Nationals

Parker, Duncan carry Spurs past Celtics, 112-100

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Parker, Duncan carry Spurs past Celtics, 112-100

BOSTON (AP) Tony Parker scored a season-high 26 points, Tim Duncan had 20 points and 15 rebounds, and the San Antonio Spurs beat the Boston Celtics 112-100 on Wednesday night.

Reserve Tiago Splitter added a season-high 23 points, many coming when the Spurs took charge late in the third and early in the fourth.

Rajon Rondo had 22 points and extended his consecutive streak of double-digit assist games to 35 with 15. Paul Pierce, who sprained his ankle in a 20-point loss at Detroit on Sunday, had 19 points.

DeJuan Blair chipped in with 12 points for the Spurs (9-3), but it was Parker winning the battle of elite point guards against Rondo that carried San Antonio.

Brandon Bass scored 16 and Kevin Garnett 14 for Boston (6-6), which managed just one offensive rebound and lost for the third time in four games.

The Spurs closed the third quarter with a 6-0 run, with Splitter getting a pair of baskets, to take an 82-74 lead.

They opened the fourth by scoring eight of the initial 10 points to open their biggest lead at that point, 90-76 on Splitter's three-point play with just under 10 minutes to play.

Splitter's two free throws increased it to 94-78 with 8:41 to go.

Boston closed the gap to nine, but the Spurs had a pair of easy driving baskets by Parker to maintain a comfortable margin.

That was until Rondo answered with a long jumper from the right corner off his own steal and a spinning bank shot, closing it to 104-98 with 3:17 left.

But that was as close as Boston would get.

Duncan had five points during a 9-0 spree that gave the Spurs a 69-60 edge midway into the third quarter. Boston then scored seven of the next nine, closing it to two on Pierce's 3 from the right wing.

Rondo was responsible either with an assist, basket or pass for all the Celtics' 23 points in the opening 8 1/2 minutes of the third quarter. He had eight assists, two baskets and fed Pierce, who got fouled in the lane before hitting two free throws.

In the quarter, the Celtics' playmaker had eight assists and two baskets - accounting for all but one of Boston's buckets - Jeff Green's drive.

Neither team held more than a four-point lead until the Spurs scored 14 of the final 20 points in the first half to take a 56-48 edge into the break. Danny Green nailed a 3-pointer in the middle of the streak, giving him 30 straight games with at least one 3, the league's longest current streak.

NOTES: Boston coach Doc Rivers was asked before the game to compare the play of longtime stars Garnett, known for showing emotion, and the usually fairly stoic Duncan. ``They're both extremely tough and extremely motivated. It's amazing how similar they are and how different they act.'' ... The contest also featured two of the league's top passing point guards in Parker and Rondo. ``They're both terrific,'' Rivers said. ``It's amazing how many good point guards there are in the league right now and you have to prepare for every one differently. It's a good time in the league now for that position.'' ... The Spurs won the only meeting last season - 87-86 when Pierce missed a shot at the buzzer on an isolation over Duncan. ... San Antonio played the first of a six-game road trip, which closes next Thursday in Miami.

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Juan Soto's 2-run double carries Nationals past Orioles

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USA TODAY Sports

Juan Soto's 2-run double carries Nationals past Orioles

WASHINGTON -- A teenager among men, Juan Soto has impressed his teammates on the Washington Nationals with his maturity and, even more so, his potent bat.

Soto hit a tiebreaking two-run double in the eighth inning, and Washington beat the Baltimore Orioles 4-2 Thursday night in the deciding matchup of a three-game interleague series between neighboring rivals.

Soto, a 19-year-old rookie, is batting .326 with 16 RBIs in 28 games. Starting in the cleanup spot for the first time, he drew a walk and delivered the game's pivotal hit.

"I think we're all amazed every single day," Washington ace Max Scherzer said. "He puts together great ABs. He has antics and has some flair. He's a great young player. He's just enjoying himself."

Bryce Harper led off the eighth with a double off Mychal Givens (0-4) and Trea Turner followed with a single. After Anthony Rendon struck out, Soto hit a liner into the gap in left-center.

"He's got unbelievable poise," Nationals manager Dave Martinez said of Soto. "No matter what the situation is, he goes out there with a game plan."

Whatever that plan is, it's effective.

"I just try to be focused and keep working," Soto said.

Rendon homered for the Nationals, who received seven strong innings from Scherzer and flawless work from their bullpen.

Newcomer Kelvin Herrera (1-0) pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning and Sean Doolittle got three straight outs for his 20th save in 21 tries.

Seeking to end a rare run of two straight losses, Scherzer left a tied game after allowing two runs -- both on solo homers -- and striking out nine.

Afterward, the right-hander heaped praise upon Soto for the manner in which he's adapted to playing in the big leagues.

"He has a great feel for the strike zone," Scherzer said. "To have that type of eye, it's remarkable for him to be able to do that at this time and this age and this level."

Activated from the 60-day disabled list before the game, Colby Rasmus homered for the Orioles in his first at-bat since April 6.

"Me and Max, we go way back, so I felt real good," said Rasmus, who had been sidelined with a hip injury.

In addition, Rasmus made an outstanding throw from right field to the plate, nailing Wilmer Difo on a tag-up play in the seventh inning with the score tied.

Mark Trumbo also homered for Baltimore, his sixth of the season and third in four games.

Baltimore starter Kevin Gausman gave up two runs and four hits over six innings. The right-hander was lifted with the score tied, leaving him winless in his last seven starts.

MORE NATS COVERAGE: 

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How drawing up a play in the interview process helped sell the Wizards on Troy Brown

How drawing up a play in the interview process helped sell the Wizards on Troy Brown

While meeting with Oregon's Troy Brown during the pre-draft interview process, evaluators from the Washington Wizards issued him an on-the-spot challenge. Head coach Scott Brooks pulled out a dry-erase clipboard and a pen. He wanted to see Brown draw up a play.

This is a test Brooks has administered before to other players. Some have failed miserably.

"It sounds easy to throw a board at somebody in front of a big group and say 'okay draw a play' and I have seen many plays drawn, and I have seen it where there are not five players on the floor," Brooks said.

That wasn't the case with Brown. He didn't just draw up one play, he drew up several. One in particular came to mind when asked by reporters on Thursday night soon after the Wizards took him 15th overall in the first round of the NBA Draft.

“I think it was a situation where we were down by two or something like that," he said. "It was like a back screen into a slip, and then the fade three and they gave you a lot of various options to cause mismatches on the court for a last minute shot to either go ahead, or even attack the basket for a layup to go into overtime.”

NBC Sports Washington analyst Cory Alexander, a veteran of seven NBA seasons, demonstrated what Brown's play looked like on a whiteboard:

The Xs and Os of basketball flow effortlessly for Brown and Wizards' brass couldn't help but be impressed.

"He really understands the game. I think for a kid that is 18 years old, that is rare but he just has a good feel," Brooks said. 

"We were impressed with his character and the type of person he is and his basketball knowledge," team president Ernie Grunfeld said. "Obviously, like any young player, he has a lot of work to do but he has a lot of the intangibles that I think you need in today's game."

Smarts are a big part of what makes Brown a good basketball player. He isn't a particularly explosive athlete, with a modest 33-inch max vertical leap, but he boasts a 6-foot-10 wingspan and solid agility. Being in the right place at the right time and knowing how to operate an offense helps him make the most of his natural abilities.

Passing is where his basketball IQ comes in handy. Brown is unusually good at distributing for a 6-foot-7 small forward. He averaged 3.2 assists as a freshman at Oregon and nine times had five assists or more in a game.

He can pass like a point guard and the Wizards are excited to implement that skill into their offense.

"Passing is contagious. We’ve been pretty good the last two years and with talking about that how we even want to take another step," Brooks said. "He has the ability to make a lot of quick plays and his ball handling is pretty good for a guy his size. That is one thing I was impressed in his workout last week or when we had him. He is able to take the contact and use his strong frame to get inside the key and make plays.”

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