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Nuggets end Clippers' team-record win streak at 17

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Nuggets end Clippers' team-record win streak at 17

DENVER (AP) Even the NBA's hottest team can have a bad night.

The Denver Nuggets took advantage of the Los Angeles Clippers' shooting woes Tuesday night, getting 17 points from Danilo Gallinari in a 92-78 victory that snapped the Clippers' franchise-record, 17-game winning streak.

Poor shooting, particularly from 3-point range (5 of 29, 17.2 percent) and the free-throw line (13 of 29, 44.8 percent) doomed the Clippers' streak, the longest in the NBA since the Boston Celtics won 19 in a row from Nov. 15-Dec. 23, 2008. The Clippers avoided matching their season-low in points when Eric Bledsoe hit a jumper in the final seconds.

``Throughout the course of the game, it's tough when you're missing shots, but at the same time you have games like that and you have to figure out how to get around it, which we didn't do,'' said Blake Griffin, who had 12 points but shot less than 50 percent from the field (4 of 11) for the first time in 18 games.

``That's the result of a game like this. We did a poor job defensively and that carried into our offense with missing shots. It snowballed and just went downhill.''

The Nuggets, of course, had something to do with that and Andre Iguodala said the victory against the Clippers, who built their streak in part with a Christmas Day win against Denver in Los Angeles, would help the Nuggets build ``our confidence, our swagger.

``The Clippers have been playing with that the last 18 games. That builds into them winning. They have the mentality every night they're going to go out there and win. We've got to build the same thing and try to string along the same type of win streak.''

The loss was the first for the Clippers since a 105-98 setback against New Orleans on Nov. 26. It also marked the end of a franchise-record seven-game winning streak on the road.

Kenneth Faried added 14 points and 11 rebounds for the Nuggets, who won their eighth in a row at home.

Bledsoe scored 12 points, DeAndre Jordan had 11 and Chris Paul 10 for the Clippers.

``Maybe two or three of the 3's that we missed, they had a hand in our face,'' Paul said. ``But we got all the shots that we wanted. There are going to be nights like that. It just hasn't happened for a while.''

Andre Miller had 12 points and 12 assists for the Nuggets starting in place of point guard Ty Lawson, who has been bothered by tightness in his left Achilles' tendon for the past week and missed a game for the first time this season.

``We don't win this game without Andre,'' Nuggets coach George Karl said. ``He just got us easy baskets, got a lot of guys involved, gave our team a lot of confidence.''

Miller wasn't taking all the credit.

``It was a good win against a good team. We beat them every quarter,'' he said. ``It was a weird game, kind of slow. Both teams want to get up and down the court. It was one of those nights where we fell into some easy baskets. We controlled our turnovers and had the energy on our side.''

Iguodala helped out at point guard and chipped in with 12 points and eight assists for Denver, which lost 112-100 to the Clippers in Los Angeles on Christmas Day.

After Bledsoe hit a 3-pointer to pull the Clippers within 65-58 with 1:54 left in the third quarter, the Nuggets scored eight of the next nine points, including JaVale McGee's first career 3-pointer at the buzzer to take a 75-59 lead into the fourth quarter. McGee, who had a dunk off an alley-oop from Miller on Denver's previous possession, hadn't even tried a 3-pointer in a game all season until then. He blew on his shooting hand after making the 3 as if to cool it off.

The Clippers got within 87-73 with 4:02 remaining when Griffin made one of two free throws, but the Nuggets, as they did throughout the game, had an answer with Iguodala getting loose in the paint for a slam. The Clippers didn't threaten the rest of the way.

The Nuggets took a 12-point lead with 3:01 left in the second quarter when Faried buried a short hook shot before settling for a 48-43 halftime advantage.

Los Angeles closed the period with a 9-2 run, starting with Paul converting a three-point play followed by Jordan's dunk off a lob from Paul.

NOTES: Clippers PG Chauncey Billups, a former Nugget and native of Denver, missed the game as he continues to recover from a foot injury that has kept him on the sideline this season. ... The Clippers began a stretch of four games in five days that resumes Wednesday in Oakland against the Golden State Warriors. ... The Nuggets improved to 5-1 on New Year's Day. ... Miller had a double-double for the 204th time in his career and the first time this season. ... The Clippers' 17-game streak was the second-longest ever snapped by the Nuggets. The Chicago Bulls were on an 18-game run when the Nuggets beat them on Feb. 4, 1996.

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Ovechkin-less Caps win in Montreal in return from the All-Star break

Ovechkin-less Caps win in Montreal in return from the All-Star break

With Alex Ovechkin serving a one-game suspension, the Capitals still were able to pull out a 4-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Monday in the team's return from the all-star break.

The power play contributed a goal despite the loss of Ovechkin and Braden Holby played well late in the game to preserve the win.

Here is how Washington won.

The power play

Coming into Monday's game, the Caps had the 30th ranked power play since Dec. 1 striking at only 14.1-percent. With no Ovechkin, it seemed unlikely that the power play would be able to suddenly find success against Montreal. Yet, the power play looked much improved with crisp puck movement that kept the Canadiens guessing. The puck movement was much quicker and more deliberate than the power play had shown of late which has looked far too slow and indecisive.
Washington cashed in with a goal from Tom Wilson as Jakub Vrana fed him from behind the net and he beat the defense to the slot.

Petry’s second goal

Jeff Petry opened the scoring with a goal for Montreal in the first period. Wilson tied the game at 1, but Petry scored again early in the second period...for the Caps.

Brendan Leipsic tipped the puck behind the net and Lars Eller grabbed it and tried to stuff it. He couldn't. Travis Boyd then tipped the puck in front of the net where Petry was trying to cover the back door to help out netminder Cary Price. Instead of helping, however, he ended up kicking the puck into his own net giving him one goal for each team and giving the Caps the 2-1 lead.

Kuznetsov on his butt

All-star defenseman Shea Weber had the puck in Montreal's defensive zone and was pressured by Evgeny Kuznetsov. In terms of a forecheck matchup, you would have to give the edge to Weber in that situation and nine times out of 10, you'd be right. This time, however, Weber lost the puck behind him with Kuznetsov pressuring. Weber turned and knocked over Kuznetsov to try to get to the puck. On his butt, Kuznetsov still managed to get a stick to the puck, passed it to T.J. Oshie who dropped it off to Jakub Vrana. Vrana netted it for his 23rd goal of the season, but the play was all started by the great forecheck by Kuznetsov.

Holtby's third period

When Holtby is feeling it, he is hard to beat. Protecting the Caps' lead, Holtby was strong in the final frame with 14 saves on 15 shots. The save of the night came when Joel Armia tried to tip a puck past Holtby and succeeded. The puck hit the post and Armia raised his arms to celebrate. Holtby, however, plucked the puck out of the air with the glove before it could cross the line which was confirmed by review.

Holtby had plenty of struggles heading into the all-star break, but was strong in the team's return with 31 saves.

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A response game for Holtby, a butt pass and some power for the power play

A response game for Holtby, a butt pass and some power for the power play

The Capitals made sure the one-game suspension to Alex Ovechkin did not cost them with a 4-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Monday.

Check out a recap of the game here.

Observations from the win

Better power play

Even without Alex Ovechkin, the power play looked much improved. The most noticeable improvement was the puck movement.

One of the issues on the power play has been slow and indecisive puck movement. The Caps were much quicker with their passes on Monday and kept the puck constantly moving which kept Montreal guessing.

Washington's power play has focused largely on position over movement which is fine and was productive for several years years. Lately, however, if the passes the players want aren't open, they freeze up with the puck, hold onto it too long, then try to force passes through covered passing lanes. On Monday, each time a player took a pass, the puck was off their stick shortly after. They already knew where the puck was going when they got the puck and quickly moved it not allowing the penalty kill to get set.

The key now will be continuing that puck movement when Ovechkin returns.

A good night for Holtby

If you're going to get all over Braden Holtby for every bad game, you have to give him credit when he has a good one. Holtby allowed only two goals on Monday. The first was a 3-on-2 with Dmitry Orlov and T.J. Oshie playing defense and Orlov misplayed it allowing Jeff Petry wide open in front of the net. The second came as Dale Weiss was also left alone in front of the net. Holtby played it awkwardly coming out to challenge Weiss, but did not extend the pads to try to force Weiss wide and gave him too much room. Still, the defense left him out to dry in both situations.

Otherwise, it was a very strong game.

Holtby made 14 saves in the third period alone and 31 saves overall for a .939 save percentage on the night. It is the first time in eight games he has managed a save percentage over .900.

Turning point

Montreal took a 1-0 lead off a Jeff Petry goal and the Canadiens were all over the Caps to start. Then Washington earned a power play opportunity and, well, it was awful with Ovechkin, surely it would be terrible without him. Instead, Wilson scored to tie the game and the power play looked much improved. Suddenly, the Caps were back in the game.

Play of the game

This is great forecheck work by Evgeny Kuznetsov on one of the best defensemen in the game, Shea Weber. He forced a turnover then made the pass from his butt to set up the goal.

Stat of the game

Lars Eller loves playing against Montreal. He recorded one assist and was one of the Caps' best players on Monday.

Quote of the game

Holtby has had struggles in the past, but he always seems to rebound at some point and return to his dominant self. Todd Reirden called Monday's game a "response" performance for the netminder after his best performance in several weeks.


Fan predictions

Close. The Caps rebounded from a 1-0 deficit and ended up winning 4-2.

Saw a lot of predictions for two goals for Richard Panik who played in Ovechkin's spot on the top line. Panik had two shots on goal, but no points in 12:35 of even-strength ice time.

No goals for John Carlson, but Holtby did have a strong game and the Caps had a two-goal win.

Bold.

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