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NBA Capsules

NBA Capsules

NEW YORK (AP) Luol Deng scored a season-high 33 points in the Chicago Bulls' third victory over New York this season, a 108-101 win Friday that sent the Knicks to their season-high third straight loss.

Topping the 29 points he scored here last month, Deng shot 13 of 18 from the field and also led the defensive effort that contained Carmelo Anthony in the decisive first half of his return from a one-game suspension.

Carlos Boozer added 17 points for the Bulls, whose offense won't be at full strength until Derrick Rose is back from knee surgery, yet they still shot 57 percent.

Anthony ended up with 39 points for the Knicks, who were roughed up again a night after losing in Indiana.

HAWKS 103, JAZZ 95

ATLANTA (AP) - ATLANTA (AP) - Devin Harris scored a season-high 24 points and Atlanta rallied from 15 points down in the second half.

Randy Foye had 25 points to lead Utah, which had won four of five but was denied its first back-to-back road wins of the season. Al Jefferson had 23 points and 10 rebounds and Paul Milsap had 20 points and 13 rebounds for the Jazz.

The Hawks, who trailed 75-60 in the third quarter, played from behind before taking their first lead of the second half on consecutive baskets by Al Horford. The second basket by Horford, set up by Josh Smith's pass, gave Atlanta a 94-92 lead with 2:44 remaining.

Jefferson answered with a tying basket before Ivan Johnson scored on a fast break to give the lead back to Atlanta. Utah's Jamaal Tinsley made one of two free throws to leave the Hawks' lead at 96-95. Josh Smith's short jumper and Lou Williams' 3-pointer padded the lead.

HORNETS 104, TIMBERWOLVES 92

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Greivis Vasquez had 18 points and 13 assists to lead New Orleans to its fourth straight win.

Eric Gordon added 16 points, Ryan Anderson had 15, Jason Smith 14, Al-Farouz Aminu 12 and Roger Mason 10 for the Hornets, who have won five out of six with Gordon in the starting lineup.

Luke Ridnour scored 20 points to lead a balanced Timberwolves offense. Nikola Pekovic added 18 points, Andrei Kirilenko 17, Dante Cunningham 12 and Alexey Shved 11.

New Orleans trailed 29-14 after the first quarter but outscored Minnesota 56-32 over the next two periods to take a 70-61 lead.

The Hornets hit the century mark for the first time since 113-102 loss to Minnesota on Dec. 14.

CELTICS 103, ROCKETS 91

BOSTON (AP) - Paul Pierce scored 16 of his 23 points in the second half and Kevin Garnett added 17 points and four blocks as Boston nearly blew a 17-point lead before pulling away late.

The Celtics extended their season-high winning streak to five games, but only after surviving a 12-0 run that pulled the Rockets within two points midway through the fourth quarter.

Rajon Rondo finished with 12 points and eight assists for the Celtics. Courtney Lee and Jared Sullinger scored 14 apiece and Sullinger also had 11 rebounds for his second straight double-double.

James Harden scored 24 and Chandler Parsons added 18 for Houston, which fell to 0-2 during a three-game road trip that concludes Saturday in Philadelphia.

NETS 99, SUNS 79

NEW YORK (AP) - Joe Johnson scored 19 points and MarShon Brooks added 17 points off the bench as Brooklyn won its fifth straight.

The Nets have won three straight games by 20 or more points for the first time in the team's NBA history.

Deron Williams added 14 points and Andray Blatche chipped in 15 points and eight rebounds as the Nets ended a five game home losing streak against Phoenix.

Jared Dudley led the Suns with 18 points and Shannon Brown had 15 off the bench as Phoenix lost its fifth straight and for the 11th time in 12 games.

RAPTORS 99, BOBCATS 78

TORONTO (AP) - Alan Anderson scored 16 points against his former team, Jose Calderon had 15 and Toronto won for the 10th time in 13 games.

Amir Johnson had 13 points and eight rebounds while Ed Davis had 12 points and eight boards for the Raptors, who led by as many as 24. Anderson had four of Toronto's 12 3-pointers, while Calderon and Kyle Lowry each made three.

Starting for the second straight game, Toronto's Landry Fields matched his season high with 11 rebounds.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kemba Walker and Ben Gordon each scored 12 points as Charlotte's modest streak of two straight road victories came to an end.

PISTONS 103, BUCKS 87

MILWAUKEE (AP) - Greg Monroe had 26 points and 11 rebounds, Brandon Knight scored 20 points, and Detroit handed Milwaukee interim coach Jim Boylan his first loss.

Detroit led 74-60 going into the fourth quarter and squashed any hope of a Bucks comeback when Monroe scored on a hook shot, layup and dunk and Knight added a 3 as the lead grew to 83-62 with 9:57 to play.

Rodney Stuckey's 3 gave the Pistons another 21-point lead with 2:48 to go and the Bucks didn't get closer than 14 again.

Brandon Jennings and Beno Udrih had 15 points for Milwaukee.

Boylan, who took over for the fired Scott Skiles earlier this week, had won his first two games - against Phoenix on Tuesday and Chicago on Wednesday.

GRIZZLIES 101, SPURS 98, OT

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Rudy Gay hit a pullup jumper from 14 feet with 27.8 seconds left, and Memphis held off San Antonio in overtime for its fourth straight victory and the first over its Southwest Division rival since the 2011 playoffs.

Gay led Memphis with 23 points, and Mike Conley had 21 points and five assists

San Antonio had won five straight in the series since the Grizzlies upset the then-No. 1 seed in the opening round in 2011. The Spurs also had a 2 1/2-game divisional lead on Memphis coming into this game - with the Grizzlies having played five fewer games - and the teams played at postseason intensity despite the calendar.

Tony Parker, who finished with 30 points for the Spurs, forced overtime, beating the buzzer with a 27-footer tying it at 95. He also opened the extra period with a 3 that turned out to be the Spurs' only bucket as San Antonio went 1 of 10 from the floor. Manu Ginobili missed a long 3 just before the buzzer.

NUGGETS 98, CAVALIERS 91

DENVER (AP) - Danilo Gallinari scored 23 points, hitting a crucial 3-pointer in the waning seconds, and Denver rallied for the win after trailing for the most of the game.

Kosta Koufos added a career-high 21 points and Kenneth Faried had 17 points and 11 rebounds to help the Nuggets withstand 22 turnovers, which matched a season high and led to 24 Cleveland points. It was the fourth win in a row for the Nuggets, who beat Cleveland for the 10th time in the last 13 meetings in Denver.

Kyrie Irving, playing despite an illness, scored 28 points to lead the Cavaliers. Dion Waiters had 18 points and Tristan Thompson 16.

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Burakovsky is back in for Game 6

Burakovsky is back in for Game 6

Coach Barry Trotz indicated that Andre Burakovsky’s benching wouldn’t last long.

And it didn’t.

The 23-year-old winger will return to the lineup on Monday night as the Caps look to stave off elimination in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final.

During the morning skate, Burakovsky skated on the third line with Lars Eller and Brett Connolly—a trio that’s enjoyed some success in the past.

It’s been a difficult postseason for Burakovsky, who has not recorded a point in six games. He missed 10 contests after suffering a hand injury in Game 2 of the first round that required minor surgery.

What he found out upon returning was this: coming back from injury in the regular season is hard...and it’s exponentially tougher in the playoffs.

“It’s definitely tough to jump in in the semifinal,” he said. “When you’re out, you just want to get in and help the team and do what you’re good at—score goals and produce.”

“What I realized is that it’s not that easy,” he added. “I really thought I could jump in and just play like I did before I got injured. 

But obviously it didn’t work out as well I thought it would.”  

Burakovsky also said that he’s planning to work with a sports psychologist this summer in an effort to maintain an even keel when things aren’t going as well as he would like. It’s a problem that he said he’s struggled with since his childhood.

Asked what he hopes to see from Burakovsky in Game 6, Coach Barry Trotz kept it simple: offense.

The Caps have scored just two goals in each of the last three games, with Evgeny Kuznetsov contributing 50-percent of that total.

“He’s a guy that’s given us some good offense all through his time here,” Trotz said of Burakovsky. “We think that he can add some of that.”

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5 keys for the Caps to win Game 6 and force a decisive Game 7 against the Lightning

5 keys for the Caps to win Game 6 and force a decisive Game 7 against the Lightning

The more you look at Monday's Game 6 between the Washington Capitals and the Tampa Bay Lightning, the more you realize this game is the most important game of Alex Ovechkin's career.

This is the first time Ovechkin and Co. have made it to the conference finals and it is the first time this postseason in which the Caps face elimination.

Here are the keys for the Caps to staving off elimination and forcing a Game 7:

1. Get off to a better start

It took Tampa Bay just 19 seconds to score in Game 5 and the score was 3-0 nothing before the Capitals really began to show any signs of life. They cannot allow the Lightning to jump all over them in the same way and take the crowd out of the game early.

With the game being in Washington, the Caps will have the crowd on their side. Use it.

The Caps have been at their best this series playing the trap, holding their own blue line and countering against Tampa Bay's aggressive defensemen leading to odd-man breaks. That's a hard gameplan to run if you're playing from behind. Scoring first would go a long way for Washington.

2. Stay out of the penalty box

Washington has given up six power play goals to Tampa Bay on just 15 opportunities in this series. That means the Lightning's power play is producing at a blistering rate of 40-percent. That's an insanely good power play rate and that may be putting it mildly.

So far, the penalty kill has had no answer for how to shut down a Tampa Bay unit that features Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov setting up for one-timers and being quarterbacked by Victor Hedman. That's a formidable cast.

If you can't beat it, then there's only one solution: Stay out of the box.

Despite everything that went wrong in Game 5, the one thing the Caps did right was not give up many penalties. They took only one on the night and even that one was avoidable as Brett Connolly got caught holding Brayden Point trying to get around him to get the puck.

3. Win the top line matchup

The Lightning have found success matching their fourth line against Ovechkin. Of his six points this series, only two of them (one goal, one assist) have come at 5-on-5. That's not good enough.

It's gut check time. The Caps need their best players to be at their best and that means Ovechkin has to win the matchup against Chris Kunitz, Cedric Paquette and Ryan Callahan. In Game 5, Tampa Bay's fourth line actually outscored Ovechkin's line in 5-on-5 play 2-0.

Washington will not win this game if the fourth line outscores Ovechkin's line. It's just that simple.

4. Take advantage of the power play opportunities

The Caps scored at least one power play goal in Game 1 and Game 2, both wins. They have not scored any since and have lost all three games since. They scored on three of seven opportunities in the first two games and zero of seven opportunities in the last three.

Not a coincidence.

Granted, they did not draw any penalties in Game 5, but it seems unlikely the Lightning will stay out of the box for another sixty minutes. At some point, they will take a penalty and when they do, Washington must take advantage.

5. Win the goalie matchup

Not much attention has been paid to Braden Holtby in this series. The Caps are not facing elimination because they have been getting bad goaltending, but when the Lightning needed Andrei Vasilevskiy to steal them a win and up his game to get them back into the series, he responded.

Vasilevskiy has been brilliant the last three games as he has turned aside 100 of the 106 shots he has faced for a .943 save percentage. For the series, Holtby has a save percentage of only .883.

Again, Washington is not down 3-2 in the series because of goaltending. Holtby has faced far fewer shots than Vasilevskiy and has been just about the only thing that has worked against Tampa Bay's lethal power play.

But as one of the team's top players, the Caps need Holtby to step up the way Vasilevskiy has. Game 6 will be about winning by any means necessary. If that means they need a hat trick from Ovechkin so be it. If that means they need Holtby to steal it for them, so be it.

Holtby has to be just as good as Vasilevskiy in Game 6, if not better, for Washington to come out on top.

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