Wizards

NBA Capsules

NBA Capsules

HOUSTON (AP) Russell Westbrook scored 28 points and Kevin Durant added 26 as the Oklahoma City Thunder built a big lead in the second quarter and rolled to a 124-94 win over the Houston Rockets on Saturday night.

Durant scored 11 points during a 16-0 run by the Thunder to end the first half and extend the lead to 18. Oklahoma City had another big run early in the third quarter to put the game further out of reach.

Former Thunder sixth man James Harden scored 25 for the Rockets, who went cold on offense for long stretches.

It was Oklahoma City's second win this season over Houston, after taking the first meeting 120-98.

Kevin Martin, who came to Oklahoma City in the trade for Harden, finished 19 points and five 3-pointers. Westbrook had eight rebounds and eight assists.

Marcus Morris scored a career-high 24 points for Houston.

HORNETS 98, BOBCATS 95

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Eric Gordon had 24 points and seven assists, helping New Orleans overcome a 21-point first-half deficit and extend Charlotte's losing streak to 18 games.

The Bobcats are one game away from a winless December. They haven't won since Nov. 24.

Gordon, who hadn't played since April 22 following arthroscopic right knee surgery, was 5 of 13 from the field and 12 of 14 from the free throw line in 24 minutes.

Ryan Anderson had 19 points and made a pair of 3-pointers in the final period as the Hornets won for the second time in three games.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had 22 points and nine rebounds and Gerald Henderson added 19 points for the Bobcats.

BUCKS 104, HEAT 85

MILWAUKEE (AP) - Brandon Jennings scored 25 points and Mike Dunleavy had 13 of his 18 in the fourth quarter as Milwaukee beat Miami to spoil Dwyane Wade's return.

Wade was back after serving a one-game suspension for flailing his leg and making contact with guard Ramon Sessions' groin during the Heat's victory over Charlotte on Wednesday. Wade sat out Miami's 109-99 loss to Detroit on Friday night, which snapped the Heat's six-game winning streak.

Wade had 24 points on 10-of-19 shooting. LeBron James scored 26 as Miami failed to reach 100 points for just the third time in 28 games.

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute scored 19 points for the Bucks, and Larry Sanders had 16 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks.

Dunleavy also had nine rebounds, six assists and three steals for the Bucks, who outscored Miami 35-14 in the fourth. The Heat (20-8) fell to 6-6 on the road.

NETS 103, CAVALIERS 100

NEW YORK (AP) - Brook Lopez scored a season-high 35 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, and Brooklyn improved to 2-0 under interim coach P.J. Carlesimo by beating Cleveland.

Lopez followed his 26-point, 11-rebound performance in a victory Friday over Charlotte by shooting 13 of 20 from the field, making a number of timely baskets in the fourth quarter that the Nets ultimately needed to hold on.

Deron Williams and Joe Johnson each scored 15 points for the Nets, who fired coach Avery Johnson on Thursday and followed with two victories over losing teams. But now, they head off for major tests at San Antonio and Oklahoma City.

CJ Miles scored 33 points and made eight 3-pointers for the Cavs, but Kyrie Irving capped a miserable shooting night when his tying 3-point attempt went in and out. He finished with 13 points on 5-of-16 shooting.

Tristan Thompson added 17 points and 15 rebounds for the Cavaliers, who played without center Anderson Varejao because of a knee injury.

GRIZZLIES 81, NUGGETS 72

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Rudy Gay scored eight of his 19 points down the stretch to help Memphis beat Denver.

Gay's rush was part of 10 straight points for the Grizzlies, breaking open a 68-all game with 4:45 left. His baseline jumper with 1:25 left gave Memphis a 10-point lead, helping the Grizzlies snap a two-game skid.

Zach Randolph had 12 points for Memphis, which won despite shooting 40 percent. The Grizzlies outscored the Nuggets 28-15 in the fourth quarter.

Andre Iguodala, Corey Brewer and JaVale McGee all had 12 points for Denver, which had its two-game winning streak stopped. Danilo Gallinari, coming off a career-high 39 points Friday night against Dallas, was held to seven on 2-of-8 shooting.

HAWKS 109, PACERS 100

ATLANTA (AP) - Lou Williams had 21 points and a career-high 12 assists, Al Horford added 20 points and Atlanta beat Indiana for its fourth consecutive win.

David West scored a game-high 29 points for the Pacers, who had won four straight and seven of eight.

With Josh Smith, Atlanta's leading scorer, unable to play because of a right hip flexor, Hawks coach Larry Drew started Zaza Pachulia, who responded with 17 points and a game-high 14 rebounds.

Indiana never got closer than three in the fourth quarter after Paul George's three-point play made it 91-88 at the 5:18 mark.

RAPTORS 123, MAGIC 88

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - DeMar DeRozan scored 21 points and Jose Calderon added 15 points and 10 assists, helping Toronto to an easy victory over injury-depleted Orlando.

Rookie Ed Davis had 18 points and seven rebounds as Toronto won for the seventh time in eight games. The Raptors, who hit a season-high 15 3-pointers, got 16 points apiece from Kyle Lowry and Terrence Ross.

Rookie Andrew Nicholson led Orlando with a career-high 22 points. Arron Afflalo added 14 points and Ish Smith had 13 points and six assists.

The Raptors hit nine of their first 10 attempts from behind the 3-point line and built a 67-47 halftime lead. Orlando cut it to 76-65 with 5:16 left in the third quarter, but that was as close as the Magic would get the rest of the game.

The Magic played without starting point guard Jameer Nelson (hip) and his backup, E'Twaun Moore (elbow).

TIMBERWOLVES 111, SUNS 107

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Nikola Pekovic had 28 points and 11 rebounds, and Kevin Love added 23 points and 18 boards to lift Minnesota over Phoenix.

Andrei Kirilenko had 20 points and five rebounds for the Timberwolves, who were missing guard Ricky Rubio because of back spasms.

Luis Scola had 33 points and 10 rebounds for the Suns, who lost their fifth straight. They led 102-99 with 3:30 to play, but once again failed to close it out.

Pekovic scored two quick ones underneath, but the Suns still had a chance down three with 8.1 seconds left. Dante Cunningham stole the inbounds pass to seal it.

BULLS 87, WIZARDS 77

CHICAGO (AP) - Marco Belinelli came off the bench to score 17 points, leading Chicago to a victory over Washington.

Carlos Boozer added 15 points and 12 rebounds for the Bulls, who snapped a two-game losing streak. Belinelli shot 7 of 16 in a reserve role as Richard Hamilton returned to the starting lineup. Hamilton had missed 12 games because of a torn plantar fascia in his left foot.

Chicago's Luol Deng scored 11 points after injuring his right ankle Tuesday in a loss to Houston.

Bradley Beal led the NBA-worst Wizards (4-24) with 14 points. Emeka Okafor added 11 points and 18 rebounds for Washington, which has lost nine of 10.

Wizards leading scorer Jordan Crawford sat out because of a left ankle injury.

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Wizards' fundamentals will be put to the test against Dejounte Murray, LaMarcus Aldridge

Wizards' fundamentals will be put to the test against Dejounte Murray, LaMarcus Aldridge

The Wizards are hosting the Spurs on Wednesday night, and these days that sentence isn't nearly as scary as it used to be. 

Tim Duncan is an assistant coach rather than a player, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili are retired and Kawhi Leonard is a full two teams removed from his time playing for Gregg Popovich. 

San Antonio is reeling at the moment, dropping six straight games. If they lose in DC, it would be the longest losing streak the franchise has had since 1996-97, the season before they drafted Duncan. But that doesn't mean they won't represent a significant challenge. The Spurs are well-coached, fundamentally sound and are probably due for a win to get back on track.

The Wizards play the Spurs on Wednesday at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.

They rank fifth in offensive efficiency and 26th in defense, which is surprising given their tendency to take too many mid-range jumpers and stifling batch of guards. On both ends of the floor, the Spurs are going to test the Wizards' fundamentals. That might yield fine results on offense for Washington, but the defensive end could be an ugly scene. 

Here are two stars to watch on the San Antonio side that the Wizards will have to be wary of if they're going to secure their fourth win of the year. 

Dejounte Murray

Murray's numbers won't bounce off your screen, but he's a bonafide stud Bradley Beal might have to deal with throughout the night. He made the NBA's All-Defensive First-Team two seasons ago as a 21-year-old but missed last season due to a knee injury. 

His defensive acumen and athleticism are still with him, and he might just be the best perimeter defender in the NBA not named Marcus Smart or Kawhi Leonard. If Beal is going to keep up the same level of production we've seen over the last week, he'll have to get there while dealing with an immense amount of ball pressure.

Offensively, Murray isn't much of a threat from the outside but he makes up for it with his explosiveness toward the rim. The Wizards defense has struggled with breakdowns created off of dribble penetration, so there's a good chance Popovich looks to create open looks off of Murray's drives. 

LaMarcus Aldridge

Moe Wagner won't be able to take as many charges against this big man. Aldridge, who's averaging 18.3 points on 52 percent shooting, does most of his damage in the mid-post area. Aldridge has more shot attempts from between the free-throw line area and the three-point line (62) than he does at the rim (41).

He has a multitude of moves and counters, but he doesn't get to the line much for a player who primarily plays inside the arc. For the Wizards to contain him, they'll have to play smart but remain physical with him on his catches. Don't let him get to his spot without working for it. 

Thomas Bryant and Wagner are more equipped to defend your traditional bully-ball big men like Joel Embiid or Andre Drummond. Guarding a player like Aldridge requires poise and self-control, which are not words typically used to describe the Wizards' interior defense. 

Between Murray's dribble penetration and elite perimeter defense and Aldridge's refined face-up game, the Spurs represent a major problem for the Wizards at this stage of the season. Washington's offense is for real, as they rank third in the NBA in efficiency, but the defense is the main reason they're 3-8. 

This game could go one of two ways. The Wizards can communicate more effectively on defense, defend with more connectivity and let their offense take care of the rest in a solid win, or they could continue to struggle and a fundamentally-sound team like the Spurs will blow the doors off of them in front of their home crowd. 

Tune in to NBC Sports Washington on Wednesday at 6 p.m. EST for all your Wizards coverage before tip-off at 7 p.m.

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Report: Stephen Strasburg could re-sign with Nationals before Winter Meetings

Report: Stephen Strasburg could re-sign with Nationals before Winter Meetings

The last time Nationals fans saw Stephen Strasburg, he was standing on a stage in Washington D.C. being forced into a group hug by several teammates.

Now a free agent after opting out of the remaining four years of the extension he signed in 2016, Strasburg has put himself in a position to sign with any team he pleases ahead of next season.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s headed out of the District. MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported Monday that he thinks Strasburg could ink a deal with Washington before the Winter Meetings begin Dec. 8.

This would be a far cry from the trend demonstrated over the last two offseasons, when the biggest names waited until Spring Training to sign mega-deals—some even waiting well into the season.

"A lot of teams want Cole. A lot of teams want Rendon. I think these two guys may move faster because they're not going to have to manufacture markets for them,” Feinsand said on MLB Network. “These guys are in demand. It's going to be a matter of who's willing to give them the most money, but I don't think these two players are going to be the ones who are going into deep February [unsigned]."

The Nationals certainly have the payroll flexibility to sign such a deal after Strasburg, Anthony Rendon and Ryan Zimmerman’s significant salaries all came off the books. Signing Strasburg early would also suit Washington well, giving it the chance to modify its approach to addressing other needs accordingly while most of the other free agents are still on the market.

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