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Brewer leads Nuggets past Raptors 113-110

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Brewer leads Nuggets past Raptors 113-110

DENVER (AP) Corey Brewer scored 19 points, JaVale McGee had 17 points and five blocks, and the Denver Nuggets withstood a late rally to beat the Toronto Raptors 113-110 on Monday night.

Andrea Bargnani scored 23 points for Toronto and Kyle Lowry had 24, including 12 in the fourth quarter when the Raptors cut a 17-point lead to one with 2:18 left.

The Nuggets led 103-86 on a dunk by Kenneth Faried midway through the fourth before Toronto came storming back. The Raptors scored 11 straight points before Danilo Gallinari hit two free throws.

A 3-pointer by rookie Terrence Ross and two free throws by Lowry made it 105-104. Ty Lawson, who finished with 16 points, hit a 3-pointer and Toronto missed its next three shots as Denver built a 110-104 cushion.

Lowry hit another 3 with 14 seconds left, and after two free throws from Andre Iguodala, Amir Johnson hit a 3 with 7.9 seconds remaining to make it 112-110.

Faried hit one of two free throws with 5.8 seconds left and DeMar DeRozan missed a long 3 at the buzzer.

Faried had 18 points and 10 rebounds. Six players scored in double figures for Denver.

The Nuggets looked as though they would cruise to their first win in four games. They led 61-44 at halftime and maintained a double-digit lead throughout the third quarter.

Denver trailed 22-19 when it took control late in the first quarter. Brewer came off the bench and had two quick dunks and a layup to spark a 10-2 run to finish the period.

Brewer continued his tear in the second quarter. He scored nine points in 2:30 and McGee had an alley-oop dunk among his 11 first-half points to help Denver take a 38-26 lead before Toronto called a timeout.

Denver didn't let up. Jordan Hamilton scored six straight points to push the lead to 53-34 with 4:15 left in the first half. The Nuggets continued to turn missed shots and turnovers into easy baskets, outscoring Toronto 13-0 on the fast break in the first half.

NOTES: Raptors F Linas Kleiza (sore left hip) did not play. He had an MRI on Monday afternoon but the results were not available yet. ... Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler, who has missed the last 10 games while trying to recover from offseason surgery on his left hip, will not join the team on its upcoming five-game road trip.

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How does Capitals' Evgeny Kuznetsov get ready for a Game 7? He watches TV

How does Capitals' Evgeny Kuznetsov get ready for a Game 7? He watches TV

Everyone remembers Evgeny Kuznetsov's series-clinching overtime goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2018. That goal now overshadows another series-clinching goal Kuznetsov had in 2015. In Game 7 against the New York Islanders, Kuznetsov scored what would prove to be the winning goal to break up a 1-1 tie. Clearly he knows how to get ready for a big game. His secret? Television.

Kuznetsov appeared on NBC Sports Washington's Capitals Greatest Hits show on Monday to talk about his 2015 performance and the topic of the locker room came up. Both teams went into that game knowing their season was on the line and Kuznetsov was asked if the feeling was any different in the locker room before the game, a question he did not know exactly how to answer.

"I'm never in the locker room," Kuznetsov said. "I'm always by the TV watching TV shows."

Yes, when Kuznetsov arrives at the arena, he apparently likes to watch TV before the game and said he is not in the locker room until only about 30 minutes before warmups. He enjoys watching soccer, but also likes a good movie.

"It's usually soccer games," Kuznetsov said. "If it's not the soccer game, it's whatever the movie's going."

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He went on to say he was thankful for the team subscribing to whatever channel it was that he watches movies on.

If this seems odd to you, there is a method to the madness.

"Usually it's movie because that way I'm not thinking about hockey," Kuznetsov said. "I like to be loose before games."

Hey, if that's what he was doing before Game 7 in 2015 and before Game 6 in 2018, it's hard to argue against it.

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Where does a healthy John Wall rank among NBA's top 10 point guards?

Where does a healthy John Wall rank among NBA's top 10 point guards?

John Wall last played in an NBA game on December 26, 2018. He's expected to come back at the beginning of the 2020-21 season, and once he makes his long-awaited return to the Wizards' starting lineup, he'll find himself in a much different point guard landscape than the one he left. 

The position has changed, traditional point guards are mostly a thing of the past. NBA offenses are either run through multiple ball-handlers who can score and facilitate, or they're one-man shows centered around highly skilled individuals such as James Harden and Luka Doncic. 

Wall has consistently been one of the best in the league at his position, but after missing a year to an Achilles injury, it's hard to forecast where his game will be come next season. With that in mind, let's take a look at the top 10 point guards in the game (all presumed healthy), and see where Wall falls on the list. 

1. James Harden
2. Luka Doncic
3. Damian Lillard
4. Steph Curry
5. Chris Paul
6. Kyrie Irving
7. John Wall
8. Russell Westbrook
9. Kemba Walker
10. Kyle Lowry

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Wall has the talent to be in the top three of this list for sure, though it's difficult to put him anywhere but No. 7 right now. He's probably a tier above Walker and Lowry, while Wall and Westbrook are more comparable players. 

Irving, Curry and Lillard are too good and have been consistently great enough to where you can't put them below Wall, while Paul might be a great inspiration for players like Wall. Paul keeps getting older and keeps getting hurt but he's still so, so good. 

Then you have the two walking offensive systems in Doncic and Harden. Their production and what they do for their teams as primary ball-handlers is mostly unmatched across the eight players listed below them. 

Wall could rise all the way to the top of this list if he plays to his full abilities. The speed, perimeter defense, passing and dribble penetration made him an All-NBA level player. If Wall can improve his accuracy from beyond the arc, take more threes and fewer mid-range jumpers, I don't see why he can't see an uptick in efficiency even if his athleticism isn't what it used to be.

It's not a reach to say the Wizards' contention hopes depend heavily on whether Wall plays back to All-Star form or not. An Achilles injury is incredibly challenging to bounce back from, especially for a player like Wall whose game has had so much to do with speed and explosion in the past. 

The good news is he's had a chance to digest the game from a different perspective and time to fine-tune his jumper, while his Wizards teammates, especially Bradley Beal, are better than when he last suited up. 

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