Capitals

Wizards beat Heat 105-101 for 2nd win of season

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Wizards beat Heat 105-101 for 2nd win of season

WASHINGTON (AP) The Washington Wizards can't beat many teams, but they beat the best: LeBron James and the Miami Heat.

Perhaps inspired by the courtside presence of Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III, the Wizards doubled their victory total this season with a 105-101 win over the Heat on Tuesday night, despite James' triple-double of 26 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists.

Jordan Crawford led Washington with 22 points, including three free throws in the final 11 seconds, while James missed a potentially tying 3-pointer with 3.9 to go.

While the reigning NBA champion Heat's six-game winning streak ended, and they fell to 12-4, the Wizards improved to 2-13. They started the season 0-12, but have won two of their last three games.

The Wizards have won three consecutive regular-season games against the Heat, including two last season in April.

On Tuesday, with a crowd of 17,761 - not, incidentally, a sellout - standing and screaming down the stretch, relishing that rare chance to witness a compelling game involving the Wizards, Kevin Seraphin contributed 16 points and 10 rebounds. He helped Washington outrebound Miami 44-43.

Dwyane Wade scored 24 for Miami, while Chris Bosh added 20 points and 12 rebounds. Miami made only 8 of 28 attempts on 3-pointers.

After trailing by as many as 12, Miami tied the game at 88 on Bosh's reverse layup with 6 minutes, 50 seconds left. But Crawford's 15-footer put Washington ahead 99-95 with a little more than 2 1/2 minutes remaining.

With 18 seconds left, James wasted a chance to give the Heat the lead, clanking a 3-point attempt. Crawford's free throw then made it 102-99, and he slapped his palms together vociferously. James made a shot in the lane to pull within 102-101, and Crawford added two free throws for a 104-101 edge with 6.9 seconds on the clock.

James then missed his last shot, another 3. Nene got the rebound, and tacked on a free throw.

For those, especially in the D.C. area, who believe Griffin is capable of sports miracles, perhaps his presence might have been taken as a sign that his city's NBA team could pull off the upset.

As Washington's Emeka Okafor stepped to the foul line a little less than 4 minutes into the game, the arena rumbled with some of the loudest, most enthusiastic cheers of the evening. For Okafor? Hardly. No, the buzz was because fans realized that Griffin was in the house, making his way to a front-row seat.

Griffin, who led the Redskins to a 17-16 victory over the New York Giants a night earlier, gave a little wave and big smile moments later when he was shown on the video screens above the court.

``Let's give a warm Wizards welcome to your Redskins quarterback, RG3!'' intoned the arena announcer, while the loudspeakers blared the local NFL team's fight song, ``Hail to the Redskins.''

In the first half, the Wizards led by as many as 10, going up 54-44 on Martell Webster's 3-pointer with about four minutes left in the second quarter. At halftime, Washington was ahead 60-54, led by Crawford's 12 points and A.J. Price's nine.

The Wizards have struggled to score, but they made 58 percent of their field-goal attempts in the first half Tuesday. The Wizards entered averaging an NBA-low 89.4 points, about 15 fewer than the Heat.

Unlike the James-Wade-Bosh Heat, the Wizards are mostly a collection of castoffs and high draft picks who never lived up to their billing - or have yet to, anyway. Their best player, 2010 No. 1 overall pick John Wall, has yet to participate in a practice, let alone play, this season because of a left knee cap injury.

Before the game, Wizards coach Randy Wittman said he can't give an idea of when Wall will be available.

``I mean, right now, we're still progressing the way we are with his rehab. He's not been on the floor to practice. He's been on the floor to shoot some, but he's not progressed to the point that he can get out and practice,'' Wittman said. ``So obviously until that happens, I don't know what that timetable's going to be.''

Notes: Wizards F Trevor Ariza left in the third quarter with a strained left calf. ... Wittman went with his fifth different starting lineup of the season, inserting Singleton in place of forward Kevin Seraphin. ... The Heat were without Shane Battier, who is out with a sprained right knee, and Norris Cole, who has a strained groin. ``We just want to make sure that doesn't get worse,'' Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said about Cole. ``Give him a couple more days' rest.''

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Capitals are the class of the Metropolitan Division for fifth year in a row

Capitals are the class of the Metropolitan Division for fifth year in a row

You know what’s fun? Winning Metropolitan Division titles. 

No, it’s not as good as the big prize. The Capitals will never top their 2018 Stanley Cup championship. But winning a competitive division against their biggest rivals five years in a row? Pretty, pretty good. 

Washington took its fifth in a row officially on Tuesday when the NHL announced that the regular season had concluded thanks to the ongoing coronavirus. The Capitals just outlasted the Philadelphia Flyers with 90 standings points to 89. The difference over 69 games? One extra Caps game going into overtime for a single point. 

Credit to the Flyers for making a late run. No one was playing better in the NHL than Philadelphia just before the season was halted. Whether that carries over into the Stanley Cup Playoffs remains to be seen. 

But the Capitals should take pride in that streak. It’s hard to do in an age of parity. They play in a division where the Pittsburgh Penguins won two Stanley Cups in the previous four seasons. The two teams slugged it out three times in the second round. That’s the luck of the draw, and so four straight division titles -- and two Presidents’ Trophies -- meant just one Cup for Washington. 

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It’s also rare to dominate a division the way the Capitals have for five years. The Anaheim Ducks won the Pacific Division title every year from 2013 to 2017. Prior to that, the Detroit Red Wings won the Central Division an astounding eight times from 2001 to 2009. It doesn’t get you a championship -- Washington won the expired Southeast Division from 2008 to 2011 -- but it does mean you played great hockey year after year.

And to do it in the reconstituted Patrick Division, where long-time rivals like the Penguins, Flyers, Rangers, Islanders and Devils joined with newer rivals Carolina and Columbus, makes it even sweeter. Add another banner to the rafters at Capital One Arena. The Caps are the class of the Metropolitan Division yet again. 

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Nationals will not lay off full-time business or baseball employees amid coronavirus pandemic

Nationals will not lay off full-time business or baseball employees amid coronavirus pandemic

The Washington Nationals decided to use “partial furloughs” to keep their baseball and business employees at work through the end of their contracts or the calendar year.

The road map works like this:

All full-time business and baseball employees will receive a reduction in pay and hours ranging from 10 to 30 percent. If the employee’s contract runs to the end of baseball season -- typically Oct. 31 -- then these parameters apply from now until then. If the employee is not on contract, these reductions persist until Dec. 31.

No full-time employee is being laid off because of the economic impact from coronavirus.

An example: If a person works a 40-hour week, and has the 10 percent reduction in pay and hours, they are down to a 36-hour week at 10 percent pay cut.

The reduction scale slides. The highest-paid employees, like Mike Rizzo, are taking the largest reduction in pay. Then on down the line.

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The Nationals deciding to do this now allows their staff to know what the future holds as opposed to wondering month-to-month what decision the organization will make in regard to their job status.

Major League Baseball organizations remain uneasy about their financial future in 2020 since the season has stalled. The league and its team owners are in the midst of negotiations with the MLBPA while attempting to find a safe, revenue-satisfactory path back to the field.

Meanwhile, teams across the league are assessing their non-player finances, and the approach varies. For instance, the Anaheim Angels decided last week to furlough some non-playing employees.

In Washington, no full-time employee will be laid off because of this salary adjustment.

USA Today was first to report the Nationals’ overall decision.

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