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Lakers hit 17 3-pointers, win 122-103 over Denver

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Lakers hit 17 3-pointers, win 122-103 over Denver

LOS ANGELES (AP) Antawn Jamison scored 33 points while leading an outstanding game by the Lakers' reserves, and Dwight Howard had 28 points and 20 rebounds before hitting Los Angeles' 17th 3-pointer in the final seconds of a 122-103 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Friday night.

Jodie Meeks scored 21 points on seven 3-pointers for the Lakers, who improved to 3-3 under Mike D'Antoni while playing splendidly at the furious tempo favored by their new coach.

The Lakers tied the club record for 3-pointers in a regulation game, getting five from Jamison in the first 30-point game by a Lakers reserve since 1998.

Howard capped it with just the second 3-pointer of his career with 9.8 seconds to play.

Danilo Gallinari scored 19 points for the Nuggets, who lost three times on their three-game trip.

Kobe Bryant had 14 points and eight assists for the Lakers, who had lost three of four after scoring 77 points against Indiana three nights earlier.

Just three days after the Lakers' reserves managed just five points in that ugly loss to the Pacers, they produced 61 points against Denver.

The Lakers' bench has been unimpressive for two straight seasons, but Jamison and Meeks shot exceptionally well against Denver, while Chris Duhon had a strong playmaking game with eight assists and five points.

Jamison, the high-scoring veteran who signed with Los Angeles for a shot at a title, found the shooting stroke he has lacked for much of the season so far, going 13 for 19 and grabbing 12 rebounds. Shaquille O'Neal was the previous Lakers reserve to score more than 30 points in a game.

Meeks was even more accurate, missing just one of his eight 3-point attempts.

Los Angeles led 71-57 at halftime, making 60 percent of its shots in an impressive stretch of offensive basketball. Howard controlled the first quarter with 16 points and five rebounds, playing with obvious motivation, while Meeks put on his shooting clinic in the second quarter, draining his first five 3-point attempts to match his highest-scoring game in his first season with Los Angeles.

The Lakers' lead dwindled to seven points before a 12-2 run, but Jamison and Meeks led a strong fourth quarter while three Lakers starters rested. Jamison hit the Lakers' 16th 3-pointer with 6:51 to play, and the Lakers rolled to the win capped by Howard's improbable 3.

The clubs met for the first time since the Lakers eliminated Denver in the first round of last season's playoffs despite a lively effort by the Nuggets, who fought off elimination twice before Los Angeles won a thrilling Game 7 at home.

The Lakers have changed greatly since that series, with major roster additions and a new coaching staff that likes the same up-tempo style of basketball favored by the Nuggets.

Denver coach George Karl expects the Lakers to be a force in the Western Conference playoff race, saying before the game that he can already see their adjustments to D'Antoni's style.

NOTES: Jamison and Meeks were the first Lakers reserves to score 20 points apiece since Bryant and Nick Van Exel did it in April 1998. ... The Lakers finish their final multigame homestand before Christmas against Orlando on Sunday night. Los Angeles will have played 12 of its first 17 games at Staples Center, plowing through more than a quarter of their entire home schedule in the season's opening five weeks, before playing nine of its next 12 on the road. ... Mark Wahlberg, Jeremy Piven and the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Flea and Chad Smith attended the game.

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Wizards' assistant Sidney Lowe leaves to join Dwane Casey's staff with Detroit Pistons

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Associated Press

Wizards' assistant Sidney Lowe leaves to join Dwane Casey's staff with Detroit Pistons

The Washington Wizards have an opening on their coaching staff, as assistant Sidney Lowe has left the team to join the Detroit Pistons.

Lowe, according to ESPN, will be the top assistant on new Pistons coach Dwane Casey's staff. 

Lowe spent two seasons under head coach Scott Brooks in Washington. A D.C. native, Lowe starred at DeMatha High School before playing at NC State and then in the NBA.

Lowe was the head coach at his alma mater for five years from 2006 through 2011, but has otherwise been an NBA lifer. He served as head coach of the Timberwolves in 1993-94 and head coach of the Grizzlies from 2000 to 2002.

The Wizards have several coaching hires to make now. They have a new G-League team set to take the court in the fall and will need to hire a staff sometime this summer. 

With Lowe gone, they could choose to promote from within or go outside the organization.

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Nationals look to halt red hot Tampa Bay Rays in 2-game series at Tropicana Field

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USA TODAY Sports

Nationals look to halt red hot Tampa Bay Rays in 2-game series at Tropicana Field

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Rays, routinely using relievers as starters to deal with a rash of injuries, are pitching their way to victories.

The Rays (37-40) go into a two-game interleague series against the Washington Nationals with the momentum of a three-game sweep of the American League East-leading Yankees. New York hadn't lost three games in a row at any point all season, but the Rays pulled it off, capped with a 7-6 win in 12 innings on Sunday at Tropicana Field.

"That's the best team in the league right now, them and the Astros ... I think coming home from that we had confidence and it all carried over into that series," said Rays rookie first baseman Jake Bauers, who won the game in the 12th inning.

Since beginning their experimental use of relievers as "openers" to start games, the Rays have a 3.07 ERA, and entering Sunday's game, that edged the Yankees for the best ERA in baseball since May 19. They've won five of seven games to again challenge .500, and Sunday's walkoff home run by Bauers was their second this season, after totaling one in three seasons from 2015 to 2017.

The Nationals (41-35) had gone 3-9 in their last 12 games before Sunday night's rain-delayed game against the Phillies, dropping into third place in the National League East. They'll send out Gio Gonzalez (6-4, 3.08 ERA), who has no wins in his last four starts and his ERA has risen from a sterling 2.10 to 3.08.

Gonzalez lasted only four innings in his last outing, giving up five hits and two runs against the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday. For his career against the Rays, he's 2-2 with a 5.54 ERA, though he's only faced Tampa Bay once since 2012. That was a rough 2015 start at Tropicana Field, lasting 3 1/3 innings and giving up five earned runs on eight hits, walking more batters than he struck out. For his career at Tropicana, he has an 11.25 ERA.

The Rays will have an actual starter on the mound in Blake Snell (9-4, 2.48), who is in line for an All-Star appearance after the first three months of his season. He has just one loss in his last seven starts, and while he has never faced the Nationals, he has generally fared well in interleague play, going 3-2 with a 2.33 ERA in eight career starts.

Tampa Bay, hoping to build on its current momentum, has a tough week ahead, with two games against Washington, then another four against Houston to close out the homestand.

Washington goes from St. Petersburg to a weekend four-game series at the Philadelphia Phillies before returning home for a week.

The Rays got a head start with a Sunday afternoon game and the Nationals saw their prime-time game delayed by rain, keeping them on the field beyond midnight and still needing to fly to Florida for the two-game stopover.

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