Capitals

Pistons outmuscle Magic in 105-90 win

201301222222805255833-p2.jpeg

Pistons outmuscle Magic in 105-90 win

AUBURN HILS, Mich. (AP) The Detroit Pistons don't get a lot of chances to dominate games with their post presence. When they got an opportunity Tuesday night, they took advantage.

Jason Maxiell, Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe combined for 38 points and 28 rebounds, and the Pistons pulled away to beat the undersized Orlando Magic 105-90 Tuesday night.

``The performance from our bigs was really good,'' Pistons coach Lawrence Frank said. ``That was a big part of our game plan tonight.''

Brandon Knight led Detroit with 18 points, while Monroe scored 16 and Drummond and Maxiell each had 11 points and 11 rebounds.

The Pistons ooutrebounded Orlando 54-41, including 16-6 edge in offensive rebounds. The Magic had their size issues magnified when Glen Davis was benched for much of the second half after taking 15 first-half shots and grabbing just three rebounds.

``I knew I had a big matchup tonight against (Davis), and I wanted to set the tone early,'' Maxiell said. ``In a game like this, I'm completely focused on defense. The offense is just going to come on its own.''

After missing his first shot of the second half, Davis picked up a technical foul from the bench and ended up with three teammates and an assistant coach surrounding him to prevent an ejection. He only returned briefly when the game was out of hand, and finished with 11 points.

``I played 23 minutes and I took 16 shots that were all good looks,'' he said. ``The second half, I should have stayed aggressive, but I took myself out of the game by getting a tech, and I was not helping the team, so Coach sat me.''

J.J. Redick was Orlando's biggest threat, scoring 26 points on 9-for-10 shooting - including 5 for 6 on 3-pointers. Jameer Nelson added 14 points and nine rebounds, but leading scorer Arron Afflalo missed his only four shots.

``I was really excited and enthused about our approach tonight, and I thought we had a great shootaround this morning,'' Orlando coach Jacque Vaughn said. ``We certainly didn't get the results we were after. You have to play at both ends of the floor.''

After an even first half, the Pistons got a tiebreaking basket after a strange play to end the second quarter. Detroit had a foul to give, so Will Bynum grabbed Nelson 30 feet from the basket. Nelson, trying to draw a shooting foul, flipped the ball straight up into the air. Both teams froze, expecting a whistle, but when nothing was called, Kyle Singler grabbed the loose ball and Monroe finished the half with an uncontested dunk.

That put the Pistons up 54-52 at the half despite 17 first-half points from Redick. He hit all six of his first-half shots, including three 3-pointers and a four-point play.

``Redick is just a monster out there,'' Frank said. ``He's having the best season of his career, and when he starts shooting like that, there's not a whole lot you can do. We knew that we had to make the difference inside, and that's what our bigs were able to do.''

Maxiell had nine points and 11 rebounds in the half for Detroit, who only committed two turnovers in the first two quarters.

``We were shooting 60 percent from the floor and 50 percent on threes, and we were still down two at the half,'' Vaughn said. ``That shows you that it boiled down to the matter of stopping the other team.''

Monroe and Drummond combined for 16 points in the third quarter, including back-to-back dunks by Drummond in the last minute of the period, as Detroit built a 82-66 lead. By the fourth quarter, even 6-foot-5 Rodney Stuckey was dunking in traffic against the lethargic Magic defense.

``We know that if we play with a lot of fight and a lot of effort every game, we'll get some great wins,'' Drummond said. ``We weren't trying to do anything fancy. We were just finishing plays.''

NOTES: Busta Rhymes provided the six-minute halftime show, but also had a technical glitch. After his first song, he dropped the microphone, which then rolled off the makeshift stage. Luckily, a quick-thinking stagehand was able to retrieve it after a few seconds. ... Nelson had to be escorted off the court by teammates after continuing to argue the no-call at the end of the half.

Quick Links

Who are the Caps' award winners this season?

capture_carlsonovi.png
USA TODAY Sports

Who are the Caps' award winners this season?

There won't be any suspense for the Capitals on Wednesday night during the NHL Awards show (8 p.m., NBCSN). Alex Ovechkin will receive the Rocket Richard Trophy as the league's top goal scorer, but no other Caps are up for any other hardware.

Instead, let's give out some of our own.

If the NHL awards were reserved just for the Capitals, here's who would be getting each trophy for the 2017-18 season:

Calder Memorial Trophy (best rookie): Jakub Vrana

The Caps had nine players play for the team this season who qualified as rookies according to the NHL: Vrana, Chandler Stephenson, Christian Djoos, Madison Bowey, Jakub Jerabek, Nathan Walker, Shane Gersich, Travis Boyd and Liam O'Brien. Each of the first four were certainly worthy of consideration.

Vrana gets the nod with his 13 goals and 27 points. His game did suffer some inconsistencies throughout the season, but each rookie experienced that as well. Djoos and Bowey played major roles for the Caps this season as both were called upon to be regular blue liners, but they were largely protected by how they were utilized by Barry Trotz.

The deciding factor for me was this: Who was a better fit this season, Vrana when he played in the top six or Djoos when he played in the top four? The answer for me was Vrana.

Lady Byng  Memorial Trophy (sportsmanship combined with high standard of play): Chandler Stephenson

Stephenson recorded 18 points and proved to be a valuable member of the bottom six, but what really stood out was how clean his game was.

Here's a look at the players with the fewest PIM for the Caps this season: Jerabek (0 PIM), Gersich (0), Boyd (2), Tyler Graovac (2), Walker (4), Anthony Peluso (4), O'Brien (5), Stephenson (8), Taylor Chorney (8), Aaron Ness (8).

Excluding Stephenson, Chorney played the most with 24 games. Everyone else played in 11 games or fewer. Stephenson played in 67.

Bill Masteron Memorial Trophy (perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey): Devante Smith-Pelly

This award is unique in that every team gets a nominee as voted on by each local chapter of the Pro Hockey Writer's Association (of which I am a member). All 31 candidates are then voted on by the PHWA at large. I will go with the Capitals' nominee from this season, Smith-Pelly.

Smith-Pelly was bought out of his contract last season by the New Jersey Devils and came to the Caps on a two-way contract. He filled a key role for the Caps on the bottom-six all season despite a shaky training camp and played in 75 games with 16 points.

When faced with racial taunts from fans in Chicago, Smith-Pelly reacted with class and grace in the wake of the incident. The way he handled the situation allowed for a negative to turn into a positive as Chicago fans raised and donated $23,000 to Fort Dupont.

Frank J. Selke Trophy (best defensive forward): Jay Beagle

No Caps forward had a lower percentage of offensive zone starts than Beagle. His 58.5-percent faceoff win percentage was among the league's best. He also blocked 44 shots per game over the course of the season, sixth among the team's forwards, but he had less ice time than all but one of the five forwards ahead of him.

James Norris Memorial Trophy (best defenseman): John Carlson

This one's a slam dunk. Before Michal Kempny was brought on, defensive depth was the obvious weakness of the Caps even before an injury forced Matt Niskanen out of the lineup for 14 games. Carlson was called upon to play nearly 30 minutes a night and he proved himself capable of playing strong, hard minutes on both ends of the ice.

Carlson's 68 points led all defensemen in the league. In a contract year, he earned himself a lot of money with how he played this season.

Vezina Trophy (best goalie): Philipp Grubauer

This one was tough, but considering this is a regular season award, the nod has to go to Grubauer.

Yes, Braden Holtby played in 54 games, 19 more than Grubauer, and he earned 34 wins, 19 more than Grubauer managed. But Grubauer's superiority when it comes to the stats is undeniable.

Holtby: 54 GP, 34-16-4, .907 save percentage, 2.99 GAA, 0 shutouts
Grubauer: 35 GP, 15-10-3, .923 save percentage, 2.35 GAA, 3 shutouts

From Nov. 1 through the rest of the regular season, no goalie who appeared in at least 20 games had a better GAA than Grubauer and only two netminders recorded a better save percentage.

Grubauer stepped in to stabilize the Caps in net when Holtby was in the midst of the worst slump of his career and he helped Washington win the Metropolitan Division with a strong finish to the season, especially in a brilliant performance in Pittsburgh.

There is no doubt Holtby remains the Caps' No. 1 given what he did in the postseason and revisionist history will have many questioning why Grubauer started for the Caps at the beginning of the postseason. If you followed the team all year, however, there was no question who the stronger netminder was at the end of the regular season.

Hart Memorial Trophy (MVP): Alex Ovechkin

Who else?

Carlson comes in at a close second because of what he was tasked to do on defense, but Ovechkin was the MVP for this team.

Not only did he lead the team in points with 87, the Great 8 once again found the fountain of youth scoring 49 goals to lead the NHL after tallying just 33 the season before. His 49 goals accounted for over 19-percent of the Caps' goals this season. Had Ovechkin scored the same number of goals as he did last season, that would have knocked the Caps from 9th in goals all the way down to 15th. That's how important his resurgent offensive performance was to the team.

MORE CAPITALS COVERAGE:

Quick Links

The curious case of Alex Smith and the NFL Top 100 list

The curious case of Alex Smith and the NFL Top 100 list

Every offseason the NFL Network polls a number of current players to determine the Top 100 stars in the league.

It's a fun discussion topic during an otherwise slow time in the football calendar, and while the rankings carry no official meaning, it would be silly to dismiss the process altogether. After all, these are players voting for their fellow players. 

Over the last few seasons, the Redskins have seen a various number of their players make the list. Trent Williams is a mainstay, Jordan Reed made an appearance, and while he was playing in Washington, QB Kirk Cousins made the list. 

For example, in 2017, Cousins ranked 70th on the NFL Top 100. That same season, while quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs, Smith came in at 81 on the list. 

Now Redskins QB, there is a bit of a mystery surrounding Smith.

The NFL has revealed numbers 100 to 11, and Smith hasn't made the list. Cousins, now a Viking, landed 94th, the first QB on the list.

Another 10 QBs have been named to the Top 100: Jimmy Garoppolo (90), Derek Carr (60), Philip Rivers (56), Case Keenum (51), Deshaun Watson (50), Jared Goff (38), Matt Stafford (31), Matt Ryan (29), Ben Roethlisberger (18) and Russell Wilson (11).

Smith had the best statistical season of his career in 2017, and he led the NFL in passer rating. He certainly belongs higher on the Top 100 than a number of the quarterbacks listed above, particularly young players without his track record of success like Keenum, Watson or Goff. 

But does Smith deserve a Top 10 ranking in the NFL?

For Smith to make the list, it will mean a Top 10 ranking. Consider too that Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Carson Wentz have not yet landed on the Top 100. All four of those players seem like locks for the Top 10, which will be revealed next Monday night on NFL Network. 

It might seem surprising for Smith to land in the Top 10 of the NFL Top 100, but it would make zero sense for him to be left off the list altogether. 

MORE REDSKINS NEWS:

— Contract years: Redskins face 5 tough decisions 

— Dead Money: Trades, misses and mistakes hurt Redskins salary cap

#REDSKINSTALK PODCAST

Don't forget to subscribe to the #RedskinsTalk podcast, hosted by JP Finlay.

Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below.