Nationals

Harden scores 31 to lead Rockets over Wizards

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Harden scores 31 to lead Rockets over Wizards

HOUSTON (AP) James Harden scored 31 points to lift the Houston Rockets to a 99-93 victory over the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night.

After suffering a sprained ankle last Saturday against Dallas and missing Monday night's loss to San Antonio, Harden returned to lead the Rockets to their first victory under coach Kevin McHale in more than a month.

The Wizards threatened late in the fourth quarter, but Chandler Parsons scored eight straight points for Houston in the final three minutes, including two 3-pointers, to secure the victory. Parsons finished with 18 points and eight rebounds.

It was Houston's first victory since McHale rejoined the team last Saturday after taking a leave of absence for almost a month following the death of his 23-year-old daughter. McHale took a leave of absence Nov. 10 to be with his family as his daughter's health worsened. Alexandra ``Sasha'' McHale died Nov. 24 of complications from Lupus.

Rookie Bradley Beal had 20 points to lead Washington, which had five players in double-figures, including four starters. Emeka Okafor, a Houston native, had a season-high 19 points for Washington to go with six rebounds, two blocks and two steals.

After the Wizards scored the opening two points, Houston didn't trail until a brief spell midway through the third quarter. Harden hit a 3-pointer with less than 7 minutes left in the third, giving Houston a one-point lead, and the Rockets never trailed again after that.

Beal hit a 3 with one minute remaining in the first half to tie the game at 40. The Wizards trailed by as many as 14 in the first half before going on a 9-0 run late in the second quarter.

Toney Douglas hit a 3-pointer from beyond the half-court line as time expired in the second to put the Rockets up 45-42 at the break.

Jordan Crawford started at point for Washington, while A.J. Price remained out with a fractured right hand suffered last Saturday against Golden State. John Wall has missed the entire season with a stress injury in his left knee.

The Wizards also played without Trevor Ariza, who strained his left calf last Tuesday against Miami, and Trevor Booker (right knee), who started the first six games.

Notes: Chris Singleton had a career-high four blocks for Washington. . Patrick Patterson registered a season-high three blocks. . Houston C Omer Asik had 16 rebounds, recording double-digit rebounds for the second straight game and sixth time in his last nine outings.

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National League All-Star Game Roster Projection: How it will all break down

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USA Today Sports

National League All-Star Game Roster Projection: How it will all break down

In less than a month, the 2018 MLB All-Star game will take place at Nationals Park.

There are plenty of details that still need ironing out, but none are more important than the 64 players that will be taking the field at the Midsummer Classic.

Surely the Washington Nationals are hoping that many of their hometown stars will make the cut.

So, lets clear the air. How are the MLB All-Star rosters created? Well it is a combination of the fan vote, the player ballots, and the MLB Commissioners Office. No, it is not a 33-33-33 split, but rather a political (yet fair) process. Here is how it shakes out for there to be 32 players on each team:

  • Fan vote: eight position players in NL/ nine in AL (DH); plus final vote for each league
  • Player’s ballots: next 16 players in NL; 17 players in AL (five starting pitchers, three relievers must be chosen)
  • MLB Commissioner’s Office: seven NL players (four pitchers, three position players) and five AL players (four pitchers, one position player)

Keep in mind, the MLB Commissioner’s Office merely is just there to ensure that there is one representative from all 30 MLB teams. Additionally, the player’s ballots are generally in-line with statistics and name recognition.

So let’s see how this shakes out for the National League All-Star Game roster. This factors in the latest fan vote returns:

National League All-Star Roster Projection:

C – Buster Posey, Giants (Fan Vote), Wilson Contreras, Cubs (Player Ballot)
1B – Freddie Freeman, Braves (Fan Vote), Jose Martinez, Cardinals (Player Ballot), Justin Bour, Marlins (Commissioner’s Office)
2B – Ozzie Albies, Braves (Fan Vote), Scooter Gennett, Reds (Player Ballot)
3B – Nolan Arenado, Rockies (Fan Vote), Kris Bryant, Cubs (Player Ballot)
SS – Brandon Crawford, Giants (Fan Vote), Chris Taylor, Dodgers (Player Ballot)
OF – Nick Markakis, Braves (Fan Vote), Bryce Harper, Nationals (Fan Vote), Matt Kemp (Fan Vote), Albert Almora Jr., Cubs (Player Ballot), Charlie Blackmon, Rockies (Player Ballot), Corey Dickerson, Pirates (Player Ballot), David Peralta, Diamondbacks (Commissioner’s Office), Christian Yelich (Commissioner’s Office)

SP – Max Scherzer, Nationals (Player Ballot), Sean Newcomb, Braves (Player Ballot), Jon Lester, Cubs (Player Ballot), Aaron Nola, Phillies (Player Ballot), Jacob deGrom, Mets (Player Ballot), Mike Foltynewicz, Braves (Commissioner’s Office)

RP – Brad Hand, Padres (Player Ballot), Sean Doolittle, Nationals (Player Ballot), Josh Hader Brewers (Player Ballot), Wade Davis, Rockies (Commissioner’s Office), Kenley Jansen (Commissioner’s Office), Jeremy Jeffress (Commissioner’s Office)

Manager: Dave Roberts, Dodgers

After this, there will be one more player chosen by another fan vote. The MLB Commissioner’s Office, along with the manager, choses five players to be selected in the penultimate vote. 

This puts three Nationals on the All-Star team with the Braves leading the charge with five selections.

Now of course nothing ever goes to plan, but heck its baseball, not everyone will be happy.

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: Suddenly the Caps are in need of a head coach

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USA TODAY Sports

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: Suddenly the Caps are in need of a head coach

Less than two weeks after winning the Stanley Cup, the Caps are in need of a new head coach.

Barry Trotz resigned as the Caps coach on Monday after he and the team failed to reach an agreement on a new contract. How did we get here and where do both parties go from here? JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir break it all down.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.