Bobcats complete the worst season in NBA history

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Bobcats complete the worst season in NBA history

From Comcast SportsNet
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- The worst season in NBA history is over for the Charlotte Bobcats. Meanwhile, the New York Knicks are looking ahead to the playoffs. The Bobcats couldn't even beat a Knicks team resting most of its starters, finishing with the lowest winning percentage in league history after a 104-84 loss on Thursday night. J.R. Smith scored 22 points for the Knicks, who pulled away in the second half to clinch the Eastern Conference's No. 7 seed and a first-round playoff matchup against No. 2 Miami beginning Saturday. "I couldn't be happier," said Knicks interim coach Mike Woodson, now 18-6 since taking over for Mike D'Antoni. "It was a great regular season and now it's playoff basketball time. They will be ready." Gerald Henderson had 21 points for the Bobcats, whose 23rd consecutive loss left them with a winning percentage of .106 (7-59) in the lockout-shortened season. The record was set 39 years ago, when the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers finished 9-73 (.110) in a full regular season. "Going 7-59 like we did is not what we planned on doing," Henderson said. "This doesn't sit very well with me. These last 10 games, we've really tried to get after it, compete and not get that record. It just didn't happen for us. We just didn't have enough. We couldn't come up with the plays. "When you look back at it and see we lost 59 games, you always think, We could've won one more.'" Kemba Walker had 13 points, D.J. Augustin 12 and D.J. White added 11 for Charlotte, which now faces an offseason of uncertainty. "I have to commend the guys," said Paul Silas, whose future as the Bobcats' coach is in doubt. "They gave me everything they had and I can't fault them one bit for what happened. If they hadn't played hard for me and their attitudes hadn't been right then that's different, but they were positive and did everything that they needed to do." The Knicks held out starters Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler and Baron Davis, while Amare Stoudemire had 21 points over two quarters. That put the pressure on the Knicks' reserves to make up the difference, and they didn't disappoint. Josh Harrellson added 18 points, Jerome Jordan 13 and Iman Shumpert 12 for New York. Mike Bibby also had 12 assists. "I pretty much have a set rotation," Woodson said. "But if Josh Harrellson has to step in and play, or Jerome Jordan has to play a minute or two here and there, I'll feel good that they are ready to play." Still, with owner Michael Jordan watching from his private box, the Bobcats played nearly even with the Knicks in the first half, leading twice and only trailing 46-44 at halftime. "I thought we had a shot, I really did," Silas said. "I thought we gave it our all in the first half." Charlotte's biggest lead came in the closing minutes of the first quarter, with Bismack Biyombo's dunk with 5:05 remaining putting the Bobcats up 14-11. But the Knicks closed the period with a 12-6 run to go up 23-20. Charlotte would lead once more in the second quarter, with DeSagana Diop's layup with 9:28 left capping a five-point run to put the Bobcats up 25-23. However, the Knicks responded with six straight points, going ahead 29-25 on Smith's dunk with 8:14 left. Charlotte managed to tie the score three times in the final minutes of the second quarter, the last at 41-all with 1:56 left on Henderson's layup. But Smith hit a 3-pointer 17 seconds later to put the Knicks ahead, and Jordan followed with a jumper to give New York a two-point halftime edge. Stoudemire asserted himself in the third quarter, scoring 11 points in the period as the Knicks pushed their lead into double digits. "I feel as good as new," said Stoudemire, who missed 19 games this season, most due to back problems. "It was a matter of staying sharp on the basketball court and keeping a good rhythm and helping my team to victory." New York would take its biggest lead late in the fourth quarter, with Jordan's fast-break dunk with 4:38 remaining putting the Knicks up 99-76.

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Dusty Baker on Bryce Harper's return and a potential playoff platoon at first base

Dusty Baker on Bryce Harper's return and a potential playoff platoon at first base

Though Dusty Baker isn’t a doctor, he apparently isn’t averse to using an old school method or two to diagnose his players’ injuries.

So when Bryce Harper, ailing with a jammed left thumb, recently told his manager he was ready to return to the lineup, Baker responded by giving it a little pinch.

“He said 'Ow, what'd you do that for?' and I said 'Okay, I got my answer,'" the Nationals’ manager said with a laugh.

Baker must be comfortable with how Harper is feeling lately, as the 23-year-old right fielder is back in the lineup after four days off.

"He might have been ready to go [on Thursday],” Baker said. “So if a guy tells me he's ready, if I have a luxury, I like to give them one more day off. I just noticed that a lot of guys say they're ready and you bring them back and they're really not ready. I would prefer that you be champing at the bit to get back [instead] of a person to just say that you're ready.

Prior to the injury, the reigning NL MVP had hits in five of his previous seven games. So with three games left, the Nats are hoping the reigning Harper can get back in a groove before the postseason begins next week.

Zimmerman a platoon bat? It’s a question that seemed unfathomable on Opening Day, but the veteran first baseman’s 2016 inconsistency-filled odyssey has some wondering if Baker might consider other options come October. The answer, for now, is no.  

“That hasn’t crossed my mind,” the skipper said.

Clint Robinson is starting at first in Friday night’s game against the Miami Marlins, but the move doesn’t appear to be a sign of things to come. Baker said the decision was merely to keep Zimmerman healthy and afford Robinson some at-bats while he can get them. Still, for an offense will be without Wilson Ramos (and a fully-healthy Daniel Murphy), the lineup will need a boost where it can get it.

“I don’t really believe in platoon, platoon," Baker said. "There’s certain guys that I feel that Clint may have a better chance of being successful against. But that’s not a platoon for me.”

In other words, Baker is staunchly in Zimmerman’s corner. And slowly but surely, the 31-year-old has been rewarding his manager's faith. Zimmerman has hits in six out of his last nine games, including a trio of two-hit efforts. It might be too late to salvage his career-worst .219 average, but the Nats still believe the one-time face of the franchise will show up when it counts the most. 

"I just keep in mind with Zim that ‘hey, man, you can be the man for a long period of time like we know that you’ve done,’" Baker said. "We’ve seen him do it before. So we need Zim. We need him badly.”

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Bradley Beal (concussion) not only Wizards player sitting out open practice

Bradley Beal (concussion) not only Wizards player sitting out open practice

RICHMOND, VA. -- Bradley Beal made an appearance for the first time at Wizards' practice in two days, but he didn't take the floor for them Friday night in an open workout at Siegel Center on the campus of VCU. 

Marcus Thornton (right thumb) and Ian Mahinmi also didn't particpate. Mahinmi practiced earlier Friday but was held out of the evening session for an undisclosed reason. He sat at the scorer's table and received treatment with a stim device on what appeared to be his right knee/lower right leg.

Beal (concussion) was struck in the head with an elbow from Mahinmi at Wednesdays' afternoon practice and has to complete the NBA's mandatory 48-hour concussion protocol before he's cleared to return to full activity. As of the evening session, it wasn't clear if Beal had passed the protocol but was being held out for precautionary reasons or if he'd even gone through the process yet to be cleared.

Mahinmi went through Fridays' first practice session before sitting. Thornton has been a scratch since hurting the thumb on his shooting hand in the same practice session as Beal on Wednesday.