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Nuggets spoil Love's surprising debut for Wolves

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Nuggets spoil Love's surprising debut for Wolves

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Andre Iguodala had 18 points and nine rebounds to spoil Kevin Love's surprise season debut in the Denver Nuggets' 101-94 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night.

Danilo Gallinari scored 19 points for the Nuggets, who withstood a furious start by a Timberwolves team buoyed by the return of their All-Star power forward.

Love scored 34 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, helping the Wolves take a 17-point lead in the first half. But he didn't get a whole lot of help in his first game in nearly five weeks. Nikola Pekovic had 10 points and seven rebounds in his return from a three-game absence.

After a sluggish start to the season, the Nuggets (6-6) have picked up two straight quality road wins against Memphis and Minnesota.

Ty Lawson had 18 points and nine assists and Kenneth Faried had 14 rebounds for the Nuggets, who overcame 20 turnovers.

Love broke his right hand on Oct. 18, about two weeks before the start of the regular season, and the team estimated a recovery time of six to eight weeks. But he quietly rejoined the team at practice during a four-day break between games, and the Wolves did their best to keep a lid on his return for as long as possible.

Coach Rick Adelman even dodged a question about Love's progress about 75 minutes before the game, but word leaked out a few minutes later that Love was back in the starting lineup less than five weeks from his injury.

The stunned Timberwolves fans roared like they haven't all season when he was announced in the starting lineup, and the surprises just kept coming.

During his halftime interview with FoxSports North, Love said he called his father on Wednesday to tell him he was playing, then asked if he had any advice.

``Let it fly,'' Stan Love told his son.

Did he ever.

Love scored 16 points on 7-for-12 shooting in the first quarter, an incredibly fluid performance considering his long layoff. J.J. Barea and Pekovic returned from injuries as well, and the Wolves led by 17 points in the first half, but Love's Olympic teammate helped Denver come roaring back in the third quarter.

Iguodala hit three 3-pointers and then unleashing a spin move in transition and a dunk over two Timberwolves to tie the game at 67. Lawson added another from long range and Faried threw down a dunk that gave the Nuggets a 92-87 lead with 2:41 to play, and Denver was able to hold on.

Barea finished with 12 points, but the Wolves missed nine free throws. Love missed six of those.

Andre Miller scored all 11 of his points in the fourth quarter for Denver.

NOTES: Faried had just four points before fouling out. ... Love picked up a technical foul in the third quarter for tossing former teammate Kosta Koufos to the ground after they got tangled up underneath the basket. ... Timberwolves PG Luke Ridnour picked up a rare technical foul in the third quarter for gesturing after a foul call from referee Danny Crawford. ... Crawford gave Faried a technical for the same thing later in the period

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New pieces on offense lead to plenty of questions for Redskins at OTAs

New pieces on offense lead to plenty of questions for Redskins at OTAs

Alex Smith in, Kirk Cousins out.

That's certainly the headline, but there are plenty of other questions for the Redskins, particularly on the offensive side of the ball.

For the last two seasons, most of the questions going into OTAs for Washington came from the defensive side of the ball. After consecutive drafts with a first-round defensive lineman selection, the defense should be much improved. 

On offense, however, there are a lot of new parts. 

  1. The headliner - No position in sports is as important as NFL quarterback. This will be Alex Smith's first action in a Redskins uniform with media present. The 34-year-old veteran is coming off the best season of his career, and if he can continue that level of accuracy and play-making, the Redskins could be poised for an explosive year.
  2. The speedster - Washington's wideouts lacked separation in 2017. It was apparent through much of the year, and likely played a roll in some of Kirk Cousins' reluctance to make tough throws. Free agent addition Paul Richardson is supposed to help, immediately. He has elite deep speed and the 'Skins brass hopes he can bring a similar element to the offense that DeSean Jackson provided a few years back. Time to prove it Paul. 
  3. The injuries - There are big reasons for concern, namely two very large men in Jordan Reed and Trent Williams. Reed will not participate in OTAs, and has been dealing with a foot/toe injury for the better part of a year. Williams, who seems highly unlikely to attend OTAs, underwent knee surgery in January. Beyond Smith, Reed and Williams are probably the two most important offensive players on the Redskins. OTAs aren't important, Reed and Williams participating, or even attending, OTAs is not important. Both men being healthy and ready to go in September is quite important. 
  4. The Rookie - Has Derrius Guice become the most popular player on the Redskins? Maybe. The dynamic rookie running back, with an interesting draft weekend slide, has the charisma and ability to be a star. The "off-field concerns" that hurt his draft status seem like myths at this point, but there was some injury concern his junior season at LSU (see video above). Guice has an opportunity to be a huge part of the Redskins offense, and all eyes will be watching the rookie. 
  5. The leap? - In 2017, Josh Doctson showed flashes of the player that warranted a first-round pick in 2016. Will 2018 be the year he proves it, week after week, game after game? Getting off to a good start with Smith should help, and even more important would be an injury-free offseason. 

There are questions for the defense too, particularly at cornerback after Josh Norman, but this year, the offense has more new parts. 

MORE REDSKINS NEWS:

— Contract years: Redskins face 5 tough decisions 

— Dead Money: Trades, misses and mistakes hurt Redskins salary cap

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: A trip to the Stanley Cup Final is on the line

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: A trip to the Stanley Cup Final is on the line

The Eastern Conference Final is going the distance!

After losing three straight to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Capitals won Game 6 to force a Game 7 in Tampa Bay. Can the Caps beat the Lightning one more time and advance to the Stanley Cup Final?

JJ Regan, Tarik El-Bashir and special guest cameraman Mike D break it all down.

 

PLEASE NOTE: Due to schedule and time constraints, this podcast was recorded by phone and the audio quality is not up to our usual standards.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.