WASHINGTON (AP) -- Candace Parker and Kristi Toliver scored 18 points each as the Los Angeles Sparks snapped a three-game skid with a 96-68 victory over the Washington Mystics on Friday night. Former Mystics star Alana Beard added 16 points for the Sparks (20-9), who swept the two-game season series against Washington. Los Angeles, which has already clinched a playoff berth and remains in second place in the Western Conference, finishes its five-game road trip Sunday against New York. Monique Curry scored 16 points for the Mystics (5-23), who lost their season-high seventh straight. Jasmine Thomas added 15 points for Washington, which was outscored 197-138 in its two losses to Los Angeles. The Sparks outrebounded the Mystics 39-29 and shot 62 percent from the floor (39 of 63) compared to the Mystics' 36 percent (25 of 69). Los Angeles led by 19 in the second quarter before settling for a 54-39 halftime lead. A 15-2 run stretched it to 34-20 early in the second, DeLisha Milton-Jones' corner 3-pointer later pushed it to 45-30, and Toliver hit back-to-back jumpers to make it 51-32. Mystics guard Shannon Bobbitt hit a 38-foot bank shot at the halftime buzzer. It was more of the same in the second half, with the lead growing to 83-56 early in the fourth quarter. Beard, making her first visit to the Verizon Center since signing with the Sparks in the offseason, received a loud ovation from the crowd in pregame introductions. The four-time WNBA All Star, selected by the Mystics in the first round of the 2004 draft, played six seasons in Washington before foot and ankle injuries forced her to miss the entire 2010 and 2011 seasons.
The Stanley Cup is not the only trophy that will be awarded at the end of the Stanley Cup Final series between the Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights. The Conn Smythe will also be given to the player deemed the most valuable to his team during the playoffs.
Who will that player be?
It's not hard to figure out who the frontrunner is right now. Marc-Andre Fleury hasn't just been the best goalie in the playoffs, he's been the best player with a dominant postseason in which he has posted a .947 save percentage and four shutouts. He has been so dominant, he could win it even if Vegas loses the series.
The last player from the losing team to win the Conn Smythe was Jean-Sebastian Giguere from the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in 2003.
But what about the Caps?
Alex Ovechkin is the leader of Washington and has been absolutely dominant throughout the postseason. He even scored the series-clinching goal in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final.
Surprisingly, however, Ovechkin does not lead the team in points through the playoffs. Evgeny Kuznetsov holds that edge with 24 points to Ovechkin's 22.
Will their offensive dominance propel them to win the Cup and the Conn Smythe? Will a different player emerge as the hero of the series?
MORE CAPITALS PLAYOFF NEWS:
Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, May 26, 17 days before the Washington Redskins start minicamp.
Note: I am vacationing in the Outer Banks this week. In this space, I’ll be presenting some of the most popular posts of the last few months. I hope you enjoy these “best of” presentations and I’ll see you folks when I get back.
Contract makes Alex Smith a Redskins for at least three seasons
This post was originally published on March 19.
When the Redskins traded for Alex Smith on January 30, news also broke that he had agreed to a four-year extension with Washington in addition to the one year left on his contract with the Chiefs. While we got some top-line numbers on the deal, we have gone since then without any details.
The details show a deal that has a slightly higher cap hit in 2018 than was on his original Chiefs contract and the numbers rise gradually over the life of the deal, which runs through 2022.
Smith got a $27 million signing bonus and his salaries for 2018 ($13 million) and 2019 ($15 million) also are fully guaranteed at signing making the total $55 million (information via Over the Cap, which got data from a report by Albert Breer).
But there I another $16 million that is guaranteed for all practical purposes. On the fifth day of the 2019 league year, his 2020 salary of $16 million becomes fully guaranteed. He almost assuredly will get to the point where that money will become guaranteed since the Redskins are not going to cut him after one year having invested $55 million in him. So the total guarantees come to $71 million.
His 2021 salary is $19 million and it goes up to $21 million in 2022. There have been reports of some incentives available to Smith but since we have no details we’ll set those aside for now.
The cap hits on the contract are as follows:
2018: $18.4 million
2019: $20.0 million
2020: $21.4 million
2021: $24.4 million
2022: $26.4 million
The Redskins can realistically move on from Smith after 2020. There would be net cap savings of $13 million in 2021 and $21 million in 2022.
The first impression of the deal is that the Redskins did not move on from Kirk Cousins because they didn’t want to guarantee a lot of money to a quarterback. The total practical guarantee of $71 million is second only to Cousins’ $82.5 million. It should be noted that Cousins’ deal runs for three years and Smith’s contract is for five.