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T-wolves Pekovic, Roy, Barea all out vs Bobcats

T-wolves Pekovic, Roy, Barea all out vs Bobcats

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Brandon Roy sat down at his locker on Wednesday night as he prepared to sit out another with a sore right knee. He was asked if he planned on suiting up for the Minnesota Timberwolves in their next game on Friday night.

``Um, I would like to,'' Roy said before the Wolves took on Charlotte. ``That's the goal. I don't want to say yeah or no. But I would like to get out there Friday.''

His words may have said yes, but his eyes said something entirely different. Roy missed his third straight game on Wednesday night, and there is no clear answer to when he will return to the court. For a player who is trying to come back from chronic knee issues that forced him to retire before last season, the situation is very much a concern for him and an injury-ravaged Wolves team that could desperately use his scoring in the lineup.

``Since it is my knee, we all know they're not 100 percent,'' Roy said. ``Anytime I have something in that area, it's always a little concerning. I just try not to think about it that much and just try to get better. Coach and the team they all tell me to just keep taking my time. Nobody's putting any extra pressure on me.''

Roy is one of a staggering six players currently sidelined for the Wolves. JJ Barea (sprained left foot) and Nikola Pekovic (sprained left ankle) both were out against the Bobcats as well but hope to return fairly soon. Chase Budinger is out three to four months after having surgery on his left knee earlier this week and stars Kevin Love (broken right hand) and Ricky Rubio (torn left ACL) aren't expected to make their season debuts until sometime in December.

The Timberwolves have lost a player to injury in four straight games, giving them nine healthy bodies to play the improved Bobcats on Wednesday night.

``I've just never seen anything like this, game after game after game you lose somebody like that,'' coach Rick Adelman said.

After getting some injections to treat the bone-on-bone soreness in his knees this summer, Roy felt so good that he started a comeback bid. He worked out for a few teams and signed a two-year deal with Minnesota, which needed a veteran shooting guard who could create his own shot in the fourth quarter. All signs were encouraging in training camp, with Roy reporting no soreness and looking spry in workouts and games.

But he banged knees with Ersan Ilyasova in an exhibition against the Bucks, knocked knees again in practice before the opener and left the game against Indiana on Friday night with more soreness.

``They both have been fine up until that last preseason game. ... It just hasn't quite got to where I would've liked,'' Roy said. ``That's part of a season. You just have to get to a point where, what can you tolerate. I think things will be OK. Hopefully I can get back out there as soon as possible.''

Both Adelman and president of basketball operations David Kahn said they expected Roy to have setbacks like this occasionally, and that his performance in training camp and the preseason left them confident he'd be back after a little rest.

``He was doing pretty well until he got his knee bumped in that exhibition game, and that's kind of caused him some problems,'' Adelman said. ``But I always thought there was going to be times like this. But I didn't expect five other guys out.''

The Timberwolves have kicked the tires on free agents Josh Howard and Mickael Pietrus, but they only have the veteran minimum to offer and have yet to decide if they want to bring someone in. Kahn said the Wolves were not eligible for an injury exception yet, so they would have to waive a player to make room on the roster. He also said signing a free agent was much more likely than making a trade this early in the season.

The Wolves host Golden State on Friday night before having four days off to let players try to heal.

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Follow Jon Krawczynski on Twitter:http://twitter.com/APKrawczynski

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5 reasons the Caps beat the Lightning in Game 6

5 reasons the Caps beat the Lightning in Game 6

After losing three straight, the Capitals battled back in Game 6 on Monday. With their 3-0 win, Washington forced the Eastern Conference Final into a decisive Game 7 on Wednesday.

Here is how the Caps did it.

1. Braden Holtby matched Andrei Vasilevskiy save for save

Andrei Vasilevskiy was just as great in this game as he was in the three previous, but one of the major differences in this one was that Holtby was just as good. He may not have been tested as much (Vasilevskiy made 32 saves, Holtby 24), but he was big when the team needed.

In the second period with the scored tied at 0, Holtby made one of the most critical saves perhaps of the entire season when he denied Anthony Cirelli with the toe on a 2-on-1. When the Caps took the lead, Holtby really shut the door in the third period with 10 saves to cap off what was his fifth career playoff shutout and first shutout of the entire season.

2. T.J. Oshie’s timely goal

Over halfway into the game, it looked like it was just going to be one of those nights. Caps fans know it well by now. Washington outplays their opponent, they get chance after chance and develop a whopping advantage in shots, but they run into a hot goalie and a random play suddenly turns into a goal for the other team, game and season over.

Vasilevskiy was on his way to having perhaps his best performance of the series. Considering how he played in the three games prior to Game 6, that’s saying something. The Caps were doing everything right, but he continued to make save after save. Then on the power play in the second period, John Carlson struck the inside of the post, the horn went off and the roar of the crowd gave way to dismay as the referee waved his arms to indicate there was no goal and play continued. Just seconds later, T.J. Oshie gave the Caps the 1-0 lead.

You have to wonder if doubt was starting to creep into the back of the minds of the players when that puck struck the post as they wondered what else they had to do to beat Vasilevskiy. Luckily, that feeling didn’t last long.

3. Special teams

Braydon Coburn’s tripping penalty in the second period gave Washington its only power play of the night and its first since the second period of Game 4. They had to make it count given how well Vasilveskiy was playing and they did.

Washington now has a power play goal in each of their three wins against the Lightning and no power play goals in their three losses. So yeah, it’s significant.

Tampa Bay had two opportunities of their own, but Washington managed to kill off both power plays in the penalty kill’s best performance of the series.

4. Washington’s physical game plan

On paper, the Lightning are better than the Caps in most categories. One area in which Washington has the edge, however, is physical play and it was clear very early that they intended to use that to their advantage in Game 6. Tampa Bay was pushed around and they seemed to struggle to recover.

Ovechkin was a one-man wrecking ball out there hitting everything that moved. The energy he brought with every hit was palpable and both the team and the crowd fed on it.

Washington was credited with 39 hits on the night compared to Tampa Bay’s 19. Ovechkin had four of those as did Nicklas Backstrom while Devante Smith-Pelly contributed five and Tom Wilson and Brooks Orpik each led the team with six.

5. Fourth line dagger

Tampa Bay’s fourth line was the story of Game 5, but Washington’s fourth line sealed the deal on Monday with its third period goal.

Chandler Stephenson beat out an icing call, forcing Braydon Coburn to play the puck along the wall. Jay Beagle picked it up, fed back to Stephenson who backhanded a pass for the perfect setup for Devante Smith-Pelly.

Smith-Pelly scored seven goals in the regular season. He now has four in the playoffs.

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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

WASHINGTON -- Juan Soto, the youngest player in the majors at 19, hit a three-run homer in his first career start as the Washington Nationals defeated the San Diego Padres 10-2 on Monday.

Mark Reynolds had two solo home runs for the Nationals, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Bryce Harper had a homer and an RBI double.

Soto's drive highlighted a five-run second inning for Washington. The promising outfielder, who played for three minor league teams this season, hit the first pitch from Robbie Erlin (1-3) over the Nationals bullpen in left-center field. Soto also singled.

Soto's homer traveled an estimated 442 feet at Nationals Park. He earned a standing ovation from the crowd and the teenager responded by taking a curtain call. Per Baseball-Reference.com, Soto became the first teenager to hit a home run in a major league game since Harper on Sept. 30, 2012.

Called up to Washington on Sunday, Soto became the first 19-year-old to make his major league debut since Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias in 2016. He entered that game in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter and struck out.

Washington's starting left fielder began the season at Class A Hagerstown. He hit a combined .362 with 14 homers and 52 RBIs in his three minor league stops.

Gio Gonzalez (5-2) allowed two runs and two hits in seven innings.

San Diego's Franmil Reyes, playing in his seventh career game, also hit his first career home run.

Trea Turner hit a pair of RBI doubles for Washington. Reynolds had three hits.

Erlin surrendered six runs and seven hits over four innings in his third start of the season. San Diego had won three in a row.

Reyes connected for a two-run homer in the fourth inning, but the Padres' lineup generated little else against Gonzalez, who allowed one run over six innings in a no-decision at San Diego on May 9.

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

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