Nationals

76ers snap losing skid in 107-100 win over Rockets

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76ers snap losing skid in 107-100 win over Rockets

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Jrue Holiday scored 30 points, Thaddeus Young had 18 points and 12 rebounds and the Philadelphia 76ers snapped a five-game losing streak with a 107-100 win over the Houston Rockets on Saturday night.

Jason Richardson scored 16 points for the Sixers, who finally return home for a lengthy stint as they try to play their way back into the Eastern Conference playoff race. The Sixers opened a stretch of 12 homes in the next 13 and hope they can start to offset a miserable 2-6 road trip that stretched over the new year.

The Sixers are 6-16 after a nice 10-6 start to the season. But it's turned into crunch time quickly for the Sixers as they as try and get back to .500 in the next month before the hopeful return of injured center Andrew Bynum.

James Harden led the Rockets with 29 points and Chandler Parsons had 23. Jeremy Lin missed 11 of 13 shots for seven points.

Led by 24 points from Holiday, the Sixers built a 14-point lead in the third quarter, and found an offensive touch they've missed for most of the season. The Sixers entered 27th in the NBA in scoring (92.2 points) and regularly failed to even reach 90 points over the last six weeks.

Spencer Hawes hit a jumper early in the fourth to make it 91-82 - the first time in six games the Sixers had scored more than 89 points. The Sixers didn't break 89 in either of their two games before a 103-99 win over the Lakers on Jan. 1.

The cushion almost wasn't enough once Harden tried to take over. Sixers coach Doug Collins called Harden a legitimate MVP candidate and the Houston guard showed why in the fourth. He scored six straight points, including the play of the game, going between his legs in transition and drawing a foul on a bucket over three defenders. Harden's three-point play pulled Houston to 96-93.

For once, the stumbling Sixers didn't break in the waning minutes. Evan Turner, who scored 12 points, fed a long pass to Young for a big dunk on the break and a seven-point lead.

The Rockets missed eight straight shots from the field to lose control of their comeback. Harden fumbled the ball with a minute a left and Young was there to pick it up and fire to Holiday, who took one look over his shoulder and put in the easy layup for a 104-94 lead.

Holiday sank two free throws to hit the 30-point mark, falling three points shy of matching his career high set in November against Phoenix.

Houston's cold stretch was uncharacteristic of a team that was second in the NBA in scoring (105.60 points) behind Oklahoma City. The Rockets only shot 30 percent from 3-point range (8 of 32) and had no answer to stop Holiday.

Collins has noted this team's missing energy to open second halves over the last month. Against Houston, they started slow, trailing by 11 before ending the quarter on a 20-6 run. Turner scored 12 points in the second quarter to help the Sixers take a 58-50 lead into halftime.

The Sixers held on to avoid a season-high losing streak and win for only the fourth time in 17 games.

NOTES: The Sixers are 15-0 with a lead at the start of the fourth quarter. ... The Sixers play Tuesday at Milwaukee for their only road game until Feb. 13. ... Holiday's great game could have been two points better. He had a jumper at the buzzer to end the third waved off after a review. ... Parsons and Harden combined to miss 13 of 16 3-point attempts.

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Middling Anibal Sanchez and quiet bats do Nationals in against Marlins

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USA Today Sports Images

Middling Anibal Sanchez and quiet bats do Nationals in against Marlins

The Washington Nationals lost to the Miami Marlins, 3-2, Friday night to drop back to 9-9. Here are five observations from the game...

1. For all the offseason efforts at improvement, winning the National League East could come down to its one member which is trying to lose.

The four spenders each play Miami 19 times. By the end, going 11-8 against the in-the-tank Marlins may become a lamentable part of some team’s 2019 legacy. They either brought in a marquee pitcher, a generational outfielder or a former MVP third baseman. But they didn’t do enough against the Marlins, costing themselves the single, taut playoff spot that emerges from the division. It’s a viable storyline to project.

The Nationals took their first negative step toward that fate Friday in a 3-2 loss to the Marlins.

The situational hitting was poor -- Washington left 10 runners on base. The starting pitching was so-so -- Anibal Sanchez took the loss. The bullpen made one dire mistake -- Matt Grace’s first pitch hit left-hander Curtis Granderson with the bases loaded, forcing in the decisive run. The luck wasn’t great -- Caleb Smith, a quality left-hander marooned in Miami as the staff’s best pitcher, was on turn. Anticipate him representing Miami at the All-Star Game this season.

Brian Dozier homered. Mark that in the positive column. Joe Ross pitched two innings of quality relief. Put him next to Dozier.

Otherwise, the loss was sigh-worthy for a team trying to lurch forward, ending its up-and-down run of the first three weeks.

2. Another day, another hit for Anthony Rendon.

His sixth-inning double extended his hitting streak to 17 games, the longest in Major League Baseball this season. It’s also an extension of a personal best for Rendon.

Rendon’s 15 extra-base hits in 17 games is a Nationals/Expos record.

Who is he chasing for the organization’s hit streak record? Hall-of-Famer Heinie Manush, who hit safely in 33 consecutive games back in 1933.

Manush played for the Senators from 1930-1935. He hit .336 when he set the Washington record for consecutive game with a hit. He led the league in triples (17) and hits (221) that season.

Manush won a batting title in 1925 when he hit .378 for Detroit. Rendon is currently hitting .377 in the opening weeks of the season.

3. Sanchez was ok. Not great, not terrible. Just ok.

He lasted 5 ⅓ innings, allowed five hits, three earned runs, walked four and struck out six. His ERA is 4.91.

Regression for Sanchez this season was expected. His 2.83 ERA in Atlanta last season came strongly against the current of his previous pitching. Sanchez had a 5.67 ERA over the three prior seasons.

However, this has been a leap back, a full two runs in arrears of last season’s ERA. More troubling than the ERA is Sanchez’s path through lineups. His walk rate is up, his strikeout rate down.

As the season moves along, a comparison point for Sanchez will be the results of left-hander Wade Miley in Houston. The Nationals made a multi-year offer to Miley which was better than the offer he eventually settled on with the Astros, according to a source. Miley ended up signing for just one year in Houston because the free agent market went south, and Washington quickly pivoted to Sanchez. Keeping track of the two via ERA-plus (which accounts for park factors) during the season will be a fun exercise. Coming into Friday, Miley was by far the better pitcher in that department, 129 to 95. Another bloated outing from Sanchez only increased that gap.

4. The Nationals hoped to play a different brand of offense this season. They wanted to deploy more athleticism, using speed and contact to produce runs.

They took the idea to the extreme Friday. Adam Eaton and Victor Robles both bunted for hits. Eaton scored Washington’s first run after reaching base via his drag bunt up the first base line.

Robles stole second and ended up on third following his bunt in the same direction in the third inning.

Creative work at the plate for both.

5. Another bullpen twist hit Friday. Austen Williams was placed on the 10-day injured list because of a sprained right AC joint. Austin Adams was called up to replace him.

Williams had a disastrous outing Wednesday in the Nationals’ 9-6 win over the Giants. He allowed four earned runs -- on two home runs -- after the Nationals entered the ninth inning with a 9-2 lead. Williams’ inability to get an out in the ninth eventually forced closer Sean Doolittle into a game he never should have entered.

Doolittle’s entrance also complicated the current series in Miami. He pitched back-to-back games to close the series against San Francisco. His Friday availability was in question because of that, though the Nationals didn’t end up needing him.

The right-handed Adams, 27, joins the team from Triple-A Fresno. He struck out 12, allowed a hit and didn’t give up an earned run in his six innings with the Grizzlies.

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4.19.19: Minor league baseball makes big improvements to fan stadium experience

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USA TODAY Sports

4.19.19: Minor league baseball makes big improvements to fan stadium experience

By Rick Horrow

Podcast edited by Tanner Simkins

 

TO LISTEN TO THE FULL PODCAST, CLICK HERE

 

  • Heads up! This year, Minor League Baseball fans might notice new digital screens and displays at their favorite stadiums. Together with ISM Connect, over 25 MiLB teams will be adding new smart displays to their ballparks. But beyond delivering unique stories and creative ads to fans during each game, these displays are also equipped with smart cameras to measure audience engagement. These smart cameras will help keep ads and content fresh. The cameras record anonymous interactions – how long someone watches the screen or their age range – not individual images of specific people. By measuring foot traffic and engagement, MiLB teams and ad sponsors can better understand who their fans are, what resonates with them, and how they’re experiencing each game. The result is a better, more engaging experience for fans, and a better way for teams and partners to learn how to best serve their loyal audience.
  • The Boston Marathon passes $200 million in economic impact, and welcomes seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson to its field. This year’s Boston Marathon, held Monday April 15 and carried on NBCSports Network, will be the 123rd running of the race that winds its way 26.2 miles from the town of Hopkinton to the finish line at Copley Square. It is the world’s oldest annual marathon, starting in 1897 after the successful debut of the marathon at the first modern Olympics in 1896. The Boston Marathon is traditionally held on Patriots Day, the third Monday in April. The Boston Red Sox also have a traditional home game on Patriots Day with an 11:05 a.m. first pitch against the Orioles this year. Boston is among the six largest marathons, along with Tokyo, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York City. A special prize purse is given to runners who accumulate the most points in the majors. Here’s a bit of trivia: Just five national sporting events were held during the two World Wars, and the Boston Marathon was one. The others? The Kentucky Derby, Penn Relays, Rose Parade, and Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
  • La Liga, Spanish soccer’s top-flight league, has been named the eighth biggest brand domestically, according to a report by valuation and strategy consultancy Brand Finance. The report places La Liga above major Spanish brands such as the insurance provider Mapfre and telecommunications company Movistar. Using its brand strength score metric, a figure based on calculations regarding emotional connection, financial performance and sustainability, Brand Finance gave La Liga a score of 80.7 out of 100. Fashion retailer Zara topped the Brand Finance list overall, with the likes of Santander and Iberdrola also featuring inside its top ten. The new 2019 report marks the first time a sports league has appeared in Brand Finance’s top ten, highlighting the continued growth of La Liga. Brand Finance values the league body at $548 million. Based on monetary value along it occupies 50th place on the list, a considerable drop. However, taking into account the value of participating league clubs – which includes the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid – La Liga’s overall value jumps to $4.5 billion, which would place it sixth on that list.