From Comcast SportsNetWASHINGTON (AP) -- After their worst start in history, the Washington Wizards became a national punch line. On TNT, Charles Barkley compared them with the Washington Generals, and a local newspaper had photos of fans wearing paper bags over their heads at Monday's 26-point loss to San Antonio.The jokes can stop -- at least for now.Washington earned its first victory after starting the season with 12 straight losses, beating the Portland Trail Blazers 84-82 on Wednesday night."When you're 0-12, guys are going to make fun. That's our business, guys," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said."When you get to this level, you've got to have some thick skin, and you've got to be able to overcome those kind of things."Washington survived a scoreless 6:47 in the fourth when Jordan Crawford, who had 19 points, hit on a 3-pointer with 2:06 to play. The Wizards finally took the 84-82 lead on Emeka Okafor's two free throws with 39.1 seconds remaining.Damian Lillard was called for traveling with 28 seconds left. After Nene was called for an offensive foul, J.J. Hickson missed a jumper with 2.8 seconds to play. The Wizards lost the ball with 0.2 seconds to go, but held on to end the skid."Well, we made it interesting, but we won," Wittman said.Nine teams started the season 0-13, and the Wizards were tired of the ridicule they'd been subjected to -- locally and nationally -- as they crept toward the Nets' NBA record-worst start of 0-18."We don't want to go down in history as one of the worst teams ever," Washington forward Chris Singleton said.Wittman, whose team travels to New York on Friday and plays Miami next Tuesday, knows the next win may be hard to get."We just broke through the ice. I've lived in Minnesota for 15, 17 years. That ice was 4 or 5 feet deep, but it's broken through now," Wittman said.Trevor Ariza had 14 and Kevin Seraphin added 10 points and 10 rebounds for Washington, which ended the third quarter on a 23-7 run to take a 68-59 lead, then padded its lead to 15 barely three minutes into the fourth.The 79-64 lead seemed safe -- even for the Wizards -- but the Trail Blazers ran off 16 straight points to take a 80-79 lead with 2:27 to play.Lillard and Nicolas Batum led Portland, losers of three straight, with 20. LaMarcus Aldridge had 17. Hickson had 15 points and 19 rebounds."Loss is a loss, but this one definitely stings knowing the team is 0-12. You never want to be the team they get the win on but we were that team," Hickson said.Wesley Matthews addressed the Blazers after his team lost, and all his teammates were especially downcast."You don't want to be the first team, that's very embarrassing," Batum said.Martel Webster had also used "embarrassing" to describe Washington's 26-point loss on Monday. He was a bit relieved after the game."We are definitely an underdog. We're definitely looked at as the losers of the league, but that's OK. We believe in each other," Webster said.Rookie Bradley Beal wasn't celebrating his first NBA win -- one that took 29 days to get. He claimed, like most of the Wizards, to ignore the chatter on TV and in the cyber world."I don't pay attention to that stuff. They're on the outside looking in. They don't know how hard we work. They just see us playing and the scores," Beal said.The Blazers hit six of their first seven shots and took a 15-4 lead four minutes into the game.Nene entered the game with 1:43 to play and helped spur the Wizards to a 37-31 lead with six minutes to play in the first half. At halftime, the teams were tied at 43-all.After missing the first nine games of the season with a left foot injury, Nene played two games before missing Monday night's loss. He had six points in 19 minutes."For tonight: fresh air, that's all I can say," Nene said.Notes: Washington F Trevor Booker missed his fourth straight game with a right knee injury. ... This was the 100th all-time meeting between the teams. Portland leads 52-48. ... The Wizards' bench outscored the Trail Blazers' 46-4. ... Portland has four more games in eight days left on this season-high, seven-game road trip: at Boston, Cleveland, Charlotte and Indiana.
As Comrade Pavlovic explains here, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ reported acquisition of Manny Machado is a gaudy rental that only slightly narrows the San Francisco Giants’ path to a surprise postseason berth.
In short, the rich got richer, and the Giants continue to mind the tax line.
There is, of course, no fun in that position. The A’s aren’t selling for a change, which makes the Giants seem weirdly conservative in comparison to the noisy neighbors they never seem to notice. The Warriors, who move in down the street in a couple of years, are burning money like it’s a college football pregame bonfire, which also makes the Giants look uncharacteristically thrifty.
But Machado is the only real jewel in the trade deadline crown (the Mets have pitcher Jacob deGrom, but nobody expects the Mets to do anything other than standard Met-ism), and not only would he find a way to beg out of any trade to San Francisco on religious grounds (he does not worship in a power-restrictive park), the Giants already have a shortstop in which they are exceedingly proud.
In short, the Giants weren’t in the Machado race, and they don’t look like they will be in many others, either. This is their year of stasis, in which they will either win as they are or lose as they are.
Indeed, the Giants are operating outside their usual shopping norms. They would need to shave salary to acquire salary, which means there will be no 2010 Summer Of Love (Cody Ross, Pat Burrell, Javier Lopez, Jose Guillen). And their prospect bin is running pretty low, so they can’t toss young’uns into the wind to see what veteran difference-makers they can attract.
Thus, the Dodgers improving their lot is of little consequence to the Giants, save that corner of the fan base that believes the Dodgers always must be monitored. The Giants need to be more concerned about what the Diamondbacks and Rockies and Phillies and Nationals and Braves and Brewers and Cardinals do, which means there probably are too many teams to keep track of down the stretch.
Indeed, the simplicity of the task before the Giants is clear. Their path to salvation is through a rehabilitated Evan Longoria, and a revitalized Johnny Cueto, and a transformed Jeff Samardzija, and an offense that doesn’t regard seeing its own players on base as evidence of plague. The Giants have to be better at being the Giants, and there is no guarantee of that based on the evidence of not just the past 98 games but the 230-some-odd before that.
But if it helps, someone will enjoy the trade deadline. It just isn’t going to be the Giants. They are, for one of the rare times since they moved from Candlestick Park, a team likely to do almost nothing of consequence this July.
But maybe they can get DeMarcus Cousins to throw out the first pitch at one of the Pirates games in August. I mean, if you can’t be in the market, you might as well enjoy someone who is.
SAN FRANCISCO — With every move they’ve made over the last nine months, the Giants have been careful to stay under the competitive balance tax, eager to jump headfirst into this offseason’s loaded free agent class. Unfortunately, they’ll now get an up-close look at the best all-around player scheduled to be available this winter.
After weeks of rumors, and an awkward All-Star Game, shortstop Manny Machado finally was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday afternoon. According to multiple reports, the Dodgers sent five prospects to Baltimore, a package highlighted by Yusniel Diaz, an outfielder who was the Dodgers’ No. 4 prospect, per MLB Pipeline. The other four prospects are not considered top-20 guys.
There’s no sugarcoating this. The Dodgers, despite an extremely slow start, finished the first half atop the National League West, half a game ahead of the Diamondbacks and four up on the Giants. An L.A. lineup that already has eight hitters with double-digit homers added a player with 24 homers, 65 RBI and a .963 OPS at the break. Machado was far and away the best player available at the trade deadline, and he now might give the Dodgers the best position player in the division.
Shortstop wasn’t exactly a position of need for the Dodgers. Chris Taylor has done a nice job filling in, but he’s no Machado, and the 26-year-old provides a perfect second-half fill-in for Corey Seager, who was lost earlier this year to Tommy John surgery.
The Dodgers beat out the Phillies, Diamondbacks, Yankees, Brewers and possibly a few others for Machado’s services. After hoarding top prospects for years, L.A. made its move, adding to a team that has a sense of urgency after falling in the World Series last year. Clayton Kershaw can opt out of his deal this offseason, too, and this move certainly shows the ace that there is a commitment to winning at all costs.
Machado has just 48 at-bats against current Giants pitchers -- nearly half of those against Derek Holland, who spent his prior seasons in the American League. The Giants will get their first look at him in about a month, when they visit the Dodgers on Aug. 13. The Dodgers come back to AT&T Park for the final series of the regular season.
Until that first meeting, where does this leave the Giants?
Their road to a division title just got a bit steeper, and it’s unclear how they’ll counter. General manager Bobby Evans has said he’s not under orders to stay under the CBT line, but it’s not hard to read between the lines. The Giants just shipped a decent prospect to Texas to ditch Austin Jackson and Cory Gearrin’s contracts, a move that was made specifically to get further away from the tax line.
Before the Machado trade, it was hard to see the Giants going away from their plan and adding a significant piece. The same holds true today. Any countermove won’t exactly have the Dodgers shaking.
Some Giants fans might take solace in the fact that the Dodgers paid a decent price in prospects to acquire Machado. But Diaz plays a position where their organization is loaded, and the unfortunate truth is that the Dodgers’ system today still is better than most.
The Giants still would like to bolster their lineup, with a glaring need against left-handed pitching. Another bullpen arm always is helpful, although Ray Black might fill that hole internally. If the Giants do want to add, they’ll need to find a way to dump a bit more salary, and perhaps they can get creative, as they did with the Rangers deal.
They will not however, be able to go move-for-move with the team atop the division. Machado was the best player out there, and he’s now a Dodger.