Capitals

NBA Capsules

NBA Capsules

PHOENIX (AP) Blake Griffin scored 23 points, Chris Paul had 17 points and 13 assists and the Los Angeles Clippers extended a franchise record with their 13th consecutive victory, 103-77 over the Phoenix Suns on Sunday night.

Reserve Jamal Crawford added 22 points for the Clippers, who won in Phoenix for the first time since April 17, 2007. Los Angeles' overall win streak is an NBA season best and its six straight road victories are also a franchise best.

Jared Dudley scored 19 points, Luis Scola had 11 and Markieff Morris added 10 for the Suns, who have dropped two straight after winning four in a row.

Phoenix kept it close for the first quarter and half of the second. Shannon Brown sank an 11-foot pull-up jumper on a fast break as the Suns trimmed an eight-point deficit to 43-40 with 5:36 left in the first half.

That would be the Suns' next-to-last field goal of the half.

KNICKS 94, TIMBERWOLVES 91

NEW YORK (AP) - Carmelo Anthony scored 19 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter, rallying New York to a victory over Minnesota.

New York trailed from the opening minutes until Anthony scored eight straight points down the stretch. He had scored just nine points on 3-of-11 shooting in the first half, but had the final 12 for the Knicks to give them a 4-2 finish on their six-game homestand.

J.R. Smith added 19 points and Tyson Chandler had 16 points and nine rebounds for the Knicks, who will fly to Los Angeles later Sunday for their Christmas Day game against the Lakers.

Nikola Pekovic had 21 points and 17 rebounds for the Timberwolves.

SPURS 129, MAVERICKS 91

SAN ANTONIO (AP) - Danny Green scored a career-high 25 points and San Antonio spoiled Dirk Nowitzki's season debut with a rout of Dallas.

Tony Parker had 18 points, Kawhi Leonard added 17, Tim Duncan 15 and Stephen Jackson 14 for the Spurs (21-8), who were 20 of 30 from 3-point range and led by as many as 46.

After missing the Mavericks' first 27 regular-season games, Nowitzki entered with 6:28 left in the first quarter. Nowitzki, who underwent surgery on his right knee Oct. 19, finished with eight points - going 3 for 4 from the field - and six rebounds in 20 minutes.

Darren Collison scored 15 points to lead Dallas (12-16), which lost its third straight.

NETS 95, 76ERS 92

NEW YORK (AP) - Joe Johnson scored 22 points, and Gerald Wallace had 14 points, nine rebounds and six assists to lead Brooklyn to a win over Philadelphia.

Deron Williams added 16 points to help the Nets end a six-game skid at home against the 76ers.

Jrue Holiday led Philadelphia with 21 points, nine assists and six rebounds, Thadeus Young added 18 points and 10 rebounds, and Evan Turner had 15 points and seven rebounds. The 76ers, opening an eight-game trip, have lost six of their last seven games.

Williams was fouled by Holiday and hit two free throws to make it 94-90 before Turner answered with a layup to make it 94-92. Johnson finished the tight scoring with a free throw.

JAZZ 97, MAGIC 93

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - Paul Millsap scored 18 points, Gordon Hayward added 17 and Utah survived a fourth-quarter rally to slip past Orlando.

Orlando cut the lead to one in the waning seconds, but came up empty at the foul line.

Utah snapped a two-game losing streak with its fifth consecutive regular-season victory over Orlando. The Jazz played without point guard Mo Williams, out indefinitely with a thumb injury.

Arron Afflalo had 20 points, and Nik Vucevic added 16 points and 16 rebounds to lead Orlando, which has dropped back-to-back games since losing starting forward Glen Davis to a shoulder injury.

The loss also ended the Magic's three-game home winning streak.

KINGS 108, TRAIL BLAZERS 96

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - Marcus Thornton scored 18 of his 22 points in the second half to help slumping Sacramento snap Portland's five-game winning streak.

The Kings played without starting center DeMarcus Cousins, who was suspended indefinitely Saturday for unprofessional behavior and conduct detrimental to the team.

Already ahead by nine, the Kings opened the fourth quarter with a 7-0 run, including a 3-pointer by Thornton, to build their lead to 87-71. The Blazers trailed by at least 13 the rest of the way.

John Salmons had 13 of his 15 points in the second half for Sacramento.

LaMarcus Aldridge had 22 points and 11 rebounds for the Blazers.

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5 reasons the Caps beat the Avalanche

5 reasons the Caps beat the Avalanche

A shorthanded Capitals team marched into Colorado and took a 3-2 overtime win over the Avalanche on Friday.

Here are five reasons the Caps won.

A big glove save

With no T.J. Oshie, Evgeny Kuznetsov or Braden Holtby, the Caps were a bit shorthanded heading into the game. After the Avalanche took a 1-0 lead just 68 seconds in, it felt like it could be a very long night for Washington.

It could have been if not for an early breakaway save by Pheonix Copley.

Soon after the goal, Nathan MacKinnon grabbed the puck on a breakaway. MacKinnon is one of the best offensive players in the league and not the guy you want to see going in alone on Copley on a breakaway.

Copley, however, flashed the glove and made the save to keep the game at 1-0.

One year ago to the day, the Caps lost 6-2 in Colorado. With the injuries Washington was dealing with, it’s not a stretch to think this game could have gone off the rails quickly had the Avalanche jumped out to a 2-0 lead.

Tic-Tac-Toe

The Caps struggled through the first period to get any real penetration on Colorado’s defense and were kept largely on the perimeter with very few high-danger opportunities. The Avalanche defense got a bit more porous in the second and Washington took advantage.

Travis Boyd collected the puck in the offensive zone below the goal line. As he skated along the wall, he found himself face-to-face with four Colorado players who were all just following the puck. As far as defense goes, that’s not an ideal situation. Boyd found a wide-open Chandler Stephenson on the cross-ice pass, Stephenson goes back left to Devante Smith-Pelly who had an empty net to shoot on to get the Caps on the board and tie the game at one.


Game speed

After six seasons in Washington, Philipp Grubauer has faced literally thousands of shots from Alex Ovechkin in practice. But he never faced one of those shots in a game until Friday. Those shots come off the stick a bit faster when it counts as Grubauer learned.

Nicklas Backstrom entered the offensive zone with the puck and backhanded it to Ovechkin. Backstrom kept driving to the net drawing the defense with him except for Tyson Barrie. Backstrom’s passed to the left, but Ovechkin collected it going right which caught Barrie flatfooted. Ovehckin easily skated around Barrie to find an open shooting lane, then snapped a shot past Grubauer to put the Caps up 2-1. Ovechkin’s celebration was almost instantaneous, he knew he had Grubauer beat.


A late penalty

The referees really put away the whistles in the third period. They even missed a clear high-stick to Dmitry Orlov that drew blood and should have been a double-minor. Colorado came back to tie the game, but Smith-Pelly finally drew a blatant holding penalty from Ian Cole with just over a minute left to go in regulation.

The Avalanche survived to force overtime, but Nicklas Backstrom scored the game-winner on the power play just 22 seconds in for the win.

Tom Wilson making a Tom Wilson play

Space is important in hockey. That’s what makes a four-on-three power play harder to cover than a five-on-four power play. You know what’s even better? A three-on-two.

The Caps entered overtime on a power play which gave them a four-on-three to start. Tom Wilson had the puck on the wall and took a hit from Carl Soderberg. He saw the hit coming and took it so he could make the pass to Backstrom. He won the board battle and the hit took Soderberg out of the play, giving the Caps a three-on-two in the offensive zone to work with. Backstrom passed to John Carlson who passed back to Backstrom. He had all day to fire the game-winner and it was all thanks to a tremendous play from Wilson that most people would not have noticed.

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Wizards try maintaining focus yet cannot shake inconsistencies

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USA Today Sports

Wizards try maintaining focus yet cannot shake inconsistencies

 

CAPITAL ONE ARENA -- The Washington Wizards were finally feeling better after that 2-9 start to the regular season. Three wins in a row with three games remaining on the homestand starting with the Brooklyn Nets Friday night. They didn’t conquer all of their problems. But at least they could breathe a bit easier, smile more natural. Heck, they were only 1 ½ games out of the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference and three back of third place.

“And we’ve been playing terrible," John Wall said to NBC Sports Washington Thursday night at the point guard’s annual turkey giveaway.  “That’s how shaky it is. You never know how it’s going to go, but we can’t look at that aspect. ... Have to take it one game at a time. Our focus is on Brooklyn right now. Try to win to make it four in a row.”

Last season Brooklyn was one of those non-contending teams that flummoxed the Wizards. Brooklyn finished 28-54, yet won two of three over Washington. While the current momentum was compelling, the reporter told Wall he’s heard such focus talk before and witnessed mixed results. The point guard nodded in acknowledgment.

“You put yourself in that situation, you have to answer (questions) and [reporters] have to ask," Wall said.

Another batch of questions came at Wall and the Wizards Friday. Brooklyn, a try-hard squad lacking high-end talent, dumped Washington 115-104.

The Nets, who lost leading scorer Caris Levert to a nasty ankle injury this week, turned a 56-54 halftime lead into a 19-point margin in the fourth quarter. They also converted 13 Washington turnovers into 19 points.

The Wizards, now 5-10, finished 3 of 17 on 3-pointers. Their defense lacked oomph at the point of attack.

“They were more aggressive than we were, offense and defense,” Bradley Beal said. “They forced us to turn the ball over. We couldn’t make shots [and] we definitely couldn’t guard them. Our one-on-one defense was suspect.”

Wizards coach Scott Brooks echoed the defensive struggles.

“The problem was that we couldn’t stay in front of the basketball tonight,” said Brooks, addressing a broad topic he largely could skip during the recent winning. 

Washington no longer ranks last in scoring defense thanks to the woeful Atlanta Hawks, but the 116.9 points allowed per game serves as a reminder that Friday’s struggles were no one-off.

Brooklyn had its own defensive woes during a three-game skid entering Friday. Second-year center Jarrett Allen, the player the Nets selected 22nd overall in the 2017 NBA Draft with the pick acquired from Washington in the Bojan Bogdanovic trade, missed the previous two contests. His return fueled an interior turnaround.

Those stops led to Brooklyn’s generating offense. The Nets, who often used no more than one traditional big man, outscored the Wizards 13-2 in fast-break points. They hit 13 of 15 free throws in the third quarter and finished 30 of 38.

“I thought because we got stops, (we) got into transition, got easy buckets,” Nets forward and ex-Wizard Jared Dudley told NBC Sports Washington. “I thought they were fouling so much we were on our drives. We kept attacking. … I thought defense opened up our offense.”

Wall opened up the postgame Q&A session with reporters in Washington’s locker room. He noted Brooklyn’s constant use of pick-and-rolls with the Wizards switching one through four didn’t work. “Just about every time they drove, they got a foul.”

Wall lives a fishbowl existence. People pay good money to watch him work. That means they witness the highs and lows, the advancement and the learning. Teammates also have eyes on him. All observe the five-time All-Star reacting to some whistles or non-calls he deems incorrect, or his body language during a tough loss.

Wall, 28, acknowledges his role as the team leader. He accepts that fishbowl reality and knows when those frustrations show, everyone can see.

“It’s fun. It’s a challenge," Wall said of being a leader to NBC Sports Washington Thursday. "Every day you have to be perfect. Nobody is perfect, but you have to be good every day. You can’t take a bad day or dwell on something. You have to let that slide because when it gets bad or gets shaky, everybody is looking at you. If your head is down, everybody else’s head is down. That’s something I have to learn."

Despite the streak-busting setback Friday night, Wall stuck with his big picture, no panic approach.

“They just came out and played better tonight. That’s all it is,” Wall told NBC Sports Washington. “We didn’t make shots. We didn’t do a great job of executing. They attacked us defensively. We lost one game. We have to get past and prepare for Sunday with a good team in Portland coming in.”

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