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NBA Capsules

NBA Capsules

LOS ANGELES (AP) Kobe Bryant scored 27 points, Pau Gasol added 14 points and 16 rebounds, and the Los Angeles Lakers responded to coach Mike Brown's firing earlier Friday with a 101-77 victory over the Golden State Warriors.

The Lakers had just a few hours to absorb Brown's dismissal after just 18 months on the job. Following a bumpy first half under interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff, they pulled away in the third quarter with a 25-9 run led by Bryant, who also had nine rebounds and seven assists.

Stephen Curry scored 18 points for the Warriors, who have lost five straight to the Lakers overall.

The comfortable victory doubled the Lakers' victory total for the season and capped one of the most tumultuous days in recent history for a franchise that's never short on drama. General manager Mitch Kupchak and owner Jim Buss abruptly dismissed Brown, informing the players during their morning shootaround.

Bickerstaff ran the Lakers as the interim coach, but the veteran NBA bench boss isn't likely to be a candidate for the full-time job. The crowd quickly made its choice known: A chant of ``We want Phil!'' rose out of the stands while Bryant shot a free throw in the third quarter.

Phil Jackson, the 11-time NBA champion coach who won five rings in two previous stints running the Lakers, is near the top of Kupchak's list again, the GM acknowledged.

HEAT 95, HAWKS 89

ATLANTA (AP) - LeBron James scored 21 points, including the clinching jumper with 13.6 seconds remaining, and the Heat picked up their fourth straight win.

Jeff Teague hit consecutive 3-pointers as the Hawks rallied from a nine-point deficit in the fourth quarter. But Josh Smith, on an awful night, missed two free throws with just over a minute remaining, and James finished off Atlanta after the teams traded turnovers.

Everyone in the building knew James would shoot, but it didn't matter. He muscled away from DeShawn Stevenson, swished a 15-footer and hopped along the sideline in front of the Atlanta crowd. The Heat won without Dwyane Wade, who didn't play because of a cold.

Chris Bosh led Miami with 24 points. James just missed a triple-double, adding 11 rebounds and nine assists.

Teague paced the Hawks with 20 points and 11 assists.

KNICKS 104, MAVERICKS 94

NEW YORK (AP) - Carmelo Anthony scored 31 points and the Knicks improved their best start in nearly two decades to 4-0.

Reserve JR Smith added 22 points for the Knicks, the only unbeaten team in the NBA. They hadn't been perfect after four games since the 1993-94 team started 7-0 en route to the NBA Finals.

The Knicks averaged 104.7 points and allowed just 85.3 per game while routing Miami and sweeping a home-and-home series from Philadelphia to start the season, but didn't seize control of this one for good until nearly the midpoint of the fourth quarter.

O.J. Mayo scored 23 points for the Mavericks, who had their three-game winning streak snapped and lost to the Knicks for just the fourth time in the last 22 meetings.

HORNETS 107, BOBCATS 99

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Anthony Davis had 23 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks in his first game back after a concussion, and the Hornets handed the Bobcats their third straight loss.

Ryan Anderson hit five 3-pointers and finished with 25 points for New Orleans, which has won three of its first five games despite being without injured star guard Eric Gordon.

Ben Gordon scored 34 points for Charlotte. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Davis' former Kentucky teammate and the second overall draft pick, had 12 points and six rebounds.

Davis came alive after getting tangled up with Charlotte big man Byron Mullens late in the second quarter, an altercation that sent teammates running to separate them and sent official Bill Kennedy somersaulting backward into the front row, where he landed in the lap of Dennis Lauscha, president of the Hornets and NFL's Saints. (Both clubs are owned by Tom Benson, who was sitting next to Lauscha and narrowly avoided Kennedy.)

Davis scored 18 following the feud on an array of driving layups, putbacks and even a smooth baseline jumper from about 10 feet.

SUNS 107, CAVALIERS 105

PHOENIX (AP) - Shannon Brown scored 12 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter and helped key a late 14-4 run as Phoenix rallied from a 26-point deficit to get the win.

P.J. Tucker hit a 20-foot jumper from the left corner to give the Suns a 103-102 lead with 1:32 to go. After the teams traded misses, Marcin Gortat blocked Daniel Gibson's shot and Goran Dragic found Brown streaking down the right side for a fast-break dunk and a 105-102 lead with 37.4 seconds remaining.

Dragic made one of two free throws but Gibson connected on a 3-pointer with 13.1 seconds to play to get the Cavaliers within one. Sebastian Telfair dribbled the clock down to 5.1 seconds and made one of two free throws to make it 107-105.

Kyrie Irving had a chance to win it for Cleveland as time expired but his 3-pointer from the top of the key bounced off the back of the rim.

TIMBERWOLVES 96, PACERS 94

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Chase Budinger converted a layup on a feed from Andrei Kirilenko with 0.8 seconds to go, lifting Minnesota to the victory.

Budinger scored 18 points while subbing for the injured Brandon Roy. Alexey Shved had 11 points and seven assists and Nikola Pekovic added 13 points and eight rebounds for the Timberwolves.

Roy left the game at halftime with a sore right knee. The former three-time All-Star is attempting a comeback after chronic knee issues forced him to retire from Portland before last season.

George Hill had 29 points, seven assists and five rebounds and David West had 19 points and 13 boards for the Pacers.

The Wolves (4-1) are three games over .500 for the first time since they were 20-17 in 2006-07.

76ERS 106, CELTICS 100

BOSTON (AP) - Evan Turner scored 25 points, Jrue Holiday added 21 and Philadelphia held off several fourth-quarter rallies.

The Celtics cut the lead to four twice in the final period, 83-79 and 102-98, but couldn't get any closer and fell to 2-3 with their only victories coming over winless Washington. The 76ers won their second game in three nights to improve to 3-2.

Turner had 11 rebounds and Holiday had 14 assists. Dorell Wright and Thaddeus Young scored 15 points apiece.

Paul Pierce scored 24 for Boston, and Kevin Garnett finished with 19. Rajon Rondo had 14 points and assisted on 20 of the Celtics' 37 baskets.

NETS 107, MAGIC 68

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - Andray Blatche had 15 points, Brook Lopez added 14 points and 10 rebounds and Brooklyn never trailed while snapping a 10-game losing streak to Orlando that dated to 2009.

E'Twaun Moore led the Magic with 18 points, and Arron Afflalo finished with 12.

The Nets dominated inside, with Lopez and Blatche pushing around Orlando's young front line. They also got a lift from their bench, with Brooklyn's reserves outscoring their counterparts 55-18 for the game.

Orlando lost its third straight game after starting 2-0. It also tied a franchise-low with four made free throws, compared to 16 for Brooklyn.

The teams play each other again Sunday in Brooklyn.

SPURS 97, KINGS 86

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - Tim Duncan had 23 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks to power San Antonio to the road win.

The Spurs played without Stephen Jackson, who was out with the flu, and Duncan and several other players were a bit under the weather. But they led for much of the game in defeating the Kings for the ninth straight time in Sacramento.

Reserve Patty Mills gave the Spurs a huge lift, making 8-of-9 shots and scoring 18 points. Kawhi Leonard had 11 points.

Marcus Thornton and Jason Thompson scored 17 apiece for the Kings, who had won two straight.

THUNDER 105, PISTONS 94

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Serge Ibaka scored a career-high 25 points, Kevin Durant chipped in a season-high 25 points and 13 rebounds, and Oklahoma City broke in its new alternate jerseys by beating winless Detroit.

The Thunder scored nine straight points soon after Durant checked back into the game midway through the fourth quarter, stretching their lead to 93-77 after the three-time NBA scoring champion hit two free throws with 5:47 to play.

Detroit never got closer than nine after that, falling to 0-6 on the season - one loss shy of matching the worst starts in franchise history in 1962 and 1980. First-round draft pick Andre Drummond led the Pistons with 22 points.

GRIZZLIES 93, ROCKETS 85

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Rudy Gay had 21 points and a key basket with 1:03 left that helped Memphis defeat Houston for its fourth straight victory.

Zach Randolph had 15 points and 14 rebounds for the Grizzlies.

Houston was within 87-85 in the final 2 minutes, but Memphis scored the last five points of the game, including Gay's rebound bucket, to win its 13th consecutive regular-season game at home.

Mike Conley had 14 points for Memphis, including a 3-pointer down the stretch, and Jerryd Bayless added 12. The Grizzlies are 4-1 for the first time since the 2000-01 season, when they played in Vancouver.

Chandler Parsons led the Rockets with 19 points. James Harden had 18 points, but shot only 4 of 18 from the field.

NUGGETS 104, JAZZ 84

DENVER (AP) - Corey Brewer scored 13 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter, hitting four 3-pointers, and Denver pulled away for the win.

Kenneth Faried had 18 points and 11 rebounds for the Nuggets, who won their third in a row after an 0-3 start.

Gordon Hayward scored 15 for the Jazz, who remained winless in four road games this season. Randy Foye and Enes Kanter each added 13 points.

Andre Iguodala connected on a 3-pointer to give the Nuggets a 69-49 lead with 5:14 remaining in the third quarter.

BUCKS 101, WIZARDS 91

WASHINGTON (AP) - Monta Ellis scored 22 points, and the Bucks quickly erased an early deficit before pulling away with a 13-0 run bridging the third and fourth quarters.

Milwaukee's Brandon Jennings and Washington's Bradley Beal were ejected in the final minute.

Washington fell to 0-4 despite 22 points from Beal, the No. 3 overall pick in June's NBA draft, and a combined 26 from veterans Trevor Ariza (15) and Emeka Okafor (11), matching their output from the team's first three games.

With the outcome no longer in doubt, Beal was called for a flagrant foul when he knocked Ellis to the court on a breakaway. As Beal leaned over to offer Ellis a hand to help him up, Jennings ran up and shoved Beal down.

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Pelicans reportedly trade Anthony Davis to the Lakers for a huge haul including Lonzo Ball

Pelicans reportedly trade Anthony Davis to the Lakers for a huge haul including Lonzo Ball

According to a report from ESPN NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski, the Los Angeles Lakers have acquired Pelicans' forward Anthony Davis in exchange for Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, and multiple first-round draft picks, including the No. 4 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

The announcement comes less than 48 hours into the NBA offseason, although the rumors and speculation of the deal has been a prominent storyline for months.

The much-anticipated deal gives the Lakers the star they've been trying to pair with LeBron James for some time and gives the Pelicans a young nucleus to build around the presumptive No. 1 pick Zion Williamson. 

According to Marc Stein of The New York Times, the Boston Celtics refused to part ways with promising forward Jayson Tatum in a potential trade with New Orleans.

The Celtics had been in the mix for Davis, but with Kyrie Irving likely headed for the exits, Danny Ainge was unwilling to part with his young assets in exchange for the one year remaining on Davis' contract.

Before the Davis domino fell, NBC Sports Washington's Chase Hughes wrote about how a Davis trade could impact Bradley Beal's value

The Lakers, Knicks and Celtics all appear to want Davis and only one can get him, if he is even traded at all.

If the quest for Davis comes down to those three teams, there will be at least two that lose out.

The Knicks or Celtics now must determine whether trading for Beal is their next-best option behind Davis. 

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Max Scherzer may be the last pitcher to tally 3,000 strikeouts

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Max Scherzer may be the last pitcher to tally 3,000 strikeouts

 

WASHINGTON -- Max Scherzer may be baseball’s final entrant into the 3,000-strikeout club.

 

Sounds weird to say. The mark is a vaunted one and previously a measuring stick for Hall-of-Fame candidacy. That was before a shift to fewer innings by starters from the time they are young. 

 Friday night, Scherzer climbed into 27th on the all-time list. He passed legacy names Warren Spahn and Bob Feller thanks to another 10-strikeout outing.

“Sweet,” Scherzer said when informed of the movement. “Let’s keep going.”Scherzer is 35 years old, in his 12th season and has 2,585 strikeouts. He’s on pace for 297 total this season -- if he makes his typical 33 starts. Hitting that mark would put him at 2,756 at the end of the year. He would be 24th all-time at that stage and a standard season away from cracking 3,000. Justin Verlander will beat Scherzer to the mark, making Scherzer the 19th pitcher all-time to strikeout 3,000 or more should he get there. CC Sabathia surpassed 3,000 in late May. Sabathia, Verlander and Scherzer could cap the group for the rest of history.

The club’s exclusivity is often overlooked. Twenty-seven players have hit 500 or more home runs. Twenty-three players have 300 or more wins (speaking of marks which are unlikely to be reached again; Scherzer has 164, and, yes, wins are wins).

Among active players with 2,000 or more strikeouts, Clayton Kershaw is the youngest. He’s 31 years old and has struck out 2,342. Recent injuries have derailed what was a clear express path to 3,000. He becomes a free agent in 2022. And Kershaw is a good example of how usage is changing the chances to strike out 3,000.

He has not pitched more than seven innings this season. Part of that is to protect him following his back problems. Another portion is seven innings is the norm. Less is also common. Entering the eighth or ninth is almost unheard of. Only two pitchers have thrown two complete games this season. Twenty pitchers have one or more complete games this season. Last year, no pitcher finished with more than two complete games. Only 13 pitchers threw 200 or more innings. 

Yet, strikeout rates are at an all-time high while innings pitched by starters dips. So, let’s look at extrapolation for a younger pitcher, like Trevor Bauer, who is operating in this new era and will do so going forward.

Bauer is 28 years old. He’s struck out 1,035 batters. A decade more of 200 strikeouts per season gets him there -- narrowly. But, the problem for Bauer, like others alluded to above, is he rarely pitches into the eighth inning. Two of his 15 starts this season have gone a full eight innings. Only three have lasted more than seven. Three others have lasted less than six. Most often he pitches six to seven innings. He’s never thrown more than 190 innings in a season.

Let’s call it a 6 ⅔ innings for his average outing going forward. He strikes out 1.1 batters per inning this year. He’s never made more than 31 starts in the season. So, give him 28 starts per year for the next 10 years. That gives Bauer 205 strikeouts per season, on average, and discounts any future regression (which is likely). Together, Bauer could crack 3,000 strikeouts in his age-38 season. Any steps back -- a season of 21 starts because of injury, a reduction in innings on average, his strikeout totals reducing in the typical fashion of a pitcher in his mid-30s -- would cost him his slim chance.

In between Kershaw and Bauer are a variety of 30-something pitchers on the downside of their careers. Jon Lester is 35. He has 2,259 strikeouts. Cole Hamels is also 35. He’s at 2,498. Felix Hernandez has struck out 2,501. He’s 35 years old and left a rehabilitation start for Triple-A Tacoma early on Friday because of fatigue. Zack Greinke is 35. His 2,520 strikeouts give him an outside shot, as does his ability to pitch well despite an ongoing reduction in velocity. 

Pitchers of that ilk often found career-extending deals in the past. Now, teams are more likely to pay a younger starter much less instead of being on the hook for $10 million or more for a veteran winding down. Or, if they are signed, it’s only a one- or two-year deal. One guy who has a chance: 30-year-old Stephen Strasburg. His strikeout rate has held during his career -- and into this season. The question, as always, is health. It took Strasburg nine-plus seasons just to hit the midway point (1,554 coming into Saturday’s start).

Scherzer’s path is not in doubt. He will need around 240 strikeouts next season to hit it. Which means be prepared sometime in late August when Scherzer will be checking off another milestone, one which will be a challenge to hit again.

 

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