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No. 5 Georgia gaining momentum for postseason

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No. 5 Georgia gaining momentum for postseason

ATLANTA (AP) Mark Richt was stunned.

During a break only minutes after Georgia scored its first touchdown early in Saturday night's game, Auburn fans suddenly cheered.

Richt said at first he didn't know what led to the roar from the home fans at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Then he realized the Auburn fans were cheering top-ranked Alabama's loss to Texas A&M.

``After a little bit of thinking, I thought that might have been it,'' Richt said with a smile.

The Alabama loss also could be big for No. 5 Georgia, though Richt said he didn't take time to consider the ramifications for his team.

``I didn't get too caught up in it,'' Richt said of the Alabama loss. ``I really was most concerned about this one.''

Richt's players followed his lead and kept their focus on Auburn. The result was the Bulldogs' most complete effort of the season in a 38-0 win that clinched Georgia's spot in the Southeastern Conference championship game, likely against Alabama, on Dec. 1.

With a little help, Georgia could have more on the line than its third SEC championship under Richt.

Georgia could move into the national championship picture if the Bulldogs keep winning, including in the SEC championship game, and more undefeated teams lose.

Richt said Sunday he hasn't talked with his players about possible national championship hopes.

``Quite frankly we're not doing that right now,'' Richt said. ``We know we're playing in Atlanta. We know that's settled right now. We know there's a lot of work to do in the meantime.''

Georgia (9-1, 7-1 SEC), which plays Georgia Southern on Saturday, is rolling with four straight wins.

Aaron Murray has returned to form after throwing three interceptions in Georgia's key 17-9 win over Florida. Since that game, Murray has passed for seven touchdowns with no interceptions in back-to-back wins over Mississippi and Auburn.

Murray completed 18 of 24 passes for 208 yards and three touchdowns - all in the first half - against Auburn. Georgia led 28-0 at halftime. Murray led two more scoring drives in the third quarter then sat out the final 15 minutes.

``Aaron was very sharp,'' Richt said.

For the season, Murray has 24 touchdowns with seven interceptions.

Murray's play-action passes were set up by the running of freshman tailbacks Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall. Gurley ran for 116 yards and a touchdown, including a long run of 49 yards. Marshall added a 62-yard scoring run and had 105 yards on only eight carries.

Georgia's overwhelming balance on offense and strong defense convinced most Auburn fans to leave in the third quarter.

``It was awesome,'' Murray said. ``We looked up midway through the third quarter and I was like, `Man, we've got more fans here than they do right now.'''

Georgia fans celebrated a second straight trip to the SEC championship game, chanting ``SEC! SEC!''

``It's a great feeling,'' said linebacker Jarvis Jones, who had two sacks, giving him 10 1/2 for the season.

Jones, a third-year sophomore in 2011, and other top underclassmen decided to return this season instead of entering the NFL draft. Jones said the players returned for another shot at the SEC title after losing to LSU in last year's conference championship game.

``We've been training all year for it,'' Jones said. ``Everybody decided to come back and focus and put the work in. It started in the spring. The leaders on the team have been at the forefront, making sure everybody takes care of business. We've been reaching our goal every week.''

Georgia qualified for its fifth SEC title game in 12 years under Richt after also making it in 2002-03, 2005 and 2011-12. Richt's teams won SEC championships in 2002 and 2005.

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Wizards have talked to the Spurs about Kawhi Leonard, report says

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Wizards have talked to the Spurs about Kawhi Leonard, report says

After already making significant changes to their roster, the Wizards may not be done this offseason, as they have been in talks with the San Antonio Spurs about a potential trade for superstar Kawhi Leonard, according to a new report by ESPN

Read this from Adrian Wojnarowski:

Still, the bidding war among Boston, Philadelphia and the Lakers never materialized. The Los Angeles Clippers, Denver, Phoenix, Portland, Toronto and Washington are among teams who've talked with San Antonio, league sources said.

The Wizards certainly make sense as a Leonard suitor. They are in the East, meaning the Spurs could trade Leonard to them and not have to worry about facing him as often. Plus, they have a solid group of tradeable assets and ones that seem to fit the Spurs model.

Otto Porter is a versatile, young player under team control who plays an unselfish style and would likely embrace playing in a small market. He also has a salary ($26M in 2018-19) that isn't far off from Leonard's ($21M in 2018-19), so the money could be easily matched.

The Wizards also have Tomas Satoransky and Kelly Oubre, Jr., two young and up-and-coming players. Plus, they have draft picks, though ones that are unlikely to convey as lottery selections.

The Spurs have reportedly been more interested in getting players that can help now rather than draft picks to rebuild. That makes sense, as they still won 47 games last year despite Leonard only playing in nine of them due to injury.

The question in any Wizards and Spurs talks would be whether they would want one of Washington's All-Stars in John Wall and Bradley Beal. It would be tough to imagine the Wizards parting with either guy for Leonard, who carries some risk not only because of his quadriceps injury but also because he can opt out of his contract and leave after next season.

Just because the Wizards have talked to the Spurs doesn't mean they are serious contenders for Leonard, but it does show they are serious about improving their roster this summer. If they got Leonard and didn't part with Wall and Beal, that would be some team.

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Orioles reportedly have deal in place to trade Manny Machado to Dodgers

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Orioles reportedly have deal in place to trade Manny Machado to Dodgers

When Manny Machado returns from the 2018 MLB All-Star Break, he will not be donning a Baltimore Orioles uniform. 

The All-Star shortstop is expected to be traded from Baltimore to the Los Angeles Dodgers, barring any last-minute changes, according to multiple media reports. 

That being said, the Machado trade talks remain fluid and both the Phillies and Brewers are still trying to work a trade for the 26-year-old third baseman, according to Jon Heyman. The Diamondbacks are also reportedly trying to lure the four-time All-Star to the desert, while the Yankees decided to pull out of the Machado sweepstakes just prior to the All-Star festivities in Washington, D.C. 

While the details of the trade have yet to be revealed, the Dodgers will reportedly include top outfield prospect Yusniel Diaz in the Machado trade, according to Heyman.

According to Jim Bowden, when regular-season play returns, Machado will be in the National League, although which team he plays for is still up in the air.

With the Orioles sitting a historically awful 39.5 games out of first place at the All-Star Break, trading Machado is the first major step toward a complete overhaul. The Orioles drafted Machado out of Brito High School in Miami, Fla., with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2010 MLB Draft. Since then, Machado has drawn comparisons to iconic third basemen Brooks Robinson and Alex Rodriguez, despite being moved to shortstop full-time this past season, and is widely considered one of the three best position players in professional baseball.

Machado is currently batting .315 with 24 home runs and 65 RBIs.

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