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LeBron leads Heat past Nuggets 98-93

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LeBron leads Heat past Nuggets 98-93

DENVER (AP) LeBron James had 27 points and 12 assists, and the short-handed Miami Heat ended a decade-long drought in Denver with a 98-93 win over the Nuggets on Thursday night.

Shane Battier added 18 points - all on 3-pointers - in the Heat's first win at Denver since Jan. 29, 2002, a streak of 10 straight losses. Every other NBA team has won at the Pepsi Center during that span.

The Heat nearly blew a 19-point second-half lead but held on despite being without Dwyane Wade (foot) and Mario Chalmers, who went to the bench after just 7 1/2 minutes with a strained right triceps.

Andre Miller had 19 points and Kenneth Faried led the Nuggets with 16 points and a career-high 20 rebounds. Ty Lawson, who is averaging 13.5 points, didn't score.

Lawson would have given Denver its first lead of the night with 5:35 remaining, but his basket was waived off when he was whistled for an offensive foul for running over Battier.

Coming off a loss to the Clippers 24 hours earlier, the Heat looked primed for a letdown at altitude but instead never trailed in beating Denver for the second time in two weeks.

Ray Allen, who had the go-ahead four-point play with 6.7 seconds left in a 119-116 win over Denver in Miami on Nov. 3, sank a 3-pointer just before halftime that gave the Heat a 54-42 lead at the break after committing just two turnovers.

The Heat went up 70-51 on back-to-back 3s by Mike Miller and Battier and still led 79-66 heading into the fourth quarter.

The Nuggets cut the Heat's lead to one point on a couple of occasions - but kept blowing chances to go ahead.

JaVale McGee had 18 points, including a hook shot after getting the inbounds with just 0.4 seconds left on the shot clock that made it 79-74, and the Nuggets chipped away until Andre Miller's three-point play pulled Denver to 85-84.

That's when Lawson had a breakaway and as the crowd cheered what it thought was Denver's first lead of the night, his foul negated the bucket and James scored at the other end.

After missing two free throws, Faried made two, pulling Denver to 92-89. Andre Iguodala's two foul shots at 1:37 made it a one-point game again.

Allen missed a 3, but Danilo Gallinari rushed a long-range 3-pointer with about 15 seconds left on the shot clock that missed the basket by several feet.

Norris Cole made the Nuggets pay with a 3-pointer at the other end for a 95-91 lead with under a minute left.

Gallinari then mistakenly let the ball go out of bounds at midcourt, giving possession back to Miami, and James sank two free throws with 23 seconds left to ice it.

Wade was held out because of a sprained left foot a night after scoring just six points - well below his 18.4-point average - in Miami's 107-100 loss to the Clippers.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said the move was cautionary, emphasizing, ``It's not anything major. He has a bunch of little, minor, nagging injuries, so we'll continue to take it day by day.''

Notes: Several Denver Broncos were in attendance. Champ Bailey was sporting a LeBron sweat shirt at team headquarters. ``Oh, dang. Don't call me out like that,'' he said. ``I'm always rooting for the Nuggets. I like LeBron, don't get me wrong. He's a great player. But I'm Nuggets all the way.'' Not so Miami native Elvis Dumervil, but even he declined to disparage Denver. ``That's a tough question,'' he said when asked if he had split loyalties. How about this: Excited to see LeBron? ``Yeah, let's put it that way,'' Dumervil said. ... The Nuggets hit the road again now, travelling to San Antonio, Memphis and Minnesota. ... Faried's previous best was 17 rebounds, accomplished twice, including Saturday against Golden State.

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Reach out to Arnie Stapleton on Twitter:http://twitter.com/arniestapleton

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The 2005 draft link that bonds the Redskins and Packers ahead of Week 3

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AP

The 2005 draft link that bonds the Redskins and Packers ahead of Week 3

Looking back at NFL Drafts can be a frustrating task for Redskins fans. Missed opportunities and botched picks litter the record books, though the organization has made plenty of good picks, too. 

This weekend marks an interesting intersection of past drafts and current reality when Aaron Rodgers and the Packers come to visit the Redskins and Alex Smith.

Way back, in the 2005 NFL Draft, the 49ers selected Smith with the No. 1 overall pick. He was a major prospect and the consensus top pick in the draft coming out of an outrageous year playing under Urban Meyer at the University of Utah. 

Later that same draft, all the way down to the 24th pick, Green Bay took Aaron Rodgers out of the University of California Berkeley. At the time, the selection turned heads, as the Packers had future Hall of Famer Brett Favre at QB. 

The Rodgers pick turned out to be pretty smart, to say the least. Smith’s tenure in San Francisco had high points, but nothing that lived up to his lofty draft position. 

Rodgers and Smith have talked about being from the same draft class, and the two have developed a friendship off the field. 

“You know, he's a decent player,” Smith joked about Rodgers on Wednesday. 

“He and I [have] been around each other a lot of time now, always linked, pretty good buddies. Certainly, kind of I think follow each other's career from afar.”

Fair or not, Smith and Rodgers have been linked ever since that 2005 draft. Those weren’t the only two QBs taken that year though. 

The Redskins selected Jason Campbell out of Auburn with the 25th pick. If Rodgers had slipped just one more spot, maybe the Redskins take Rodgers instead.

Just to make one more connection, albeit an odd one, but Rodgers wasn’t even the only guy with that last name taken in 2005.

The Redskins selected cornerback Carlos Rogers with the ninth overall pick. Imagine if they took the QB with the slightly different last name. 

 

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Wizards' 2018-19 storyline No. 4: How will all the expiring contracts work out?

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USA Today

Wizards' 2018-19 storyline No. 4: How will all the expiring contracts work out?

With Wizards training camp set to begin next week, we at NBC Sports Washington are counting down the five biggest storylines for the team as they start a new season. Today, at No. 4, a look at the amount of expiring contracts on the roster and how those situations will work themselves out…

One way or another, what happens for the Wizards in the 2018-19 season will be determined in part by seven players operating in the final years of their contracts. That seven does not include Dwight Howard, who has a player option for the 2019-20 season worth just $5.6 million. If he’s lumped into that group, only the L.A. Clippers have more players entering walk years.

The Wizards players in their contract years include Markieff Morris, Kelly Oubre, Jr., Austin Rivers, Tomas Satoransky, Jeff Green, Jodie Meeks and Jason Smith. That will present a unique dynamic to the Wizards’ roster and it may affect guys differently.

Some may thrive, knowing how much money they stand to gain with a big year before free agency. Others may succumb to the pressure as they find their niche on a team with a lot of added depth at several positions.

Let’s start with Rivers. The challenge for him will be going through his contract year while taking a reduced role from what he was used to with the Clippers. Last season, he started in 59 games and averaged 33.7 minutes and 13.2 field goal attempts.

Now in Washington, Rivers has to play second fiddle to two All-Star guards in John Wall and Bradley Beal. The minutes and shot attempts will almost certainly go down in a year where he would understandably want all of his numbers to go up.

Green may also have a smaller role than what he was in Cleveland where he started 13 games and averaged 23.4 minutes. But this is his fourth straight year playing on an expiring contract and knows what he’s getting into. He should be fine.

Meeks and Smith are in an interesting spot because they are longtime NBA veterans who don’t have defined roles entering this season. They, of course, would like to put up good enough numbers to earn their next NBA contracts, but will have a tough time getting minutes.

Oubre and Satoransky are in unique spots because this is the first time in their careers they have played in contract years. Oubre, in particular, has a lot of money on the line as a former first round pick who is just 22 years old.

A big year for him could mean a lucrative contract next summer. He has seen how breakout seasons in walk years has helped Beal and Otto Porter, Jr. get paid and surely wants to follow that same career path. The Wizards would certainly welcome that type of emergence from Oubre, as he could drastically transform their ceiling as a team.

Satoransky, 26, is older than Oubre, but has intriguing potential based on his athleticism and versatility. The problem, however, is that recent history shows his minutes are anything but guaranteed.

Morris is in his own category among the Wizards’ expiring contracts because he’s 29 and probably facing his best opportunity for a long-term payday. Morris also has some money to recoup from taking a hometown discount from the Suns years ago, one that didn’t pay off as he hoped.

Howard, though technically under contract for 2019-20, is susceptible to the same factors as the others on expiring deals. If he puts up strong numbers and helps the Wizards succeed, he could opt out and cash in.

The Wizards are confident the expiring contracts will not be a detriment to their locker room. But in order for that to be the case, the players will need to compartmentalize and focus on the team’s goals rather than their own. For some, that might be easier said than done.

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