NCAA

Faried helps Nuggets rally past Magic 108-105

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Faried helps Nuggets rally past Magic 108-105

DENVER (AP) Kenneth Faried scored 19 points and grabbed 19 rebounds to help the Denver Nuggets rally for a 108-105 win over the slumping Orlando Magic on Wednesday night.

Ty Lawson also finished with 19 points, including a three-point play with 1:27 remaining that gave the Nuggets the lead for good and sent them to their third straight win.

Orlando just can't get on track since Glen Davis went out with a sprained left shoulder, dropping a 10th straight game in the big man's absence. He currently isn't with the team but it was hoped he might rejoin them at some point during the current four-game trip.

Trailing by nine early in the fourth quarter, the Nuggets roared back and tied the game at 99 on an alley-oop dunk by Faried. But the high-energy forward wasn't done there.

When Andre Iguodala missed a free throw on the next possession, Faried dove on the ground for the loose ball and scooped it up, quickly calling time out.

Out of the break, Lawson hit a layup and was fouled. Moments later, Danilo Gallinari put the finishing touches on the win with a dunk off an inbound pass from Andre Miller.

Jameer Nelson led the Magic with 20 points, while Arron Afflalo added 12 against his former team before fouling out late in the game. Reserve Corey Brewer gave the Nuggets an early spark, scoring 11 of his 16 points in the second quarter when the team was struggling.

Afflalo returned to the court against his former team to applause - at least for introductions. Soon after that he was treated like any other opposing player and constantly heckled. When Afflalo made his first basket, someone screamed, ``Who?!''

Afflalo was once a fan favorite, too, especially after signing a long-term contract. But the Nuggets saw an opportunity to upgrade the squad in the offseason and dealt Afflalo, along with Al Harrington, to Orlando as part of the blockbuster deal that landed Dwight Howard with the Los Angeles Lakers.

In exchange, Denver wound up with Iguodala, who hit a big 3-pointer late when the Magic were threatening to pull away. The Nuggets also tried to pick up big man Nikola Vucevic in the deal, but team executive Masai Ujiri couldn't get him included in the trade.

Vucevic showed Nuggets fans why he was so coveted, scoring 10 points and grabbing 14 rebounds for the Magic. He also missed a dunk late in the game before fouling out.

Seeing Afflalo leave town was difficult for Nuggets coach George Karl, who constantly relied on the guard's easygoing demeanor during Afflalo's three seasons in Denver.

Said Karl before the game: ``Someone taught (Afflalo) at a very early age that winning is why you play. It's very deep in his basketball soul. You play the game to win. It's not numbers. It's not stats. It's to win.''

The Magic built a 10-point lead in the first half, only to have the Nuggets tie it. Maurice Harkless managed to send the Magic into the locker room at the break with a 55-53 lead when he hit a layup in the final seconds.

Asked before the game if he was sweating the losing streak, coach Jacque Vaughn turned into a philosopher.

``To be able to fight adversity and see how you respond is a true test of a man's character, which ultimately is his destiny,'' Vaughn said. ``That is who you are. Life is what you make of it. That is your own destiny. It's a great opportunity to forge your own destiny.''

NOTES: A longtime coach in Seattle, Karl has strong feelings about an NBA team potentially returning to that area. According to an Associated Press source, an investor contacted the Maloof family about buying the Sacramento Kings, setting up the possibility of a return to Seattle. ``I'm not going to lie - I'm happy that Seattle is going to have a team more than Sacramento,'' Karl said. ``But I am disappointed that Sacramento can't keep their team.'' ... Nuggets F Wilson Chandler (left hip) could be back in the lineup as early as Sunday against Golden State. ... Miller drew a second-quarter technical foul while sitting on the bench when he kept arguing with the officials. ... Magic G J.J. Redick had 17 points.

Cavaliers clamp down on Pitt

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Cavaliers clamp down on Pitt

PITTSBURGH -- No. 1 Virginia allowed just seven points in the first half and secured the regular-season Atlantic Coast Conference title outright with a 66-37 win over Pittsburgh on Saturday.

Freshman guard De'Andre Hunter came off the bench to lead the Cavaliers (26-2, 14-1 ACC) with 14 points in a game that didn't take big offensive efforts from Virginia's regulars. Of the five starters, only guard Ty Jerome exceeded his season average with 13 points.

The game was never competitive, as Virginia started on an 8-0 run and Pitt didn't make a field goal until Jared Wilson-Frame hit a 3-pointer at the midway point of the first half.

Virginia coach Tony Bennett rested most of his regulars in the second half. Reserve Nigel Johnson added 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting.

Parker Stewart led Pitt (8-22, 0-17) with 12 points, all on 3-pointers. Pitt had next to no presence inside. The Panthers were outscored 28-8 in the paint and out-rebounded 36-24. Seven of Pitt's 11 made field goals were from beyond the arc.

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3 reasons the Caps beat the Sabres

3 reasons the Caps beat the Sabres

The Caps could not shake Buffalo for two periods, but a dominant finish on Saturday helped them pull away for a 5-1 win. Here's how they finally put away the Sabres.

A quick start

Strong starts go a long way towards helping a team in the middle of a slump. It's a confidence boost for a group in desperate need of one and the Caps got that boost on Saturday from Evgeny Kuznetsov. Kuznetsov used his wheels to zip in behind the defense and score just 50 seconds into the game. Washington led 1-0 at the end of the first, just the second time in 19 games they have held a lead after the opening 20 minutes.

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Andre Burakovsky snapping a second period slump

It looked in the second period like the Caps were caught trying to protect the lead again, but Andre Burakovsky woke the team back up with his incredible highlight end-to-end goal. It really looked like Buffalo was going to tie the game at one, but instead, Burakovsky extended the lead to two. Going end to end the way he did shows a player who is starting to play with some confidence, something Burakovsky has lacked for much of the season.

Ovechkin's two-goal third period

Buffalo would not go away. Sam Reinhart got the Sabres on the board just 14 seconds into the third period and suddenly the Caps found themselves in a one-goal game again. But Ovechkin ended any hopes for the comeback as he struck in the top corner of the net on the power play from the office. He would later add a deflection goal to extend the lead to 5-1, giving a scuffling Washington team the dominant win they so sorely needed.