Nationals

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.

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Victor Robles captures his 10th outfield assist in spectacular fashion

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USA Today Sports Images

Victor Robles captures his 10th outfield assist in spectacular fashion

Nationals' outfielder, Victor Robles, has been sensational on defense this season and Saturday was no different. 

In the second inning of the Nats' game against the Milwaukee Brewers, Robles unleashed this beauty to claim his 10th outfield assist of the season (third of the week):

Here's another angle:

Robles is no stranger to celebrating his highlights in spectacular fashion - as just last week he gave this Dikembe Mutombo finger wag after throwing out Cincinnati Reds' Jose Peraza - so know he wouldn't dare disappoint this time around: 

"Don't run on Throwbles," is the new catchphrase circulating throughout social media recently, so it may be wise for opposing teams to respect the emerging moto.

But if they don't, just know it's very likely the result will look a little something like this:

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Max Scherzer creeps closer to making his next start

Max Scherzer creeps closer to making his next start

WASHINGTON -- Closer.

Max Scherzer threw a second simulation game Saturday. It went well, lasted 64 pitches, four innings and was delivered under awkward circumstances while a Q&A session with Nationals broadcasters blared through the stadium speakers.

Scherzer was engaged. He struck out Yan Gomes, then spiked a ball to the ground while on the mound. He circled the mound, jogged in and out of the dugout, tolerated the circumstances. Mike Rizzo, Davey Martinez, Paul Menhart and trainer Paul Lessard were among the viewers. 

“He wants to be on the mound,” Martinez said. “He wants to help us win. But this is part of it. He’s going to help us win. This is part of it. And hopefully [Sunday] he wakes up, feels really good, and then we’ll go from there.”

Scherzer could be back Thursday in Pittsburgh. The usual “ifs” apply here. If he feels well Sunday, if he throws a bullpen session Monday, if he feels well Tuesday, his first start since July 25 could come against the Pirates. 

“We’re trying to schedule everything as if: Today he pitched,” Martinez said. “He’s got five days. So he’ll be on his regular routine.”

If Scherzer pitches Thursday, the Nationals could manipulate his future schedule to give him seven starts to close the season, including a start against the Mets, two against the Braves, one against the Phillies and have him be ready for an Oct. 1 wild-card start, if necessary. 

However, the extended time away because of scapula and rhomboid injuries will snap Scherzer’s decade-long streak of making at least 30 starts. He’s made 20 so far this season.

The Nationals remain locked into his long-term health. Scherzer will be on a pitch count -- around 75-80 -- when he does return. If he comes through that first start well, he should be close to full strength from then on. At least, that’s the hope and premise for Martinez.

Scherzer’s return will carry dual benefits. First, it will be a boost to the contending Nationals, who are 11 games over .500 for the first time this season. Second, it will end the debates between Martinez and Scherzer about the injury timeline.

“I can’t wait,” Martinez said. “I want to see Max Scherzer on the mound pitching for the Nationals. He’s never had this before. It’s something new for him. So we’re all anxious for him to get back on the mound and help us win.”

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