Capitals

Randolph, Memphis beat Jazz 99-86 to halt skid

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Randolph, Memphis beat Jazz 99-86 to halt skid

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) The Memphis Grizzlies were frustrated, having dropped three straight after opening the season with a franchise-best mark.

They also were tired of coming up empty in Salt Lake City, where they hadn't walked away winners since 2007.

That all changed Saturday night when they overcame a miserable first half to cruise to a 99-86 victory over the Utah Jazz.

``It's been a long time,'' said Zach Randolph, who scored 25 points and grabbed 16 rebounds to fuel Memphis. ``It's always hard to win here.''

At halftime the Jazz appeared headed toward another victory in front of their fans.

But the Grizzlies outscored Utah 28-10 in the third quarter to turn a 10-point halftime deficit into a 72-64 lead entering the fourth. The Jazz shot just 15 percent (3 of 20) in the quarter after shooting 56.4 percent at halftime.

Stopping Utah center Al Jefferson was a key.

``They put Zach on me and had a guy sitting in my lap the whole time,'' Jefferson said. ``It's kind of difficult for an offensive player to operate. We got to move better and I've got to do a better job of passing the ball outside. They're a good defensive team. They had a good game plan.''

Utah's 10 points in the third were the fewest since the Jazz scored six in the fourth against the Lakers on Dec. 9, 2009.

After shooting 7 of 12 for 14 points in the first half, Jefferson went 1 of 5 the rest of the way and finished with 21 points - the rest too little too late.

``We went out there and turned it up,'' said Randolph, who was 3 of 3 for eight points, with six rebounds in the third quarter.

Marc Gasol led the team with nine points in the third and also grabbed six rebounds in the quarter. He finished with 16 points, eight rebounds, two blocks and two steals.

Even if Jefferson mistakenly referred to Gasol as Pau, the credit was the same as he called both Randolph and Gasol ``beasts.''

``They got some tough plays down low,'' said Jazz forward Paul Millsap, who added 12 points and four rebounds.

``Z-Bo (Randolph) he never stops, he never gives up. So he's going to go out there every time. They're a physical team. They get down and dirty. ... They pushed us out past the 3-point line and we couldn't get into our sets, couldn't really run anything. You struggle against a really good team, you're going to pay for it.''

The Jazz got within four points on a 3-pointer by DeMarre Carroll, a former Grizzlies draft pick, with 10:30 remaining. But Randolph remained hot, scoring eight straight in a 4-minute span as Memphis surged ahead 86-75 with 5:45 left.

Memphis held a 48-35 advantage on the boards, including an 18-7 edge on the offensive end. Jefferson was held without an offensive rebound.

The Grizzlies also forced the Jazz into 15 turnovers and held a 50-38 advantage on points in the paint.

``A lot of times the ball just bounced right at them but other times they outworked us,'' Jefferson said.

The win halted a three-game losing streak for Memphis, and dropped Utah to 9-2 at home.

``This has got to be the motivator,'' Jefferson said of Utah's first loss in 10 games at home against Memphis. ``I think we got too comfortable at home. This proves we can lose at home. But it shows you can win on the road.''

That's where the Jazz are headed, for a four-game road trip starting in Brooklyn on Tuesday.

The Grizzlies, who halted a three-game losing streak, have three straight at home.

``We had to get back to what we do, and that's defensive pressure,'' guard Mike Conley said. ``It was frustrating. It was hard to look at us play so well and the last week play so bad. For us to come here and get a win in a very tough atmosphere says a lot about us handling adversity. This is a huge win for us.''

It started with an 11-3 run to open the third, Rudy Gay's three-point play and Randolph's short jumper getting Memphis within 57-55 with 8:04 left.

After Marvin Williams' dunk off a Randy Foye alley-oop pass bumped Utah's lead back to six, the Grizzlies scored 10 straight behind Gasol and Tony Allen.

It was a sharp contrast to the first half when the Jazz led by as many as 12 points thanks to their big men. Jefferson scored 10 straight for Utah during a 3-minute stretch in the first quarter, and replacement Enes Kanter started 4 of 4 and had 10 points in eight minutes and 10 by halftime.

Then it all changed for a Jazz team coming off a 15-road loss to Phoenix after seemingly finding itself in back-to-back wins over the Lakers and Spurs.

``It (hurts),'' Millsap said. ``We're not sound. That's how we have to look at it. It's one we wish we could have back.''

Especially the third quarter.

``We rushed some shots,'' Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. ``We didn't have the same energy we had in the first half.''

NOTES: Memphis F Darrell Arthur is to be evaluated when the Grizzlies return home after suffering a mild concussion Friday against Denver. He did not play Saturday. ... Memphis has forced at least 10 turnovers in 125 consecutive games. ... The Jazz held a moment of silence before the game for victims of the Connecticut elementary school tragedy. After the first quarter, they also organized an emotional reunion for a military mom, Jeanne Izatt, who hadn't seen sons Connor and Chance since April. ... Jazz G Jamaal Tinsley was drafted by the Grizzlies in 2001 (No. 27 overall) only to be traded draft night to Indiana. He returned to play the 2008-09 season in Memphis. .... Jazz G Hayward was happy to see his college team, Butler, knock off top-ranked Indiana earlier Saturday but was just 3 of 8 for the Jazz. ... Utah outscored the Grizzlies 15-2 on the fast break in the first half.

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Stanley Cup Final 2018: The ultimate Capitals-Golden Knights preview

Stanley Cup Final 2018: The ultimate Capitals-Golden Knights preview

It is perhaps the most surprising Stanley Cup Final matchup in league history.

Just when you thought the championship window was closed, Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals finally exorcised their playoff demons to win the Eastern Conference and advance to the final. They will be playing the Vegas Golden Knights, an expansion team in its very first year in existence that did not even have a roster just one year ago.

Who could have seen this one coming back in September?

The Golden Knights continue to shock the hockey community with every series win. They swept the Los Angeles Kings, dispatched San Jose in six and needed only five games to eliminate the Winnipeg Jets, a team with the second-best record in the regular season who had just eliminated the first place Nashville Predators.

In their very first postseason, Vegas has carried the momentum of a spectacular regular season into a 12-3 record up to the Stanley Cup Final.

But while they may have momentum, the Caps have an air of destiny about them. Not only did they rally from a 2-0 series deficit to win four straight against the Columbus Blue Jackets, they also defeated their archnemesis and the two-time defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins. Against a heavily favored Tampa Bay Lightning squad, the Caps won three out of four road games including an emphatic 4-0 Game 7 win, thus erasing another playoff stigma for the franchise.

These two teams share some common history despite Vegas being in its inaugural season. Though general manager Brian MacLellan has certainly put his own touches on the Caps' roster and molded them into a champion, the core of Washington was still built by George McPhee. Now the Caps will take on a roster completely built from the ground up by McPhee as the general manager of the Golden Knights.

Will Vegas complete its Cinderella season or will the Caps hoist their first ever Cup at the expense of their former GM?

Stanley Cup Final: Washington Capitals vs. Vegas Golden Knights

Schedule

Game 1: Capitals at Golden Knights. Monday, 5/28 at 8:00 p.m. ET. (Broadcast on NBC)
Game 2: Capitals at Golden Knights. Wednesday, 5/30 at 8:00 p.m. ET. (Broadcast on NBCSN)
Game 3: Golden Knights at Capitals. Saturday, 6/2 at 8:00 p.m. ET. (Broadcast on NBCSN)
Game 4: Golden Knights at Capitals. Monday, 6/4 at 8:00 p.m. ET. (Broadcast on NBC)
Game 5 (if necessary): Capitals at Golden Knights. Thursday, 6/7 at 8:00 p.m. ET. (Broadcast on NBC)
Game 6 (if necessary): Golden Knights at Capitals. Sunday, 6/10 (Broadcast on NBC)
Game 7 (If Necessary): Capitals at Golden Knights. Wednesday, 6/13 (Broadcast on NBC)

View full detailed schedule here.

2017-18 Team stats

Washington Capitals

  • 49-26-7, 105 points, first in the Metropolitan Division
  • 3.12 goals per game (9th)
  • 2.90 goals against per game (16th)
  • 22.5-percent power play percentage (7th)
  • 80.3 penalty kill percentage (15th)
     

Vegas Golden Knights

  • 51-24-7, 109 points, first in the Pacific Division
  • 3.27 goals per game (5th)
  • 2.74 goals against per game (8th)
  • 21.4 power play percentage (9th)
  • 81.4 penalty kill percentage (11th)

Top Performers

Washington

Goals

Regular season
  1. Alex Ovechkin – 49
  2. Evgeny Kuznetsov – 27
  3. Nicklas Backstrom – 21
Playoffs
  1. Alex Ovechkin - 12
  2. Evgeny Kuznetsov - 11
  3. T.J. Oshie - 7

Assists

Regular season
  1. Evgeny Kuznetsov – 56
  2. John Carlson – 53
  3. Nicklas Backstrom – 50
Playoffs
  1. John Carlson - 13
  2. Evgeny Kuznetsov -13
  3. Nicklas Backstrom - 12

Points

Regular season
  1. Alex Ovechkin – 87
  2. Evgeny Kuznetsov – 83
  3. Nicklas Backstrom – 71
Playoffs
  1. Evgeny Kuznetsov - 24
  2. Alex Ovechkin - 22
  3. John Carlson - 16
  4. Nicklas Backstrom - 16

Vegas

Goals

Regular season
  1. William Karlsson - 43
  2. Erik Haula - 29
  3. Jonathan Marchessault - 27
Playoffs
  1. Jonathan Marchessault - 8
  2. Alex Tuch - 6
  3. William Karlsson - 6

Assists

Regular season
  1. David Perron - 50
  2. Jonathan Marchessault - 48
  3. Reilly Smith - 38
Playoffs
  1. Reilly Smith - 14
  2. Jonathan Marchessault - 10
  3. David Perron - 7
  4. William Karlsson - 7

Points

Regular season
  1. William Karlsson - 78
  2. Jonathan Marchessault - 75
  3. David Perron - 66
Playoffs
  1. Jonathan Marchessault - 18
  2. Reilly Smith - 16
  3. William Karlsson - 13

Goaltending

Washington

Regular season

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

Playoffs

Braden Holtby: 18 GP, 12-6 record, .923 save percentage, 2.04 GAA, 2 shutouts
Philipp Grubauer: 2 GP, 0-1 record, .837 save percentage, 4.55 GAA, 0 shutouts

Vegas

Regular season

March-Andre Fleury: 46 GP, 29-13-4 record, .927 save percentage, 2.24 GAA, 4 shutouts
Malcolm Subban: 22 GP, 13-4-2 record, .910 save percentage, 2.68 GAA, 0 shutouts
Maxime Legace: 16 GP, 6-7-1 record, .867 save percentage, 3.92 GAA, 0 shutouts
Oscar Dansk: 4 GP, 3-0-0 record, .946 save percentage, 1.78 GAA, 1 shutout
Dylan Ferguson: 1 GP, 0-0-0 record, .500 save percentage, 6.50 GAA, 0 shutouts

Playoffs

Marc-Andre Fleury: 15 GP, 12-3 record, .947 save percentage, 1.68 GAA, 4 shutouts

Head-to-head record

Capitals finished with a 0-2-0 record against Vegas

Dec. 23: 3-0 Vegas win

The Caps' first trip to Vegas was a rough one. Washington was taken complete surprise by the speed and forecheck of the Golden Knights who built a 3-0 lead in the first period and ride that all the way to the finish line.

Feb. 4: 4-3 Vegas win

This game was part of a season-defining stretch for the Caps. Just 10 days prior, Washington was blown out by the Nashville Predators and again by the Colorado Avalanche two days after that. The Caps would rebound by winning eight of their next 10 games. A back-to-back against the Lightning, who had the best record in the NHL at the time, and the Toronto Maple Leafs looked like a daunting stretch. Philipp Grubauer got the start and was brilliant for Washington and Jay Beagle led the offense with a goal and an assist.

X-Factors

Coming on Friday!

Players to watch

Coming on Saturday!

Keys to the series

Coming on Sunday!

Expert picks

Joe Beninati, NBC Sports Washingon Capitals play-by-play announcer: Capitals in 6
Ryan Billie, NBC Sports Washingon Capitals senior TV producer: Capitals in 7
Tarik El-Bashir, NBC Sports Washingon Capitals Insider: Capitals in 7
Rob Carlin, NBC Sports Washington on-air host of Capitals GameTime and Capitals Extra: Capitals in 6
Courtney Laughlin, Caps FaceOff and Caps Overtime panelist: Capitals in 6
Craig Laughlin, NBC Sports Washingon Capitals color commentator: Capitals in 6
Alan May, NBC Sports Washingon Capitals analyst: Capitals in 6
Grant Paulsen, host of Caps FaceOff and Caps Overtime: Golden Knights in 6
JJ Regan, NBC Sports Washingon Capitals Digital Producer: Capitals in 6

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Early returns show solid Redskins squad, with potential for more

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USA TODAY Sports

Early returns show solid Redskins squad, with potential for more

More than 100 days remain before the Redskins take the field in meaningful NFL action.

Any and all excitement needs to be tempered, significantly, because what happens on a practice field in May without pads does not represent what will happen in September, October and beyond. 

Still, the Redskins group that took the field this week for OTAs showed promise. 

New quarterback Alex Smith looked crisp, connecting with a variety of wideouts and commanding the huddle. New wideout Paul Richardson made the best play of the session when he streaked down the field past rookie cornerback Greg Stroman and hauled in a deep pass from Smith. The play showed Smith's ability to identify open receivers downfield, as well as Richardson's ability to go up and grab a contested catch. Even Stroman, the seventh-round rookie, positioned himself well, he just fell victim to a perfect pass and tremendous athleticism.

That was only one play in a two-hour session. Again, don't take too much from May, when players don't wear pads or engage in any of the violence that the NFL is predicated upon. But the OTAs do serve a purpose, both for players and coaches, and there were nuggets to absorb and try to project for the fall. Here they are:

  • Jay Gruden made clear he's not concerned about the health of his offensive line. Trent Williams and Morgan Moses are recuperating from offseason surgery, but Gruden believes both are on track for when things start to matter. It's a good thing the coach isn't concerned because this was the 'Skins line in OTAs (left to right): Geron Christian, Shawn Lauvao, Chase Roullier, Brandon Scherff, John Kling. Should that lineup take the field this fall, there will be trouble. 
     
  • The Redskins lost Kendall Fuller and Bashaud Breeland this offseason, and the secondary depth will be something to watch throughout training camp. At OTAs, newly signed veteran cornerback Orlando Scandrick lined up opposite Josh Norman in the team's base 3-4 defense. In nickel and dime coverage, Quinton Dunbar lined up opposite Norman and Scandrick moved to the slot. As things progress, it will be interesting to see if Dunbar surpasses Scandrick in base coverage, and what becomes of 2017 third-round pick Fabian Moreau. Stay tuned.  
     
  • Rookie running back Derrius Guice looked every part of the first-round talent many judged him to be before draft season rumors caused him to slide to the late second round. Guice cuts with authority and is able to see holes before they form and patiently wait to hit the open space. Guice also looked fine in pass-catching drills, one area that was a question coming out of LSU (but that says more about LSU's prehistoric offense). Watching the Redskins offense work, it seems clear Guice will be the heaviest used runner this fall.
     
  • That said, don't count out Robert Kelley. He looks leaner and plenty quick, showing a few impressive runs during the session. Byron Marshall also looked good, and Gruden pointed out his success in his post-OTA press conference. The running back group will have plenty of competition all the way through Richmond. 
     
  • Jonathan Allen has switched jersey numbers from 95 to 93. Rookie Daron Payne is now wearing 95. Payne and Allen both went to Alabama, both are huge, and both play defensive line. The number switch will take some getting used to. 
     
  • Zach Brown missed the OTA session as he was moving, and interestingly in his spot with the starting defense was Josh Harvey-Clemons. The second-year pro out of Louisville showed impressive speed in coverage, and remember he played safety in college and performed quite well. He has ball skills and great size to be a coverage linebacker. Some were surprised when the Redskins kept JHC last season at the cut to 53, but his development appears to be paying off for the organization. 
     
  • Another linebacker that made a play was Zach Vigil. He impressed for the Redskins late last season and was running the Washington second-team defensive huddle. At one point, Vigil broke through the line of scrimmage and blew up a run play. That prompted D.J. Swearinger to yell from the sideline, "OK Zach. OK ZACH!"
     
  • Speaking of Swearinger, the Redskins defensive captain seemed in midseason form when it comes to yelling encouragement on the field. Nobody hypes up the defense like Swearinger, particularly when the secondary makes a big play. On one pass Dunbar made a nice diving play to break up a pass, and Swearinger and Josh Norman got very fired up, shouting and jumping around. The entire defense responded. Little stuff like that helps disrupt the monotony of offseason work. 
     
  • Jamison Crowder looks jacked and quick. The end. 

 

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