Nationals

Thunder rally to stun Kobe, Lakers

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Thunder rally to stun Kobe, Lakers

From Comcast SportsNet
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Even down late, the Oklahoma City Thunder are showing that they are never out. Kevin Durant scored 22 points and rattled in the go-ahead basket on a baseline runner with 18 seconds left, and the Thunder scored the final nine points to rally for a 77-75 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals Wednesday night. Oklahoma City trailed by seven with 2 minutes left before surging back with a series of defensive stops by its stars to claw back from that deficit in the closing stages of a game for the second time this postseason. The Thunder were also seven down with 2 minutes left in Game 1 against defending NBA champion Dallas in the first round. "They won't quit. That's not in their DNA," coach Scott Brooks said. "They're not wired that way and if they were, they wouldn't be here. We're not going to win every game but we're going to fight to the last second of the game and we did that tonight. "If we would have gotten down on ourselves with 2 minutes to go, we would have lost by 12 and we would go to L.A. 1-1." Instead, Oklahoma City takes a 2-0 lead into Game 3 on Friday night at Staples Center. Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum scored 20 points apiece for the Lakers, who came up empty on their last six possessions after Bynum's hook shot made it 75-68 with 2:09 remaining. After struggling throughout the second half and missing 20 of their first 27 shots, the Thunder suddenly came alive after Brooks called timeout following Bynum's basket that gave Los Angeles its largest lead of the game. James Harden drove for a layup before Durant used his height advantage to reach up and tip away a pass from Bryant, who he was guarding. Durant ran out for a right-handed dunk at the other end before Russell Westbrook forced another turnover by aggressively challenging an outlet pass to Bryant along the sideline. Harden made the next stop, blocking Bryant's jumper on the next Lakers possession and getting a layup in transition off it to cut the deficit to one in the final minute. Bryant couldn't connect again, this time on a 3-pointer, to give the Thunder the ball back with the chance to take the lead and Durant was able to make it happen. "I wish it was my magical words. All I told the guys was, We're down 7. You don't have to play perfect basketball but we better come pretty close,'" Brooks said. Steve Blake missed an open 3-pointer from the right side with about 5 seconds left after Metta World Peace couldn't get the ball to Bryant on the inbounds play. Brown said he thought Bryant was open on the back side of the play, but World Peace apparently didn't see him -- agreeing that Bryant was supposed to be the first option. "Blake was wide open. We didn't have any timeouts left and he got a clean look, a really good look," World Peace said. "He can knock that down." Durant was then fouled with 0.3 seconds left and made his first try before missing the second on purpose -- failing to hit the backboard or rim for a violation. The Lakers got a desperation try but World Peace's long pass for Bynum was intercepted by Harden. "What they did the last few minutes there, they just made gambles," Bryant said. "They just jumped in the passing lanes. It's something that we're not accustomed to seeing. It's just flat-out risks defensively." Historically, the loss makes a huge difference. Los Angeles is 29-12 when splitting the first two games of a seven-game series and has lost 17 of 19 when falling into a 2-0 hole. The Lakers' last comeback was in the 2004 West semifinals against San Antonio. The Thunder have won all nine of their series after leading 2-0, dating back to the franchise's days in Seattle. "It's not good. I don't think anybody's happy in there (in the locker room)," coach Mike Brown said. "We felt like we let one slip away." Bryant was right at the heart of the meltdown, missing two shots and having a hand in two turnovers in the final 2 minutes. The first turnover came when Durant used his nearly 7-foot frame and impressive wingspan to come up with an energizing steal and fast-break chance. "He used his length on Kobe. Coming up with that steal was huge," Brown said. "That's what great players are supposed to do. They're supposed to take on the challenge at the end of the game and he did. "He won the game for them, basically." Westbrook added 15 points for Oklahoma City, which matched its lowest scoring total of the season but still gutted out the win. The Thunder had ripped apart the Lakers' defense with their pick-and-roll attack in Game 1, scoring 119 points in a 29-point blowout. "We dominated defensively," Bynum said. "We stopped them, made them play through their bigs and turn the ball over. In the last 2 minutes, we gave the game away." In a game that was nip-and-tuck throughout, the Lakers started inching away early in the fourth quarter while Westbrook was on the bench. Bryant drilled a jumper from the left wing and Blake followed with a 3-pointer before World Peace hit one of two free throws for a 69-63 advantage with 7:27 remaining -- the Lakers' largest lead to that point. Westbrook returned then but only provided the briefest of sparks for the struggling Oklahoma City offense, and Bynum's second straight basket -- on a left-handed hook shot at the left block -- made it 75-68 with 2:09 to play. Until that point, Oklahoma City had more turnovers (eight) than made baskets (seven) in the second half after committing an uncharacteristically low four turnovers in Game 1. Notes: The NBA on Wednesday fined Devin Ebanks 25,000 for actions related to his Game 1 ejection and Bynum 15,000 for failing to speak to reporters Tuesday. Bynum, who has had recent disciplinary issues within the team, talked at the Lakers' morning shootaround Wednesday and called it a make up for skipping the previous day. "I think he's learning. Is he going to be a perfect citizen the rest of his career? I don't know," Brown said. "He's bound to make mistakes. I think everybody makes mistakes." ... World Peace has said he supported Brooks to become Sacramento's coach back in 2007, when Brooks had been an assistant under Eric Musselman. "Little does he know, if I would have got the job, I was going to ask for him to be traded," Brooks joked. He then called World Peace, or Ron Artest at the time, the third-best two-way player at the time behind Bryant and Kevin Garnett. ... Harden caught World Peace with an inadvertent elbow to the face in the first quarter.

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Nationals Roundup: Rout of Miami guarantees series win for Nats

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Nationals Roundup: Rout of Miami guarantees series win for Nats

The Nationals used Sunday's nine-run offensive outburst to skate past the Marlins, 9-6. The win marks the team's first three-game winning streak of the season. 

Here are your news and notes surrounding the 2019 Washington Nationals as they head into Monday's series finale against the Miami Marlins. 

Players Notes:

NATIONALS (22-31): 

Erick Fedde's second start of the season went well for the 26-year-old. He pitched five scoreless innings of four-hit baseball, walked three Marlins and fanned four. 51 of his 83 pitches were thrown for strikes. 

Washington erupted offensively Sunday. Howie Kendrick enjoyed a 3-for-5 afternoon, including a solo shot and three RBIs.  Anthony Rendon's 6th inning triple marked his first of the season, and brought two across the plate. 

Juan Soto's 8th inning single marked his 10th game (tied career best) in a row he's reached base safely. 

James Borque made his major-league debut Sunday, and it did not go as planned. He fell short of completing one full inning, surrendering four earned runs on three hits and walking two Marlins. He threw 29 pitches. 

MARLINS (16-34):

Miami starting pitcher Caleb Smith was bounced after just three innings. The Nats knocked him for five hits and cashed in for five runs. The 27-year-old entered Sunday's start with a 2.38 ERA. 

Neil Walker had a 2-for-5 afternoon which featured his 8th inning 2-run home run that got Miami on the board. 

Injuries: 

SP Jeremy Hellickson: hamstring, expected to be out until at least May 31

RP Justin Miller: shoulder, expected to be out until at least May 31

SP Anibal Sanchez: hamstring, expected to be out until at least Jun 6

OF Andrew Stevenson: back, expected to be out until at least May 24

1B Ryan Zimmerman: foot, expected to be out until at least Jun 1

RP Koda Glover: elbow, expected to be out until at least Jun 6

RP Trevor Rosenthal: viral infection, Expected to be out until at least May 27

RP Austen Williams: shoulder, expected to be out until at least Jun 13

Coming Up:

Monday, 5/27: Nationals vs. Marlins, 1:05 p.m. ET, Nationals Park 

Tuesday, 5/28: Nationals @ Braves, 7:20 p.m. ET, SunTrust Park

Wednesday, 5/29: Nationals @ Braves, 7:20 p.m. ET, SunTrust Park

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How the Wizards could buy into the second round for another draft pick

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How the Wizards could buy into the second round for another draft pick

The Washington Wizards would probably be smart to add at least one more pick in this year's NBA Draft. They hold the ninth overall selection in the first round, but nothing in the second round. They have no second round picks until 2023 and that one is protected and was acquired in a trade.

Like most teams, they need more young players on cheap contracts with high upside. The best way to find those is in the draft.

The Wizards could always strike a trade to land more picks, either in the first or second round. But they also have the option to purchase a second round pick. 

The Golden State Warriors are well-known for employing that strategy. They got Patrick McCaw in 2016 and Jordan Bell in 2017 by buying into the second round.

The Wizards have been doing their due diligence scouting players who could fall in the second round. They met with a collection of players at the NBA Combine that would not be considered for the ninth pick. 

If Washington wants to add a second round pick, they will have the option to. But it won't be cheap, at least initially.

The whole reason for buying into the second round is to get a player on an inexpensive contract. The Warriors have done it a few times to add depth within the confinement of their championship payroll. 

But you have to pay money to get such a player. There is a maximum money limit tied to the salary cap. Last year, that limit was set at $5.1 million. The price can vary on how high the pick falls in the second round.

Last June, the Rockets paid $1.5 million to land the 52nd pick in the back-end of the second round to take Vincent Edwards of Purdue. The year before, in 2017, the Warriors paid $3.5 million to get the 38th overall pick from the Bulls to take Bell. That $3.5 million was more than the total contract he then signed with Golden State, about $2.2 million. 

Wizards owner Ted Leonsis would essentially have to sign on for overpaying a young player. During Leonsis' tenure, they have more often been on the other end of such deals.

Former team president Ernie Grunfeld had a habit for trading away second round picks and sometimes only for cash considerations. In 2014, the Wizards infamously traded the pick that became Jordan Clarkson to the Lakers. They received a little less than $2 million in return.

Like anything involving the draft, it is an inexact science. But getting another pick, one way or another, seems like the smart move for the Wizards right now. Buying into the second round is one of their options.

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