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NBA Capsules

NBA Capsules

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) LeBron James had 27 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists, and the Miami Heat handed the Charlotte Bobcats their 16th straight loss, 105-92 on Wednesday night.

Dwyane Wade scored 29 points and had nine rebounds as Miami extended its winning streak to six.

Charlotte cut the Miami lead to 84-82 when Gerald Henderson completed a three-point play with 7:16 left. But James knocked down a 3-pointer, Wade hit a pair of jumpers, and Shane Battier added a 3-pointer from the right corner to complete an 11-3 run that pushed the lead to 10.

Kemba Walker had 27 points, and Ramon Sessions added 19 points for the Bobcats (7-21), who haven't won since Nov. 24.

Hornets 97, Magic 94

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - Robin Lopez had a season-high 29 points, and Greivis Vasquez scored a season-best 27 as New Orleans snapped an 11-game losing streak with a victory over Orlando.

Orlando had a chance to tie the game in the closing seconds, but came up empty on a 3-point attempt by Nikola Vucevic.

It was the Hornets' first win since Dec. 3 and their fourth straight regular-season victory over the Magic.

Jameer Nelson had 28 points and 10 rebounds for Orlando, and Vucevic added 19 points. The Magic dropped their third consecutive game, all since starting forward Glen Davis injured his shoulder.

Nuggets 126, Lakers 114

DENVER (AP) - Corey Brewer matched his career high with 27 points, and Denver overcame a 40-point effort by Kobe Bryant to beat the Los Angeles Lakers for its seventh straight win at home.

Brewer made four of his six 3-pointers in the final 12-plus minutes, helping the Nuggets hold off the Lakers, whose five-game winning streak was snapped.

Bryant, who scored at least 40 points for the 116th time in his career, has netted at least 30 in 10 straight games.

Kenneth Faried had 21 points and 15 rebounds, and Danilo Gallinari added 19 points for Denver. Ty Lawson had 17 points to go with 14 assists. Andre Iguodala also scored 17 points.

Knicks 99, Suns 97

PHOENIX (AP) - J.R. Smith sank a baseline 21-footer at the buzzer after a Phoenix turnover with a second to play, giving depleted New York a victory over the Suns.

Smith's tough jumper from 15 feet had tied it at 97 with 10.6 seconds left. Then, after the turnover, Jason Kidd inbounded to Smith, who got the shot off as he sailed toward the out of bounds line. Smith scored 27 and Kidd 23.

Jared Dudley had a career-high 36 for Phoenix, including two free throws that put the Suns ahead 97-95 with 34.5 seconds to go.

New York was without the NBA's No. 2 scorer Carmelo Anthony (hyperextended knee) and Raymond Felton (finger), both hurt in the Christmas day loss to the Lakers in Los Angeles. The Knicks said X-rays on Felton's right fifth finger revealed a fracture.

Chris Copeland and Tyson Chandler added 14 points apiece for the Knicks.

Cavaliers 87, Wizards 84

WASHINGTON (AP) - Tristan Thompson's three-point play with 24.4 seconds remaining gave Cleveland a victory over Washington and its first two-game winning streak of the season.

Kyrie Irving, who had 26 points to lead Cleveland, made one of two free throws with 9.5 seconds left after Jordan Crawford and Garrett Temple missed jumpers for the Wizards. Crawford made two free throws with 8.5 seconds left to cut the lead to 86-84. Irving hit one of two, and Crawford missed a 3-pointer as time ran out.

Irving had 20 of his 26 points in the first half for the Cavaliers, who improved to 7-23. Two of their wins are against Washington, losers of eight straight.

Thompson had a season-high 15 points and 12 rebounds.

Crawford and Emeka Okafor led the Wizards with 17 points. Nene had 16.

Hawks 126, Pistons 119, 2OT

ATLANTA (AP) - Josh Smith scored 31 points, Al Horford added 22, and Atlanta beat Detroit in double overtime.

The Hawks blew a 22-point, fourth-quarter lead as Detroit reserves Will Bynum and Charlie Villanueva scored a combined 26 points in the final period of regulation.

Atlanta has won two straight and eight of 12. Detroit has lost seven of nine.

Bynum finished with 31 points, one less than his career high, and assisted on the last two baskets of regulation, when Andre Drummond's dunk cut the lead to two and Austin Daye's 3-pointer gave the Pistons a 101-100 lead with 4 seconds remaining.

Rockets 87, Timberwolves 84

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - James Harden scored 17 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter, and Houston rallied to win its fifth straight, topping Minnesota.

Harden's drive to the basket gave Houston (16-12) an 85-84 lead with 39 seconds left. He drove again to make it a three-point lead with 11.7 seconds to go and scored 15 of the Rockets' final 17 points.

Omer Asik added nine points and 17 rebounds for the Rockets, who edged the Wolves after beating their previous three opponents by at least 22 points.

J.J. Barea scored 18 for Minnesota (13-13), and Shved added 16. Kevin Love had 12 rebounds, but scored just seven points on 3 of 14 shooting. He missed all seven of his 3-point attempts.

It was Rockets coach Kevin McHale's first game back in his home state since his 23-year-old daughter, Sasha, died on Nov. 24 of complications from lupus.

76ers 99, Grizzlies 89

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Dorell Wright scored 28 points, and Spencer Hawes had 20, season-highs for both, and Philadelphia snapped a six-game road losing streak with a victory over Memphis.

Wright was inserted into the lineup for Jason Richardson, who sat out with a low back strain. Wright was 8 of 11 from the field, part of the Sixers shooting 52 percent, including 9 of 16 outside the arc.

Thaddeus Young and Jrue Holiday had 13 points each for Philadelphia, Holiday adding nine assists. Nick Young finished with 12 points. Hawes had five of Philadelphia's season-high 12 blocked shots.

Zach Randolph led the Grizzlies with 23 points and nine rebounds, and Marc Gasol had 18 points and eight rebounds. Memphis, which lost its second straight, played without leading scorer Rudy Gay, who was out because of ``personal reasons.''

Bucks 108, Nets 93

MILWAUKEE (AP) - Brandon Jennings scored 25 points, Monta Ellis added 20 points and a season-high six steals, and Milwaukee beat short-handed Brooklyn for the 13th straight time.

Brook Lopez had 21 points and 10 rebounds as the Nets missed a chance to get to .500 on the road (6-7) and lost their third straight.

The Nets were without starting guard Deron Williams, who used his wrist to brace himself as he fell to the court Tuesday in a home loss to Boston. C.J. Watson made his first start of the season and 60th of his career.

Trailing 78-67 after three, the Nets made it a close game in the fourth quarter, getting to 84-80, but Milwaukee answered with 3-pointers from Ersan Ilyasova, Ellis, and Mike Dunleavy to push the lead to 11.

The Nets fell to 3-10 in December.

Ellis and Jennings outscored Joe Johnson and Watson 45-21.

Spurs 100, Raptors 80

SAN ANTONIO (AP) - Tim Duncan scored 15 points, and San Antonio rolled to a victory over Toronto that snapped the Raptors' five-game winning streak.

Manu Ginobili added 14 points, Tony Parker 13, and Tiago Splitter and Stephen Jackson each had 10 for San Antonio (22-8), which has won three straight. Kawhi Leonard had nine points and 10 rebounds.

Alan Anderson and Amir Johnson both had 12 points for Toronto (9-20).

Duncan had six rebounds and was 6 for 11 from the field in only 27 minutes as the Spurs' balanced attack wore down the Raptors. None of Toronto's starters scored in double figures as San Antonio's starters outscored its counterparts 54-25.

Warriors 94, Jazz 83

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Stephen Curry scored 23 points, David Lee added 18, and Golden State beat Utah.

Curry set the tone by scoring the Warriors' first 11 points. He hit two 3-pointers and made three free throws after being fouled on another shot beyond the arc - all in less than a minute. Curry added eight rebounds, seven assists and a steal.

Jarrett Jack and Klay Thompson had 15 points each for the Warriors, who dominated on the fast break and hit 9 of 18 3-point attempts.

Al Jefferson led Utah with 18 points and 10 rebounds, and Paul Millsap added 14 points.

The Warriors led by as many as 15 points in the first half, and took a 75-58 lead into the fourth quarter.

Trail Blazers 109, Kings 91

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - LaMarcus Aldridge had 28 points and 12 rebounds, and Portland beat Sacramento to avenge a loss on Sunday.

Nicolas Batum scored 18 points and J.J. Hickson added 17 points and 14 rebounds for the Blazers, who built a double-digit lead in the second quarter and then ran away from the Kings. Portland led by as many as 26 points. Rookie point guard Damian Lillard had 17 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds.

John Salmons led the Kings with 19 points. Reserve Isaiah Thomas had 12 points, and Jason Thompson added 11. The Kings are 1-12 on the road this season - the only win coming Dec. 8 against the Blazers.

Portland, which has won nine of 10 games at home, tied the season series with the Kings after losing to them on Sunday in Sacramento, which snapped the Blazers' five-game winning streak.

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Tom Wilson’s suspension reduced to 14 games by neutral arbitrator

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USA TODAY Sports

Tom Wilson’s suspension reduced to 14 games by neutral arbitrator

Tom Wilson’s 20-game suspension has been reduced to 14 games by a neutral arbitrator meaning he is eligible to return as early as Tuesday against the Minnesota Wild. Elliotte Friedman was the first to report the arbitrator’s decision.

Wilson was suspended 20 games for a hit to the head of St. Louis Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist in the preseason. The suspension was announced on Oct. 3 and upheld by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman on Wilson’s first appeal.

Though the second appeal was technically successful in getting the suspension reduced, the lengthy process ended up costing him an extra two games as the Caps are already 16 games into the season. The good news for him is that he will recoup $378,048.78 of the over $1.2 million he was originally due to forfeit as a result of the suspension.

This marks the second suspension that Shyam Das, the neutral arbitrator, has reduced this season. Nashville Predators forward Austin Watson was suspended 27 games for domestic assault, but had his suspension reduced to 18 games after taking his appeal to the neutral arbitrator.

Tuesday’s ruling may mark the end of Wilson’s suspension and of the appeals process, but it hardly marks the end of the entire saga and controversy surrounding Wilson and his style of play. A 14-game suspension is still significant and should not be seen as vindication that Wilson did nothing wrong in the eyes of the league.

If there is another suspension, it will be longer and neither Wilson nor the Caps can afford for that to happen. Wilson still must change the way he plays or everyone is going to end up going through this entire process again and nobody wants that.

The Caps will have a morning skate at 12:30 p.m. ET which should provide more clarity on whether Todd Reirden intends to play Wilson immediately and where he could slot into the lineup.

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What do the Capitals do with Jakub Vrana?

What do the Capitals do with Jakub Vrana?

You don’t have to watch Jakub Vrana very long to realize just how talented he is. Unfortunately for him, you also don’t have to watch very long to realize how turnover prone he can be as well.

Carelessness with puck management has been one of the glaring issues for the Caps in the early season and Vrana, as he has been for much of his young career, is certainly guilty of that.

Vrana’s combination of talent and penchant for on-ice mistakes presents a problem for head coach Todd Reirden as he has to find the right place plug him into the lineup. That challenge has thus far proven difficult.

Vrana entered the Nov. 3 game against the Dallas Stars on the top line.  After a minus-three game and a turnover in overtime that led to Dallas’ game-winning goal, he found himself on the fourth line the very next game with barely eight minutes of ice time.

“We'll continue to try to remove those glaring turnovers or defense mistakes from his game,” Reirden said recently. “I think it's something that has improved compared to prior years which is why he spent the majority of the time up with those top-six guys, but it's sometimes good for a reset with some of the bottom-six guys and then start slotting him back in.”

At 22-years-old, mistakes on the ice are to be expected. But Vrana may take that to the extreme.

Not only does Vrana commit a lot of careless turnovers, he is also guilty of taking far too many penalties. Vrana ranks third on the team with 14 penalty minutes.

Mistakes by a forward are not nearly as glaring to a coach as those by a defensemen considering the mistakes tend to happen in the offensive zone and are less likely to result in a goal for the other team. When those offensive zone mistakes lead to offensive zone penalties, however, that’s a different story.

But Vrana is simply too skilled to bury in the lineup or take out altogether. With four even-strength goals, Vrana is tied for the third-most on the team behind only T.J. Oshie (7) and Alex Ovechkin (6). Of all the forwards Reirden has cycled into the top line in Tom Wilson’s absence to play with Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov, Vrana was the player who seemed to fit the best. He does not provide the same sort of defensive balance to the top line as Wilson does, but no one has been able to step in and adequately fill Wilson’s spot thus far. Vrana added an extra element of speed and offensive skill to an already dangerous line and seemed to show chemistry with Kuznetsov especially.

“There's some really good things that he's showing,” Reirden said. “The speed he plays with, the release of his shot, the chances he's getting, you've got to try to find ways to get him out there more.”

But Wilson will soon return to fill his top line role and Reirden will soon get his full lineup for the first time this season. Yet, almost a quarter into the season Vrana still makes it hard to find the right spot for him.

Putting Vrana on a line with Nicklas Backstrom and Oshie – if Reirden reunites Ovechkin and Kuznetsov – seems like the best fit. Backstrom and Oshie can make up for Vrana’s defensive issues and Vrana can provide speed on an otherwise slower line.

But at some point, Vrana has to cut back on the turnovers and the penalties.

“You've got to continue to show him,” Reirden said. “Continue to show him, continue to `remind him, continue to teach and help him grow and get better. That's a young player trying to become a top-six full time.”

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