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Owner defends Grizzlies' trades, commitment to win

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Owner defends Grizzlies' trades, commitment to win

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) The Grizzlies' new owner is defending the trade of his team's leading scorer and other moves to dump salary, saying he believes they can do some ``serious damage'' in the playoffs with the changes.

Robert Pera took part in a web chat Friday with Memphis' season ticket holders along with chief executive officer Jason Levien, and Pera's first question was about whether the new ownership group has the financial ability to run the team.

``This team was built for playoff basketball,'' Pera wrote. ``In playoff basketball, getting defensive stops and creating high percentage scoring opportunities under pressure becomes much more important. ... And that is what this team can do best.''

Pera hadn't spoken publicly since taking over the team Nov. 5.

His Grizzlies traded Marreese Speights and two players along with a future first-round draft pick to Cleveland last week for Jon Leuer and a trade exception. On Wednesday, the Grizzlies sent leading scorer Rudy Gay to Toronto in a three-team trade bringing Memphis Tayshaun Prince, Austin Daye and Ed Davis.

The first trade helped Memphis avoid a $4 million luxury tax hit this season. Trading away Gay clears up $37 million in salary committed by previous owner Michael Heisley, while Memphis now has a trade exception of about $7.5 million that can be used by Memphis over the next year to add another player if needed.

``We made the second trade because we feel it allows us to put a more competitive product on the floor this season and in future seasons,'' Levien wrote. ``We got better. We also picked up a valuable draft pick as well as trade exceptions that will allow us to be opportunistic in going on the offensive moving forward.''

Pera wrote that NBA teams have won titles with superstars and without, and he believes the Grizzlies as they are now built potentially can become the next example.

``Between Tayshuan's winning pedigree, the league's best perimeter defense, and Mark/Zbo returning back to the focal point of the offense; I believe we are a far more dangerous playoff team today,'' Pera wrote of Marc Gasol and All-Star forward Zach Randolph.

The Grizzlies lost 106-89 in Oklahoma City on Thursday night as they spent the first half trying to figure out how to play without Gay and with the new additions not having joined the team. They still rank fourth in the Western Conference with a 29-16 record going into Friday night's game against Washington that still is the best in franchise history at this point in a season.

Pera called the deal bringing Davis an added bonus and said he believes Levien and the front office has done an outstanding job to position Memphis for playoff success this year. Memphis has reached the playoffs each of the last two seasons and made its deepest run in 2011 to the seventh game of the Western Conference semifinals against Oklahoma City with Gay injured.

``We can do some serious damage in these playoffs,'' Pera wrote.

A former Apple engineer, Pera founded Ubiquiti Networks, a California communications technology company that makes WiFi networking equipment. He shared the news that new equipment is being added to the FedExForum to improve WiFi during games for fans.

Asked what has surprised him the most about being an NBA owner, Pera called the power of the media an ``eye-opener.''

``In today's world, social networking has enabled information to disseminate quickly, and in a vacuum, even inaccurate information and misunderstandings can spread fast,'' Pera wrote.

Pera said his business style is substance as an engineer and not a salesman or talker. Pera wrote he prefers to let results speak for themselves. But he did try to send a message to season ticket holders about his commitment to the Grizzlies.

``Although I am not one to speak out much or actively seek publicity, I want Memphians to know that what I want more than anything is to position this team to be wildly successful and do well by the city of Memphis both in the short and long term,'' Pera wrote.

Pera knows the Grizzlies have been heavily scrutinized for these moves with the new owner and changes in the front office.

``Although the way we get there might contradict traditional thought, we are both committed to building something great in Memphis that will hopefully set a new standard for how to run an NBA franchise successfully,'' Pera wrote.

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Capitals vs. Hurricanes preseason Game 4: Time, TV Channel, Live stream, how to watch

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USA Today

Capitals vs. Hurricanes preseason Game 4: Time, TV Channel, Live stream, how to watch

The preseason continues after the Capitals' loss in Montreal last night. They are hoping to gain some momentum and dominate at tonight's game.

Even without the home advantage, they hope to take home a win as they face the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. The Hurricanes are one of the four teams the Capitals will face in preseason play, along with the Bruins, Canadiens and Blues.

The Capitals and Hurricanes will meet once again, next Friday at Capital One Arena. But first, it's time to get back on the ice for Game 4 of the seven-game preseason schedule.

 

CAPITALS-HURRICANES PRESEASON GAME 4: HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Capitals vs. Carolina Hurricanes

Where: PNC Arena, Raleigh, North Carolina

When: Friday, September, 21, 7:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Capitals-Hurricanes preseason game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Hurricanes preseason on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

Radio: Caps Radio 24/7

CAPITALS-HURRICANES PRESEASON TV SCHEDULE:

7:00 PM: Washington Capitals: My Day with the Cup (R)
7:30 PM: NHL Preseason: Capitals @ Carolina Hurricanes 
10:00 PM: Caps Postgame Live (LIVE)

 

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Lobaton’s sacrifice fly lifts Mets past Nationals in 12

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USA TODAY Sports

Lobaton’s sacrifice fly lifts Mets past Nationals in 12

Jose Lobaton hit a go-ahead sacrifice fly against his former team in the 12th inning and the New York Mets beat the Washington Nationals 5-4 on Thursday night.

Lobaton, who spent the previous four years in Washington before signing with the Mets in December, lofted a one-out fly ball off Jefry Rodriguez (3-3) with the bases loaded to score Amed Rosario.

Jacob Rhame (1-2) worked two scoreless innings, and Paul Sewald pitched the 12th for his second save.

Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper was ejected in the 12th for arguing home plate umpire D.J. Reyburn’s called third strike.

Washington starter Max Scherzer pitched seven innings, allowing three runs while striking out 13. He has 290 strikeouts this year, the most for a National since the franchise relocated from Montreal before the 2005 season. Scherzer set the previous mark of 284 in 2016.

However, he never held a lead Thursday. Michael Conforto smashed a two-run homer to left in the third, his 27th of the season. It was also his fourth home run in 23 career at-bats against Scherzer.

Four pitches later, Jay Bruce crushed his ninth home run of the season. It was the sixth time this season New York has hit back-to-back homers.

Washington’s Trea Turner led off the sixth with an infield single. Two batters later, Anthony Rendon golfed Jason Vargas’ changeup to deep left for his 100th career home run to narrow the deficit to 3-2. Vargas allowed two runs and struck out eight over 5 2/3 innings.

Jeff McNeil led off the eighth with a triple and scored two batters later when Bruce punched a single to right past a drawn-in infield. But the Nationals responded with Rendon’s run-scoring groundout and Juan Soto’s RBI double off Robert Gsellman in the bottom half of the inning.

Mets manager Mickey Callaway was ejected in the 10th inning for arguing after Reyburn ruled McNeil had offered on a bunt attempt.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets: INF Wilmer Flores will miss the rest of the season with soreness in both knees. Callaway said Flores has early onset arthritis in both knees and will receive injections to alleviate the pain. “It’s not like surgery is recommended at this time,” Callaway said. “I think rest and a couple injections is supposed to knock this out pretty good.”

UP NEXT

Mets: RHP Jacob deGrom (8-9, 1.78 ERA), who is 5-1 with a 2.76 ERA lifetime at Nationals Park, gets the nod for New York as the four-game series continues.

Nationals: RHP Joe Ross (0-0, 3.60) makes his second start since undergoing Tommy John surgery last year.