Wizards

Melvin leads DePaul to 83-73 win over Providence

Melvin leads DePaul to 83-73 win over Providence

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) Cleveland Melvin scored 23 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead DePaul to an 83-73 win over cold-shooting Providence on Saturday night.

Brandon Young and Jamee Crockett each had 15 points for DePaul (10-5, 1-1 Big East). The Blue Demons snapped a two-game losing streak and improved to 4-0 on the road, their best start away from home since winning the initial five to start the 1993-94 season.

The Blue Demons led by seven at halftime, opened it to double digits early in the second half and never had their lead fall below 11 points until the closing 2 1/2 minutes.

Providence's Bryce Cotton, the Big East's second-leading scorer at 21.5 points per game, had 20 points, 16 coming in the closing 3 1/2 minutes. He was 4 of 13 from the floor.

Kadeem Batts had 17 points and Vincent Council added 16 points and six assists for the Friars (8-6, 0-2), who shot 38 percent (24 of 63) and missed their initial 10 3-point attempts.

DePaul, which led 37-30 at the half, turned its full court press into a pair of easy baskets by Crockett in the opening minute of the second half. Melvin then nailed a turnaround bank shot, giving the Blue Demons a 43-30 lead with 17:25 to play and forcing Providence to call time-out out with boos echoing from the home crowd.

The Blue Demons continued to build their lead while the Friars kept missing shots, using a 9-0 run to pull to a 59-38 advantage on Moses Morgan's put-back with 11 1/2 minutes left. Providence missed 11 of its first 14 shots in the opening 8 minutes of the second half.

Donnavan Kirk's 3-point play gave DePaul a 62-40 lead with 9:52 left.

The Friars used a press of their own to get a few steals in a late charge, closing it to 70-60 on Cotton's 3-pointer with 2:37 to go. Cotton had another 3 and a free throw to make it 72-64 with just under 2 minutes left.

In the first half, neither team held more than a two-possession lead until the Blue Demons scored the final six points of the half, taking a 37-30 edge into intermission.

In the sloppily played opening 20 minutes that lacked any flow, mainly caused by the Blue Demons' half and fullcourt trapping defense that had Providence struggling to get into its offensive sets, the Friars started ice cold from the floor and missed eight of their initial 10 shots. DePaul was even worse, making just 2 of 11, forcing a handful of long jumpers against Providence's 2-3 zone defense. The Blue Demons couldn't figure out how to get the ball inside in the early minutes.

The Friars, coming off an 18-point loss at No. 4 Louisville on Wednesday, led 22-17 before Melvin scored all nine points during a 9-2 run over a 1:47 stretch that pushed DePaul ahead for the rest of the half.

Cotton didn't start and was held without a basket until he had a fast-break layup with 1:37 left in the half, cutting it to 31-30 before the Blue Demons had the final six points of the half.

The Blue Demons lost their conference opener by one point at home against Seton Hall.

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Enormity of the Wizards’ offseason and long-term future will hinge on the May 14 Draft Lottery

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USA TODAY SPORTS

Enormity of the Wizards’ offseason and long-term future will hinge on the May 14 Draft Lottery

With the 2018-19 season in the rearview for the Washington Wizards, we at NBC Sports Washington are analyzing the five biggest questions of what should be the most consequential offseason they have had in years...

NO. 5: WILL THE WIZARDS GET LUCKY IN THE DRAFT LOTTERY ON MAY 14?

Though the Washington Wizards made some poor decisions to create the mess their next general manager will need to clean up, they have also been struck with a good deal of bad luck. John Wall falling in his home and rupturing his Achilles tendon certainly qualifies. Dwight Howard suffering a relapse with his back and requiring surgery to repair a herniated disc was out of their control. And if Bradley Beal makes All-NBA and qualifies for a supermax this summer, the timing would not be ideal as far as their finances are concerned.

The Wizards have long been one of the most snakebitten franchises in sports and even stand out in a city where curses are often blamed for sports misery. They could use some luck for a change and especially on the night of May 14.

That's when the 2019 NBA draft lottery will take place in Chicago, Ill. ESPN will broadcast the event live at 8:30 p.m. as the ping-pong balls fly through the air, determining the order for the June 20 draft and therefore the future of the league.

The Wizards will for the first time since 2013 have high stakes in the lottery. They had finished with at least a .500 record for five straight seasons before bottoming out in 2018-19. But their 32-50 record this past season gave them the sixth-best lottery odds and, in the first year under new lottery rules, that has left them in excellent shape ahead of May 14.

The Wizards lottery odds will break down pick-by-pick like this:

1st - 9.0%

2nd - 9.2%

3rd - 9.4%

4th - 9.6%

5th - N/A

6th - 8.6%

7th - 29.6%

8th - 20.6%

9th - 3.8%

10th - 0.2%

The two most important numbers to consider are nine and 37.2. They have a nine percent chance at the first overall pick and a 37.2 percent shot at selecting in the top four.

The Wizards' nine percent odds at No. 1 are only five ticks lower than the top teams in lottery odds, the Knicks, Cavs and Suns who are tied at 14 percent. Though their chances are still less than one-in-ten, that means they will be very much in the mix to land the ultimate prize, Duke forward Zion Williamson.

Williamson would change everything for the team that drafts him, but perhaps especially for the Wizards, considering the alternative direction their franchise could go. They already fired their general manager and have an uncertain future with their head coach Scott Brooks and arguably with their best player, Beal, as well. They appear to be teetering on the brink of a rebuild and Williamson could jumpstart them into the other direction.

No draft prospect, maybe with the exception of LeBron James in 2003, offers guarantees. Williamson could top out as a good, but not great player. But few who have dominated college basketball quite like he did have then failed to live up to the hype. Consider the fact he is only the third freshman ever to win the Naismith award for NCAA's best player. The other two were Anthony Davis and Kevin Durant.

One NBA front office executive told NBC Sports Washington he believes Williamson will be an All-Star as a rookie and not just because of fan voting. He has superstar potential, both from a production and marketing standpoint. Williamson would likely step right in as at least the Wizards' second-best healthy player and as the face of their franchise, the player most associate them with.

Landing the top pick is not the only way May 14 can result in a success for the Wizards. Jumping into the top four would be a major victory, especially in this year's draft which appears to be top-heavy. That could mean a chance to draft Ja Morant of Murray State or R.J. Barrett, Williamson's teammate at Duke. 

Barrett would be a nice fit alongside Beal and Wall when he returns from injury. He complements them positionally and has All-Star potential.

If Morant is the best player on the board, the Wizards should take him. But doing so would create a brand new storyline of how he would co-exist with Wall, who plays the same position. That dynamic would be hard to ignore for as long as they are together in the organization.

Though the Wizards have a better than one-in-three shot at the top four, their two most likely landing spots are No. 7 and 8 overall. If the Wizards did not make a major jump in the lottery, they may be wise to trade back and acquire more picks. They do not have a second round pick this year and not until 2023. They also have roster spots to fill and could use more young (and cheap) players.

The Wizards may not have to trade back very far to stock their cupboard with more picks. Last June, the Hawks got a lightly-protected first round pick from the Mavericks for going back from No. 3 to No. 5. The Sixers traded back from 10th to 16th with the Suns and scooped the Miami Heat's unprotected 2021 first round pick.

In a draft that most consider to not be deep outside of the top four or five picks, the Wizards may not see a huge difference in the eight pick and, say, selecting 12th. And that could be the key to getting another first or a collection of second round picks.

There are so many scenarios for the Wizards that all depend on their luck on May 14. Who they choose to send as their representative will be interesting. Will it be Beal, who right now is their biggest star? How about Wall, who was the first overall pick in 2010 and would be able to impact the franchise in an indirect way despite his long-term injury absence? It could also be whomever they hire as their new GM, or someone in the ownership group.

The Wizards, like the 13 other teams in the lottery, will be hoping for a blessing from the basketball gods.

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Capitals defensive prospect Aaron Ness stable after scary injury in Hershey playoff game

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Capitals defensive prospect Aaron Ness stable after scary injury in Hershey playoff game

In their first game against the Bridgeport Tigers to kick off the 2019 Calder Cup playoffs, the Hershey Bears lost blueliner Aaron Ness to a serious injury in the third period.

After Travis St. Denis put pressure on Ness from behind, Ness lost an edge and slid into the goal post and then crashed head-first into the boards, where he was seemingly knocked unconscious. He laid motionless for a few moments as he received attention from medical personnel.

The 28-year-old was stretchered off the ice and transported to Bridgeport Hospital, where he underwent further evaluation. Bears play-by-play announcer Zack Fisch later reported through Dan "Beaker" Stuck that Ness was awake and alert at the hospital and getting x-rays, according to Chocolate Hockey.

The Bears posted an update on Twitter Saturday in regards to his status, saying that he is in stable condition and is expected to be released. It's unclear when he will return to action, but it likely won't be anytime soon.

Ness, one of Hershey's six alternate captains, had 50 assists and 55 points in 71 games with the Bears in the regular season. He has three points in 18 games up in the NHL with Washington.

After the Sound Tigers tied the game following the Ness injury to force OT, Kieffer Bellows scored in double overtime to lift Bridgeport to a 3-2 win to take Game 1 of the series. St. Denis has been suspended one game for the hit, according to NHL.com's Tom Gulitti.

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