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Lawson leads surging Nuggets past Hornets 113-98

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Lawson leads surging Nuggets past Hornets 113-98

DENVER (AP) Ty Lawson had 21 points and 13 assists, Andre Iguodala scored 24 and the Denver Nuggets beat the New Orleans Hornets 113-98 on Friday night for their sixth straight victory.

The Nuggets continued their fine play in 2013. They won 12 of 15 games in January, including a 10-2 mark at home, and got February started strong.

Ryan Anderson had 21 points and rookie Anthony Davis added 13 points and 10 rebounds for the Hornets, who have dropped three straight and five of six.

Denver led by three at halftime and increased it to as many as 11 in the third quarter. Iguodala scored 10 points and Lawson had nine, including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer that gave the Nuggets an 85-78 edge heading into the fourth.

The lead grew to 16 with 4:08 left after Iguodala's 3-pointer and Danilo Gallinari's fast-break layup. Anderson hit two 3-pointers to cut it to eight with 1:28 remaining, but the Hornets never really threatened.

Gallinari finished with 18 points and Corey Brewer had 17 off the bench for the Nuggets, who scored a season-high 32 points off 22 New Orleans turnovers.

The Hornets trailed 26-20 late in the first quarter before scoring the next 14 points to go ahead with 9:29 left in the second. Denver turned up its defense after that, forcing eight turnovers and putting together a 16-4 run to go back ahead.

Brewer set the tone with 11 points in the quarter and scored on two fast-break dunks that gave Denver a 42-38 lead. The Nuggets were up 51-48 at halftime.

Eric Gordon, the Hornets' leading scorer, was held to three points on 0-for-2 shooting in the first half. He finished with nine points.

NOTES: Nuggets C JaVale McGee missed his third straight game with a sore left shin. ... Denver coach George Karl was named the Western Conference coach of the month for January. His team went 12-3. It was the seventh time in his career one of his teams has won at least 12 games in a month. ... The Hornets are 8-7 with Gordon in the lineup and 7-25 without him.

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Orioles clean house, fire 11 members of scouting and front office departments

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Orioles clean house, fire 11 members of scouting and front office departments

Baltimore Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias is dedicated to altering the direction of the organization and that was reciprocated Friday with the firing of 11 members of the scouting and front office departments.  

"We're in a period of change right now with the industry and we're in a period of change right now with the Orioles," Elias said. "Sometimes to make changes you've got to make changes."

Among those relieved were baseball operations director Tripp Norton, scouts Dean Albany, Jim Howard, John Gillette, Nathan Showalter, and Buck Showalter. 

Elias acknowledged the uphill battle ahead of filling numerous voids but insists it's just a part of the job 

"We're going to be very busy bringing people into this organization," he said. "This is just the organization moving along and adapting to the sport today."

Just one day removed from a judge confirming that the Orioles owe the Nationals nearly $300 million, Elias insisted this move isn't to save money.

"There are changes going on in the scouting business in terms of greater availability of information in general, video and data," Elias said. "There are instances where we will replace people's roles kind of man for man, head for head, spot for spot, but there's other instances where we're reconfiguring the way the scouts go about their business."

The O's will look completely different from this point out and players won't be the only changes.

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Sleep-deprived Nationals win one they probably shouldn’t have in Chicago behind Aníbal Sánchez

Sleep-deprived Nationals win one they probably shouldn’t have in Chicago behind Aníbal Sánchez

The clubhouse wears have never been packed so quickly. Washington was sprinting as a group to get out of Pittsburgh on Thursday night following another three-hour-plus game with a 1:20 p.m. local start looming in Wrigley Field on Friday.

Max Scherzer finished his postgame comments in less than four minutes, then quickly moved to get cleaned up and join the others. Most lockers were vacant by the time media members reached the clubhouse, which wasn’t long after the game ended. 

Despite the scramble for minutes saved, Friday was supposed to be a loss. Las Vegas knew. The players and management knew. It was a bad spot. Night game, onto a plane, then a day game against a team which played at home the previous afternoon, and was 44-19 there -- the second-best home record in the National League. 

And yet, Nationals 9, Cubs 3, and it wasn’t that close.

Some bloops fell, some situations turned out lucky. Though, Aníbal Sánchez dominated. No voodoo or charms were involved.

He went through 8 ⅓ innings before being removed after 112 pitches. He was provided a shot to finish the game -- just 15 National League pitchers have a complete game this season -- but couldn’t. A rare Anthony Rendon throwing error cost him an out, then his opportunity for a solo close to the afternoon in Chicago.

Sánchez threw 31 four-seam fastballs, 31 cutters and 28 “splitters” among his 112 pitches. He worked as a marionettist, pulling strings to change positions and outcomes throughout the day. Matt Grace finished the game. No high-end reliever was used, resetting a bullpen which had to cover five innings in Pittsburgh on Thursday.

The offense beat up Jon Lester. He didn’t make it out of the fifth inning. Everyone in the lineup -- including Sánchez -- picked up a hit. Trea Turner’s single extended his on-base streak to 30 games.

Sánchez’s work piggybacked on what the other starters did against woeful Pittsburgh. Nationals starters have allowed two earned runs in the first five games of this seven-game road trip. The offense has averaged 8.2 runs in that span. It’s hard to fathom they lost once with both sides operating in such fashion.

All of this is just a continuation of a massive turnaround. Washington is 52-26 since its nadir May 24. Only the Dodgers -- who host the Yankees on Friday night -- have a better record in that span, and by just a half-game. They have won 10 of 12 and 13 of 17. Fivethirtyeight.com now gives the Nationals a 90 percent chance to make the postseason (this includes the wild-card game).

Wins like Friday emphatically move that needle. The Cubs are trying to wind their way into the postseason. They were also set up for a clear advantage thanks to the schedule. Instead, Sánchez, throwing as slow as 68 mph and as fast as 91, controlled the day, the offense rolled through the afternoon and everyone was ready for bed after a surprise win.

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