Nationals

Blazers defeat Nuggets 101-93 for 4th straight win

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Blazers defeat Nuggets 101-93 for 4th straight win

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) J.J. Hickson had 18 points and 18 rebounds for his sixth straight double-double, and the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Denver Nuggets 101-93 on Thursday night.

Nicolas Batum had 22 points to give the Blazers their first four-game winning streak of the season despite missing forward LaMarcus Aldridge because of a sprained left ankle.

The Nuggets were 0 for 22 from 3-point range, breaking the NBA record of 20 misses set by the Trail Blazers in a game against Toronto last week. Seventy-four of Denver's point came in the paint.

The Blazers led by as many as 18 in the first half and while the Nuggets were able to close the gap, they were never able to pull even.

Andre Miller's fade-away for Denver narrowed Portland's lead to 84-81 with 4:06 left. Batum made a trio of free throws before Miller added a layup to make it 87-83. But Luke Babbitt hit a 3-pointer with 2:31 left to give the Blazers back a 92-83 lead.

Wesley Matthews all but sealed it when his 3-pointer a short time later put the Blazers ahead 97-87 with 1:31 left.

Aldridge sprained his left ankle in Portland's 95-94 victory over New Orleans on Sunday. The All-Star twisted the ankle in the final minute of the game, which was won on rookie Damian Lillard's 3-pointer with 0.3 seconds left.

Aldridge, who is averaging 21 points and eight rebounds a game, was off the crutches on Thursday night but he was wearing a boot and walking with a limp.

He was replaced in the starting lineup by 6-foot-11 Joel Freeland, who was making his first start with the Blazers.

Portland saw the return of Matthews, who missed two games with a sore hip, then tried to return against the Hornets but played only about four minutes. The injury had put Matthews on the bench in street clothes for the first time in his four-year NBA career. He had played in 250 straight games, second-most among active players behind Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook.

He seemed fully recovered for the Nuggets, coming out with 10 points in the first quarter alone and he finished 20 points.

Ty Lawson, Andre Iguodala and Corey Brewer had 13 points each for the Nuggets.

Babbitt hit three straight 3-pointers that put the Blazers ahead 36-20 in the second quarter. But after a poor first quarter, the Nuggets mounted a rally late in the second, closing to 38-32 on Danilo Gallinari's dunk, but they couldn't get any closer and trailed 50-40 at the half.

JaVale McGee's dunk pulled the Nuggets to 62-54 but again they struggled to get closer. And they still hadn't hit a shot from outside the paint through three quarters.

Denver closed to 69-65 on Brewer's fast-break layup. While the Blazers went nearly five minutes without a field goal, Ronnie Price's dunk put the crowd on its feet and extended Portland's lead to 67-75.

Brewer made a pair of free throws to make it 78-75, but Lillard answered with a 3-pointer for the Blazers.

NOTES: Freeland played for host Britain in the London Olympics last summer. ... Denver reserve forward Anthony Randolph returned after missing Tuesday night's game against San Antonio because of a sinus infection.

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With Ross placed on 60-day DL, Nationals agree to 1-year deal with veteran reliever

With Ross placed on 60-day DL, Nationals agree to 1-year deal with veteran reliever

WASHINGTON  -- The Washington Nationals say they have agreed to a one-year deal with 40-year-old reliever Joaquin Benoit.

The team announced the move Wednesday, along with placing pitcher Joe Ross on the 60-day disabled list as he recovers from Tommy John surgery in July.

The Nationals didn't release terms of the agreement, though a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press on Monday that it was for $1 million.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the deal wasn't official at the time.

MORE NATIONALS: FULL 2018 SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE

Benoit is a right-hander who first reached the big leagues in 2001. 

He has played for eight teams, finishing last year with Pittsburgh.

He has 764 career appearances, going 58-49 with a 3.83 ERA and 53 saves.

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: The Caps add two defensemen, problem solved?

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NBC Sports Washington

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: The Caps add two defensemen, problem solved?

The Capitals got their trade deadline started early by trading for defensemen Michal Kempny and Jakub Jerabek. Washington has been struggling of late, but do their new acquisitions address the team's weaknesses?

JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir evaluate the two trades and talk about where they could fit into the lineup.

You can listen to the latest episode here on the Capitals Faceoff page or with the player below.

Want even more great Capitals coverage? Follow @TarikNBCS and @JJReganNBCS on Twitter!