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Luongo helps Canucks shut out Avalanche 3-0

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Luongo helps Canucks shut out Avalanche 3-0

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) Roberto Luongo made 24 saves for his first win of the season and the Vancouver Canucks beat the Colorado Avalanche 3-0 on Wednesday night.

Luongo, who has been on the trading block since Cory Schneider replaced him as Vancouver's No. 1 goaltender, was rarely tested but still made some big saves in his 61st career shutout.

With the Canucks leading 2-0 in the third, Luongo stopped Matt Duchene on a short-handed breakaway that prompted calls of ``Luuu, Luuu'' from Canucks fans. He blocked a John Mitchell shot from the slot later in the period.

Jason Garrison and Max Lapierre each scored for the first time this season, and Zack Kassian picked up his fifth goal in seven games.

Kassian tipped a Dan Hamhuis shot past Semyon Varlamov at 8:18 of the third, snapping an 0-for-13 power-play drought for the Canucks.

It was another frustrating night on the road for the Avalanche, who are winless in four games away from the Pepsi Center this season and have been outscored 15-3.

The Avs' struggling power play has managed just one goal all season and is 0 for 12 on the road. Against Vancouver, the Avs failed to score on a 1:25 two-man advantage and on four opportunities overall.

Garrison, a free-agent signing in the offseason, opened the scoring at 7:34 of the first. Avs defenseman Erik Johnson tried to clear the puck but it ended up on Garrison's stick. The big defenseman let go a shot from the blue line that beat Varlamov.

Lapierre showed some strength and speed on his goal at 15:12 of the second. He beat Avalanche defenseman Greg Zanon in a battle along the boards, skated in alone, and slipped the puck through Varlamov's legs.

Luongo was a surprise starter after he stopped 26 shots and was one of the best Canucks on the ice during a 3-2 shootout loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Monday night. Schneider is expected to start Friday against Chicago.

One of Colorado's best scoring chances came with the game less than two minutes old. Luongo got a piece of Jan Hejda's shot, and the puck dropped behind him and lay on the ice. A falling Luongo knocked it out of the crease with the knob of his goal stick.

NOTES: Attendance at Rogers Arena was a sellout at 18,910. ... Garrison's goal came on the Canucks' first shot of the game. ... Vancouver defeated the Avs in all six meetings last season. ... Vancouver's Henrik Sedin played his 588th consecutive game and now ranks seventh in NHL history for the longest ironman streak.

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Ja Morant reminds Wizards head coach Scott Brooks of Russell Westbrook

Ja Morant reminds Wizards head coach Scott Brooks of Russell Westbrook

WASHINGTON -- Wizards head coach Scott Brooks coached Russell Westbrook for seven seasons in Oklahoma City, as Westbrook developed into one of the best and most electric players in the league. He knows just how good Westbrook is and does not throw around comparisons to him lightly.

But when Brooks watches Grizzlies rookie Ja Morant, whom the Wizards will see for the first time on Saturday when they play at the Grizzlies, he can't help but be reminded of the eight-time All-Star and 2016-17 MVP who now plays for the Houston Rockets.

"He's as dynamic and explosive as any player that has come in [the NBA] in a long time. You see a lot of Westbrook in him where he attacks and is fearless. He plays hard, he puts so much pressure on the defense," Brooks said.

The No. 2 pick in the 2019 draft, Morant is technically ahead of schedule with the Westbrook comparison. He's only 20 yet as a rookie he's averaging 18.7 points, 6.4 assists and 1.3 steals per game. Westbrook wasn't scoring that much until his third season, at Age 22.

Certainly, Morant still has a long way to go to reach Westbrook's level as a perennial All-NBA player who is the first to average a triple-double since Oscar Robertson. But Brooks is already surprised by several things Morant is doing that make him wonder just how good he can someday be.

"It's pretty remarkable to come in and do what he's doing. He won a game defensively by blocking a shot. He attacks the rim. He makes plays, he can pass with either hand. He sees the floor. A lot of times, it takes two or three years to get all of those reads down and he seems to be able to have his checkpoints off pretty quick. He finds the next read if [the first one] is not open," Brooks said.

Brooks also remarked how he didn't think Morant would shoot threes this early in his career as well as he has so far. Morant is knocking down 42.2 percent from long range, much higher than Westbrook's 30.5 percent career average, for comparison.

The Wizards will have their hands full when they face Morant and the Grizzlies with no ideal option to guard him. Perhaps Brooks can tap back into his OKC days to come up with an answer.

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There's a chance Robert Griffin III could start for the Ravens in two weeks

There's a chance Robert Griffin III could start for the Ravens in two weeks

For anyone hoping to see Robert Griffin III start at quarterback for the Ravens, there's a way it could happen without an injury to Lamar Jackson.

According to Mike Garafolo, if the Ravens secure their playoff seed by Week 17, Griffin would be the expected starter for Baltimore. 

The Ravens are currently the top seed in the AFC with a one-game lead over the Patriots. They also hold the tiebreaker over New England. 

Their opponent in Week 17, the Steelers, are 8-5 and hold the sixth seed in the conference. They'd likely be playing for their playoff lives against the Ravens, so even though Baltimore would have a chance to keep their arch-rival out of the postseason, it would appear Griffin would start if their playoff standing is sealed. 

Griffin has appeared in five games for the Ravens this season and has completed 12-of-16 throws for 126 yards and a touchdown. His last start was with the Browns in Week 17 of 2016. He completed 29-40 passed for 232 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in a loss to, you guessed it, the Steelers. 

So if you want to see Robert Griffin III start a football game under center again, it's time to root for the Ravens to secure the top seed in the conference. They can do that with a win and a loss from both the Patriots and Chiefs. 

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