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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Kevin Durant scored 35 points, Russell Westbrook added 23 and Oklahoma City's All-Star tandem scored all of the Thunder's points in overtime in a 117-111 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night.

Westbrook connected on a 3-pointer from the left wing to open the scoring in overtime, and Durant rattled one in from about the same spot two possessions later for a 108-104 advantage.

Westbrook then answered DeAndre Jordan's three-point play with a baseline jumper, and Oklahoma City was able to close it out from the foul line.

Blake Griffin led Los Angeles with 23 points, and Jamal Crawford had 20 in the meeting of Western Conference division leaders. The Clippers had won six in a row.

HEAT 113, BUCKS 106, OT

MIAMI (AP) - LeBron James had 28 points and 10 rebounds, Dwyane Wade also had 28 points and Miami scored the first six points of overtime on the way to beating Milwaukee.

Chris Bosh scored 24 points and grabbed 18 rebounds, his most in a Heat uniform. James also had eight assists, and Ray Allen scored 17 points for the Heat.

John Henson had 17 points and 18 rebounds for Milwaukee, and Brandon Jennings had 19 points.

KINGS 113, LAKERS 97

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - Marcus Thornton scored 23 points, Tyreke Evans had 18 and Sacramento beat lethargic Los Angeles to snap a five-game losing streak.

Jason Thompson added 13 points and 10 rebounds to help the Kings hand new Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni his first loss with the team. Los Angeles had won three straight.

MAVERICKS 114, KNICKS 111

DALLAS (AP) - O.J. Mayo scored 10 of 27 points in the final 6 minutes of the third quarter when Dallas charged ahead, and the Mavericks held off New York.

Vince Carter had 25 points, including a floater with 6 minutes left that made it 102-90.

The Knicks then had a 21-10 spurt, getting to 112-111 on Jason Kidd's two free throws with 1:15 left. Carmelo Anthony, who had 23 points, was short on a potential go-ahead jumper with 4 seconds left.

NUGGETS 101, TIMBERWOLVES 94

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Danilo Gallinari scored 19 points, and Andre Iguodala had 18 points and nine rebounds for Denver to spoil Kevin Love's surprise season debut for Minnesota.

Love had 34 points and 14 rebounds, helping the Wolves take a 17-point lead in the first half. But he didn't get a whole lot of help in his first game in nearly five weeks after breaking his right hand.

PACERS 115, HORNETS 107, OT

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Paul George scored 33 of his career-high 37 points in the second half and overtime, and Roy Hibbert had a triple-double in Indiana's victory over New Orleans.

George made a team record nine 3-pointers, all after halftime. Hibbert had 10 points, 11 rebounds and a career-best 11 blocks, and David West and George Hill each scored 16 points for the Pacers.

Robin Lopez had 21 points and 13 rebounds for New Orleans, but he made just 3 of 17 field goals. No. 1 overall pick Anthony Davis missed his second consecutive game because of stress reaction in his left ankle.

HAWKS 101, WIZARDS 100, OT

ATLANTA (AP) - Kyle Korver hit a long 3-pointer with 1.9 seconds remaining in overtime to lift Atlanta past Washington, extending the Wizards' franchise-worst start to 0-10.

Korver finished with 16 points, hitting his fifth 3-pointer after Kevin Seraphin's baseline jumper gave Washington a 100-98 lead. Josh Smith led Atlanta with 25 points and 12 rebounds.

Seraphin led Washington with 21 points and 10 rebounds.

BOBCATS 98, RAPTORS 97

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Ramon Sessions hit a 16-footer with 28 seconds left and Charlotte made a late defensive stand to beat Toronto for its fifth win in six games.

Toronto had four shots to win it, but two resulted in blocks and Andrea Bargnani's baseline jumper fell short as time expired.

Kemba Walker had 19 points and seven assists for the Bobcats, and Sessions and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist each had 14 points. Bargnani had 25 points for the Raptors.

CAVALIERS 92, 76ERS 83

CLEVELAND (AP) - Jeremy Pargo scored a career-high 28 points filling in for the injured Kyrie Irving to help Cleveland end a six-game losing streak.

Irving is expected to miss a month because of a broken finger.

Dion Waiters added 16 points for Cleveland, Alonzo Gee added 14, and Anderson Varejao had 10 points and had 19 rebounds. Jason Richardson and Jrue Holiday each had 16 points for Philadelphia.

SPURS 112, CELTICS 100

BOSTON (AP) - Tony Parker scored a season-high 26 points, Tim Duncan had 20 points and 15 rebounds, and reserve Tiago Splitter added a season-high 23 points for San Antonio.

Rajon Rondo had 22 points and extended his consecutive streak of double-digit assist games to 35 with 15. Paul Pierce had 19 points after spraining his ankle in a 20-point loss at Detroit on Sunday.

ROCKETS 93, BULLS 89

HOUSTON (AP) - James Harden scored 28 points, Patrick Patterson added 20 and Houston beat Chicago to snap a three-game losing streak.

Nate Robinson scored 21 points for Chicago, Luol Deng added 19 and Carlos Boozer had 13 points and 15 rebounds. The Bulls have lost three in a row for the first time in Tom Thibodeau's three seasons as coach.

WARRIORS 102, NETS 93

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - Klay Thompson made two 3-pointers and scored 10 of his 23 points during a pivotal run late in the third quarter, and Golden State held on to beat Brooklyn.

David Lee added 20 points, 13 rebounds and six assists, and Stephen Curry had 25 points for Golden State.

Brook Lopez scored 22 points for the Nets.

SUNS 114, TRAIL BLAZERS 87

PHOENIX (AP) - Marcin Gortat scored a season-high 22 points in only three quarters and Phoenix routed Portland to snap a three-game losing streak.

Markieff Morris added 19 points and seven rebounds. Damien Lillard had 24 points for Portland.

MAGIC 90, PISTONS 74

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - Andrew Nicholson scored 15 points, Glen Davis had 11 points and 14 rebounds, and Orlando opened the third quarter with a 21-0 run.

Greg Monroe scored 19 points for Detroit. The Pistons were 28 of 85 from the field.

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Need to Know: Tandler's Take—The best- and worst-case scenarios for the 2018 Redskins

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Need to Know: Tandler's Take—The best- and worst-case scenarios for the 2018 Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, May 20, two days before the Washington Redskins start OTAs.  

Best- and worst-case scenarios for the 2018 Redskins

Last week I took a stab at figuring out what the best-case and worst-case scenarios were for the key players on offense and defense. While individual stats are fun to track, it’s what the team does that really matters. What range of outcomes is realistic for the 2018 Redskins? While anything is possible, here are my thoughts on the best they are likely to be able to do and the worst. 

In both cases, I am assuming that the Redskins have reasonably good fortune when it comes to injuries and that the good and bad bounces of the ball equal out over the course of the season. 

Worst case: 6-10, last in NFC East

This is based mostly on Alex Smith having a tough time adjusting to Jay Gruden’s offense, his new teammates, and the NFC. Thinking he could struggle is not just negative thinking, there is history to back it up. 

Smith was traded from the 49ers to the Chiefs in 2013. In his first nine games, he completed just 59.7 percent of his passes with nine touchdowns and four interceptions He had an adjusted net yards per attempt of 5.23. Had he finished the season there he would have ranked 28th in the NFL. His passer rating was 81.4, which would have ranked 25th. It’s safe to say he was off to a very slow start. 

But the Chiefs went 8-1 in those nine games. It is doubtful that the Redskins could survive such a slow start. In the past three seasons, with Kirk Cousins at quarterback, they were 4-17 in games where Cousins’ passer rating was under 90. If you drop the ceiling to 81, the record drops to 0-14. 

Kansas City managed to start 9-0 in 2013 because of a running game that produced at least 100 yards rushing every game and a defense that got at least one takeaway every game and got three or more turnovers in a game five times. 

Could the Redskins duplicate that and survive a slow start by Smith? It’s possible, but this is the worst-case scenario. And there is no guarantee that the Redskins will significantly improve a running attack that was 27thin the league last year or a rushing defense that was dead last. 

Offensively, the hope is that Derrius Guice will improve the running game. But rookies are, well rookies. And being a high draft pick is no guarantee of success. In the past three drafts, 20 running backers were drafted in the first three rounds. Of those players, four rushed for 750 yards or more as rookies. Maybe Guice will be one of the productive players but the odds are not in his favor. This isn’t saying he will be a bust; however, he may not have instant impact. 

One other note about the rushing game. It’s important to remember that both tackles are coming off of surgery, the right guard was injured last year, the center has all of six starts under his belt, and left guard remains up in the air. Maybe everything will hum when the season starts but that seems like a tall order. 

Improvement in the stopping the run also relies at least in part on rookies. Daron Payne will have an adjustment period as will Tim Settle. The inside linebacker spot should be stronger but it’s hard to say that it will be a strength. The rushing defense probably won’t be last again, but it may not climb out of the twenties in the rankings. 

The Redskins haven’t been awful at getting takeaways, but they have not done it at a consistently game-changing level. They have three or more takeaways in a game five times in their last 30 games. I don’t see any reason to think that this will change dramatically. 

To put the 6-10 worst-case scenario onto the schedule, the Redskins could go 2-4 in the division with splits against the Cowboys and Giants and getting swept by the Eagles. Against the NFC South, which had three teams with 10 wins or more last year, they might be 1-3. That leaves a split with the AFC South (two of the final eight teams in the playoffs last year) and of their two other NFC games for a 6-10 record. 

Best-case scenario: 10-6, Wild card, win a playoff game

This scenario doesn’t require a whole lot of explanation beyond flipping the elements of the worst case into more positive outcomes. 

Smith could pick up where he left off last year when he completed 67.5 percent of his passes and was third in the league with 7.2 adjusted net yards per attempt. Maybe the yards per attempt will drop some as he tries to find a consistent deep target.

A healthy Jordan Reed would help Smith out tremendously. If Reed can participate in most of training camp, the two could hit the ground running. Smith’s ability to connect with Josh Doctson on some 50-50 balls also will be important. 

As for the running game, Guice could break out early behind a line that gels quickly. It’s not out of the question for him to gain 1,000 yards (that’s just about 65 yards per game), maybe a little more. A healthy Chris Thompson could kick in over 1,000 yards from scrimmage. 

Jonathan Allen and Matt Ioannidis could pick up right where they left off last year before Allen was lost for the season with a foot injury and Ioannidis missed two games with a broken hand and was hampered by the injury for a few weeks after that. That would let Payne and Settle, well, settle into the pro game. 

The Redskins also would need at least to maintain the solid pass defense they had last year. And they would benefit from fewer turnovers on offense (27 last year, 26thin the NFL) and by adding a few takeaways to the 23 they got in 2017.

So how could they pull this off? The would need to go 4-2 in the division, with a sweep of the Giants and splits against Philly and Dallas. They then would need 2-2 records against the NFC South and AFC South. That part of it is probably the toughest task. To get to 10 they would need to beat the Cardinals on the road in the season opener and then have a good day against Aaron Rodgers and get a win over the Packers. It’s not an easy road but if enough pieces fall into place it’s not out of the question. 

A 10-6 record should be good enough for a wild-card spot. If they get through their fairly tough schedule with double-digit wins, they should be good enough to go on the road and take out the three or four seed. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

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Timeline  

Days until:

—Minicamp (6/12) 23
—Training camp starts (7/26) 68
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 82

The Redskins last played a game 139 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 113 days. 

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Niskanen takes the blame for all three Lightning goals

Niskanen takes the blame for all three Lightning goals

There was no tougher critic on Matt Niskanen’s Game 5 performance on Saturday than Niskanen himself.

Niskanen and his defensive partner, Dmitry Orlov, were on the ice for all three of the Tampa Bay Lightning’s three goals in the Capitals’ 3-2 loss. That was striking given the Orlov-Niskanen duo is typically Washington’s best defensive pair.

That was not the case on Saturday and Niskanen took full responsibility afterward.

“First three goals are all my fault,” Niskanen said. “I had a tough first 20:30 so I've got to be better next game.”

Pretty much no one played the first goal right.

The goal came just 19 seconds into the game. Orlov turned the puck over in the neutral zone and Evgeny Kuznetsov looked like he could have gotten the puck, but instead played the body of Cedric Paquette. Niskanen stepped up at the blue line, but the Lightning got the puck past him creating a short rush that beat Braden Holtby who was way too far back in the crease.

Yes, Niskanen got caught a bit high, but he was just as at fault as Orlov, Kuznetsov and Holtby.

The second goal happened because Steven Stamkos tripped Orlov to create a turnover and it wasn’t called.

Niskanen got in between Ondrej Palat and the puck, but Palat beat both him and Holtby on the shot. Not sure I would put this one on Niskanen.

The third goal…well, that one was a bad play by Niskanen.

When you go one-on-one with a player, a defenseman cannot allow that player to turn the corner. That’s especially true when that player is defenseman Anton Stralman who is not exactly gifted with blazing speed. This was just a complete misplay.

Regardless of how many goals were strictly on Niskanen, that’s not the point. This was a message not so much to the media but to the team. That message was this: This one’s on me, I will be better next game.

Leaders always take responsibility. Niskanen is taking the blame here and saying he will be better in the hopes the team around him will be better as well.

They will need to be to win Game 6.

“A lot of people counted us out when we were down 0-2 in the first round,” Niskanen said. “Things got hard in the last series where we could have melted and we just kept playing. So that's what we've got to do again, bring our best effort for Game 6 at home, win a game and then we'll go from there.

“But we're focused on bringing our best game of the season for Game 6 and we'll be ready to go.”

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