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They trailed just 57-54 at halftime and closed to 59-58 when
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ATLANTA -- The Washington Wizards moved up the Eastern Conference standings with their first win in Atlanta in six years. The Hawks are in a free-fall in the conference and must decide if a trade-deadline move is needed to stop their losing streak. John Wall scored 21 points and Washington recovered after almost blowing a 20-point lead to beat the reeling Hawks 114-97 on Wednesday night. "We needed it real bad," said Washingtons Trevor Ariza, who made an improbable 75-foot shot to end the third quarter. "Especially if were trying to make the playoffs these last 28 games. This one was big for us. Especially knowing that we havent won here in a while. I think that gives us a little bit of momentum." Paul Millsap had 21 points and 11 rebounds, and Elton Brand, a fill-in starter at centre, had 20 points and 11 boards for the Hawks, who have lost seven straight. Trevor Ariza and Bradley Beal each had 19 points for the Wizards, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Washington ended an 11-game skid in Atlanta, winning for the first time since Jan. 11, 2008. The Wizards moved a half-game ahead of Atlanta in the battle for fifth place in the Eastern Conference. "We know its a two- or three-game spread from the third spot and its two or three games away from being in the eighth spot or out of the playoffs, so its definitely a tight race right now," Wall said. "Weve just got to find a way to get on a streak. We havent been on a good streak. I think its time for our team. We deserve a winning streak." The Hawks, who trailed by 20 points in the first half, made a third-quarter charge to twice cut the deficit to one point. The Wizards closed the period with 3-pointers by Martell Webster and Ariza. Arizas 3-pointer was the shot of the game -- a buzzer-beater from near the free throw line on the other end of the floor to end the period. "Once I let it go, it felt good," Ariza said. "I tried to do my best to go to the bench not get too excited because we had another quarter to go. Im just happy we got the win." Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said the 3s by Webster and Ariza turned the momentum. "I think its a very fine margin of error for every team in the NBA," Budenholzer said. "I think we had it down to two. Webster hit a tough 3-pointer from the corner. Then we let our guard down a little bit, and (Ariza) made a shot from the three-quarter court. It went from a two-point game to an eight-point game. That was a tough 15-second stretch." Washington had lost three straight and five of six before beating the Hawks. The Hawks had only nine players in uniform. Gustavo Ayon, who had been the fill-in starting centre, was held out after hurting his right shoulder in Tuesday nights loss at Indiana. Guard DeMarre Carroll missed his third straight game with a left hamstring strain. Brand, 34, who has averaged 16 minutes as a backup, played 35 minutes and set his season high for points, while matching his high for rebounds. Brand wouldnt blame the teams losing streak on a shortage of players. "It seems like were dealing with a myriad of injuries, but we definitely have enough players to win," Brand said. "We need to find a way to win and get this monkey off our back and stay in the race." The Hawks have a severe shortage of players at centre. They already have lost All-Star Al Horford for the season after he had surgery to repair his torn right pectoral muscle. Horfords backup, Pero Antic, is out indefinitely with a stress fracture in his right ankle. Budenholzer said the injuries do not add urgency to make a deal before Thursdays trade deadline. Wizards centre Marcin Gortat took advantage of the Hawks lack of size, scoring 14 points with 12 rebounds. Martell Webster had 13 points. NOTES: The official play-by-play listed Arizas shot as a 57-footer, but replays confirmed the shot was much longer, launched from near the Hawks free-throw line. ... Washington had seven players score in double figures. ... Ariza made five 3-pointers. ... Kyle Korver made his first 3-pointer of the game late in the first half, extending his NBA record to 122 consecutive games with a 3. ... G Cartier Martin, also making his fourth start, filled in for Carroll and scored only four points.
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. The Lakers will also visit Cleveland and Philadelphia, have lost four in a row on the road and are 8-18 as the guest this season. They are 3-12 on the road against Western Conference opponents.
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. Hudson pitched into the eighth inning after having eight days between starts, and the San Francisco Giants beat the Miami Marlins 5-3 on Saturday night.
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. The Blue Jackets entered this series against the Metropolitan Division champions as heavy underdogs, but they sit tied with the Penguins at two wins apiece. Columbus has arrived at this point with a pair of overtime victories, including a 4-3 triumph in Wednesdays Game 4 clash at Nationwide Arena that gave the franchise its first home playoff win.
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. LOUIS -- Walking Billy Hamilton to start the ninth inning was a bad sign for Trevor Rosenthal.
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. The Italian came from behind to overtake Jarlinson Pantano in the final 50 metres and edge out Dario Cataldo on the line after a climb to the sanctuary of Oropa, the scene of Marco Pantanis memorable victory in 1999.INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana already had the leagues No. 1 defence. The Lakers discovered Tuesday that the Pacers offence is becoming just as potent. Paul George had 20 points, seven rebounds and six assists, newcomer Evan Turner and five other Pacers reached double figures, and the top team in the East blew out the worst team in the West, 118-98. "Were probably one of the deepest teams in the NBA, where one through 15 can actually really play," Pacers guard George Hill said after scoring 14 points. "It shows that if we continue to move the ball and share the ball like that, it can be anybodys night." This is precisely what Indiana (43-13) envisioned when it pulled the trigger on the biggest deal before last Thursdays deadline. Team president Larry Bird spent most of the off-season reconstructing a bench that didnt quite get the job done against Miami in last years Eastern Conference finals. So hes continued tweaking it throughout the season, signing former All-Star centre Andrew Bynum 3 1/2 weeks ago and then sending former All-Star Danny Granger to Philadelphia for Turner and Lavoy Allen. The Pacers looked like a more explosive team in the second half of Turners first game. He finished with 13 points and six rebounds and was 6 of 12 from the field, leading the Pacers bench to a season-best 50 points. "Hes on this team and Im on the same page as him," George said. "Hes a player who can make shots and make things happen. Hes a huge talent for us and its great to have him here." The addition of Turner certainly helped the Pacers maintain their grip on the leagues best record and best home record (27-3). Indiana is now two full games ahead of Miami in the chase for home-court advantage in the East. Indiana appears to have all the pieces in place, too, though Tuesday nights big game came against a reeling team that has lost six of its last seven while playing without Kobe Bryant. But the Pacers didnt change the blueprint. In addition to the big games from George, Hill and Turner, Indiana also got 13 points from Lance Stephenson; 11 points and 12 rebounds from David West; 10 points, six rebounds and four blocks from Roy Hibbert and 11 more poinnts from C.ddddddddddddJ. Watson, who missed only one shot all night. Ian Mahinmi and Luis Scola each scored nine points, too, and Stephenson was the only Indiana player to log more than 28 minutes. There was no defensive letdown, either. Los Angeles (19-3Cool shot 43.3 per cent from the field, 34.8 per cent on 3-pointers and got demolished on the glass, 62-42, as Indiana grabbed a season-high 21 offensive rebounds. Newly acquired guard Kent Bazemore finished with 23 points, the third straight game hes had a career high since he was traded to the Lakers from Golden State. Wesley Johnson added 15 points, while Pau Gasol and Jodie Meeks each had 13. But it was an abysmal night for the Lakers, who managed only 16 points in the decisive third quarter and half of their 44 second-half points during the final seven minutes, after they trailed by 33. "Well go back and watch the film and get a better idea of how badly we played," coach Mike DAntoni said. For 2 1/2 quarters, things didnt look so bleak for the Lakers. They trailed just 57-54 at halftime and closed to 59-58 when Gasol knocked down a 15-foot jumper early in the third quarter. The Pacers didnt let it get any closer. West answered with a tip-in and Hill followed with five straight points to make it 66-59. Then George accounted for 10 quick points in a 14-5 run that pushed Indianas lead to 80-66. After a layup from Chris Kaman, the Pacers closed the quarter on an 11-2 run that included Watsons 3 with two seconds left to make it 91-70 after three. Indianas 12-6 run to start the fourth quarter gave them a 103-76 lead and the Lakers couldnt get closer than 19 the rest of the way. "Its good to have another guy out there that can put the ball on the floor, get in the paint and make plays," George said of Turner. "I think we are kind of perfect for his game." Notes: Indiana has the NBAs top two single-game rebounding totals this season, both against the Lakers. They outrebounded Los Angeles 63-43 on Jan. 28. ... Los Angeles had won its previous three games in Indy. ... Turner received polite applause when he entered the game for the first time with about 4 1/2 minutes left in the first quarter. ' ' '
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They trailed just 57-54 at halftime and closed to 59-58 when
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