Nationals

Pacers dominate Bobcats inside, win 103-76

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Pacers dominate Bobcats inside, win 103-76

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Roy Hibbert had 18 points and seven rebounds, and the Indiana Pacers handed the Charlotte Bobcats their 13th straight home loss with a 103-76 victory Tuesday night.

The Pacers bounced back from Sunday's 11-point defeat to the Brooklyn Nets and won for the fifth time in six games.

With team owner Michael Jordan looking on from the bench, the Bobcats lost their fifth in a row. They've dropped 24 of 26 since Thanksgiving.

Indiana won this one going away behind some dominant inside play, outrebounding the Bobcats 60-31 and outscoring them 52-22 in the paint, once again exposing Charlotte's problems down low.

Paul George had 16 points and 10 rebounds, while David West added 15 points and eight rebounds for the Pacers. George Hill chipped in with 16 points and seven rebounds.

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There’s a Harper in DC again: Nationals trade for reliever Ryne Harper

There’s a Harper in DC again: Nationals trade for reliever Ryne Harper

It may have taken until Jan. 29, but the Nationals finally made their first trade of the offseason Wednesday when they acquired right-hander reliever Ryne Harper from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for 21-year-old pitching prospect Hunter McMahon.

Of course, he won’t be the first Harper to don the Curly W. He’ll have a lot of work to do if he wants to top the legacy of the former MVP now playing in Philadelphia.

Putting that aside, he’s joining the Nationals coming off a solid rookie season in which he posted a 3.81 ERA with one save and 12 holds in 61 appearances for Minnesota.

At 30 years old, Harper will certainly be a bit seasoned for a second-year player. Per Brooks Baseball, his fastball averaged out at 89.7 mph while he also mixed in healthy usage of a slider and curveball. He isn’t a big strikeout pitcher (8.3 K/9), allowing mostly grounders (38.5 percent) and flyballs (37.3 percent).

Harper was designated for assignment by the Twins to make room for Josh Donaldson on the 40-man roster. Washington was among the suitors for Donaldson; although they didn’t end up signing him, the third baseman still managed to make an impact that affected the Nationals.

McMahon was a ninth-round pick out of last year’s draft who posted a 0.71 ERA over nine appearances last season between rookie ball and Low-A Auburn.

Washington figures to give Harper a chance to compete for a bullpen spot in spring training, joining a crowded group that only has three pitchers guaranteed spots heading into the year: Sean Doolittle, Will Harris and Daniel Hudson.

After the Nationals made the trade official Wednesday, their 40-man roster is now officially full. For fans still holding out hope that Kris Bryant could be going to D.C., this trade only lowers those odds even further after Bryant lost his service-time grievance with the Chicago Cubs.

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Chris Simms doesn't think the Redskins should lock in on Chase Young with the No. 2 pick

Chris Simms doesn't think the Redskins should lock in on Chase Young with the No. 2 pick

It's been widely presumed by Redskins fans, draft experts and many others across the league that Washington is expected to use the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL Draft on Ohio State edge rusher Chase Young.

The 20-year-old is considered a generational talent and one of the best prospects in recent memory. Dwayne Haskins has vowed for the Burgundy and Gold to draft his Ohio State teammate. Derrius Guice has tweeted it too

But NBC Sports analyst Chris Simms is not sure that's the move the right move for the Redskins come April's draft.

"I don't think Chase Young is a lock for the Washington Redskins," Simms said.

Entering the 2019 season, the defensive line was expected to be the strongest position group for the Burgundy and Gold. But the unit, like many others on the team, failed to meet the lofty expectations, and the entire defense struggled as a whole.

But the group is still full of talent. Ryan Kerrigan, should he return in 2020, has been one of the NFL's premier pass rushers since he entered the league in 2011. Washington invested a first-round pick on Montez Sweat a year ago, and the team hopes he can make a large impact in Year 2.

On the interior, Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne are first-rounders that have become staples upfront. Matt Ioannidis was named a Pro Bowl alternate in 2019 and is under contract for two more years.

"The Redskins defensive line is real already," Simms said. "Do they want to put another asset in there? You just got a rookie first-rounder in Montez Sweat. Ryan Kerrigan is still there. You got the Alabama boys in the middle with [Jonathan] Allen and Daron Payne. That's a pretty good front four."

The Redskins defensive struggles in 2019 can be attributed to the scheme former defensive coordinator Greg Manusky ran. The 3-4 system he installed had plenty of moving parts, as multiple players complained about the complexity of the system. Kerrigan and Sweat, who are best served getting after the quarterback, were often dropping back in coverage.

New defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio is shifting the unit back to a 4-3 base, which fits the personnel the Redskins currently have much better. Del Rio's scheme is simple and allows players to play fast and to their strengths, something the Redskins defense never did under Manusky.

One of the weaker units on the defense is at cornerback. Quinton Dunbar emerged as a star in 2019, but the Redskins need a solid cornerback on the opposite side of him. Simms thinks Washington would be wise to trade back and maybe select a cover corner later in the first round.

"If I'm the Redskins, I'm thinking about maybe using my assets to strengthen other parts of my team," Simms said. "Maybe you trade down and get a really good cover corner, something like that."

The draft has multiple cornerbacks that are expected to go in the first round, such as Ohio State's Jeffery Okudah, Florida's CJ Henderson, Alabama's Trevon Diggs, and LSU's Kristian Fulton, among others. 

Simms does not question Young's talent, and there's no doubt selecting the pass rusher would improve the Redskins defense. But he believes trading down, getting extra picks, and addressing other needs on the team could be the best way for Washington to attack to draft.

"Chase Young is special. He's every bit in that discussion of being that guy to come off the board at No. 2," Simms said. "I just wonder if it's the right fit for the Washington Redskins. I don't know about that."

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