Wizards

Bryant gets record 15th straight All-Star start

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Bryant gets record 15th straight All-Star start

NEW YORK (AP) Kobe Bryant has been voted to his NBA-record 15th consecutive All-Star start, leading four Los Angeles players into next month's game.

Lakers teammate Dwight Howard and the Clippers' Chris Paul and Blake Griffin will join Bryant in the Western Conference lineup for the Feb. 17 game in Houston. Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant, the MVP of last year's game, rounds out the five.

Kevin Garnett held off Chris Bosh in fan balloting, giving the East two Boston Celtics and two Miami Heat players. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade will represent the defending champions and receive passes from Rajon Rondo. New York's Carmelo Anthony is the other starter.

Bryant finished with 1,591,437 votes, edging James by about 7,800 to finish as the leading vote-getter and break a tie with Shaquille O'Neal, Jerry West and Karl Malone for the most consecutive starting nods.

The NBA's leading scorer is a four-time MVP of the All-Star game and last year became its career scoring leader.

Garnett beat Bosh, who took to Twitter to stump for votes in the final days of balloting, by about 25,000 votes. He tied Bryant and O'Neal for second all-time with his 15th selection behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who was elected to 19 games.

It's the second straight year that Los Angeles teams will make up four players. Last year it was Bryant, Paul, Griffin and Andrew Bynum, who was dealt to Philadelphia in part of the deal that sent Howard from Orlando to Los Angeles.

The ballot changed this year, eliminating the center position. Fans were required to vote for three frontcourt players and two guards.

They picked an interesting mix in the East. Anthony and Garnett exchanged words during a game on Jan. 7 and Anthony was suspended a game by the NBA when he tried to confront Garnett afterward in the tunnel area and by the team bus.

Rondo was injured in the playoffs two years ago after getting tangled up with Wade and landing awkwardly on his arm, part of what's become a tense rivalry between the Celtics and Heat.

Reserves will be announced next Thursday. Coaches will vote for seven players in their conferences: two guards, three frontcourt players and two players regardless of position, and can't vote for a player on their own team.

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Rookie Rui Hachimura does full practice with Wizards, return not far away

Rookie Rui Hachimura does full practice with Wizards, return not far away

WASHINGTON -- The long-awaited return of Wizards rookie Rui Hachimura is getting closer, as he participated in a full practice on Saturday for the first time since suffering a groin injury back on Dec. 16.

Hachimura, 21, had no limitations, per head coach Scott Brooks. He went through all of their drills and full-contact scrimmages.

"He did well. He went through everything. That's another good day," Brooks said.

The final hurdle for Hachimura at this point involves getting into game shape. His conditioning is not close to midseason form after missing seven weeks of games.

Brooks said Hachimura definitely will not return before the end of the team's current road trip, which ends on Tuesday in Milwaukee. After that, however, it could be a matter of days.

 

The Wizards will return to Washington after playing the Bucks for a six-game homestand. It seems likely he is back by the time it's over.

The ninth overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, Hachimura has had a strong rookie season so far, averaging 13.9 points and 5.8 rebounds per game while shooting 48.2 percent from the field. The Wizards have gone 7-12 since he's been out.

Hachimura suffered the injury when he was inadvertently kicked between the legs by teammate Isaac Bonga. He required a minor procedure and was away from the team for weeks before slowly working his way back to basketball activities and then participating in practices.

Saturday was a big step in his recovery and it now puts the finish line into focus.

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Adley Rutschman in the top 5 headlines four Orioles in MLB Pipeline's Top 100 prospects

Adley Rutschman in the top 5 headlines four Orioles in MLB Pipeline's Top 100 prospects

MLB Pipeline released its Top 100 prospects for 2020 and four players in the Baltimore Orioles’ system made the list. As expected, catcher Adley Rutschman, the top overall pick in the 2019 draft, checked in as the Orioles’ top prospect and No. 4 in the league.

Rutschman recently received a non-roster invitation to the Orioles spring training, where he will get a taste of Major League competition. While the 21-year-old isn’t expected to make the club out of spring training, MLB Pipeline anticipates a 2021 big league arrival for Rutschman.

After the Orioles picked Rutschman No. 1 following a prolific career at Oregon State, the catcher played five games in the Gulf Coast League, 20 games at short-season Single-A level with Aberdeen Ironbirds and 12 games with the low-Single-A Delmarva Shorebirds. He compiled a .254 average over 130 at-bats with four home runs and 26 RBIs in his abbreviated first professional season.

With Rutschman, Baltimore has a potential transcendent player that can emerge as the face of the franchise as the team continues to rebuild.

But the Orioles’ farm system is deeper than just Rutschman — in fact, it’s currently the strongest it has been in years.

Last year, Baltimore had three players on the Top 100 list — the most since MLB Pipeline adopted that format in 2012. An additional player on this year’s list provides tangible evidence the commitment to rebuilding is paying dividends.

Grayson Rodriguez, the team’s 2018 first-round selection, earned the No. 36 spot on the list. Rodriguez pitched a 2.68 ERA in 20 games at low-Single-A Delmarva. Rodriguez was a co-recipient of the Orioles’ Jim Palmer Minor League Pitcher of the Year with Michael Baumann. MLB Pipeline projects the right-hander to arrive in the big leagues in 2021.

DL Hall, a 21-year-old left-handed pitcher, was ranked the No. 69 prospect in the league. Hall was a 2017 first-round pick out of high school and pitched last year at advanced-Single-A Frederick. In 19 games and 17 starts, Hall had a 3.46 ERA and struck out 116 batters in 80.1 innings. The Orioles ended Hall’s season in August as he dealt with arm soreness.

The last Baltimore prospect to make the list was Ryan Mountcastle, who was the 2019 Independence League Most Valuable Player and Orioles’ Brooks Robinson Player of the Year after a standout season with Triple-A Norfolk. The infielder hit for average (.312) and for power (25 home runs) while driving in 83 runs in 127 games.

Mountcastle, who was No. 94 in the rankings, is the only Top-100 prospect MLB Pipeline expects to join the Orioles in the 2020 season.

Rutschman, Rodriguez and Hall all made Baseball America’s Top 100 prospect list as well, checking in at Nos. 5, 35 and 47, respectively.

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