Nationals

Nets drop Thunder 110-93 as Durant ejected

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Nets drop Thunder 110-93 as Durant ejected

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Joe Johnson scored a season-high 33 points, Deron Williams added 19 points and 13 assists, and the Brooklyn Nets snapped Oklahoma City's 12-game home winning streak by beating the Thunder 110-93 Wednesday night in a game featuring the first ejection of Kevin Durant's career.

The Nets squandered a 23-point lead and allowed Oklahoma City to tie it at 85 before ripping off a 23-8 run to seize control right back. Durant was ejected near the end of the surge, arguing with Danny Crawford after the referee had already issued a technical foul against Kendrick Perkins.

Durant scored 27 points and Russell Westbrook had 26 points and 10 assists for Oklahoma City, which lost for only the third time at home this season.

Durant, the three-time scoring champion, had never before been ejected in his six NBA seasons but got tossed after Brooklyn rallied largely from the foul line. The Nets made 11 free throws in a span of just over 5 minutes, pulling away after Oklahoma City had finally fought all the way back.

Brook Lopez added 25 points as Brooklyn ended a seven-game losing streak in the series and got a win for interim coach P.J. Carlesimo against the team that fired him back in 2008.

The Thunder clamped down after trailing by 16 at halftime, rallying to pull within 71-68 when Westbrook finished off a 12-3 burst with a jumper from the left elbow with 3:47 left in the third quarter. Lopez powered his way in for a two-handed slam to stem the tide for Brooklyn, but Oklahoma City kept coming.

Durant and Kevin Martin connected on consecutive 3-pointers to finally even it up at 85 with 7:11 to play, only for Johnson to answer with a runner at the other end to put the Nets right back ahead and start the clinching run.

The Nets managed to get Carlesimo a rare win in Oklahoma City - something that proved difficult during his brief stretch on the Thunder sidelines.

Carlesimo was the coach when Oklahoma City got its franchise, leading the SuperSonics for their final season in Seattle and then going 1-12 in charge of the Thunder. He was fired and replaced - then on an interim basis - by Scott Brooks, who has overseen the team's rise into a championship contender.

Back when Carlesimo was in charge, Durant was starting his second year in the NBA and Westbrook was a rookie who had yet to break into the starting lineup. Now, they're both established All-Stars.

``For it to come together as quickly as it has, I think people believed that this was going to be a good team, with the nucleus they had and even starting out, the pieces,'' Carlesimo said beforehand. ``Russell, of course, was a huge addition the first year here and ever since then, there's been good moves and they've tweaked it.''

Carlesimo also singled out the additions of Thabo Sefolosha and Perkins - both after he was fired - as key steps in the franchise's rise.

``It's a team I feel closer to than a lot of other teams. Hopefully, we helped KD and Nick (Collison) a little bit and Russell a tiny bit that first year, but I think it's safe to say they've gone on and overcome whatever coaching they got from me,'' Carlesimo said, drawing laughs.

At the start, it looked like Carlesimo's new squad would run away with it against the Thunder, who started the day with the league's best record.

Johnson and Lopez combined to go 9 for 9 from the field to propel the Nets to a quick 27-11 lead, and Brooklyn tried to keep the hammer down by re-inserting Williams after they had committed three turnovers in a span of five possessions without him to start the second quarter.

Upon returning, Williams immediately set up Keith Bogans for a 3-pointer, then used a behind-the-back, bounce pass for an assist on Kris Humphries' jumper before nailing a 3-pointer of his own to push the lead out to 45-24. Brooklyn led by as much as 23 twice - including at 55-32 after Johnson drilled a 3-pointer off a touch pass from Gerald Wallace - before Westbrook and Serge Ibaka teamed up to score nine straight points to breathe some life into Oklahoma City.

Notes: Carlesimo's only win with the Thunder - after the SuperSonics had relocated from Seattle - came at home on Nov. 2, 2008, against Minnesota. ... The Thunder's largest previous deficit of the season was 16 in a loss at home against Memphis. ... Oklahoma City got a delay of game warning for failing to get onto the court in time for tip-off, as part of the NBA's emphasis on allowing teams 90 seconds between the end of introductions and the tip-off. ... Nets reserve Jerry Stackhouse sat out with a sore right hamstring.

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Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman tests positive for COVID-19 with Opening Day 12 days away

Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman tests positive for COVID-19 with Opening Day 12 days away

The New York Yankees could be without their top relief arm on Opening Night against the Nationals.

Manager Aaron Boone announced Saturday that Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman is experiencing “mild symptoms” after testing positive for the coronavirus and will be away from the team “for the foreseeable future.” Chapman is the third Yankees player to contract the virus after infielder DJ LeMahieu and reliever Luis Cessa tested positive in early July.

Boone’s announcement comes 12 days before the Yankees are scheduled to take on the Nationals in D.C. to kick off MLB’s abbreviated 2020 season. New York will play three games against Washington in the only series between the two clubs this year.

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However, if any team is built to absorb the loss of its closer, it’s the Yankees. Boone said that reliever Zack Britton would be the “natural guy” to handle ninth-inning duties if Chapman isn’t ready for the start of the season. New York’s bullpen also includes Adam Ottavino, Chad Green and Tommy Kahnle, each of whom—like Britton—would be a closer on most other teams.

On Friday, MLB and the players union announced that 28 of the 30 MLB teams had at least one player or staff member test positive for the coronavirus between intake screening and monitoring testing. Overall, 83 of the 11,149 samples collected have come back positive—a rate of 0.7 percent.

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Juan Soto, Victor Robles, Howie Kendrick among several Nationals players still not in Summer Camp

Juan Soto, Victor Robles, Howie Kendrick among several Nationals players still not in Summer Camp

WASHINGTON --More than a week into the Major League Baseball’s reboot, and its gleefully-named and grotesquely-sponsored Summer Camp, the Nationals are still in wait-and-see mode.

Two players tested positive for Coronavirus at intake screening. The team is not obligated to release their names and cannot do so without the player’s permission. So, what we do know is Juan Soto, Victor Robles and Howie Kendrick are among multiple players not yet in Nationals Park for workouts 12 days before the season is scheduled to begin.

Their health and safety is paramount. However, when they are not working with the team, the organization needs to formulate a baseball-specific plan to go forward without them, should the need arise. And, that time is close because the preparation window is closing.

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“Right now, we’re taking things one day at a time,” Davey Martinez said Saturday. “I’ve got to put eyes on these guys and see where they’re at. I know Soto was actually working out pretty good in the Dominican back home, so was Robles. I talked to those guys. We talked to the strength-and-conditioning guys. They think they’re in really good shape. They worked really hard. We’ll have to get them on the field.

“The biggest thing is they can be in great shape, but how much baseball shape have they done? To me, where something happens, if anybody strains an oblique, you’re looking at a significant amount of time. You’re probably looking at almost a whole season here with only 60 games. We got to be careful, we’ve got to see where they’re at. Then once they get here, we’ll determine whether they’re going to be ready or not.”

The Nationals have three exhibition games scheduled before the season opener against Gerrit Cole and the New York Yankees. They can carry 30 players into that game. Martinez is trying to worry about who is in the stadium since he has no control over the clearances for the players who are not.

“We’re in a difficult situation,” Martinez said. “We really are with these guys. We’ve done everything we can. I know our strength guys have Zoomed with them and actually put them on some kind of workout program and watching them do what they can do in their apartment. You’re talking about some of our younger players, too. We don’t want to get them hurt. We’ve got to be smart. We’re also talking about a shorter season where we’ve got to win games right away. We’ll see how these guys come in and for me, it’s the baseball shape....Standing on their feet for seven, eight, nine innings.”

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Catcher Raudy Read played first base during Saturday’s intrasquad workout at Nationals Park. He was there in part because Read could well be a first baseman in the long-term. The Nationals also needed another body at the spot because Eric Thames -- their lone true first baseman available -- played for the opposing side.

The team variations spread across the infield and into the outfield because Soto, Robles and Luis Garcia remain in quarantine.

Martinez said “hopefully” the players in quarantine will be with the team soon. Even if they are, their window to be prepared for Cole is extremely limited, which is going to force the Nationals to start making contingency plans.