Nationals

Clippers cruise to 90-77 win over Timberwolves

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Clippers cruise to 90-77 win over Timberwolves

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Jamal Crawford scored 22 points, Blake Griffin added 20 and the Los Angeles Clippers hardly broke a sweat in cruising to a 90-77 victory over the free-falling Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday night.

Lamar Odom grabbed 12 rebounds and dished out six assists, and the Clippers outscored Minnesota's bench 45-23 to overcome Chris Paul's third straight missed game because of a knee injury.

Luke Ridnour scored 21 points and Ricky Rubio had four points and six assists in his first start of the season for the Timberwolves, who lost leading scorer and rebounder Nikola Pekovic to a bruised right quadriceps in the third quarter.

The Timberwolves shot just 35.7 percent and missed 15 of their 19 3-pointers in losing their fifth straight game.

Even without their MVP candidate out there to steer the ship over the last few games, the Clippers have been humming right along. Backup Eric Bledsoe clearly has been watching how Paul goes about his business because the third-year Kentucky point guard has played with a maturity and explosiveness that has allowed the Clippers to not miss a beat.

Bledsoe picked up two quick fouls in the first 3 minutes on Thursday night, but that was no problem for the deepest team in the league. Coach Vinny Del Negro went to the super-sub Crawford, who scored 12 points in the first half to help Los Angeles muddle through an uninspired start.

``We should come into every arena feeling we should get the W,'' Caron Butler said at the morning shootaround. ``That's not being cocky or overconfident. That's having enough confidence in our ability and ourselves and the personnel we have out there and the system that we run.''

The Clippers looked a little too overconfident early in the game, seemingly playing on cruise control against a team they knew was undermanned and overwhelmed. Los Angeles turned the ball over 17 times in the first three quarters and coasted offensively to allow the Wolves to hang around.

Minnesota trailed by just five going into the fourth quarter, but the Clippers simply wore down the Timberwolves with their depth. Bledsoe scored only two points, but Crawford's 3-pointer with 5 minutes to go gave Los Angeles a 13-point lead and the short-handed Wolves simply faded away.

Pekovic was injured while getting tangled with Griffin under the basket in the third quarter and Alexey Shved rolled his left ankle midway through the final period, the latest in an incredible pile of injuries for the Wolves this season. Kevin Love is out for two months with a right hand that is broken for the second time this season, Brandon Roy may not play at all this season with recurring knee problems, Chase Budinger is out until March with a knee injury and Josh Howard and Malcolm Lee are both lost for the season with injuries.

Head coach Rick Adelman missed his sixth straight game while tending to his sick wife.

NOTES: Paul and Griffin were voted starters for the Western Conference in the All-Star game. ... The Timberwolves held a moment of silence for Minnesota Lynx COO Conrad Smith, who died after a long battle with cancer on Wednesday night. Smith also worked for the Timberwolves, Twins and North Stars over the years. ``Simply put, Conrad is irreplaceable,'' Timberwolves and Lynx president Chris Wright said. ... The Wolves agreed to terms with F Mickael Gelabale of France, who planned to join the team on Friday. ... Ronny Turiaf, a 38 percent free throw shooter this season, drew jeers when he airballed a freebie in the fourth quarter.

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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!