SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) David West had 31 points and 11 rebounds to help the Indiana Pacers edge the Sacramento Kings 97-92 on Friday night.
West was 13 for 20 from the field and 5 for 7 at the line in his season-best scoring performance. He is averaging 23 points over the last five games, four of them Indiana victories.
George Hill had 25 points, eight assists and six rebounds for the Pacers, and reserve Sam Young scored 12.
DeMarcus Cousins had 19 points and 16 rebounds for the Kings (4-11), who have dropped two in a row and own the worst record in the Western Conference. Marcus Thornton scored 15 points, and reserves Jimmer Fredette and Francisco Garcia each had 12.
Thornton missed a long 3-pointer that would have tied it with 5 seconds left. Hill secured the rebound and was fouled. He made both free throws with 2.9 seconds left, giving Indiana a 97-92 lead.
Sacramento used Thornton's two free throws to pull within two with 11.5 seconds left. After a timeout, Hill was fouled on the inbounds play and made one of two foul shots for a 95-92 lead.
The Kings played without Tyreke Evans, their leading scorer over the past five games. Evans, who leads the team in assists and is the second-leading scorer, missed his first game of the season due to a bruised left knee.
Cousins tried to rally Sacramento to a victory. He hit four straight free throws and John Salmons added two more, trimming Indiana's lead to 88-84 with 3:04 left.
The Pacers responded with six straight points. West scored, Young made a corner jumper, and West followed with a 15-footer to make it 94-88 with 56 seconds remaining.
With their 3-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday, the Capitals' playoff future is starting to come into focus. Washington has only one game remaining and can finish in either third or fourth in the round robin standings. That limits the number of possible playoff opponents for the Caps when the games really start to matter.
First, before talking about who the Caps may play, it is important to remember why. Under the NHL's regular format, a normal year would see teams advance in a bracket, meaning each team knows going in they will be playing the winner of a specific matchup if they advance. This year, the NHL is going back to its old format of re-seeding after each round. This makes determining matchups a bit harder to figure out.
Here's what we know. The Caps are going to finish in the bottom half of the round robin meaning they will play one of the highest two seeded teams coming out of the qualifying round. The Carolina Hurricanes swept their qualifying round series against the New York Rangers. As the No. 6 seed coming in, Carolina is going to be one of the top two qualifying round teams.
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Washington's final seed will be determined by Sunday's game against the Boston Bruins. A win in regulation, overtime or a shootout will mean the Caps are No. 3, while a loss in any fashion will bump them down to No. 4.
The simplest scenario for Washington is that If the Pittsburgh Penguins rally to win their series against the Montreal Canadiens, the Caps are guaranteed to play either Pittsburgh or Carolina as the No. 5 and 6 seeds, respectively. It gets a little trickier if the Penguins lose. If that happens, the Hurricanes become the top qualifying team and will play No. 4. The top team behind them then becomes No. 6 which, as of now, could be the New York Islanders, Toronto Maple Leafs or the Columbus Blue Jackets.
So a rematch with the Hurricanes is a definite possibility for the Caps, as is a matchup with the rival Penguins.
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Davey Martinez said Friday that Stephen Strasburg will start Sunday against the Baltimore Orioles.
Strasburg has yet to pitch this season because of a right wrist impingement which led to a nerve problem in his right hand. He missed his first start, slated for the second game of the season on July 25, then what would have been his second start five days later. Strasburg said his hand was falling asleep in the middle of the night. The Nationals medical staff needed to give Strasburg multiple injections in his hand in order to help the pain subside.
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He threw a heavy bullpen session Wednesday before throwing 32 pitches in a simulated game. Martinez said Strasburg felt well during the simulated game, so instead of continuing, they had him stop in order to throw 70-plus pitches Sunday against Baltimore.
"The tingling in his thumb is gone," Martinez said Friday. "That's a good sign. We watched him, like I said, he's thrown some really good [bullpen sessions]. That was the big thing for me. Nothing in his mechanics has changed. Everything's good. Based on conversations with him, he feels good. He wants to pitch. He's ready to pitch on Sunday."
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Max Scherzer left his Wednesday start after just an inning because of a hamstring "tweak" from the day before when he was running sprints. He was expected to play catch Friday. Martinez labeled him "day-to-day."
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