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D'Antoni is hobbled, but makes smooth Lakers debut

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D'Antoni is hobbled, but makes smooth Lakers debut

LOS ANGELES (AP) Ever since Mike D'Antoni got a new knee and a new job in rapid succession earlier this month, his life has been a jumble of unfamiliar faces, grueling rehabilitation sessions and anonymous hotel rooms.

For a few hours Tuesday night, the veteran coach finally got back into his natural environment. And even if he's not quite ready to roam an NBA sideline with his usual vigor, the Los Angeles Lakers are moving smoothly under his command.

D'Antoni made his debut on the Lakers' bench Tuesday night in a 95-90 victory over the Brooklyn Nets. Nine days after he was hired and five days after he flew to Los Angeles to start work, D'Antoni finally coached a game on the sideline with no stumbles - either literal or metaphorical - during Los Angeles' fifth win in six games.

``I've felt different for about two weeks now, so this feels good,'' D'Antoni said. ``Everybody is kidding you - and yes, the pressure is there - but you know what? This feels great. I wouldn't change it for the world. I don't know if (the knee) was any better today than yesterday, but it's going to be the same tomorrow, too, so it's good.''

Kobe Bryant scored six of his 25 points in the final two minutes while running the show offensively all night for the Lakers, and D'Antoni was quickly reminded how enjoyable coaching the superstar can be. Bryant has played for D'Antoni on various U.S. national teams, and the two Italian-speaking Americans already have a bond.

``It's the same as it's always been,'' Bryant said. ``He's always very calm, but he still has an undertone edge to him. He's the same D'Antoni. ... We're just getting more in sync with each other.''

D'Antoni clearly isn't at full strength just yet: He hobbled slowly on the sideline on the rare occasions he left his chair during play in the first half. But he moved around with more vigor after halftime, protesting foul calls with a good measure of his usual theatrical vehemence.

When asked if he wanted to jump up more aggressively to protest occasional officiating calls, D'Antoni laughed: ``I'm not that stupid. I'm good. Jumping is in the past. It's gone.''

Eight months after leaving the New York Knicks late in his fourth disappointing season, D'Antoni is grateful to be back at work in such a prized position. He would have rested his knee for probably another month if the Lakers hadn't hired him solely on the basis of phone interviews to replace the fired Mike Brown, skipping over Phil Jackson in favor of the offensive mastermind of the Phoenix Suns' wildly entertaining teams of recent years.

Although the timing was pretty terrible, D'Antoni couldn't pass up a chance to lead the talented Lakers, who went 4-1 under interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff after a 1-4 start. Los Angeles has noticeably improved on both ends of the court even during D'Antoni's brief tenure, playing with a freedom and passion they hadn't yet captured during a winless preseason and that slow start for Brown.

D'Antoni isn't surprised to see Bryant, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol chewing up opponents. He's only surprised it didn't happen sooner - and he suspects it still might have worked for Brown if he had more time.

``With this team, there's no reason not to win every game,'' D'Antoni said. ``That's our goal. It's not, `Let's get two out of three.' We can win every game we play. ... I feel like we're the best team in the league. We've got the most talent, so they can do what they want. We've just got to keep perfecting things.''

D'Antoni nearly made his debut on the Lakers' sideline two nights earlier against Houston, but was persuaded to delay by trainer Gary Vitti, who was concerned about the 61-year-old's mobility and late-game fatigue. D'Antoni felt much stronger after two more days of rest and room service, and he eagerly got on the court without the aid of the crutches that kept him upright during his first practice last week.

D'Antoni had the crutches after the game, when he got a lift in a motorized cart for the ride from the locker room to the team bus for the short flight to Sacramento. After roaring through a six-game homestand, Los Angeles has five flights in the next five days during a three-game, four-day road trip - a schedule that might not be ideal for his knee, but nothing the coach can't handle.

``It didn't hurt at all,'' D'Antoni said. ``I was a little peg-legged, but it was good. Adrenaline is a great thing.''

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Machado hits 2-run HR in 15th as Orioles beat Braves 10-7

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USA TODAY Sports

Machado hits 2-run HR in 15th as Orioles beat Braves 10-7

ATLANTA -- For Braves manager Brian Snitker, playing the matchups meant pitching to Manny Machado with first base open and a marathon game on the line.

The Orioles slugger made that strategy look foolish.

Machado hit a tiebreaking two-run homer in the 15th inning, lifting Baltimore to a 10-7 win over Atlanta on Friday night after each team staged dramatic ninth-inning rallies.

The Braves surrendered six runs in the ninth, and then scored four times in the bottom of the inning.

Peter Moylan, Atlanta's eighth pitcher, hit Craig Gentry to open the 15th. Gentry moved to second on Austin Wynns' sacrifice.

With first base open, the Braves pitched to Machado and he responded with his 19th homer, a drive into the Orioles' bullpen in left.

Snitker said the right-handed Moylan is tough on right-handed hitters but acknowledged "you hate like hell (Machado) is one of them."

Machado said an intentional walk "crossed my mind at first. I thought they were. In that situation they probably had faith in Moylan out there that he could get some ground balls to the left side of the infield."

Machado hit a 0-2 slider Moylan said was "supposed to be middle in." Moylan said the pitch "slipped out of my hand and ended up middle middle."

Moylan (0-1) gave up another run on singles by Colby Rasmus and Jonathan Schoop.

Mike Wright Jr. (1-0), Baltimore's seventh pitcher, threw two scoreless innings.

The game lasted 5 hours, 21 minutes.

The Orioles trailed 3-1 heading into the ninth, and the Braves rallied against closer Zach Britton in the bottom of the inning. Braves closer Arodys Vizcaino was not used while Dan Winkler allowed four runs while recording only one out.

Snitker said he rested Vizcaino because of shoulder soreness and he might be available on Saturday.

Chris Davis hit a drought-breaking homer and drove in the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly as Baltimore opened a 7-3 lead.

Britton got one out and was charged with four runs and five hits. He gave up a single to Johan Camargo and a double to Danny Santana before hitting Ender Inciarte to load the bases.

Ozzie Albies' bases-loaded single drove in Camargo. Freddie Freeman's two-run single cut the lead to one before Nick Markakis tied the game with a double to right field.

Atlanta had jumped in front on Charlie Culberson's tiebreaking two-run double in the eighth.

Davis, making his first start since June 11, hit his first homer since May 9 in the fifth. Camargo tied the game with his run-scoring double in the seventh.

Braves left-hander Sean Newcomb allowed five hits in seven innings.

Orioles right-hander Alex Cobb permitted four hits in seven innings

The start of the game was delayed 11 minutes by rain.

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Roster competition, Brown vs. Pryor

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Roster competition, Brown vs. Pryor

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, June 23, 33 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskins  and NBC Sports Washington.

Post-minicamp Redskins 53-man roster projection—Defense—NFL coaches and others like to tell you that competition determines who wins roster spots in the league. And that may be true to an extent. But many roster spots are predetermined by a player’s contract situation and/or draft status. It is unlikely that an undrafted player like Fish Smithson will win a roster spot over Troy Apke even if the former outperforms the latter in every way during training camp. Apke was a fourth-round pick and they aren’t going to give up on him in favor of an undrafted player. It would cost $3.2 million in dead cap to cut Stacy McGee and only $150,000 to move on from Ziggy Hood so McGee will win a “competition” that is even remotely close. (Offensive projection here)

Redskins will 'have it out' for Terrelle Pryor at training camp—While this is something that could add a little spice to the Jets’ visit to Richmond, don’t look for much of anything to happen. Zach Brown might give a little extra shove to Pryor here and there but he’s not going to do anything that will draw blood or even cause a deep bruise. If nothing else, a big hit on Pryor would invite retaliation by the Jets on Josh Doctson or Paul Richardson. And that might lead to more retaliation and you end up with a brawl like the Redskins and Texans had a couple of years ago.

Trent Williams very much of approves of Smith and Guice—Williams is going into his ninth NFL season and he has yet to be on the winning side of a playoff game. He thinks that Alex Smith and Derrius Guice can help change that. 

The curious case of Alex Smith and the NFL Top 100 list—I normally greet this list with a big yawn and this year was no exception. But I do find the omission of Smith, who led the NFL in passer rating and was third in adjusted net yards per attempt, odd. In an update to this post, the NFL released the names of the top 10 players and Smith is not on it. He shouldn’t be, but he should be somewhere on the 100, perhaps in the middle of the pack. The only Redskins player to appear on the list was Trent Williams at No. 57.

The Redskins' best players who are 25 or younger—It’s likely that nine players who are 25 or younger will line up as starters for the Redskins this year. I don’t have a rundown of how that compares to the rest of the league but it’s notable that in the last two years six of them have replaced players who were either approaching age 30 or over it. I’ll engage in some speculation here and say that five of the young players—Daron Payne, Derrius Guice, Preston Smith, Jonathan Allen, and Montae Nicholson—are good enough to potentially make a Pro Bowl at some point in their careers. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

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Timeline 

Former Redskins defensive tackle Dave Butz was born on this date in 1950. 

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 33
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 47
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 70

The Redskins last played a game 174 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 78 days. 

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