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Ben Henderson retains title at UFC 150

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Ben Henderson retains title at UFC 150

DENVER (AP) -- Another five-round battle, another controversial decision for Benson Henderson and Frankie Edgar. Henderson retained his lightweight title at UFC 150 on Saturday night, doing just enough to outpoint Frankie Edgar in a split decision. Henderson, born in Colorado Springs, received winning scores of 48-47 from two of the judges, while the third scored it 49-46 for Edgar. Henderson took the belt from Edgar on Feb. 25. Boos rained down on Henderson after the decision was announced to the crowd that increasingly gravitated to Edgar's corner as the 155-pound fight progressed. "I definitely thought I did enough to earn the victory," Henderson said. "Frankie has the heart of a champion and is a great fighter." The bout was action-packed, with both fighters landing damaging punches and kicks and nearly submitting each other with choke holds. The difference likely came because of Henderson's 89-62 advantage in significant punches landed. Despite earning the decision, Henderson believed there was more he could have done in the fight.

"The biggest thing I was disappointed in myself with is that I didn't push the pace enough," Henderson said. "I didn't do a good enough job of capitalizing and getting on top of him when he was off balance. My coaches were yelling at me to push the pace, but I was lethargic and didn't push it as much as I should have." UFC President Dana White declined to say how he would've scored the bout. "I'm not a judge," said White, who said he had the fight even going into the final round. "Ben Henderson won the fight, he retained his title, and that's the end of it. That's why I always say, if you don't want to be sitting in here going, I think I won that fight,' you cannot leave it in the hands of the judges." Henderson (17-2) will defend his title against Nate Diaz (16-7). Amid alternating chants of "Frankie!" and "Benson!" at Pepsi Center, the fighters exchanged right hands and leg kicks, with Edgar scoring a number of takedowns and dropping Henderson with a right hand in the second. Edgar bled from the nose after a Henderson right hand in the second, but never appeared to be affected by the blood. Edgar was visibly upset after the decision dropped him to 14-3-1. "I felt I improved from last time, and I think I did enough to win," Edgar said. "A lot of people told me they thought I'd won, but it doesn't matter. The judges didn't. The decision is not going to change, and it is what it is." Edgar said he isn't interested in asking for another shot at Henderson. "I'm moving on," Edgar said. "Dana's not going to give me another title shot, I know that much." The co-main event lasted only 1:16, but provided more action than most of the night's other bouts. Denver native Donald Cerrone recovered from a left hook from Melvin Guillard (47-12-3) that floored him early in the round and improved to 19-4 after connecting on a left kick to the head and a right hook that sealed the deal. Guillard's shot rocked Cerrone in the fight's opening seconds, but he was unable to connect with a flurry of knee strikes and punch combinations to end the matchup between the 29-year-old lightweights. Cerrone landed what initially appeared to be a glancing left kick to the top of Guillard's head, but the New Orleans fighter was virtually out on his feet and defenseless to Cerrone's finishing right hand. "Frankly, I thought I just grazed the top of him," said Cerrone, who earned 120,000 in bonuses for the knockout and fight of the night. "I didn't realize I connected as well as I did. Thankfully I did, and I followed it with a right hand." Cerrone, a Denver native who attended Air Academy High School in Colorado Springs, is 8-1 in his last nine fights. Two of the 155-pounder's losses have come at the hands of Henderson. Cerrone knew he was in big trouble early in the fight.
<A href="http:msn.foxsports.comvideo?videoid=6c500686-039f-410c-b349-9af306686e94... target="_new" title="Highlights - UFC 150: Cerrone vs. Guillard">Video: Highlights - UFC 150: Cerrone vs. Guillard<A>
"I was extremely hurt, especially the knee to the body," said Cerrone, who likely will next face Anthony Pettis (13-2) in a key lightweight bout. "It took everything in me to fight through it and keep going. It was probably the worst I've ever been injured in a fight." Guillard, who missed weight at Friday's weigh-in by 2 1-2 pounds, will be fined a portion of his purse. He is 6-3 in his last nine fights.

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LeBron James had his worst ever game against the Wizards in Lakers' loss

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LeBron James had his worst ever game against the Wizards in Lakers' loss

No Wizards fan needs to be reminded of the torment their favorite team has suffered at the hands of LeBron James for the last decade-and-a-half. He has eliminated them from the playoffs three times, scored 57 in their building and hit a variety of game-winning shots.

So, it should be considered no small feat what the Wizards did on Sunday night in their 128-110 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers. They held James, arguably the league's best player, to only 13 points. That's his lowest scoring total ever against the Wizards franchise.

James has played the Wizards 65 times over the years, between the regular season and the playoffs. His previous career low vs. the Wizards was 14, back on Feb. 7 of 2004, when he was a rookie.

While in the Eastern Conference for his first 15 NBA seasons, James played the Wizards four times a year and often had the upper-hand. In his career, even with Sunday's loss, he is 30-19 against them with a 26.9 points per game average.

Usually, James powers his way to the rim against the Wizards and scores at will. Not on Sunday night.

"I have no clue," head coach Scott Brooks said when asked for the secret to shutting him down.

"It seems like every night it's 40 points here. He makes shots. Last year, here I think he averaged [39.9 points, 11.0 assists and 10.0 rebounds]. He's a pretty good player."

James shot just 5-for-16 from the field on Sunday, good for 31.3 percent. He was 0-for-2 from three and had four turnovers with only three assists. He was a -21 in the box score.

Some of James' struggles could be attributed to fatigue, as the Lakers played the night before in Charlotte. And James did have an off-night with some missed shots he would otherwise make.

But the Wizards had a plan and it worked. They deployed Jeff Green to guard him in isolation. Green is not only the Wizards' best match from a physical standpoint, he knows James well having played with him last season with the Cavaliers.

Green did an excellent job matching James' physical style without fouling. He had only one foul on the night despite playing bump-and-run coverage on many of James' drives to the basket.

Green and the Wizards also took away his three-point looks by closing early and making him pass to teammates. James' two three-point attempts were a season-low.

"Give a lot of credit to Jeff. Jeff did a great job," guard John Wall said. "It was one game. We know he is how he is. Just gotta tip your hat for us, making him make tough shots and make plays tonight."

The Wizards wanted others to beat them from long range and James' teammates didn't come through. While James didn't get off many threes, other Lakers did. They just didn't hit them.

Josh Hart went 0-for-5 from long range. Lonzo Ball went 2-for-7 and Kyle Kuzma went 0-for-4. 

“I think we did a good job of making it difficult on [James], showing him a lot of bodies, active hands," guard Bradley Beal said.

With James in check, the Wizards took advantage. They forced 22 total turnovers and that allowed Wall to feast in transition. He scored a season-high 40 points and dished 14 assists.

For one night, the Wizards had James' number. After 16 years of domination, it was about time.

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Sam Dekker stands out for Wizards without cutting corners

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Sam Dekker stands out for Wizards without cutting corners

CAPITAL ONE ARENA -- Scott Brooks doesn’t know much about Sam Dekker. Four games since the Wizards acquired the energy forward as part of a successful three-team deal, it’s clear the head coach is enjoying the homework.

John Wall’s passionate work from the start against the Los Angeles Lakers helped snap the Wizards’ four-game losing streak, but Dekker’s X-factor performance also stood out in Washington’s rousing 128-110 win Sunday night.

Sunday marked the Wizards’ first game since the weekend’s chaotic trade sequence that will ultimately bring Trevor Ariza back to Washington. The deal doesn’t become approved by the league until Monday. With Otto Porter (right knee contusion) sidelined, Washington took the court shorthanded at positions where players would contend with LeBron James.

Brooks admitted pregame he loved the undermanned challenge. Dekker’s constant and perceptive movement helped Washington play at needed levels without cutting corners.

“Sam is a great cutter. That is what I am finding out,” Brooks said. “I didn't really know everything about his game, I still don't.”

Brooks isn’t alone in learning about the fourth-year player. Dekker received regular rotation work the previous two seasons with the Rockets and Clippers, but his NBA career has yet to blast off.

An ankle injury kept him off the court in Cleveland earlier this campaign until the Dec. 7 trade involving Jason Smith landed him in Washington.

The general scouting report played out in real life against the Lakers. High motor player. Athletic 6-foot-9 forward. Scattered shooting from distance.

The two positive traits showed in the open court and on the move. Dekker repeatedly found space when Wall or Tomas Satoransky ran the offense. They frequently found him for dunks and layups. Dekker finished 10 of 15 from the field.

“Whenever I have the ball or attack, penetrate, he’s a great cutter,” said Wall, who finished with a season-high 40 points and 14 assists. “We were just talking about it. He said ‘Whenever you have the opportunity to be aggressive, I’m always a guy that’s cutting and doing the little things. I don’t mind doing the dirty work.’”

The Wizards (12-18) need more grit in their world considering their underachieving start to the season. That’s something Dekker believes he can provide. Considering he doesn’t have full grasp of the team’s playbook terminology, falling on the back of basketball basics is necessary for now.

“They called out a couple of plays tonight and I looked at John, looked at Brad (Beal) and I’m like where (do I go), Dekker said spastically. “(They) would just say go to the corner. OK. That part of it is tough.

“One thing you can control is how hard you play and how smart you play. When you put yourself in a position to do some good things, and help the team. That’s really all I’m trying to do right now.”

Going forward Dekker will try finding a spot in Washington’s rotation. Ariza, who was Dekker’s basketball tutor when the two played in Houston during the 2016-17 season, likely moves into the starting lineup.

Reserve minutes opened when Washington traded Kelly Oubre Jr. and Austin Rivers to Phoenix for Ariza.  The basics of Dekker’s game compares to the popular Oubre, but with perhaps a steadier baseline.

He has yet to run the court with complete ease. Dekker remains on a minute’s restriction because of the ankle injury. “I was able to do some things tonight that I haven’t been able to in the past couple of games. That was a positive,” he said.

There’s no guarantees for minutes or the 24-year-old being part of Washington’s future. Dekker is one of several restricted free agents on the roster. For now the goal is simple: Play and play hard.

“I’m just trying to prove myself every night. I’m trying to show coach I’m a guy that can help this team,” Dekker said. “I’ve helped teams in the past, but I really want to be part of a playoff run here.”

Color Brooks impressed, with one clear clanking exception.

“I'm assuming that he is going to be able to shoot threes better than he did,” Brooks said after watching Dekker air ball a 3-point attempt and wildly miss on another. “But he cuts to the basket, he moves the ball, he plays hard, he brings energy, he plays with the proper respect for the game. That is what I love about him, he always seems to be prepared. He doesn't have to turn the switch on, it's on.” 

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