Redskins

Gallinari scores 23, leads Nuggets past Cavs 98-91

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Gallinari scores 23, leads Nuggets past Cavs 98-91

DENVER (AP) Danilo Gallinari scored 23 points, hitting a crucial 3-pointer in the waning seconds, and the Denver Nuggets came back to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 98-91 Friday night after trailing for the most of the game.

Kosta Koufos added a career-high 21 points and Kenneth Faried had 17 points and 11 rebounds to help the Nuggets withstand 22 turnovers, which matched a season high and led to 24 Cleveland points. It was the fourth win in a row for the Nuggets, who beat Cleveland for the 10th time in the last 13 meetings in Denver.

Kyrie Irving, playing despite an illness, scored 28 points to lead the Cavaliers. Dion Waiters had 18 points and Tristan Thompson 16.

A dunk by Thompson put the Cavaliers up 62-50 but the Nuggets got a 3-pointer and a three-point play from Gallinari during an 11-0 run, pulling to 62-61 with 5:43 left in the third quarter.

Cleveland, which got a key 3-pointer from Luke Walton and a putback dunk from Tyler Zeller, fought back to take a 76-72 lead into the fourth quarter.

After Irving's 3-pointer from beyond the top of the key gave Cleveland an 85-80 lead, the Nuggets put together a 7-0 burst, going in front 87-85 on a short hook shot by Koufos.

Ty Lawson's driving layup with 1:48 left snapped an 89-all tie and after Cleveland couldn't convert on its next two possessions, Gallinari connected on a key 3-pointer that boosted the Nuggets' advantage to five with 34.9 seconds to play.

C.J. Miles, who missed Wednesday's win over Atlanta because of a back strain, hit a 3 for the final points of the second quarter to stretch the Cavaliers' halftime lead to 56-45. It was their biggest advantage at that point.

NOTES: Walton scored eight points in his return to the Cavaliers after missing the previous two games to tend to personal matters. ... Faried has 29 career double-doubles, including 17 this season. ... Koufos' previous high was 18 points, which he accomplished twice, most recently against Golden State on April 11, 2011.

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Chris Simms doesn't think the Redskins should lock in on Chase Young with the No. 2 pick

Chris Simms doesn't think the Redskins should lock in on Chase Young with the No. 2 pick

It's been widely presumed by Redskins fans, draft experts and many others across the league that Washington is expected to use the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL Draft on Ohio State edge rusher Chase Young.

The 20-year-old is considered a generational talent and one of the best prospects in recent memory. Dwayne Haskins has vowed for the Burgundy and Gold to draft his Ohio State teammate. Derrius Guice has tweeted it too

But NBC Sports analyst Chris Simms is not sure that's the move the right move for the Redskins come April's draft.

"I don't think Chase Young is a lock for the Washington Redskins," Simms said.

Entering the 2019 season, the defensive line was expected to be the strongest position group for the Burgundy and Gold. But the unit, like many others on the team, failed to meet the lofty expectations, and the entire defense struggled as a whole.

But the group is still full of talent. Ryan Kerrigan, should he return in 2020, has been one of the NFL's premier pass rushers since he entered the league in 2011. Washington invested a first-round pick on Montez Sweat a year ago, and the team hopes he can make a large impact in Year 2.

On the interior, Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne are first-rounders that have become staples upfront. Matt Ioannidis was named a Pro Bowl alternate in 2019 and is under contract for two more years.

"The Redskins defensive line is real already," Simms said. "Do they want to put another asset in there? You just got a rookie first-rounder in Montez Sweat. Ryan Kerrigan is still there. You got the Alabama boys in the middle with [Jonathan] Allen and Daron Payne. That's a pretty good front four."

The Redskins defensive struggles in 2019 can be attributed to the scheme former defensive coordinator Greg Manusky ran. The 3-4 system he installed had plenty of moving parts, as multiple players complained about the complexity of the system. Kerrigan and Sweat, who are best served getting after the quarterback, were often dropping back in coverage.

New defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio is shifting the unit back to a 4-3 base, which fits the personnel the Redskins currently have much better. Del Rio's scheme is simple and allows players to play fast and to their strengths, something the Redskins defense never did under Manusky.

One of the weaker units on the defense is at cornerback. Quinton Dunbar emerged as a star in 2019, but the Redskins need a solid cornerback on the opposite side of him. Simms thinks Washington would be wise to trade back and maybe select a cover corner later in the first round.

"If I'm the Redskins, I'm thinking about maybe using my assets to strengthen other parts of my team," Simms said. "Maybe you trade down and get a really good cover corner, something like that."

The draft has multiple cornerbacks that are expected to go in the first round, such as Ohio State's Jeffery Okudah, Florida's CJ Henderson, Alabama's Trevon Diggs, and LSU's Kristian Fulton, among others. 

Simms does not question Young's talent, and there's no doubt selecting the pass rusher would improve the Redskins defense. But he believes trading down, getting extra picks, and addressing other needs on the team could be the best way for Washington to attack to draft.

"Chase Young is special. He's every bit in that discussion of being that guy to come off the board at No. 2," Simms said. "I just wonder if it's the right fit for the Washington Redskins. I don't know about that."

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Kris Bryant loses grievance against Cubs, chances of trade to Nationals slim

Kris Bryant loses grievance against Cubs, chances of trade to Nationals slim

Kris Bryant will remained signed with the Chicago Cubs for at least the next two seasons, although the team continues to field calls for trade proposals, ESPN reported Wednesday morning.

The Cubs have dangled Bryant in trade talks all offseason after the team signaled its desire to get under the luxury tax. Washington was rumored to have contacted Chicago about the third baseman earlier this winter, but those talks have “gone nowhere” according to The Athletic.

After incumbent third baseman Anthony Rendon signed with the Los Angeles Angels at the Winter Meetings, the Nationals pursued Josh Donaldson in free agency but ultimately refused to meet his asking price. Instead, the team re-signed infielder Asdrúbal Cabrera and will give top prospect Carter Kieboom the chance to compete against him for the starting job in spring training.

Chicago retaining two years of control over Bryant raises his trade value to the point where the Nationals likely wouldn’t be able to put together a competitive offer. Washington only has one consensus top-100 prospect in Kieboom and has been hesitant to deal him in past trade discussions.

The Atlanta Braves, who lost Donaldson to the Minnesota Twins in free agency, have been rumored to be interested in Bryant and would be in a much better position to make an offer enticing enough for the Cubs to trade him. The same goes for the Texas Rangers, who are moving into a new ballpark this season and would benefit from bringing in a star like Bryant to put fans in seats.

There’s also the likelihood that Chicago holds onto Bryant to start the 2020 season. The Cubs still have most of the core that led the team to its first World Series in 108 years back in 2016 and figure to be competitive in a wide-open NL Central. If they end up struggling to start the year, they could always field calls for him at the trade deadline when there might be more suitors.

Meanwhile, the Nationals appear content with the depth they’ve accumulated at third base. In addition to Kieboom and Cabrera, Washington also signed Starlin Castro and retained Howie Kendrick—both of whom have experience at third. With the team already projected to be close to the luxury tax threshold, a move for Bryant remains unlikely.

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