Nationals

West's big night leads Pacers past Heat 102-89

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West's big night leads Pacers past Heat 102-89

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Indiana did it again Friday night.

And this time, the Pacers beat Miami at its own game.

David West scored 30 points, Paul George added 17 and Indiana became the second team to beat the defending champs twice this season with a 102-89 victory.

The Pacers (28-19) have won 13 in a row at home and two straight since ending a three-game losing streak earlier this week. They've also won three straight regular-season games over the Heat and have not lost to Miami since the Heat swept the final three games of the Eastern Conference semifinal series last spring.

For Miami (29-14), it was a frustrating night. While players and coaches promised to play a more physical game than the first one, the 87-77 loss on Jan. 8 also at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, it didn't make much difference.

The Heat still got outrebounded, and allowed the Pacers to shoot a season-high 55.7 percent from the field. During one stretch, West made 11 straight baskets.

How frustrating was it? Three different Miami players and coach Erik Spoelstra drew technical fouls.

And after Miami put up a season-low 77 points in the first trip to Indiana, this time it nearly allowed Indiana to finish with its highest points total in a non-overtime game all season. The season high was 105 against Houston two weeks earlier.

It was that kind of night in Indy. Lance Stephenson had 15 points and George Hill 12 before leaving briefly late in the game with a left shoulder injury.

Meanwhile, the only other Miami players to reach double figures were Chris Bosh with 13 and Shane Battier with 11.

Indiana took control of the game with a 13-0 run that turned a 23-20 deficit into a 33-23 lead early in the second quarter. Miami never led again.

The Pacers, meanwhile, methodically extended the margin. They closed the first half on an 8-4 mini-run to make it 53-45, then opened the second half by scoring the first six points to take a 59-45 lead.

They weren't even close to being finished. When Miami got within 64-54 on two free throws by Mario Chalmers with 7:13 to go in the third quarter, Indiana answered with a 12-3 run that made ended with two free throws from West. That made it 76-57 with 3:16 left in the quarter.

Miami only got as close as 12 the rest of the way.

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3 things to watch as the Nationals try to even the series with Colorado

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3 things to watch as the Nationals try to even the series with Colorado

Here are three things to watch for as the Nationals try to even the series in Colorado: 

1. Brian Dozier's slow start to 2019 seems to be in the rearview mirror. The second baseman hit his third long-ball in four games Monday night inside Coors Field. 

2. How long will Anthony Rendon be held out of the lineup? The third baseman is nursing his left elbow after being hit by a Jose Urena pitch Saturday in Miami. 

3. One of the MLB's best closers remains unsigned 20+ games into the season. Craig Kimbrel could very well help solve an NL East division-wide problem

Coming Up:

Tuesday, 4/23: Nationals @ Rockies, 8:40 p.m. ET, Coors Field

Wednesday, 4/24: Nationals @ Rockies, 3:10 p.m. ET, Coors Field

Friday, 4/26: Padres @ Nationals, 7:05 p.m. ET, Nationals Park

Download the MyTeams app for even more Nationals content, and check out the latest episode of the Racing Presidents podcast below.

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A frustrating Game 6 loss, but Caps can't dwell on the negative

A frustrating Game 6 loss, but Caps can't dwell on the negative

RALEIGH — By the end of the night the frustration was evident. Three times the Capitals have played at PNC Arena during this Stanley Cup playoffs first-round series and three times they have left the ice stick-smashingly angry. 

Capitals coach Todd Reirden screamed at the officials. Alex Ovechkin earned a game misconduct after a mock wave following a late penalty call. By then the Carolina Hurricanes had already assured there would be one final game in this closer-than-expected series with a 5-2 win. Now both teams face elimination with Game 7 looming Wednesday at Capital One Arena. 

Washington’s anger was understandable. Alex Ovechkin apparently poked home the game-tying goal with 9:26 remaining. But while the Capitals celebrated, referee Kyle Rehman blew his whistle. In his view, Ovechkin had shoved Carolina goalie Petr Mrazek’s pads to force the puck into the net. 

The NHL Situation Room in Toronto upheld that call on the ice after the Capitals tied it. Just 1:24 later, ex-Capitals forward Justin Williams stuck a dagger in the heart of his old team with a deflected goal to give the Hurricanes a 4-2 lead.

"I don't think anyone expected it to be easy,” defenseman Brooks Orpik said. “They played well all series. We were up 2-0 and we were probably fortunate to be up 2-0 and we've been good on home ice and now we have a Game 7 and it is probably good that we have home ice."

There were other issues on Monday. Dmitry Orlov was whistled for embellishment in the second period that denied Washington a power play. Carolina tied the game 2-2 at 1:56 of the second period when referees – in the Capitals’ view – missed an obvious slash by Sebastian Aho on defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler behind the net. His attempted clear was flubbed and Aho found Teuvo Teravainen alone in front for an easy goal.

None of it matters now. The Capitals didn’t play well enough to win anyway, especially in a ragged second period that ominously looked like the 5-0 Hurricanes win in Game 3. Reirden himself admitted that Carolina earned the breaks it got. Goalie Braden Holtby was especially critical of his team for not building on a dominant 6-0 win at home in Game 5 on Saturday. 

“I don’t know. I thought we played pretty well to come out and we just faded,” Holtby said. “I’m not sure why. At this point it doesn’t matter. It’s over with and it’s down to one game.”

The challenge will be leaving all of that negativity in the PNC Arena locker room. One player walked away and said to no one in particular “No goal….what a call.” The sarcasm dripped. But it can’t follow the Capitals back home to Washington. This group of players has plenty of experience putting bad playoff losses behind them. 

If anything carries over into Game 7, however, they could be in trouble. Those days are thought to be long over after last spring’s Cup. And maybe they are. But the Capitals will have to forget about what happened in Raleigh. They have one last chance. It can't be clouded by what happened here.  

"It's over. Again, right now nothing you can do,” Ovechkin said. “After fight, you can't do anything. It was a good battle. Good for them, they win Game 6, and you know, Game 7 is going to be much interesting. We know how to play that. Pressure on both teams, but it's a good chance for us to beat them at home." 

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