Nationals

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Kevin Durant scored 27 points, Kevin Martin added 24 and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Indiana Pacers 104-93 on Sunday night for their eighth straight win.

A meeting of the NBA's highest-scoring offense and the league's stingiest defense went the Thunder's way as they eclipsed 100 points for the 12th straight game.

Of course, Oklahoma City boasts the NBA's second-best defense to go with all that offensive firepower.

Russell Westbrook added 21 points and came up with a big block against 7-foot-2 center Roy Hibbert - 11 inches taller than him - during a late 8-0 burst by the Thunder that put it away after the Pacers had pulled within three.

David West had 21 points for Indiana, which had all five starters score in double figures.

KNICKS 112, NUGGETS 106

NEW YORK (AP) - Carmelo Anthony returned from a two-game absence with 34 points against his former team, and New York the NBA's only team unbeaten at home.

Back in the starting lineup after missing two games with a cut on the middle finger of his left hand that required stitches, Anthony twice made baskets in the final 2:08 after Denver had pulled within four points.

Jason Kidd scored 17 points for the Knicks, who bounced back from their worst offensive performance of the season a night earlier in Chicago and improved to 8-0 at Madison Square Garden. Tyson Chandler and J.R. Smith each had 15 points.

Ty Lawson had 23 points and Danilo Gallinari had 21 points and nine rebounds against the team that drafted him and later dealt him in the package for Anthony in February 2011.

JAZZ 117, LAKERS 110

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Paul Millsap scored 24 points, Mo Williams added 22 and Utah won its third straight.

Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 34 points, making 12 of 14 free throws, as they fell to 4-7 in their last 11 games.

Al Jefferson and reserves Gordon Hayward and Enes Kanter added 14 points each for the Jazz, which improved to 4-9 on the road in ending a two-game skid away from home.

The Lakers never led in the second half while losing their second in a row. They trailed by three to start the fourth quarter only to get outscored 20-8 and fall behind by 15. Hayward had seven points and Kanter six in Utah's spurt.

MAGIC 98, SUNS 90

PHOENIX (AP) - Rookie Andrew Nicholson scored nine of his career-high 19 points in the fourth quarter and Orlando handed Phoenix its seventh straight loss.

Nicholson made 9 of 11 shots and grabbed nine rebounds, also the best of his young career.

J.J. Redick scored 17 of his 20 points in the first half for the Magic in the final stop of their five-game road trip.

Shannon Brown scored 17 and Jared Dudley 15 for the Suns, who were without starting point guard Goran Dragic due to illness.

Phoenix's losing streak is its longest since 2004.

BUCKS 97, NETS 88

NEW YORK (AP) - Brandon Jennings scored 26 points, Monta Ellis had 24 points and Milwaukee withstood Brooklyn's fourth-quarter rally.

The Bucks led by 29 points with 6:59 left in the third quarter but the Nets got within six after Deron Williams found Kris Humphries open for an uncontested dunk.

Ellis' layup then made it 87-79 before the Nets called a timeout with 2:24 left in regulation. On the ensuing play, Gerald Wallace lost his balance and the ball and Milwaukee's Larry Sanders made a reverse layup to extend the Bucks' lead to 10 points. MarShon Brooks, who scored 14 points, then hit a 3-pointer to bring the Nets within seven but Marquis Daniels' hit a 3-pointer to put the game out of reach.

Williams had 18 points and eight assists and Wallace added 16 points and 16 rebounds for the Nets.

CLIPPERS 102, RAPTORS 83

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Jamal Crawford led a fourth-quarter rally by the reserves with 16 points and the Clippers won their sixth in a row and handed Toronto its 10th consecutive road loss.

The backups gave the Clippers their first double-digit lead of the game after Toronto kept it close through the first three periods before dropping its fourth straight and 10th in its last 11. The Raptors have just four wins this season.

Eric Bledsoe added 14 points to help the Clippers' reserves outscore their counterparts 47-24.

Blake Griffin led the Clippers with 19 points. Chris Paul added 16 points and DeAndre Jordan had 10 rebounds. Caron Butler was the only starter to play in the fourth, coming in only after Matt Barnes was ejected with 1:36 to play.

Toronto's DeMar DeRozan scored 24 points in his hometown. Linas Kleiza, who started in place of injured Mickael Pietrus, added 17 points, including five 3-pointers. Amir Johnson had 11 points and 12 rebounds for Toronto.

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3 Up, 3 Down: Allow Juan Soto to distract you from Bryce Harper

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USA TODAY

3 Up, 3 Down: Allow Juan Soto to distract you from Bryce Harper

Nationals fans are teetering on the edge. 

On one hand, the Nats are 3.5 games out of first place after a 10-week span full of injuries and underperformance. The team just acquired All-Star closer Kelvin Herrera, and their 19-year-old left fielder looks like an All-Star already. 

On the other hand, doom is imminent. The Monstars stole Bryce Harper's abilities at some point over the last three weeks, Steven Strasburg can't stay healthy, and the offense is pushing everyone's patience to the limit. 

So who's overperforming? Who's underperforming? Who's out there just trying their very best? LET'S LIST. 

Three Up

1. Juan Soto

Our large young son Juan continues to impress. He's now hitting .325/.411/.602 with a 1.013 OPS in 95 plate appearances over 25 games. That means we're mercifully starting to leave the 'fluky start' narrative behind. He's been the best hitter on the Nationals by a wide margain since he got called up - although that's perhaps more of an indicitment on the rest of the lineup than it is on Soto. Still, in less than a month he's probably earned the starting left field spot for the rest of the summer. Not bad. 

2. Justin Miller

Miller is 31, on his third team in four years, and owns a career ERA north of 4.50. Despite all of this, Miller's been the best reliever in baseball since coming up for the Nats. Of relief pitchers with at least 10 innings pitched (we hear your sample size comment and are not going to acknolwdge it), no one has a better FIP than Miller (0.64). He's striking out over half of the batters he sees and has yet to walk a single person this year. All the elite relief pitchers are already at 30-40 innings pitched, so Miller has a while to go before these stats mean a whole lot. If he stays even 75 percent as good as he's started, the Nats' bullpen looks scary. 

3. Michael A. Taylor

Have yourself a week or two, Michael A.! The centerfielder is slashing .500/.556/.583 over the last 14 days, the first of many "Maybe He Put It Together?!" runs we'll see from him this year. He also has six stolen bases during that span, more than anyone else on the team. His plate discipline has been better over the last two weeks, with a BB% a shade over 11 percent - only behind Juan Soto for highest on the team. Juan Soto, man. 

Three Down

1. Bryce Harper

A couple things here. We'll start with the admission that Bryce Harper is obviously not having a superb year. We've already briefly touched on why looking at only his batting average is a lazy way of judging his season, and we stand by that. With that said - Harper's had a bad season. The last month has been particularly painful. There's no way of dressing up a .189/.278/.400 slashline over the last 30 days. Still, his contact has been as great as his luck terrible - there's a positive regression coming, we promise. 

2. Pedro Severino 

And you think Harper's been slumping?? Over the same 30 days, Severino has hit .098/.179/.115 with a .294 OPS. He's essentially daring the Nats to put together a trade package for JT Realmuto at this point. He has six hits over his last 68 plate appearances and five of them are singles. 

3. Shawn Kelley

Kelley owns a 6.09 FIP and a 4.32 ERA over the last month (10 games, 8.1 innings pitched). He's walking close to nine percent of the hitters he's faced during that time. He has a 12.5 HR/FB over the last month. With the trade for Kelvin Herrera and the sudden emergence of Justin Miller, Kelley's role going forward isn't quite as clear anymore. 

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Wizards 2018 NBA Draft prospect profile: Jerome Robinson

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USA TODAY Sports

Wizards 2018 NBA Draft prospect profile: Jerome Robinson

The Washington Wizards hold the 15th and 44th overall picks in the 2018 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects projected to be picked around where the Wizards will select...

2018 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Preview: Jerome Robinson

School: Boston College
Position: Shooting guard
Age: 21
Height: 6-5
Weight: 188
Wingspan: 6-7
Max vertical: N/A

2017/18 stats: 20.7 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 3.3 apg, 0.9 spg, 0.1 bpg, 48.5 FG%, 40.9 3PT% (2.3 3PT/5.7 3PA), 83.0 FT%
Player comparison: Danny Green
Projections: NBC Sports Washington 29th, NBADraft.net 16th, Bleacher Report 19th, Sports Illustrated 17th

5 things to know:

*A three-year player at BC, Robinson developed into a big-time scorer before making the leap to the NBA. He averaged 18.7 points as a sophomore and then 20.7 points as a junior while improving his shooting percentages across the board. He went from 42.3 percent from the field as a sophomore to 48.5 in 2017-18.

*Robinson turned himself into an excellent three-point shooter. After shooting just 33.3 percent as a sophomore, he got that up to 40.9 percent as a junior and on 5.7 attempts per game. That trajectory bodes well for Robinson's chances at the next level.

*He has a quick release on his jumper, giving him the ability to be effective on catch-and-shoot plays off screens. Robinson could develop into a reliable scorer who doesn't need the ball in his hands as a primary focus of the offense. He also showed the ability to throw down some powerful dunks and finish with creativity at the rim. He didn't record a vertical leap at the NBA Combine, but playing above and around the rim didn't appear to be a problem in college.

*Though it didn't show in his last season at Boston College, Robinson was adept at forcing turnovers in his first two years. He averaged 1.6 steals per game across his freshman and sophomore seasons and 16 times in his career had three steals or more in a game.

*Questions for Robinson would include his versatility and speed. Some draft evaluators wonder if he will be able to get separation off the dribble at the NBA level. Also, he put up decent rebounding and assists numbers in college but didn't exactly stand out in either category.

Fit with Wizards: Robinson would give the Wizards depth at the shooting guard position and they need that. He could help Bradley Beal pare down his minutes and offer a scoring punch off the Wizards' bench. The Wizards could use a reliable shooter to help space the floor for Kelly Oubre, Jr. and others in the second unit.

The problems with Robinson's fit would be his lack of positional versatility and what appears to be a relatively low ceiling. He's not the freak athlete that some of his counterparts are at shooting guard. If the Wizards are choosing between Robinson and guys like Zhaire Smith and Lonnie Walker IV, they could view the latter two as more enticing because of their potential. Robinson would represent a safer pick while others could pay off big-time and have a greater impact on the franchise in the long-term.

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More draft prospect profiles:

Kevin Knox, PF, Kentucky

Miles Bridges, SF, Michigan State

Robert Williams, PF/C, Texas A&M

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky

Zhaire Smith, SG, Texas Tech

Landry Shamet, PG/SG, Wichita State

Gary Trent, Jr., SG, Duke

Lonnie Walker IV, SG, Miami

Anfernee Simons, PG/SG, IMG Academy

Khyri Thomas, SG, Creighton

Chandler Hutchison, SG/SF, Boise State

Kevin Huerter, SG, Maryland

Mitchell Robinson, C, Western Kentucky

Troy Brown, SG/SF, Oregon

Donte DiVincenzo, SG, Villanova

Moritz Wagner, PF/C, Michigan

Aaron Holiday, PG, UCLA

Keita Bates-Diop, SF, Ohio State

For more on the NBA Draft, check out our latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast:

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