Nationals

Suns rally to beat Lakers in Nash's return for LA

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Suns rally to beat Lakers in Nash's return for LA

PHOENIX (AP) Michael Beasley scored a season-high 27 points and the Phoenix Suns rallied from 13 down in the fourth quarter to hand the Los Angeles Lakers their eighth straight road loss 92-86 on Wednesday night.

The dramatic comeback came in Steve Nash's first game in Phoenix since he left for the Lakers after last season.

The Lakers, who had won three straight - all at home, lost Dwight Howard when he reinjured his right shoulder with 6:57 to play.

Beasley, whose previous season best of 25 came two games earlier, scored on a scrambling layup as the shot clock was expiring to put the Suns ahead 88-86 with 43.8 seconds to play.

Kobe Bryant had 17 points and nine assists, but missed what would have been the tying layup with 24 seconds to play. Howard had nine points and 14 rebounds before he left after aggravating the shoulder injury that sidelined him for three games earlier this month. Metta World Peace scored 15, Pau Gasol 14 and Jamison 13 for Los Angeles.

The Lakers played the first of seven straight on the road, where they haven't won since Dec. 22.

The Suns, who improved to 3-2 since Alvin Gentry was fired and replaced by interim coach Lindsey Hunter, outscored the Lakers 29-13 in the fourth quarter.

Down 78-65 with 10 minutes left after Antawn Jamison scored 10 straight Lakers points, the Suns went on an 8-0 spurt to 78-73. But Bryant's 22-footer with 6:05 left had Los Angeles ahead 80-73.

Phoenix outscored the Lakers 19-6 the rest of way.

After Bryant threw up an airball under P.J. Tucker's tight defense, Jared Dudley sank a 3-pointer to tie it at 82 with 3:39 left. After a turnover by the Lakers, Beasley's 17-footer made it 84-82, then Luis Scola sank a 15-footer to complete a 13-2 run that had Phoenix ahead 86-82 with 1:55 left.

Bryant's driving layup cut it to 86-84 with 1:35 to go, then Nash knocked the ball loose from Scola for a turnover and Bryant's two free throws tied it at 86-86 with 1:07 to play.

That set up Beasley's drive. The Suns reserve, whose play has blossomed since Turner took over, almost lost control of the ball as the shot clock wound down, but managed to drive to the hoop for a layup that made 88-86. Bryant's driving miss followed and the Suns wrapped it up from the foul line.

A video tribute to Nash during a first-quarter timeout drew a rousing standing ovation from the crowd, a mixture of Lakers and Suns fans. Nash responded with a wave as the Lakers came back onto the court.

It was a warm remembrance of the high-flying style that Nash and coach Mike D'Antoni, now coaching the Lakers, brought to Phoenix. Nash won two MVPs and the team made the Western Conference finals twice in Nash's eight seasons. Nash, who turns 39 on Feb. 7, left the Suns for Los Angeles in a sign-and-trade deal at the end of last season.

Nash finished with 11 points and two assists.

Marcin Gortat had 14 points and 12 rebounds as five Suns reached double figures.

Neither team led by more than five points in the first half with the game tied 41-41 at the break.

The Lakers outscored Phoenix 23-10 to start the third quarter, taking a 64-51 lead on a layup by Peace with 3:26 left in the period. He also had a pair of 3s in the run.

Jamison finished the quarter with a long 2-pointer, followed by a 3, and the Lakers led 73-63 entering the fourth.

It was a stretch of 10 consecutive points for Jamison, whose layup made it 78-65 with 10 minutes to play.

Notes: The Suns were in black uniforms for the first time since 2000. ... The Lakers don't play at home until Feb. 12, against Phoenix. ... Suns C Jermaine O'Neal missed his fifth straight game because of an irregular heartbeat. ... D'Antoni had lunch Wednesday with good friend Gentry. ... 18-time Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps was in the crowd.

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Wild-card tracker: Nationals thankful for Marlins, Cubs slide back

Wild-card tracker: Nationals thankful for Marlins, Cubs slide back

Back before all this mania, Miami, as putrid as its season would be, loomed as a factor.

Handling the Marlins would be key for any contender. It wasn’t a question of winning, but of how much winning would occur against one of the league’s worst teams.

Following Friday’s 6-4 win in a sparsely attended Marlins Park, the Nationals moved to 14-3 against Miami this season. They are 16 games over. 500 for the year. They are plus-11 against Miami alone.

Asdrúbal Cabrera homered again, Trea Turner hit two homers, and Daniel Hudson pitched two innings to earn the save. So, the Nationals, 84-68, hold a one-game lead for the top wild-card spot. Milwaukee won again, joining a long list of teams to beat up on the Pittsburgh Pirates since the post-All-Star-break portion of the schedule began. Pittsburgh may be the league’s worst team, at the moment, and the Brewers host it for two more this weekend.

Trouble is brewing for Chicago. It lost again to St. Louis -- this time a 2-1 mid-day defeat in Wrigley Field. The Cubs have lost four in a row. They are three games behind the Nationals and two behind the Brewers. Their path to 90 wins, which may ultimately be the threshold for postseason entrance, is narrowing.

The Mets won their third consecutive game. They are hanging around, 3 ½ games behind the Brewers with nine remaining on the schedule. Their wild-card elimination number is six.

News for Philadelphia is more dire. The Phillies dropped to 78-74 Friday night following a 5-2 loss in Cleveland. They are now five behind Milwaukee. Their wild-card elimination number is a mere five. 

Which brings us to the more detailed math portion of this program. Here are the postseason chances for each team, according to fivethirtyeight.com:

Nationals, 96 percent

Brewers, 84 percent

Cubs, 15 percent

Mets, 5 percent

Phillies, less than one percent

Coming up Saturday:

St. Louis at Chicago, 2:20 p.m., Hudson (16-7, 3.35 ERA) vs. Quintana (13-8, 4.37)

New York at Cincinnati, 4:10 p.m., Wheeler (11-7, 4.09) vs. DeSclafani (9-9, 3.93)

Washington at Miami, 6:10 p.m., Strasburg (17-6, 3.49) vs. Yamamoto (4-5, 4.87)

Philadelphia at Cleveland, 7:10 p.m., Vargas (6-8, 4.48) vs. Plesac (8-6, 3.64)

Pittsburgh at Milwaukee, 7:10 p.m., Marvel (0-2, 9.00) vs. Davies (10-7, 3.70)

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Beyond the Scoreboard: NLL changes and social responsibility

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USA TODAY Sports

Beyond the Scoreboard: NLL changes and social responsibility

By Rick Horrow

Podcast edited by Tanner Simkins

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE FULL PODCAST

  1. SportsBusiness Journal lauds corporate social responsibility. Amidst a recent roundup of sports CSR initiatives, SportsBusiness Journal noted that the first project on which educational platform developer EverFi collaborated with a sports property was “a financial literacy program that regional bank BBVA offered for use by elementary school students in a handful of NBA markets, including Dallas, Houston, and Phoenix.” When Houston hosted the NBA All-Star Game in 2013, league sponsor BBVA arranged for Rockets star James Harden to appear at a participating school. “While it’s cool to have a BBVA banker come into the classroom, it’s even cooler if James Harden shows up,” said Jon Chapman, co-founder and president of global partnerships for EverFi, which has developed online educational modules on topics ranging from financial literacy to STEM to anti-bullying, branded for presentation by teams, leagues, and sponsors. After Houston, EverFi developed educational modules for the NHL and NHLPA around science, technology, engineering and math; for the NFL and the United Way around character development and African American history; for MLB focusing on learning loss during summer vacation; and with MLS around anti-bullying. We look forward to celebrating a Sport Business Handbook event with EverFi at their Washington, DC headquarters on October 2
  2. The National Lacrosse League announces details for the 2019-2020 season, which include divisional realignment, playoff format and schedule type after the addition of two expansion teams and new market Halifax. The league will feature 13 teams in the upcoming season after fielding 11 last year. To accommodate the addition of expansion teams, the New York Riptide, Rochester Knighthawks, and new market Halifax Thunderbirds, as well as maintaining an eye towards continued expansion, the NLL will shift to a three-division format in 2019-2020. “The league has had unprecedented expansion over the last three years. With two more teams coming in this year along with a new market in Halifax, we felt the need to reexamine conference alignments, schedule and playoff formats to prepare for future expansion. We also wanted to create exciting rivalries for the fans, the best travel scenarios for teams and players and competitive match-ups for our 13 franchises,“ said NLL Commissioner and Sport Business Handbook contributor Nick Sakiewicz. Along with unprecedented expansion, the NLL is clearly looking at unprecedented success.
  3. Cal Ripken, Jr.’s celebrity golf tournament draws in legendary athletes across major U.S. sports leagues. According to the Patriot News, the event, featuring such legends as Julius Erving, Lawrence Taylor, Ozzie Smith, and Jim McMahon, was held to benefit the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation. The inaugural golf outing was held in 2011, and since then, the event has raised several million dollars for the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation. The principal goals of the foundation are to utilize baseball- and softball-themed programs in an effort to build character and teach life lessons to underprivileged children. Founded in 2001, the Foundation has served kids in all 50 states and in other countries such as Canada and Nicaragua. With over 20 Hall of Famers across the NFL and MLB, the event has an impressive amount of star power to help draw attention to giving back to those less privileged through baseball and softball.