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Lakers beat Jazz 102-84 to snap 4-game skid

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Lakers beat Jazz 102-84 to snap 4-game skid

LOS ANGELES (AP) Metta World Peace hit five 3-pointers on his way to scoring 17 points and the Los Angeles Lakers pulled away in the fourth quarter to beat the Utah Jazz 102-84 on Friday night, snapping a four-game skid.

Dwight Howard had 17 points and 13 rebounds, Steve Nash scored 15 and Pau Gasol added 15 points off the bench. Kobe Bryant had 14 points, a season-high 14 assists and nine rebounds to help the Lakers beat the Jazz for the first time in three meetings this season. Utah's four-game winning streak came to an end.

Howard aggravated his right shoulder in the second quarter of the Lakers' loss at Memphis on Wednesday, the same injury that caused him to miss three games two weeks ago. But he showed no ill effects from the start, scoring six points in a 15-4 spurt that opened the game and gave the Lakers the lead for good.

Derrick Favors led the Jazz with 14 points off the bench. Fellow reserve Gordon Hayward scored 13 and Al Jefferson had 12. Paul Millsap and Randy Foye added 10 points each. Utah had won six of its previous seven.

Utah cut its deficit to 78-69 early in the fourth before the Lakers began dominating the final 10 minutes. World Peace hit his fifth 3-pointer and Bryant scored four points during a 14-5 spurt that pushed Los Angeles' lead to 92-74. The Lakers were 9 of 21 from long range.

The Lakers had lost 10 of their last 12 and remain seven games below .500.

The Lakers led by 12 points early in the third before Utah closed to 61-58, capped by Favors' alley-oop dunk off a pass from Earl Watson. The Lakers fought back from 3-point range. Chris Duhon and World Peace combined for three 3-pointers and Jodie Meeks dunked to keep them ahead 72-63 going into the fourth. Gasol and Millsap got into it verbally and received double technicals as the quarter was ending.

Utah closed to 47-37 at halftime.

The Lakers' 15-4 run to start the game was helped by World Peace and Nash combining for three 3-pointers. The Jazz quickly closed within two before the Lakers stretched their lead to 26-19.

NOTES: World Peace was one 3-pointer shy of equaling his career high of six set on Feb. 28, 2009, against Chicago. ... Bryant's assists were three off his career high of 15 set on Feb. 12, 2002, against Washington. ... Utah fell to 9-16 on the road.

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The goal that no one wanted: Alex Ovechkin gives up hat trick to set up T.J. Oshie

The goal that no one wanted: Alex Ovechkin gives up hat trick to set up T.J. Oshie

Alex Ovechkin had two goals, the puck on his stick and an empty-net yawning. The Caps held a 4-2 lead on Monday against the Vancouver Canucks late in the third period and the win looked all but secured. The only thing still up for grabs was the exclamation point empty-net goal.

Ovechkin took the puck in the defensive zone and weaved his way through the neutral zone. Once he hit center ice, there was only one player between him and the net. The hat trick looked all but certain…until he passed the puck away.

He easily could have taken the puck himself and fired it into the empty yet, but instead he chose to pass it off to T.J. Oshie on the wing.

Oshie delayed, but with the trailing Vancouver players skating into the passing lane, there was no way for Oshie to try to pass it back to Ovechkin and he very reluctantly shot the puck into the net.

When the players returned to the bench, the disappointment on Oshie’s face was clear to see. He wanted Ovechkin to get the hat trick, but Ovechkin wasn’t having it.

After the game, head coach Todd Reirden praised Ovechkin for his leadership.

“He could have easily got in the red and tried to score himself and it wasn’t even a thought,” Reirden said. “He passed right to Osh and Osh couldn’t go back to him and that’s the way it worked out. It doesn’t bother him one bit and I think that’s where you see a different player than maybe you saw three or four years ago that is not focused on individual stuff. He’s doing the right thing and he feels if you do the right thing for long enough, you’re going to get rewarded.

“We were benefactors of that last season with being able to win out at the end. He’s really got a lot of buy-in right now for doing the right thing. I think his leadership is really in the last probably year, year and a half has really gone to a new level.”
 
Reirden saw leadership on the play. Oshie saw disappointment.
 
Ovechkin offered his own explanation for giving up the shot as he said, “Save it for next time.”

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Markieff Morris and Kelly Oubre Jr. show how they can change everything for Wizards in win over Blazers

Markieff Morris and Kelly Oubre Jr. show how they can change everything for Wizards in win over Blazers

Most nights, with little variance, the Wizards know what they are going to get from John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter Jr. They are consistently what they are, both good and bad, and mostly good.

The same cannot always be said about Markieff Morris and Kelly Oubre Jr. Both are capable of brilliance, it's just those moments come and go and sometimes with mysterious timing. Both players help the team more often than not, but can be unpredictable and enigmatic.

Monday night saw both Morris and Oubre at their best as the Wizards topped the Blazers 125-124 in overtime at the Moda Center. It was a worthy reminder of how much the two of them can change the outlook for the Wizards as a team on any given night.

Let's begin with Morris because this may have been the best game he's played with the Wizards since joining them in a Feb. 2016 trade. On both ends of the floor, he  was a force, but particularly on offense.

Morris erupted for 28 points in 25 minutes on 9-for-15 from the field and 6-for-10 from three. His six threes were a career-high. He also had 10 rebounds, a block and a steal.

It was the most efficient night in Morris' career and, by one measure, one of the most efficient in franchise history. His 28 points were the most by a Wizards or Bullets player in 25 minutes or less since A.J. English dropped 30 points in 23 minutes in 1990.

Morris' threes were well-timed. He hit two in the extra period, including one with 38.5 seconds remaining to put the Wizards up four. He also made one with 1:04 left in regulation and another right before that with 1:39 to go, both to give the Wizards a lead at the time. 

The clutch threes invoked memories of a game-winner Morris hit in the very same building two seasons ago. That also happened to be his best year with the Wizards.

Morris has improved his three-point shooting in recent years with a career-best 36.7 percent last season. When he's knocking them down, the Wizards can be uniquely good at spacing the floor, as Wall and especially Beal and Porter can be dangerous from three.

What Morris did against Portland was a major departure from a pair of uninspired games to begin the season. He had 21 points and 12 rebounds total in his first two games, both losses, as he failed to compensate for Dwight Howard's absence. On Monday, he stepped up and helped lead the Wizards to victory.

Like Morris, Oubre had been scuffling through two games. A different version of him showed up in Portland.

Oubre amassed only 17 points in his first two games and shot just 5-for-16 from the field and 1-for-7 from three. Against the Blazers, Oubre scored 22 points and shot 9-for-13 overall and 3-for-3 from long range.

Oubre added six rebounds, a block and a steal and a host of winning plays that didn't show up in traditional stats. He drew a loose ball foul on Mo Harkless early in the fourth quarter and took a charge on C.J. McCollum with under two minutes in overtime.

Oubre played pretty much exactly how head coach Scott Brooks often says he should. He ran the floor in transition and attacked the rim when the ball swung his way. He was more selective with his three-point attempts than usual. He wreaked havoc on defense with deflections, didn't gamble for steals and he hustled for rebounds. 

Monday night showed the perfect version of both Morris and Oubre. The Wizards need that to be the model for how they aspire to play every single night. If they do, this team's ceiling is significantly higher.

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