Magic try to get on track amid spate of injuries

Magic try to get on track amid spate of injuries

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) It may take until the very end of the preseason before Magic coach Jacque Vaughn gets a true glimpse of what his team will look like this season.

Still, however murky the picture is right now, there's plenty from their first 48 minutes on the court together for the first-year coach to analyze.

``We really didn't set a goal on what we were going to measure it by,'' Vaughn said of his impressions following Orlando's 85-80 preseason-opening loss to New Orleans. ``For us it's really just putting in enough things for the first week for our guys to compete in the first preseason game. I think we were able to do that. And putting in some principles that I think will carry us throughout the year. I think we were able to do that.

``But we've still got some work to do.''

Tuesday was the Magic's first time back on the practice court since Sunday's game and one of only two workouts they'll have before Thursday's home preseason opener against Philadelphia.

It's one of the main reasons Vaughn staged his longest workout so far - just over two and a half hours - as he and his staff continue to install schemes for a roster working to get back to full strength.

Forwards Maurice Harkless (sports hernia surgery) and Al Harrington (knee surgery) are working through rehab programs along with point guard Ish Smith (shoulder surgery). Harkless and Smith did end the day doing shooting stations.

Joining them on the sidelines Tuesday were guard Arron Afflalo and swingman Christian Eyenga, both nursing hamstring injuries and likely to miss Thursday's game as well.

But with actual game film to breakdown for the first time, Vaughn is seeing some early bright spots.

One of the most noticeable was the effort of E'Twaun Moore, who led the Magic with 16 points and seven assists against the Hornets. The offseason free-agent pickup played sparingly in 38 games last season with Boston as a rookie and was signed to compete to be the backup point guard behind starter Jameer Nelson.

Smith appeared in 20 games for the Magic last season, but is not a definite to be at full strength to begin the regular season. That leaves a huge opportunity for Moore to make the roster and be the lead backup.

``I'm just trying to get a feel for the game,'' Moore said. ``That, and just go over the things we worked on in practice, and go out there and try to jell everything together. I definitely feel comfortable playing with the second unit and I'll keep going from there.''

Vaughn also was very complimentary of the effort by his younger players on Sunday, including strong play at center by Gustavo Ayon and Nikola Vucevic. Ayon had 12 points and Vucevic nine rebounds.

Vaughn said spots in the rotation are truly wide open.

``Goose (Ayon) started at the center position and that's probably going to change throughout preseason and until we find a combination that we want to start with for the year,'' he said. ``I thought E'Twaun and Armon (Johnson) did a good job, and Jameer was great with his leadership. So, some good things from both positions.''

Veteran Quentin Richardson sat out Sunday's game with an illness, but said his impression from watching was that Orlando has a group of young players hungry to contribute.

``They're working hard and trying to do the right things - I was impressed,'' he said. ``It's very good for them to be able to get out there and get a lot of reps in training camp, practice and then actually getting in the game to show what they can do.

As banged up as the team is right now, Richardson said the excitement level in the locker room remains high.

``The good thing is it's really early right now and guys are starting to slowly but surely get back out there,'' Richardson said. ``It's a good thing. Some guys just have some serious things they got to handle and get right before they get back out there. Sometimes that's just the way it goes.''


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Donaldson's 9th-inning single lifts Braves over Nats 4-3 despite Robles' heroics

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Donaldson's 9th-inning single lifts Braves over Nats 4-3 despite Robles' heroics

Donaldson's 9th-inning single lifts Braves over Nats 4-3

ATLANTA -- Josh Donaldson's bases-loaded single off Fernando Rodney in the ninth inning lifted the Atlanta Braves over the Washington Nationals 4-3 on Friday night after Luke Jackson allowed a tying, two-run homer to Victor Robles in the top half.

Ronald Acuna Jr., who had three hits, led off the bottom of the ninth with a walk off Rodney (0-3) and took second on Dansby Swanson's single. Freddie Freeman walked on four pitches, loading the bases.

Nationals manager Dave Martinez brought in left fielder Juan Soto as a fifth infielder, including three on the left side against the right-handed hitting Donaldson.

Donaldson hit a 2-0 pitch over Robles to center-field warning track, and the Braves boosted their NL East lead to 6 games over the second-place Nationals. Atlanta had lost its previous five home games against Washington.

Robles' homer went 446 feet to left, giving Jackson his seventh blown save in 24 chances.

Julio Teheran gave up one hit through five scoreless innings and retired 14 consecutive hitters before pinch-hitter Gerardo Parra singled with one out in the sixth. Anthony Rendon chased Teheran with a two-out RBI single.

Nationals left-hander Patrick Corbin couldn't win on his 30th birthday while paired with catcher Yan Gomes, who turned 32. Corbin and Gomes became only the second pitcher-catcher tandem to start together on their birthdays since 1900, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Chicago Cubs pitcher Dave Hillman and catcher Jim Fanning did it against Pittsburgh on Sept. 14, 1957.

Corbin allowed two runs and eight hits in five innings. He struck out Ozzie Albies with the bases loaded in the first and fanned Albies to end the fifth with two out.

Albies hit a two-out double in the fourth and scored on Austin Riley's double. Freeman was 2 for 20 in his career against Corbin before his RBI single in the fifth.

Acuna's RBI double against Tanner Rainey gave the Braves a 3-1 lead.


Nationals: RHP Max Scherzer, on the 10-day IL since July 10 with an injury originally announced as a mid-back strain, was given a cortisone shot on Tuesday to address inflammation in the bursa sac under his right shoulder blade. Scherzer still has some discomfort and must throw a bullpen session before cleared to pitch in a game. With Scherzer unavailable, RHP Austin Voth is expected to start in Sunday night's series finale.

Braves: RHP Patrick Weigel, who had Tommy John surgery in 2017, was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett to make his major league debut Saturday. RHP Wes Parsons also was recalled from Gwinnett. RHPs Kyle Wright and Touki Toussaint were optioned to Gwinnett.


Nationals: RHP Anibal Sanchez (5-6, 3.71) is 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in two starts this season against the Braves, his former team.

Braves: Rookie RHP Mike Soroka (10-1, 2.24) will try to win his sixth straight decision on Saturday night. The 21-year-old right-hander became the youngest pitcher in franchise history to be selected an All-Star.


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A timeline of Tommy Sheppard's moves as interim Wizards GM

A timeline of Tommy Sheppard's moves as interim Wizards GM

The Wizards are naming Tommy Sheppard their permanent GM after he served in the role on an interim basis since April 2. 

Let's take a look back at the moves which earned Sheppard the long-term GM job:

April 2: The Wizards fire GM Ernie Grunfeld. Tommy Sheppard takes over the role on an interim basis. 

June 20: The Wizards select Gonzaga forward Rui Hachimura with the No. 9 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Later in the evening, Washington acquires Jonathan Simmons and the draft rights to Tennessee forward Admiral Schofield from the Philadelphia 76ers. Simmons was placed on waivers on July 7.

July 5: The Wizards acquire Moritz Wagner, Isaac Bonga, and Jemerrio Jones, and a 2022 second-round draft pick as part of the deal which sent Anthony Davis to the Lakers. 

July 6: The Wizards trade Dwight Howard to the Grizzlies in exchange for C.J. Miles and acquire Davis Bertans from the Spurs in a three-team deal with Brooklyn and San Antonio, sending the draft rights of Aaron White to the Nets. 

July 7: The Wizards re-sign center Thomas Bryant on a three-year deal and trade guard Tomas Satoransky to the Bulls for a 2020 second-round pick.

July 9: The Wizards sign guard Ish Smith to a two-year deal.

July 10: The Wizards sign guard Isaiah Thomas to a one-year deal.