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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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Redskins Talk hosts "Redskins On the Clock" special: How to watch, live stream, listen

Redskins Talk hosts "Redskins On the Clock" special: How to watch, live stream, listen

It's the moment we've all been waiting for: finding out who the Redskins are going to take as their No. 15 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

After much anticipation and countless mock drafts, Redskins fans will finally find out what's to come for the Burgundy and Gold in the upcoming NFL season. 

And we couldn't let you handle this news alone: So we've got the Redskins Talk crew hosting a special "Redskins on the Clock" live stream to address, analyze and hopefully rejoice over the 'Skins decision. 

<<CHECK OUT NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON'S LATEST NFL MOCK DRAFT>>

On Thursday, Apr. 25th, JP Finlay, Peter Hailey and Mitchell Tischler from the Redskins Talk Podcast, along with guests Travis Thomas and Trevor Matich, will be offering a live look into their thoughts and concerns surrounding both the Redskins' pick and all of Round 1. The live stream will be available on the MyTeams by NBC Sports App from approximately 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. 

And if you haven't already downloaded the MyTeams App, you can do so right now, RIGHT HERE.

Redskins Talk Podcast "Redskins on the Clock" Special

CLICK HERE to watch the daily live stream of the Redskins Talk Podcast

When: 8 p.m. - (approximately) 11 p.m. ET, Thursday, Apr. 25th 

Live Stream: Click to stream Redskins Talk Podcast Live every day this week

Want to subscribe to Redskins Talk?: 
Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19

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The baffling exclusion of John Carlson from the Norris Trophy finalists

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USA TODAY Sports

The baffling exclusion of John Carlson from the Norris Trophy finalists

The finalists for the Norris Trophy – awarded to the defenseman who demonstrates the greatest all-around ability in the position – were unveiled on Sunday. Somehow, John Carlson was not among them.

This is the second consecutive year Carlson was a deserving candidate and the second year he will not even be among the top three.

The Norris Trophy is voted on by members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association -- of which I am a member so I guess you can blame us -- but make no mistake, this is a snub in every sense of the word and a major oversight that Carlson cannot get the recognition he deserves.

Ballots will be made public after the awards are given out. Until then, we are not supposed to divulge exactly how we voted, but I will tell you that Carlson was in my top three, and he absolutely should have been a finalist this year.

If you had asked me prior to the 2017-18 season who the most important defenseman on the Caps was, I would have told you it was Matt Niskanen. I saw Carlson as an offensive-heavy player whose skills in his own zone were lacking. I had to eat those words later as Niskanen was injured in mid-October and missed the next month of the season. During that month, Carlson averaged 27:47 of ice-time per game, which led the entire league. He showed he could contribute offensively, defensively, on the power play and penalty kill. There was nothing he could not do.

Suddenly, the Caps’ top pairing of Dmitry Orlov and Niskanen was replaced by Carlson and whoever he was paired with. That continued into this season.

But while Carlson has reshaped his image in Washington, his reputation as an offensive first player instead of an all-around defenseman persists, and it cost him.

There is no set standard every voter sticks to when it comes to evaluating players for the Norris. You can look at whatever stats you want whether it is Corsi, Fenwick, points, PDO, defensive zone starts, high-danger chances for -- the list goes on. Here’s why Carlson was in the top three of my ballot: Not only did he play exceptionally well, but the Capitals relied on him more in more situations than any other team relied on a single defenseman.

Carlson finished the season ranked eighth in the NHL in time on ice per game at 25:04. Burns finished just ahead of him with 25:06. Both Giordano (24:14) and Hedman (22:46) played less.

Carlson was among the top 40 defensemen in shorthanded time on ice per game with 2:35, something only Giordano (2:40) could boast among the other finalists. Carlson was also first among all defensemen in power play time on ice per game with 4:05, significantly more than Hedman (3:19), Giordano (3:19) or Burns (3:17).

There is no situation in which the Caps are not comfortable putting Carlson out on the ice and no situation in which he is not expected to play heavy minutes. He has taken a bigger role defensively as the team’s top shutdown pair of Orlov-Niskanen has had a down year. Despite the heavier defensive workload, Carlson still managed to finish in the top four in points among defensemen with 70, a career-high.

I am not here saying that Burns, Giordano or Hedman are not deserving of being finalists. In fact, Carlson did not finish first on my ballot. It seems crazy to me, however, that he did not finish in the top three this season or last. All three finalists had strong seasons, but Carlson’s season was just as good and he was more heavily relied upon. He is one of the top offensive blueliners, but that’s not all he is.

Until he manages to overcome that reputation, which persists through no fault of his own, he will continue to be on the outside of the Norris race looking in. And that’s a shame considering how good he has been.

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