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Lillard's last-second 3 lifts Blazers over Hornets

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Lillard's last-second 3 lifts Blazers over Hornets

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) Rookie Damian Lillard hit a 3-pointer with 0.3 seconds left and the Portland Trail Blazers handed New Orleans its sixth straight loss with a 95-94 victory over the Hornets on Sunday night.

After trailing by as many as 16, Austin Rivers hit a 3-pointer for the Hornets to tie it at 92 with 50.9 seconds left. The Blazers then absorbed a blow when LaMarcus Aldridge suddenly came up limping and headed to the locker room with what appeared to be a left ankle injury, but Lillard came through to give Portland the win.

The winning shot appeared to come at the buzzer but a review put the fraction back on the clock. Lance Thomas made a layup for the Hornets as time ran out for the final margin.

J.J. Hickson had a season-high 24 points and added 16 rebounds for the Blazers, who have won three straight. Hickson has five straight double-doubles and 13 overall this season.

Ryan Anderson had 26 points, including seven 3-pointers, for New Orleans.

Aldridge, whose condition was not immediately available, finished with 20 points before leaving the game and Lillard had 16.

Wesley Matthews, who hit a 3-pointer to open the night for the Blazers, was making his return to the starting lineup after missing two games because of a strained left hip. The injury put him 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.

Matthews was replaced by Victor Claver less than five minutes into the game and did not return. The Blazers said there was no specific injury, he just ``didn't feel right.''

Lillard stole the show in the battle of the rookies with Anthony Davis.

Davis, the top pick in last June's draft, if still getting his legs back after missing 11 games with a left ankle injury. In the first three games off the bench since his return, he averaged 11.7 points and 6.3 rebounds for the Hornets.

Against the Blazers he had 15 points. Before the stress reaction in his ankle, Davis was averaging 16 points and 8.3 rebounds.

Lillard, the sixth overall pick in the draft, has been the Western Conference's rookie of the month for both October and November, and was leading all rookies with an average of 18.9 points going into Sunday night's game.

Portland went up 36-26 midway through the second quarter on Sasha Pavolic's reverse layup. Hickson pushed the lead to 51-38 with a layup and the Blazers went into the break ahead 54-43

Aldridge's dunk made it 67-53 midway through the third quarter. But it was Hickson's 11 points that helped put the Blazers up by as many as 16 in the period.

Anderson's putback layup closed the Hornets to 82-75 with 7:55 left, but Luke Babbit answered for the Blazers with a 3-pointer.

Anderson made a pair of free throws to close New Orleans to within 85-80. His 3-pointer pulled the Hornets to within 90-87 with 3:21 left. Lance Thomas got them closer with a putback but Aldridge had a step-back jumper with 1:04 to make it 92-89.

Earlier Sunday, the Hornets signed forward Dominic McGuire to shore up their frontcourt in the absence of Jason Smith, who is out with a right shoulder injury. Smith was injured in the Hornets' loss at Oklahoma City earlier this week and is expected to be out about two weeks, coach Monty Williams said.

McGuire averaged 2.1 points and 3.2 rebounds in just over 15 minutes per game for the Toronto Raptors earlier this season, appearing in 15 games before he was waived on Nov. 30.

``He's got a toughness about him that I think can help us out,'' Williams said.

Notes: The Blazers held a moment of silence before the game for the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting before the game. It is the second straight game with a moment of silence: On Thursday the team remembered the victims of the Clackamas Town Center mall shooting in suburban Portland.

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Tarik's 3 stars: Ovechkin said Caps would even the series, on Thursday, he helped them do it

Tarik's 3 stars: Ovechkin said Caps would even the series, on Thursday, he helped them do it

COLUMBUS — Alex Ovechkin confidently predicted earlier this week that the Caps were going to win twice at Nationwide Arena and take their first round series back to Washington knotted, two games apiece.

And, on Thursday night, that’s exactly what Ovechkin made sure his team did.

No. 8, who was playing in his franchise-record 101st playoff game, scored his third goal of the playoffs early in the final frame and the Caps beat the Blue Jackets 4-1 in Game 4.

Tarik’s Three Stars of Capitals-Blue Jackets Game 4

1. Tom Wilson, Capitals

After a slow (and penalty plagued) start to this series, Wilson has become a force. Yes, he took another minor.

But the good is far outweighing the bad these days. Big Willy recorded a goal, an assist and a team-high seven shots.  

2. Braden Holtby, Capitals

Holtby had his best game in, well, a long time. He stopped 23 shots, including all eight he saw in a contentious second period.

The goal he surrendered was a nearly unstoppable tip-in by Boone Jenner.

3. T.J. Oshie, Capitals

Osh just plays the game so dang hard.

So it should come as no surprise that he delivered in his team’s biggest game of the season to this point. Oshie, of course, scored the game-winning goal on the power play midway through the second period. It was No. 77’s second tally of the series.

Agree? Disagree?

Let us know what you think in the comments. 

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The 2018 NFL schedule is here, but we still don't really know anything

The 2018 NFL schedule is here, but we still don't really know anything

The NFL dropped the Redskins' 2018 regular-season schedule on Thursday and everybody will predict the team’s season-long record. 

It’s a fun exercise, and something the football world enjoys doing.

Myself included. 

But don’t read much, if anything, into the schedule right now. 

Every year, some teams look mighty in the offseason only to fall apart in the regular season. 

Need an example? Many predicted the Giants to be the beasts of the NFC East in 2017, and the Eagles to finish last in the NFC East. 

What actually happened? The Giants finished 3-13 and the Eagles won the Super Bowl. 

The NFL cannot be predicted year to year. It can hardly be predicted week to week. 

Last season, two December home games against the Broncos and Cardinals looked very daunting when the schedule came out. Instead, that was a two-game win streak. 

Enjoy the schedule release. It’s a fun time to guess what will happen in 2018.

But remember, once the games start, anything can happen. 

(For the record: My prediction is 9-7.)

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