Nationals

Bobcats-Heat Preview

Bobcats-Heat Preview

After spending plenty of time on the road the last few weeks, the Miami Heat will likely be happy to return home on Monday.

That's when they will open a five-game homestand against the slumping Charlotte Bobcats, who will try to end a three-game losing streak after dealing with a scary injury in its last defeat.

Miami, which already defeated Charlotte 105-92 on Dec. 26, has won eight of its last nine games at AmericanAirlines Arena, where it's 18-3 on the season.

The Heat (30-14) played 10 of their last 12 on the road, however, finishing that stretch 7-5 after a 100-85 win at Toronto on Sunday. That victory guaranteed possession of the East's best record as of Feb. 3, meaning Erik Spoelstra and his staff will coach the East squad in the All-Star Game in Houston in two weeks.

In Spoelstra's starting lineup will be LeBron James, who had 30 points on Sunday, and Dwyane Wade, who added 23.

"You don't spend any time thinking about it as it's happening, you're just trying to prepare your team and make sure you have the best record," Spoelstra said. "Now that it happened, it's cool. We'll make the most of it. Our staff is thrilled about it."

Chris Bosh - a reserve selection for the All-Star team - had 28 points on Sunday against his former team. Bosh wasn't as efficient in his previous seven games, averaging 12.7 points on 44.9 percent shooting before going 12 of 19 from the field against Toronto.

Bosh's 54.3 field-goal percentage this season is a career high, though, surpassing his previous mark of 51.8 percent during his final season with the Raptors in 2009-10.

"Chris really gave us a presence in the paint," Spoelstra said. " ... He was collapsing the defense with his rolls to the rim, catching it and going up strong in traffic. That makes us a different team when he gives us that presence."

The Bobcats (11-35) have lost 11 of 13 but had more reasons to be worried on Saturday besides a 109-95 road loss against the Rockets.

Rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was hospitalized in Houston for the night after suffering a concussion. His head collided with teammate Jeff Taylor's hip when Gilchrist took to the air to defend a layup while Taylor jumped for a rebound in the fourth quarter. He left the court on a stretcher, and X-rays and a CT scan taken later were negative.

Charlotte trailed by one when the play took place, and was outscored 28-15 from there.

"We can throw out any excuse we want," coach Mike Dunlap said. "We know it's difficult. They're humans and they care about their teammate, but the other team had a stoppage as well."

Ramon Sessions is riding a hot streak, scoring 20 or more points in four of his last five games.

Wade scored a game-high 29 points in the first meeting while James had 27, 12 rebounds and eight assists. Kemba Walker tallied 27 points for the Bobcats.

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How to entice Bryce Harper in to re-signing with the Nationals? With food, of course!

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How to entice Bryce Harper in to re-signing with the Nationals? With food, of course!

They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach… and if that leads us to Bryce Harper’s potential landing spot, then I present to you the yummiest reasons he should stay with the Washington Nationals.

In a video from TMZ, a paparazzi follows Harper to baggage claim and implores him for any hints toward where he is signing this offseason. The only true answer he got was that Harper likes a place called Steak 48 in Chicago. This surf-and-turf hot spot in the River North neighborhood of downtown Chicago has the audacity to serve “Maryland STYLE lump crab cakes.” Really, Bryce? Will the real thing convince you?!

On that note, let’s start off with the seafood we have to offer. This is the Mid-Atlantic, after all.

How can you work here April-September without eating local crabs in some form? I think that’s impossible. You can choose from hard shell or soft shell, but no shame in either game.

Live Chesapeake blue crabs can be bought at Captain White’s Seafood and other vendors on The Wharf off Maine Avenue. Otherwise, you can sit down and have them steamed for you at Quarterdeck, Ivy City Smokehouse, Bethesda Crab House or Captain Pell’s.

If Harper is more of a soft shell guy, all of those places also serve out-of-the-park crab cakes, but you can’t go wrong with Hank’s Oyster Bar, Old Ebbitt Grill, Chris’ Marketplace, or Clyde’s.

If the star really wants to dive in to local taste, he should eat Chesapeake Bay oysters from the largest estuary in America. My personal favorite selection is at Whaley’s (seafood tower on me, Bryce), but Rapphanock Oyster Bar, The Dabney, Pearl Dive Oyster Palace and Black’s Bar & Kitchen can’t be beat.

I find it hard to believe the team hasn't had an outing at The Salt Line, the lively seafood spot just a short throw from Nats Park where teammate Ryan Zimmerman is an investor and co-owner.

Now that we’ve satisfied Harper’s iron intake, let’s break down his protein. In order to keep the superstar here, I want to make sure he knows that D.C. cares about providing a well-rounded diet.

Barbecued meats in general around here are delectable. Sitting in juxtaposition between the north and south, D.C. restaurants bring a mash-up of styles of smoked and sauced meats. Favorites are Federalist Pig, Hill Country, Fat Pete’s and Hardy’s BBQ truck.

However, if Bryce Harper show he’s as invested in authentic Nationals fans as our season tickets are in him, he should really pick up a half-smoke, the district’s original recipe for a spicy, thicker pork and beef dog that’s aggressively seasoned and sometimes served with chili sauce.

Could you imagine Harper making his announcement to stay over a half-smoke at Ben’s Chili Bowl? I think even the panda statue would cry tears of joy.

Another hyper-local taste is mumbo sauce. While proven not originally from here, D.C. natives are enthusiastic about the special sauce. Yum’s is pretty well-known for carrying it.

Time for dessert! I think we can all agree that in the past 10 years, cupcakes have become iconic in the district with Georgetown Cupcakes, Baked & Wired and Sprinkles all having a home in Georgetown. To settle the debate, Baked & Wired is best. They are ranked #1 on Yelp if you don’t believe my own palette.

But what if it’s game night, you ask? D.C. has it’s hearty share of restaurants that are open even after extra innings. The Diner, Kramerbooks, Mandu, New Big Wong, Old Ebbitt Grill, Oyamel Cocina Mexicana, Amsterdam Falafelshop and Jumbo Slice are all here to keep you warm at night no matter what you’re craving post-victory. Need I go on?

Bryce reassured Nats fans and TMZ that he is “still a National right now.” Better eat these while you can, Bryce, or you’ll be sorry you didn't sign in one of the best food cities in the MLB.

Do you have any local food or restaurants you think will convince Bryce Harper to stay with the Washington Nationals this offseason? Send them to @NBCNationals or @rmhopmayer. Maybe we can throw together a friends-giving or holiday dinner for those that want him to stay our beloved Guest of Honor.

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Josh Norman wants to play 'early Santa,' will give away Redskins tickets

Josh Norman wants to play 'early Santa,' will give away Redskins tickets

Josh Norman caused quite a stir with his comments Sunday about the atmosphere at FedEx Field, and the Redskins cornerback made it clear he plans to do his part in making sure the stadium is packed for Sunday's game against the Texans. 

Norman told reporters Thursday he's going to be giving away "40 or 50" free tickets for the Houston game, online and perhaps even in person.

"Yes, I will be giving out free tickets," he said. "I'll be doing it on my socials as well, I think I'll probably post tonight or something about it."

"Who knows, you may see me coming out and being an early Santa somewhere in the mall or something, just handing out tickets."

And if you are one of the lucky fans who gets a ticket from "Santa Norman," he has specific instructions on how you should behave at Sunday's game:

"Whoever get(s) them, we want them loud and just obnoxious. Just really obnoxious."

Norman joins several Redskins players who have promised to give away tickets to the Texans game.

It may be November, but the Christmas spirit is alive and well at Redskins Park. 

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