Nationals

Durant scores 52 as Thunder top Mavs 117-114 in OT

Durant scores 52 as Thunder top Mavs 117-114 in OT

DALLAS (AP) Kevin Durant's miserable fourth quarter ended with a final miss that gave Dallas a chance to finish a rally in overtime Friday night.

The Oklahoma City star took care of things in the extra period instead, and ended up with a career high and the first 50-point game in the NBA this season.

Durant scored 52 points, including the go-ahead basket with 16.9 seconds remaining in overtime, and the Thunder held on for a 117-114 victory that extended their winning streak to six games and ended the Mavericks' season-best run of four straight.

A night after getting voted a starter for the All-Star game, Durant missed six straight shots and was 2 of 11 from the field while the Mavericks were rallying in the fourth quarter. When Durant missed at the buzzer after O.J. Mayo's tying 3-pointer with 2.3 seconds left in regulation, he had to remind himself to keep shooting.

``In overtime, I knew if I got down on myself that I was going to put my team in a tough position to win,'' said Durant, whose previous career high was 51 against Denver last February. ``They look at me in crunch time to come through for them. When I don't have confidence in myself, they make sure they pump me up a little.''

Durant was still scoring because he couldn't miss at the free throw line. He was 19 of 19 in regulation, which he finished with 43 points.

Vince Carter, who kept the Mavericks close when Oklahoma City threatened to blow them out in the first half, had a season-high 29 points. He hit three free throws to start overtime when he was fouled on a 3-pointer, but Durant answered with a pair on the other end.

Durant went on to score nine of Oklahoma City's 12 points in overtime and had three go-ahead buckets to help the Thunder avoid losing for the first time in 28 games when leading after three quarters. The Thunder blew a 14-point lead in the second half.

``Experience has helped me a lot,'' said Durant, who was 13 of 31 from the field but made all 21 of his free throws and also had nine rebounds. ``If I look like I'm out there panicking, my teammates will look at me and feel the same way. I've got to be cool. If I miss a shot, so be it. I'm sure opportunity will come back around sooner or later.''

Dirk Nowitzki bounced back from a dreadful shooting night to score 12 in the fourth quarter, but the Mavericks couldn't get him the ball trailing by two in the final seconds of overtime. Mike James, who came in shooting less than 20 percent but had hit a go-ahead 3 earlier in the extra period, ended up with the ball well behind the arc with the shot clock dwindling. His shot barely hit the front of the rim.

Russell Westbrook, who scored 31, missed a free throw to give the Mavericks one more chance to tie, but Carter's desperation 3 at the buzzer was short.

``The play blew up and Mike ended up with it, and it was unfair to him,'' Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. ``It was a play that didn't work, and it was my responsibility.''

Nowitzki finished with 18 points after starting 1 of 11 from the field, salvaging his 10th straight double-figure game after scoring in single digits the first four games once he returned from missing 27 games due to right knee surgery.

The Mavericks had six players in double figures for the fourth straight game. Mayo had 18 points and seven assists, and Darren Collison scored 15.

Elton Brand had 10 points and 13 rebounds for Dallas, while Serge Ibaka had 11 points and 14 boards for the Thunder.

Durant, who has scored at least 40 three times in the past week, put Oklahoma City ahead 99-98 on a pair of free throws after he was fouled on a drive with 1:32 left in regulation. He hit two more after he was fouled following a rebound of a miss by Nowitzki, and Oklahoma City kept the lead until Mayo's 3-pointer with two defenders in his face forced overtime at 105-all.

``There are some things that we obviously could have done to limit him,'' Carlisle said of Durant. ``He had a great game, and he is the best shooter on the planet.''

Neither team led by more than three in the final 6 minutes of regulation and overtime.

The Mavericks, who earlier this season tied an NBA record with their 10th straight overtime loss, fell to 1-8 in overtime games this season. Two of the losses have been to the Thunder, who improved to 4-0 in overtime.

``It was one of those games no one deserved to lose,'' Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said. ``I'm glad we came out with the victory because that's not an easy win.''

The Mavericks trailed 87-79 when Carter hit a free throw and Nowitzki had a tip-in to start a 13-2 run that gave Dallas its first lead since the first quarter. Nowitzki's free throws put the Mavericks up 90-89 with 6:41 left.

NOTES: Nowitzki was called for a technical foul during a timeout, and Thunder C Kendrick Perkins picked up one when he got in Chris Kaman's face after Perkins was called for a foul for bumping Kaman while they were battling for a rebound. ... Brand recorded the 400th double-double of his career Wednesday against Houston. He had 11 points and 10 rebounds. ... Durant will start in the All-Star game Feb. 17 in Houston. His coach, Brooks, won't be in charge. Brooks is ineligible to lead the Western Conference stars because he did it last year. ``It was pretty cool to be able to meet some of the players and see how they are off the court,'' Brooks said. ``Whoever gets it will have a great experience in a great city.''

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What to watch as Nats continue three-game series against Marlins

What to watch as Nats continue three-game series against Marlins

This is the Nationals’ first time in Miami this season, and the team finished with a 3-2 loss against the Marlins on Friday night. Here are a few things to look for as they enter the second game of the three-game series against the Floridians: 

  1. Friday night’s situational hitting was poor, NBC Sports Washington’s Todd Dybas reported. The Nats left 10 runners on base in a 3-2 loss to the Miami Marlins.However, the Nationals’ offense has changed this season. This was exemplified in Friday’s series opener against the Marlins, in which both Adam Eaton and Victor Robles bunted to get hits.
  2. Eaton singled on a bunt in the first inning, eventually scoring on a Juan Soto RBI single, while Robles also reached base safely in the third following Eaton’s strategy and then stole a base. These creative plays helped get men on base, but again, more often than not they stayed there. Brian Dozier hit his second home run of the season in the seventh inning, a solo shot which gave the Nats their second and final run of the night. Dozier had a rough start to the season, and after Friday’s game, he has just two RBIs – both via solo homers. He has a batting average of .182, and he’s lost playing time to Howie Kendrick as the season has moved forward. Kendrick has a batting average of .477, the highest on the roster.
  3. Anthony Rendon continued his hit streak, extending it to 17 games with a double Friday. This is the longest hitting streak in the MLB this season, as well as the third baseman’s personal record. Within the organization, Rendon is chasing Hall-of-Famer Heinie Manush’s record, which stretched to 33 consecutive hits in 1933. Can he get another on Saturday?

 

Download the MyTeams app for coverage from NBC Sports Washington of the Nationals/Marlins game on Saturday. The game broadcast will be at 6:10 PM ET on 106.7 the Fan and MASN2. 

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Middling Anibal Sanchez and quiet bats do Nationals in against Marlins

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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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