Nationals

Marshall, Runnin' Rebels beat No. 15 SDSU 82-75

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Marshall, Runnin' Rebels beat No. 15 SDSU 82-75

SAN DIEGO (AP) Anthony Marshall scored a season-high 20 points, and Justin Hawkins and Khem Birch scored off rebounds on consecutive possessions in the final 1:18 to help UNLV upset No. 15 San Diego State 82-75 on Wednesday night.

Bryce Dejean-Jones scored 14 points and Birch had 12 for the Runnin' Rebels (15-3, 2-1 Mountain West Conference), who fell out of the AP Top 25 on Monday after losing at New Mexico and going to overtime against Air Force before winning.

The Runnin' Rebels outrebounded the Aztecs 43-31.

The Aztecs' loss left No. 19 New Mexico as the only team with a perfect league record at 3-0. The Lobos beat Boise State 79-74 in overtime.

Jamaal Franklin had a game-high 27 points while freshman Winston Shepard had 18 and Chase Tapley 16 for the Aztecs (14-3, 2-1).

San Diego State hadn't lost at home since a 77-67 defeat to New Mexico on Feb. 15.

Marshall had five straight points for UNLV, including his second coast-to-coast layup and a drive up the key for a 73-70 lead with 4:05 left before Franklin made a layup and was fouled by Marshall - his fourth - and converted the three-point play to tie it.

UNLV went back ahead 76-73 when Dejean-Jones made one of two free throws and Birch had a putback.

On SDSU's next possession, Franklin and Tapley both missed 3-point shots and the Aztecs missed two close-range shots.

UNLV rebounded, called a timeout and Dejean-Jones missed a long 3-pointer. However, Hawkins grabbed the rebound and put it back for a 78-73 lead with 1:18 to go.

Shepard made a bank shot with 1:05 left. Marshall missed for UNLV but Birch grabbed the rebound and scored to make it 80-75.

Anthony Bennett, UNLV's leading scorer at 19.6 points per game, was held to nine points.

UNLV led 48-42 at halftime and quickly extended the lead to 10 points in the opening 3:25 of the second half. Bennett made a reverse layup and a fallaway jumper, and Marshall had a defensive rebound and drove the length of the court for a layup for a 56-46 lead.

UNLV's lead was 60-51 when the Aztecs went on a 12-0 run. Franklin made two free throws, Skylar Spencer had a tip-in, Shepard made an inside shot, JJ O'Brien made a layup on a nice pass from Shepard out near the 3-point arc, Tapley had a layup and Shepard made a bank shot for a 63-60 lead with 9:50 to go.

The Runnin' Rebels regained the lead at 64-63 with consecutive field goals by Marshall, a bank shot and a basket off a rebound.

Bennett had two slam dunks early to help the Runnin' Rebels take a 16-8 lead. He also was whistled for a technical foul after his second dunk, apparently for saying something.

San Diego State made 15 of 19 free throws in the half but shot only 40 percent from the field. UNLV shot 57.6 percent.

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How does Manny Machado's deal affect Bryce Harper? Racing Presidents crew reacts

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How does Manny Machado's deal affect Bryce Harper? Racing Presidents crew reacts

One of the most talented, sought-after free agents in baseball history finally chose his new team today, and the impact is clear for the Nationals.

What’s that? You assumed it was Bryce Harper? Well, you’d be mistaken.

Manny Machado, the other 26-year old superstar free agent, agreed to terms with the Padres Tuesday on a record-breaking contract. The 10-year, $300 million deal has an opt-out after five seasons, and is the largest free agent contract in North American sports history.

Naturally, with the Hot Stove *finally* heating up, the Racing Presidents crew got together for an EMERGENCY PODCAST.

Tim, Tim and Todd reacted to the Manny Machado signing, with a slant towards how it affects the Nationals and their pursuit of Bryce Harper. The most obvious favorite for Harper’s services has been Philadelphia, and that seems more likely than ever. 

“They need to get one of these two guys,” Todd Dybas said when asked if this move solidifies the Phillies as prohibitive favorites. “They’ve made plenty of moves to stabilize their team, but none of those guys they’ve signed so far are Bryce Harper or Manny Machado.”

With Machado ultimately agreeing to the same deal Harper reportedly turned down at the beginning of the offseason, Todd sees Harper setting his sights even higher.

“He’ll be back on track with asking for more money than [Giancarlo] Stanton received in his [$325 million] extension,” Dybas continued. “He wants the largest sum possible in all equations. No more semantics, it’s just Bryce got the most money, and here it is. So I think it puts a lot of pressure on the Phillies, and if they were actually prepared to spend stupid money, they have to do that now.”

While from one perspective it seems like this might make Harper-to-the-Phillies more likely, Tim Shovers points out how it could benefit the Nationals, suggesting that we “know that the Padres are now out of the Harper bidding.”

Of course, MLB insider Jon Heyman later reported that Shovers’ take may not be accurate.

The bottom line question is simple: does this eliminate the Nationals? Both Shovers and Murray felt confident saying no.

“They are eliminated if you think that the Lerners are stuck on their 10 for 300 with absolutely zero wiggle room. I do not think they are 100% stuck on that,” Shovers explained. “I don’t think they’re willing to go to 350 or 360 or 340, but if the Phillies are like you know what were offering 309, I think the Nats would sign him for 310, so no, I don’t think this eliminates him for Washington.”

As Murray points out, super agent Scott Boras has almost certainly already acted on this new information.

He says ”Boras has probably called [the Phillies] already and said alright, the floor is yours, what are you going to give us?”

Catch the entire latest episode of the Racing Presidents, NBC Sports Washington’s Nationals podcast.

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Howie Kendrick? He wants everyone to know he is fully healed

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Howie Kendrick? He wants everyone to know he is fully healed

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Howie Kendrick stated this months ago: He’ll be ready for spring training.

He said it toward the end of last season. Kendrick was walking gently at that point, just a few months out from a surgery to repair his torn Achilles tendon. May 19. Kendrick was on the seat of his white pants on the warning track. He no longer had control of his foot. Kendrick knew the year was over.

Various members of the Nationals would mention him the rest of the season. Davey Martinez always added Kendrick if someone rattled off the list of injured and forgot to include the 35-year-old. Mike Rizzo brought it up in public and private. Gone was a veteran who could play two infield positions and left field, as well as handle any situational hitting in his 13th season. Gone was a veteran who would use directness in the clubhouse when necessary. Both became factors in a middling season.

“When Howie was available and playing every day, he was doing really well,” Martinez said. “I could hit him anywhere in the lineup -- at second, at first, at outfield. He was doing really well. But, what people don’t realize, is Howie in that clubhouse is the constant. He’s the guy where if he thinks something is not right, or you didn’t do this, you didn’t do that, he’d be the guy to say, ‘Hey, you’ve got to be the guy to run the balls out. Let’s go.’ Or if he’d somebody down, he pats them on the back.’ C’mon, man. Let’s go. We’ll get this done.’ But he was that constant guy.”

He’s back now, like he said he would be, taking ground balls at second base along with newly signed Brian Dozier during the Nationals’ first full squad workout of spring training Tuesday. Kendrick worked in Arizona last season and in the offseason to get to this point. He followed protocols from the Nationals’ medical staff and his personal trainer, helping Kendrick evolve from scooter-dependent to walking slowly to running to sprinting. Once in West Palm Beach, he was unrestricted, as promised.

“Everything has been good,” Kendrick said. “I told them last year when I left, I told them my goal is to be ready for day one of spring training, and I've been running for about three weeks now, sprinting and stuff, simulating running the bases and things like that.”

Rizzo entered the offseason by saying the team was comfortable with a platoon of Wilmer Difo and Kendrick at second base. He later signed Dozier to a one-year deal, chasing the pop of his bat and expecting a bounce-back season. Dozier is right next to Kendrick in the clubhouse. The move pleased Kendrick. It could have irritated him because of its clear influence on his playing time.

“We're trying to win ball games, I don't really think about it,” Kendrick said. “I know Brian, I played against him over in the AL. He's a great player, great defender, a lot of power, you know I'm excited to have him here. My role on this team hasn't changed, I'm going to play everywhere like I did in previous couple years, and you know I look at it like that. The at-bats I get are the at-bats I get, I'm not here to complain about anything, I'm here to play baseball, try to help guys get better and try to win ball games. 

“At the end of the day I think that's really important. As far as Dozier, he's the second baseman, guy can play.”

Kendrick’s time in the game is dwindling. He’s coming off major surgery. The market for 36-year-old second baseman/outfielders is extremely limited. If other value what Martinez and Rizzo do, maybe Kendrick finds another contract, which prevents him from graduating to full-time coach status for his kids. In the interim, he’s healthy in West Palm Beach.

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