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Out with the old: Clips take streak into new year

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Out with the old: Clips take streak into new year

LOS ANGELES (AP) Having wrapped up December with just the third 16-0 month in NBA history, the Los Angeles Clippers face tough challenges starting the new year.

They'll play four games this week, with two opponents having winning records and the other at .500. The Clippers take their franchise-record 17-game winning streak into Denver on Tuesday, where the Nuggets are 9-1 at home.

``It'll be a big test for us,'' Blake Griffin said.

Denver is the first game of a back-to-back, with a visit to Golden State on Wednesday. The Warriors handed the Clippers their first loss of the season on Nov. 3. The Clippers return home on Friday to host the Lakers, a team they've already beaten once and who are back to .500. Then comes the second game of another back-to-back against the Warriors.

``We're going to lose at some point, but this is a magical run,'' said Caron Butler, who had 29 points in a 107-96 victory over the Utah Jazz on Sunday that maintained the league's best record at 25-6.

The Clippers haven't lost since Nov. 26.

``I want to do this every year,'' coach Vinny Del Negro said. ``This has got to be a staple of how we go about doing our business. We're thinking bigger than the streak.''

They have proven they can win on successive nights during the streak, having done so on Dec. 8 against Phoenix and the next night against Toronto, then again on Dec. 11 at Chicago and the following night in Milwaukee.

``We're just trying to build as many wins as possible,'' Chris Paul said. ``Last week was a tough week (wins over Denver, Boston and Utah twice). We don't look past anybody.''

The Clippers went 16-0 in December to join the 1995-96 San Antonio Spurs, which included Del Negro, and 1971-72 Lakers as the only teams to go undefeated in a month. Their franchise-record winning streak is the longest since Boston won 19 in a row four years ago.

``I am amazed because I haven't done it since I've been in the league,'' said Paul, a seven-year veteran who had 19 points and nine assists against Utah.

The Clippers kept their streak alive despite Griffin scoring just seven points due to foul trouble. Their bench came through again, with Jamal Crawford scoring 11 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter.

Butler sat in the fourth quarter after playing ``out of his mind'' as Griffin put it in the opening quarter, when the veteran scored 17 points and hit five of his six 3-pointers.

``It's a tribute to everybody in here,'' Griffin said. ``Everybody has been a huge part one night or the other. It's a selfless attitude the team has taken on. This is the most fun I've ever had playing basketball.''

Against the Jazz, Crawford keyed a 10-5 run to open the fourth, highlighted by a 3-pointer and a fast break pull-up jumper that helped the Clippers extend their lead to 89-81. Paul and Griffin didn't join the second unit until 5:55 remained and Utah had closed within four on a basket by Derrick Favors.

That was as close as the Jazz got. The Clippers made 9 of 10 free throws down the stretch and their defense held Utah to one field goal in the final 3:38.

The Clippers have been winning without injured veterans Chauncey Billups and Grant Hill.

``We really haven't had an opportunity to see what it looks like,'' Paul said of the entire team.

Still, they've won 11 of their 17 games by 12 points or more, and their defense has allowed 100 points just three times during the streak. They've been winning so handily that Paul and Griffin rarely have to play in the fourth quarter. Both are averaging career low minutes in the final period this season.

``We expect to win every time we step out on the court,'' Butler said. ``We have a good mixture of young guys and veterans, and we do a good job of policing ourselves. Coach lets us control the environment. We do a great job being unselfish on and off the court.''

After putting away the Jazz, Butler headed out to join his teammates at a dinner organized by Ryan Hollins. And no, the streak wasn't going to be part of the conversation.

``It's something that kind of keeps happening,'' Griffin said. ``It's not something we talk about.''

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Capitals at Kings: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

Capitals at Kings: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

The Washington Capitals head to Los Angeles to take on the Kings on Monday at 10:30 p.m. ET. The Caps are second in the Metropolitan Division with a record of 32-19-7, while the Kings are scraping along the bottom of the Pacific Division with a record of 23-29-6. The Caps also beat the Kings (quite recently) 6-4 on Feb. 11.

The Kings are hoping to break out of their season slump and put an end to their four-game losing streak against the Capitals during Monday evening’s 10:30 p.m. ET game.

Here is everything you need to know about Monday’s late-night matchup, which will begin at 10:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Washington.


CAPITALS at KINGS HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Capitals at Los Angeles Kings, Game 60 of the 2018-19 NHL Regular Season
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, Calif.
When: Monday, Feb. 18, 10:30 p.m. ET
TV Channel: The Capitals at King game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder Link)
Live Stream: You can live stream Capitals at Kings on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the NBC Sports App.
Radio: Caps 24/7 Radio, 106.7 The Fan FM

CAPITALS at KINGS TV SCHEDULE

9:30 PM: Caps Faceoff Live
10:00 PM: Caps Pregame Live
10:30 PM: Capitals at Kings

CAPITALS at KINGS INJURY REPORT

Capitals: 
Lars Eller -- lower body as of Feb. 1

Kings: 
Alec Martinez -- upper body as of Feb. 15
Sean Walker -- face as of Feb. 15
Jonny Brodzinski -- shoulder as of Sept. 20

CAPITALS at KINGS PLAYERS TO WATCH

Evgeny Kuznetsov, F, Capitals (15 goals, 39 assists, 54 points): Last time the Caps faced the Kings (which was only one week ago), Kuznetsov contributed two goals and two assists to the Caps’ 6-4 victory. His timely goal finished out the game, essentially securing the Caps’ victory, NBC Sports Washington’s J.J. Reagan reported. In the two games that have happened since, Kuznetsov has given the Caps one assist and one point. 

Alex Ovechkin, F, Capitals (39 goals, 27 assists, 66 points): Ovi is just shy of 40-goals and played a key role in the Caps’ latest game against the Kings. He led the team with eight shots on net, and the team captain gave the Caps the first point of the game.

CAPITALS vs. KINGS SERIES HISTORY

Number of all-time Meetings: 111
All-Time Series Record: Kings lead 60-38-13
Last Meeting: Caps win 6-4 (2/11/19)

MORE CAPITALS NEWS: 

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As Bryce Harper saga drags on, Mike Rizzo says focus is elsewhere

As Bryce Harper saga drags on, Mike Rizzo says focus is elsewhere

As rumors swirl that the Phillies have gained traction with Bryce Harper, Mike Rizzo spoke confidently of his current roster at spring training.

"We worry about us. We worry about the Nationals," Rizzo said at team availability. "We have a strategy and a game plan going in to each offseason.

Rizzo also said that they were prepared for this situation, and it’s not all bad.

"Our payroll is quite a bit less than it was last season, and we feel we’ve got ourselves a team that should compete in the National League to play meaningful games September and beyond," Rizzo said. "I think the front office has done a great job."

Is that meant to comfort Nationals fans preparing to mourn the end of an era? Saving money may not cushion the fall, but Mike Rizzo prioritizing those in West Palm Beach is a signal that fans should do the same.