Nationals

Rockets beat Lakers 125-112 for 5th straight win

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Rockets beat Lakers 125-112 for 5th straight win

HOUSTON (AP) James Harden scored 31 and Chandler Parsons added 20 to help the Houston Rockets pick up their fifth straight win, a 125-112 victory over the short-handed Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night

Houston trailed by as many as 14 points in the first half, but used a pair of runs in the third quarter to go on top and build a big lead.

Metta World Peace had a season-high 24 points for the Lakers, who were playing without their top three big men Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol and Jordan Hill - all out with injuries.

Kobe Bryant added 20 for the Lakers and Steve Nash had 16 as they tied a season-high with their fourth straight loss.

The Rockets have rallied from double-digit deficits for their last three wins. As usual, they did it on Tuesday night behind the strong play of Harden, who has scored at least 25 points in 13 straight games.

Howard has a torn labrum in his right shoulder, Gasol has a concussion and Hill a right hip injury. All three are out indefinitely. Seven-foot rookie center Robert Sacre made his first career start due to the injuries, and finished with 10 points, four blocked shots and three rebounds.

Jeremy Lin chipped in 19 points with six rebounds and five assists for Houston and Carlos Delfino also scored 19.

The Rockets led by nine midway through the fourth quarter, and used a 5-0 run highlighted by a 3-point play by Lin to make it 112-98. Lin drove to the basket and made the layup as he fell to the court after being fouled by Sacre.

Houston used a 10-2 spurt early in the third quarter to tie it at 69-69 after a 3-point play by Marcus Morris with 6 1/2 minutes left in the quarter.

The Rockets used a 23-11 run after that to take a 92-80 lead near the end of the third quarter. Lin had nine points in that span and Harden added six.

Bryant hit a jump shot with about five minutes left in the third quarter, and the Lakers didn't score another field goal Chris Duhon made a 3-pointer with 48 seconds left in the quarter. The Lakers missed six shots in that span.

Houston led 96-88 at the end of the third quarter.

The Rockets were still down by six midway through the second quarter before using a 7-0 run capped by a 3 from Delfino to take their first lead of the game - 47-46 - about five minutes before halftime.

The game was tied a couple of minutes later when Steve Nash scored five quick points to put the Lakers on top 56-51.

Los Angeles led 62-59 at halftime.

The Lakers led 18-4 early after a run where World Peace made two 3-pointers and Darius Morris made one. The Lakers were up by 13 later in the quarter before Houston used a 12-5 spurt powered by two 3s from Delfino to cut the lead to 34-28 at the end of the first quarter.

NOTES: Gasol was examined by a neurologist on Tuesday and was not cleared to play. He will be re-evaluated on Thursday. ... Harden's 13 straight games with at least 25 points are tied with Moses Malone for the such streak in franchise history.

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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.

RELATED: HOW WILL MLB'S NEW EXTRA INNING WITH A RUNNER ON SECOND RULE WORK STRATEGICALLY?

“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.