Capitals

NBA Capsules

NBA Capsules

ATLANTA (AP) Tony Parker had 23 points and 12 assists, and the San Antonio Spurs held off the short-handed Atlanta Hawks 98-93 on Saturday night for their fourth straight victory.

Matt Bonner added 17 points, and Kawhi Leonard and Tiago Splitter each had 14 for the Spurs.

The Hawks announced about 90 minutes before the game that guard Lou Williams faces season-ending surgery for a torn ACL in his right knee. Williams was hurt Friday at Brooklyn and the tear was found when Williams was examined on Saturday by Dr. Michael Bernot in Atlanta.

Then the Hawks lost guard Devin Harris to a sprained left ankle in the third quarter.

Josh Smith led the Hawks with 21 points. Kyle Korver, who started at shooting guard, had 19 points.

Spurs forward Tim Duncan was not in uniform as he was given the night off by coach Gregg Popovich.

GRIZZLIES 85, BULLS 82, OT

CHICAGO (AP) - Marc Gasol scored 19 points, Zach Randolph had 13 points and 19 rebounds, and Memphis beat Chicago in overtime.

Memphis scored the first six points of the extra period, Gasol's putback making it 82-76. The Bulls cut it to 83-80 on Jimmy Butler's layup and had a chance to tie, but Nate Robinson missed a 3-pointer with 25 seconds left.

Robinson made a layup with 6.6 seconds left, but Jerryd Bayless scored with 4.8 seconds remaining to make it 85-82. Carlos Boozer missed a 3 as time expired.

Chicago, playing its third consecutive overtime game in four days, didn't have enough in overtime. The Bulls played without forward Luol Deng and had to fight back from a 17-point, third-quarter deficit.

CLIPPERS 94, WIZARDS 87

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Chris Paul had 22 points and 11 assists, Blake Griffin added 17 points and 11 rebounds, and Los Angeles hung on to beat pesky Washington for its 24th win in 27 games.

The Clippers won despite shooting a season-low 36.6 percent from the field. Paul, the NBA player of the month for December, returned to the lineup after missing three games because of a bruised right kneecap and scored seven points in the final 3:14.

The surging Clips are within a half-game of idle Oklahoma City for the NBA's best record, a full game ahead of San Antonio. The top teams in the Western Conference will go head-to-head on Tuesday night at Los Angeles in a rematch of their overtime battle on Nov. 21, when the Thunder beat the Clippers 117-111 in Griffin's hometown.

John Wall scored 24 points off the bench for the Wizards, whose league-worst record dropped to 8-30 even though they had won four of their previous five games.

WARRIORS 116, HORNETS 112

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Klay Thompson had a season-high 29 points, Jarrett Jack scored seven of his 25 in the final minute and Golden State beat New Orleans.

The Warriors trailed 110-108 in a topsy-turvy game when Jack hit two free throws with 52 seconds left to tie the score. He converted a tough floater to give Golden State a 112-110 lead, and he finished off the Hornets with three free throws.

Thompson scored 24 in the first half as the Warriors led by as much as 16. Jack, who played for the Hornets last season, added 12 assists. Stephen Curry, returning after missing two games with a right ankle sprain, had 17 of his 20 points in the second half.

Eric Gordon scored 23 points for the Hornets, who lost despite shooting a season-high 57 percent. Rookie Anthony Davis added 20 points and 12 rebounds.

BUCKS 110, TRAIL BLAZERS 104

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Brandon Jennings had 30 points and eight assists, Ersan Ilyasova added 27 points and 14 rebounds, and Milwaukee beat Portland to wrap up a 3-1 road trip.

Damian Lillard had 26 points and 10 assists for Portland, which has lost a season-high five straight games. LaMarcus Aldridge had 20 points and 14 rebounds, while Wesley Matthews added 21 points.

Mike Dunleavy had 14 points and Monta Ellis added 13 for Milwaukee, which is 5-2 since Jim Boylan took over as coach from Scott Skiles. Ilyasova shot 10 of 14 from the field and made all three of his 3-point attempts and all four of his free throws.

TIMBERWOLVES 92, ROCKETS 79

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Chris Johnson and Mickael Gelabale signed 10-day contracts with Minnesota on Saturday morning, then scored the first 23 points of the fourth quarter to lift the Timberwolves over the slumping Houston Rockets.

Johnson, signed from Santa Cruz of the NBA Development League, scored 13 of his 15 points in the fourth. Gelabale, a forward who arrived from France on Thursday, had 10 of his 11 points in the final 12 minutes to help the injury-plagued Wolves snap a five-game skid.

James Harden scored 18 points on 5-of-18 shooting for the Rockets, who have lost seven straight games. Houston shot 32 percent and committed 20 turnovers in another lethargic effort that had coach Kevin McHale scrambling to find anybody who could give them some energy.

KINGS 97, BOBCATS 93

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Marcus Thornton scored 18 points off the bench, Tyreke Evans came up big down the stretch, and Sacramento held on to beat Charlotte for its third win in four games.

After scoring just 69 points in a 16-point loss to Memphis a night earlier, the Kings made sure there would be not be another offensive letdown.

They led most of the way but needed a late burst from Evans, who scored six of the team's last nine points in the final four minutes.

Evans finished with 16 points. DeMarcus Cousins added 17 points and 10 rebounds, and James Johnson chipped in with nine points and nine rebounds for the Kings (16-25).

JAZZ 109, CAVALIERS 98

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Randy Foye scored 20 points, Derrick Favors had a season-high 19 and Utah beat Cleveland.

Utah (22-19) used a 31-point third quarter to take a 16-point lead into the fourth. The Jazz have won five of their last six, and six straight over the Cavs.

Dion Waiters led the Cavs (10-32) with 23 points off the bench. Kyrie Irving added 18 points but started 1 of 7 from the field before finishing 7 of 20.

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What winning the Stanley Cup would actually mean, a fan's perspective

What winning the Stanley Cup would actually mean, a fan's perspective

Just four more wins. It hardly seems possible.

For only the second time ever and for the first time in 20 years, the Capitals will be playing in the Stanley Cup Final. And they could actually win it.

They’re not there yet. The Vegas Golden Knights have cruised through the playoffs thus far and continue to shock the hockey community with their postseason run. Washington’s players need to think about how to beat Vegas, not what happens after.

But while the players cannot and should not look ahead, for fans, it’s hard not to. It’s hard not to dream about that moment when Gary Bettman hands the Stanley Cup over to Alex Ovechkin.

Winning the conference is always a huge achievement that should be celebrated, but this year is different than 1998’s run. Back in 1998, the Caps played against a Detroit Red Wings team that is one of the greatest teams in NHL history. They were the defending champions after sweeping the Philadelphia Flyers the year before. Washington suffered the same fate as the Flyers, losing in just four games.

This year is a battle between two more evenly matched teams. Picking the Caps to win this series is not outlandish or crazy at all. This year, they could actually do it.

So before the puck drops for Game 1 and all dreams are pushed aside for the realities of what may happen, allow a fan a chance to think about what seeing the Washington Capitals actually hoist the Stanley Cup would actually mean.

Breaking news: Washington is not Canada and the Capitals are not an original six team. Hockey is not ingrained in the culture of D.C. the way it is in Canadian cities or in places like Boston and Detroit. Unlike in Vegas where the success of the team in its inaugural season has caught the city by storm, the Capitals won only eight games in their first year. Eight wins doesn’t exactly help a team grow roots in the community.

If you’ve been a fan of the Capitals long enough, chances are you’ve seen some pretty tough times. There have been plenty of playoff disappointments in this team’s history even before the current era. There was also the rebuild that began before the lockout that saw a very bad team play in front of a half empty stadium for several years. And they would not have even gotten to that point without the “Save the Caps” campaign in 1982.

But through it all, that small group of hardcore fans kept coming back. Some may have wavered from time to time, but they came back because being a hockey fan is different than other sports.

It’s hard to be a sports fan in any city with an NFL team and not follow football. Football may not even be your sport, but there is almost on obligation to following it because coverage and interest in football is so prevalent. It’s hard to avoid.

You have to seek out hockey

Hockey at times has been viewed as more of a niche sport than mainstream. Before the age of Alex Ovechkin, if you were from Washington and you were following the Caps, it was because you loved both.

So why did those Caps fans keep coming back after so much heartbreak? Because despite all of the disappointing seasons we always walked away telling ourselves, this will just make it that much sweeter when they do win.

One day, it will all be worth it.

That’s why we watch sports, isn’t it? We watch with the knowledge that sometimes, our hearts will be broken but it’s OK because the good will always outweigh the bad. And the worse the bad times are, the better the good times will feel afterward.

We kept telling ourselves that for a long time, but admittedly some years were tougher to get past than others. It’s hard to keep believing when you’ve seen your rival beat you nine times out of 10 in the playoffs heading into this year’s postseason. It’s hard when a team cannot seem to overcome its playoff history despite having one of the best players of all-time on its roster.

When Ovechkin was drafted, the question we all asked ourselves was not whether he would bring a Cup to Washington, but how many? He brought new fans with him, he brought excitement with him, he brought validation with him…at least initially.

But with every passing year, doubt began to creep into our minds. The upset loss to Montreal in 2010 stung, but Ovechkin was still 24. There was still hope that one day, he would still win the Cup.

Now at 32 years old, many did not know what to expect from the Great 8 this year. When would decline start to show in his game?

Ovechkin is part of why we want the Cup so badly. We want to see the best player in this franchise’s history honored. We want to see the player who transformed hockey in Washington from niche sport to mainstream take his proper place in the sport’s history. No one wants to hear him described as one of the best players to never win a Cup because he should be remembered as one of the best players, period.

But that’s not all of it.

This is about all those times we told ourselves this would all be worth it someday. This is about how we used to cope with the sting of another postseason heartbreak by thinking about what it would feel like when it was finally our year. This is about how we stuck with the team when the stadium was half empty. This is about the blue jersey in our closet with the eagle on the front and the black one hanging next to it with the capitol building on the front. This is about all the 5, 12, 32 and 37 jerseys. This is about replacing Esa Tikkanen as our lasting Stanley Cup memory.

When the Washington Redskins have a rough year, those fans who can remember them think about those three Super Bowl wins. When the Washington Wizards fall short, those fans who can remember it think about the championship in 1978. Even if you’re too young to remember the Super Bowls or NBA championship, those banners still give your team a sense of validation. They have their little piece of history to be proud of.

That’s what this would mean. A Stanley Cup would be not just for the players, it would be for the fans who stuck it out through thick and thin, those fans who despite everything still supported their team. This win would be about the Capitals forever earning their spot in the heart of Washington sports alongside the Redskins and Wizards.

This would be about never having to tell ourselves again that someday all the love we pour into this team will pay off.

A Stanley Cup would mean finally getting to experience a championship and realizing, yeah, it was all worth it.

Let’s go Caps!

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Capital One Bank just made a Caps-themed update to its logo and we're here for it

Capital One Bank just made a Caps-themed update to its logo and we're here for it

Capital One is repping the district in a big way: by changing their logo to incorporate the Capitals' font and name. 

The new Capital One logo appears on the bank's websites and social media ahead of the Caps' Stanley Cup Final games, which begin on Memorial Day Monday in Vegas.

The McLean, Virginia, based bank recently purchased the naming rights to the Capitals' home arena, formerly known as "Verizon Center." And in the first year of its renaming, the Capitals have advanced to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 20 years. Coincidence? 

We've seen a small, Northern Virginia town change its name to "Capitalsville," and now Capital One Bank is all-in for the Caps.

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