Orioles

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NBA Capsules

PHOENIX (AP) Blake Griffin scored 23 points, Chris Paul had 17 points and 13 assists and the Los Angeles Clippers extended a franchise record with their 13th consecutive victory, 103-77 over the Phoenix Suns on Sunday night.

Reserve Jamal Crawford added 22 points for the Clippers, who won in Phoenix for the first time since April 17, 2007. Los Angeles' overall win streak is an NBA season best and its six straight road victories are also a franchise best.

Jared Dudley scored 19 points, Luis Scola had 11 and Markieff Morris added 10 for the Suns, who have dropped two straight after winning four in a row.

Phoenix kept it close for the first quarter and half of the second. Shannon Brown sank an 11-foot pull-up jumper on a fast break as the Suns trimmed an eight-point deficit to 43-40 with 5:36 left in the first half.

That would be the Suns' next-to-last field goal of the half.

KNICKS 94, TIMBERWOLVES 91

NEW YORK (AP) - Carmelo Anthony scored 19 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter, rallying New York to a victory over Minnesota.

New York trailed from the opening minutes until Anthony scored eight straight points down the stretch. He had scored just nine points on 3-of-11 shooting in the first half, but had the final 12 for the Knicks to give them a 4-2 finish on their six-game homestand.

J.R. Smith added 19 points and Tyson Chandler had 16 points and nine rebounds for the Knicks, who will fly to Los Angeles later Sunday for their Christmas Day game against the Lakers.

Nikola Pekovic had 21 points and 17 rebounds for the Timberwolves.

SPURS 129, MAVERICKS 91

SAN ANTONIO (AP) - Danny Green scored a career-high 25 points and San Antonio spoiled Dirk Nowitzki's season debut with a rout of Dallas.

Tony Parker had 18 points, Kawhi Leonard added 17, Tim Duncan 15 and Stephen Jackson 14 for the Spurs (21-8), who were 20 of 30 from 3-point range and led by as many as 46.

After missing the Mavericks' first 27 regular-season games, Nowitzki entered with 6:28 left in the first quarter. Nowitzki, who underwent surgery on his right knee Oct. 19, finished with eight points - going 3 for 4 from the field - and six rebounds in 20 minutes.

Darren Collison scored 15 points to lead Dallas (12-16), which lost its third straight.

NETS 95, 76ERS 92

NEW YORK (AP) - Joe Johnson scored 22 points, and Gerald Wallace had 14 points, nine rebounds and six assists to lead Brooklyn to a win over Philadelphia.

Deron Williams added 16 points to help the Nets end a six-game skid at home against the 76ers.

Jrue Holiday led Philadelphia with 21 points, nine assists and six rebounds, Thadeus Young added 18 points and 10 rebounds, and Evan Turner had 15 points and seven rebounds. The 76ers, opening an eight-game trip, have lost six of their last seven games.

Williams was fouled by Holiday and hit two free throws to make it 94-90 before Turner answered with a layup to make it 94-92. Johnson finished the tight scoring with a free throw.

JAZZ 97, MAGIC 93

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - Paul Millsap scored 18 points, Gordon Hayward added 17 and Utah survived a fourth-quarter rally to slip past Orlando.

Orlando cut the lead to one in the waning seconds, but came up empty at the foul line.

Utah snapped a two-game losing streak with its fifth consecutive regular-season victory over Orlando. The Jazz played without point guard Mo Williams, out indefinitely with a thumb injury.

Arron Afflalo had 20 points, and Nik Vucevic added 16 points and 16 rebounds to lead Orlando, which has dropped back-to-back games since losing starting forward Glen Davis to a shoulder injury.

The loss also ended the Magic's three-game home winning streak.

KINGS 108, TRAIL BLAZERS 96

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - Marcus Thornton scored 18 of his 22 points in the second half to help slumping Sacramento snap Portland's five-game winning streak.

The Kings played without starting center DeMarcus Cousins, who was suspended indefinitely Saturday for unprofessional behavior and conduct detrimental to the team.

Already ahead by nine, the Kings opened the fourth quarter with a 7-0 run, including a 3-pointer by Thornton, to build their lead to 87-71. The Blazers trailed by at least 13 the rest of the way.

John Salmons had 13 of his 15 points in the second half for Sacramento.

LaMarcus Aldridge had 22 points and 11 rebounds for the Blazers.

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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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