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Millsap leads Jazz over Hornets 104-99

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Millsap leads Jazz over Hornets 104-99

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) Paul Millsap scored 25 points, Al Jefferson had 22 and the Utah Jazz defeated the New Orleans Hornets 104-99 on Wednesday night.

Ryan Anderson's 3-pointer with 15 seconds left pulled the Hornets within 100-97 but Randy Foye and Millsap each hit two free throws down the stretch to seal it.

Coming off a 45-point loss to Houston on Monday, the Jazz trailed by 12 points in the first quarter before rallying to take a 10-point lead with about 7 minutes remaining.

Anthony Davis nearly brought the Hornets all the way back with an eight-point fourth quarter. He pulled them to 95-94 with 2:18 remaining but Millsap and Jefferson hit back-to-back shots that provided the cushion Utah would need.

Greivis Vasquez led the Hornets with 17 points and 13 assists, but made just 8 of 21 shots after starting 4 for 5.

Millsap added 10 rebounds and two blocks.

Early on, the Jazz resembled the team that was embarrassed by the Rockets in their worst home loss in franchise history.

They trailed by 12 and couldn't hit a shot or defend one, shooting under 30 percent at one point while the Hornets opened 7 of 10.

Anderson and Roger Mason, starting in place of Eric Gordon, each hit two 3s as the Hornets looked strong despite coming off a loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night.

The Jazz climbed back into the game in the second quarter behind Derrick Favors and Earl Watson.

Watson pushed the pace and Favors was a beast inside, hitting 4 of 4 shots in the quarter and corralling three rebounds.

Utah also dominated the paint in the second, holding an 18-8 edge on points.

DeMarre Carroll's fast-break layup tied it at 39 with 5:59 left in the half and Utah took a 51-47 lead into the break, with Millsap finally scoring a field goal after starting 0 for 4.

Millsap got going in the third, scoring 11 points as the Jazz took a 78-75 lead into the fourth.

Utah quickly bumped it to eight, Burks hitting a 3-pointer on a nice feed from Millsap. The Jazz increased the lead to 90-80 on a pair of free throws by Burks with 7:16 remaining.

Davis then made it a game, finishing with 14 points as five Hornets players scored in double figures

Utah also had five players in double figures, with Favors adding 15 points, Foye 14 and Marvin Williams 11.

After shooting just 38.1 percent in the first quarter, the Jazz finished at 50.

Both teams were missing key players, with the Jazz still without starting point guard Mo Williams (thumb surgery) and third-leading scorer Gordon Hayward (sprained shoulder.)

The Hornets held out leading scorer Gordon, held out as part of medical protocol on the second game of back-to-backs.

NOTES: Hornets coach Monty Williams said the team continues to follow the medical protocol it set for Gordon, holding him out in the second game of back-to-backs. Gordon has come back from a knee injury that caused him to miss the first third of this season, and all but nine games last year. ... Millsap had his first two shots blocked. ... Millsap officially joined Twitter on Wednesday, with one of his first tweets a shoutout to La Tech, which he attended. ... The Hornets shot 68.8 percent in the first quarter but made just 5 of 18 shots (27.8 percent) in the second. Vasquez was particularly cold, hitting just 1 of 7 shots in the second and turning it over twice. His complaining earned him a technical with 3:24 left in the half.

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How the Caps are staying confident despite a serious shift in series momentum

How the Caps are staying confident despite a serious shift in series momentum

ARLINGTON – Things have not gone well for the Capitals the last few days. After taking a 2-0 series lead over the Carolina Hurricanes, Washington saw that lead evaporate with two losses in Raleigh as they were outscored 7-1 and lost T.J. Oshie to injury. But even as the series momentum has taken a serious shift in Carolina’s favor, the mood in Washington remains calm.

“You know it’s playoffs,” Jakub Vrana said. “You can’t ever get too low or too high. We’re going to try to manage as best we can in the situation that we are right now.”

The underlying calm and confidence the Caps feel comes from past experience. Having always been the team that came up short in the playoffs, now Washington is the defending Stanley Cup champion, and it is not as if their path to the Cup was without its challenges.

“We understand what we went through last year,” head coach Todd Reirden said. “This is part of the experience. We went through some difficult times last year whether it was injuries or suspensions or being down in series, whether it was 0-2 or 3-2 in different series and battling through some tough times. We managed as a group to come through it.”

The Caps went down 0-2 in the first round against the Columbus Blue Jackets before rattling off four straight wins to advance. They lost three straight games to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Final and faced elimination in both Game 6 and Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final. They responded with two perfect games, shutting out the Lightning in both. Washington lost Game 1 in three out of four playoff series in 2018 and trailed at some point in all four.

And yet, they still came out on top in the end.

Amid those struggles were a number of key losses on the roster. In the decisive Game 6 against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Caps were without Nicklas Backstrom, Andre Burakovksy and Tom Wilson. Backstrom and Burakovsky were out injured while Wilson was suspended. The team will need to lean on that experience now with Oshie out indefinitely.

“Obviously, that’s something that you never want to have is one of your top players going down,” Chandler Stephenson said, “But it shows that last year we had guys coming in and pulling their weight and doing a little more and it helped us a lot. It gave us a little extra spark and it’s just more opportunity for everyone and I think we’re ready for it. It’s obviously motivation in itself to do it for Osh now, too.”

This time, the team will be looking for a spark from Devante Smith-Pelly, a playoff hero from 2018 who was recalled from the Hershey Bears on Friday in response to Oshie’s injury.

“Yeah, it’s tough to not have Osh right now,” Vrana said. “He’s been a big part of this team but it is what it is and we’re going to try to fill the spot as best we can.”

Even Nic Dowd, in his first season with Washington, can feel the confidence in the room.

“That is why they make it best-of-seven,” Dowd said. “This is my first time doing this, but I've played in a lot of playoff hockey before this, American League, college, stuff like that. I think the confidence hasn't changed. I think we still are a calm team. Our guys are going to be ready. Like I said, it is the Stanley Cup playoffs. Every team that is left is a good team and every team wants to win."

While there are no such things as moral victories in professional sports, that does not mean good things cannot come from losses. The Caps have not played their best hockey in any of the four games in the series. Perhaps two losses in Carolina will provide the wake-up call Washington needs.

“Maybe that spurs us on to a different level of play because we need a different level of play from everybody,” Reirden said. “They pushed back and now it's our turn to return the favor when they come into our building. We worked hard and played hard all year to have this opportunity to have home ice in this round. Now it's our chance to see it through. It's something that we're going to need everybody and everybody's top game. Credit to them that they've played well, but I also know that there's another level our team can get to.”

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Washington Nationals Roundup: Austen Williams lands on 10-day IL

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Washington Nationals Roundup: Austen Williams lands on 10-day IL

The Washington Nationals fell to the Miami Marlins 3-2 Friday night. Here's the latest Nationals and Marlins news:

Player Notes: 

NATIONALS:

Anibal Sanchez took the loss against the Marlins Friday, allowing three over 5 1/3 innings. Sanchez is now 0-2 on the season and holds a 4.91 ERA. 

Second baseman Brian Dozier went 1-for-4 Friday night with a solo home run, his second long ball of the seaon. Meanwhile, Anthony Rendon extended his hit streak to 17 games with a sixth inning double. Rendon's streak is now the longest in the majors this season. 

Washington placed reliever Austen Williams on the 10-day injured list with a sprained AC joint. The Nationals called up RHP Austin Adams from Triple-A Fresno to take Williams' place in the bullpen. 

MARLINS: 

Starting pitcher Caleb Smith kept the Nats' bats mostly quiet to earn his second win of the season, pithching six innings of one-run ball for the Marlins. Smith struck out eight and walked none, the only run he allowed coming on a Juan Soto RBI single in the first inning.

Closer Sergio Romo needed just 10 pitches to sit the Nats down in order in the ninth and record his second save of 2019. 

Left fielder Curtis Granderson went 0-4 with three strikeouts Friday night, but it was Granderson who was hit by a Matt Grace pitch in the sixth inning to force home a run and give Miami a 3-1 lead. That run proved to be the difference, as Washington only scored once more on Dozier's solo blast in the seventh.

Injures: 

RP Austen Williams: Shoulder, 10-Day IL

SS Trea Turner: Finger, 10-Day IL 

RP Koda Glover: Elbow, 10-Day IL

RP Justin Miller: Back, 10-Day IL

Coming Up: 

Saturday, 4/20: Nationals @ Marlins, 6:10 p.m., Marlins Park

Sunday, 4/21: Nationals @ Marlins, 1:10 p.m., Marlins Park

Monday, 4/22: Nationals @ Rockies, 8:40 p.m., Coors Field 

Source: Rotoworld

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