps Face Off
7:00 p.m. — Caps GameTime
8:00 p.m. — Game 1 Capitals vs. Golden Knights
10:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
11:30 p.m. — Caps Overtime

WHERE CAN I STREAM CAPITALS vs. GOLDEN KNIGHTS GAME 1?

Game 1 of the 2018 Stanley Cup Final between the Capitals and Golden Knights is available for online stream on the NBC Sports App. Click here for the NBC Sports live stream page.

CAPITALS vs. GOLDEN KNIGHTS GAME 1 OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals digital producer JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.