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Lee leads road Warriors past Hawks, 115-93

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Lee leads road Warriors past Hawks, 115-93

ATLANTA (AP) David Lee had 20 points and 11 rebounds, and the Golden State Warriors completed an impressive road trip with a 115-93 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday night.

Stephen Curry collected 18 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds for Golden State, which went in front to stay in the second quarter. Harrison Barnes and Carl Landry each had 19 points.

The Warriors capped a 6-1 tour against Eastern Conference teams, including a win at Miami. It was the team's first winning road trip of at least six games since a 4-3 trip in the 1970-71 season.

Al Horford led Atlanta with 17 points. Lou Williams scored 16 and Ivan Johnson had 15 points and nine rebounds.

The Hawks had won 11 of 13.

The Warriors grabbed control when they outscored the Hawks 36-23 in the second period. Barnes gave Golden State the lead for good when he opened the period with his first of two straight 3-pointers.

No Hawks starter logged 30 minutes, and backups played most of the final period.

Golden State completed a sweep of its two-game season series against Atlanta one night after a 99-85 loss at Orlando. It was Lee's seventh straight game with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds.

Hawks coach Larry Drew was called for a technical foul as he protested a play at the end of the first half. No foul was called as Jeff Teague was knocked to the floor on a missed layup. Drew charged from the bench and drew the technical as he was restrained by his assistants.

Curry made the free throw awarded for the technical foul to open the second half.

Warriors rookie center Festus Ezeli was held out due to a bruised right knee. He banged his knee in Friday night's loss at Orlando and had difficulty loosening up in pregame drills.

Andris Biedrins filled in for Ezeli and had seven rebounds and no points in his first start of the season.

Josh Smith had a difficult night for Atlanta. He was 1 for 12 from the field for three points while playing only 24 minutes.

NOTES: Newly retired Braves 3B Chipper Jones attended the game with two of his sons. ... Lee has scored 20 or more points in eight straight games, the longest streak of his career. ... Hawks G Anthony Morrow (sore back) did not play. ... The Warriors continue to be without C Andrew Bogut, who is recovering from ankle surgery, and G Brandon Rush, who is out for the year with an injured left knee. ... Jarrett Jack, the former Georgia Tech star, had 13 points for Golden State.

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Tom Wilson’s suspension reduced to 14 games by neutral arbitrator

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USA TODAY Sports

Tom Wilson’s suspension reduced to 14 games by neutral arbitrator

Tom Wilson’s 20-game suspension has been reduced to 14 games by a neutral arbitrator meaning he is eligible to return as early as Tuesday against the Minnesota Wild. Elliotte Friedman was the first to report the arbitrator’s decision.

Wilson was suspended 20 games for a hit to the head of St. Louis Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist in the preseason. The suspension was announced on Oct. 3 and upheld by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman on Wilson’s first appeal.

Though the second appeal was technically successful in getting the suspension reduced, the lengthy process ended up costing him an extra two games as the Caps are already 16 games into the season. The good news for him is that he will recoup $378,048.78 of the over $1.2 million he was originally due to forfeit as a result of the suspension.

This marks the second suspension that Shyam Das, the neutral arbitrator, has reduced this season. Nashville Predators forward Austin Watson was suspended 27 games for domestic assault, but had his suspension reduced to 18 games after taking his appeal to the neutral arbitrator.

Tuesday’s ruling may mark the end of Wilson’s suspension and of the appeals process, but it hardly marks the end of the entire saga and controversy surrounding Wilson and his style of play. A 14-game suspension is still significant and should not be seen as vindication that Wilson did nothing wrong in the eyes of the league.

If there is another suspension, it will be longer and neither Wilson nor the Caps can afford for that to happen. Wilson still must change the way he plays or everyone is going to end up going through this entire process again and nobody wants that.

The Caps will have a morning skate at 12:30 p.m. ET which should provide more clarity on whether Todd Reirden intends to play Wilson immediately and where he could slot into the lineup.

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What do the Capitals do with Jakub Vrana?

What do the Capitals do with Jakub Vrana?

You don’t have to watch Jakub Vrana very long to realize just how talented he is. Unfortunately for him, you also don’t have to watch very long to realize how turnover prone he can be as well.

Carelessness with puck management has been one of the glaring issues for the Caps in the early season and Vrana, as he has been for much of his young career, is certainly guilty of that.

Vrana’s combination of talent and penchant for on-ice mistakes presents a problem for head coach Todd Reirden as he has to find the right place plug him into the lineup. That challenge has thus far proven difficult.

Vrana entered the Nov. 3 game against the Dallas Stars on the top line.  After a minus-three game and a turnover in overtime that led to Dallas’ game-winning goal, he found himself on the fourth line the very next game with barely eight minutes of ice time.

“We'll continue to try to remove those glaring turnovers or defense mistakes from his game,” Reirden said recently. “I think it's something that has improved compared to prior years which is why he spent the majority of the time up with those top-six guys, but it's sometimes good for a reset with some of the bottom-six guys and then start slotting him back in.”

At 22-years-old, mistakes on the ice are to be expected. But Vrana may take that to the extreme.

Not only does Vrana commit a lot of careless turnovers, he is also guilty of taking far too many penalties. Vrana ranks third on the team with 14 penalty minutes.

Mistakes by a forward are not nearly as glaring to a coach as those by a defensemen considering the mistakes tend to happen in the offensive zone and are less likely to result in a goal for the other team. When those offensive zone mistakes lead to offensive zone penalties, however, that’s a different story.

But Vrana is simply too skilled to bury in the lineup or take out altogether. With four even-strength goals, Vrana is tied for the third-most on the team behind only T.J. Oshie (7) and Alex Ovechkin (6). Of all the forwards Reirden has cycled into the top line in Tom Wilson’s absence to play with Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov, Vrana was the player who seemed to fit the best. He does not provide the same sort of defensive balance to the top line as Wilson does, but no one has been able to step in and adequately fill Wilson’s spot thus far. Vrana added an extra element of speed and offensive skill to an already dangerous line and seemed to show chemistry with Kuznetsov especially.

“There's some really good things that he's showing,” Reirden said. “The speed he plays with, the release of his shot, the chances he's getting, you've got to try to find ways to get him out there more.”

But Wilson will soon return to fill his top line role and Reirden will soon get his full lineup for the first time this season. Yet, almost a quarter into the season Vrana still makes it hard to find the right spot for him.

Putting Vrana on a line with Nicklas Backstrom and Oshie – if Reirden reunites Ovechkin and Kuznetsov – seems like the best fit. Backstrom and Oshie can make up for Vrana’s defensive issues and Vrana can provide speed on an otherwise slower line.

But at some point, Vrana has to cut back on the turnovers and the penalties.

“You've got to continue to show him,” Reirden said. “Continue to show him, continue to `remind him, continue to teach and help him grow and get better. That's a young player trying to become a top-six full time.”

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