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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Nats' bullpen, defense continue to cause problems, lead to losses

Nats' bullpen, defense continue to cause problems, lead to losses

Starter A.J. Cole made it 5 2/3 innings on Saturday afternoon, which is pretty good considering that's how much Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg combined to pitch against the Rockies less than two weeks ago. Gio Gonzalez also only made it three innings in that series due to a rain delay.

And in the time since, the Nats' bullpen has been battered around by all sorts of elements including injuries and short outings from starters. The Nationals' next off-day on Thursday, Sept. 1 can't come soon enough to put them out of their current 20 games in 20 days misery.

Cole's outing, by all accounts, could have been a lot worse. But unfortunately for the Nationals, Saturday's game went to extra innings, forcing manager Dusty Baker to do some things he wouldn't normally prefer to do. Like, use the newly acquired Marc Rzepczynski for 2 1/3 innings. Or, to go to Mark Melancon for the third straight game. Or, to leave Yusmeiro Petit on the mound in the 11th even when it was clear he just didn't have it.

For Petit, in particular, Baker felt like he had no other choice, even after the right-hander served up a two-run homer to Charlie Blackmon.

"We felt badly for Yusmeiro because we had to leave him in there, he was our last pitcher we didn't have [Koda] Glover and we were trying to stay away from [Mark] Melancon because that was his third day in a row and we didn't have [Shawn] Kelley. We were down to our last player, we had no more players on the bench and that was our last player, I don't know who was going to pitch if he didn't get out of that inning. He took one for the team so to speak," Baker said.

Petit's inning got off on a sour note with an error by Anthony Rendon at third base. It was one of two errors committed by the Nationals on Saturday. One was by Rzepczynski in the seventh and that one helped lead to a run. Rzepczynski also messed up fielding a bunt in the ninth. Cole also allowed a run on a wild pitch during an intentional walk.

It was a rough day for the Nats, who were plagued by uncharacteristic mistakes. That has been a theme lately and the Nationals hope it ends soon.

“We address it daily, but you cant harp on it. Like I said the other day these things go in streaks," Baker said. "Tony is sure handed over there. We haven’t seen Rzepczynski. He just threw that ball over the head. They bunted on us twice a couple of times and got hits on us. We just have to continue to work.”

The Nats have now made 14 errors in their last nine games. It's been bizarre to watch and it has some at a loss for words.

“Can’t call it. I don’t know. One of those things," left fielder Jayson Werth said.

[RELATED: Harper explains ejection vs. Rockies: 'It's not a strike']

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Bryan Stork clarifies next move after week of speculation with Redskins

Bryan Stork clarifies next move after week of speculation with Redskins

After days of speculation if Bryan Stork would actually end up in Washington, the former Patriots center clarified his next move via Twitter. 

Redskins GM Scot McCloughan traded for Stork earlier this week after it became apparent New England intended to release the 2014 draft pick out of Florida State. It was unclear, however, if Stork would accept the trade to the 'Skins as he mulled retirement options. 

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Stork has dealt with a number of concussions in his two-year NFL career. After playing in a Super Bowl as a rookie, his 2015 season was limited by head injuries. 

Coming to the Redskins, Stork may have an opportunity to compete for playing time. Kory Lichtensteiger is installed as the starting center, but he struggled in the third preseason game against the Bills and was lost for much of the 2015 season to injury. 

McCloughan has openly said he wants big, tough guys up front on the offensive line. Stork - at 6-foot-4 and 310 lbs. - with a documented nasty streak definitely fits that bill. 

Whether or not Stork pushes Lichtensteiger for the starting spot - or even competes for the No. 2 center job with Spencer Long - the price for Stork is tough to argue. McCloughan gave up just a conditional seventh round pick to acquire the former New England starter. 

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Three observations as post-injury Flacco returns to field in preseason debut

Three observations as post-injury Flacco returns to field in preseason debut

BALTIMORE – Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco played two series Saturday night against the Lions, and completed 11 of 16 passes for 94 yards before leaving the game. It was Flacco’s first game since his season-ending knee injury last November. Here are three observations from Flacco’s action:

1. The Ravens got what they wanted - they got Flacco work, and he escaped unscathed.

Flacco had talked about playing the entire half, but Ryan Mallett took over in the second quarter. Flacco had already thrown 16 passes, and his knee has not been an issue since Day 1 of training camp. After seeing what happened to Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo the night before, it was hard to blame the Ravens for playing it safe.

Flacco got his first sack out of the way, and it came courtesy of an old friend. Lions tackle Haloti Ngata got credit for sacking Flacco for a one-yard loss. Flacco and Ngata were teammates with the Ravens for seven seasons. Flacco got right up, and Ngata and Flacco now have something else to laugh about, because he shrugged it off and continued to play. 

MORE RAVENS: WATSON LOST FOR SEASON

2. Flacco had good chemistry with wide receiver Mike Wallace.

He tried to hit Wallace deep on his first pass, and Wallace caught three passes for 37 yards. Wallace was one of the new weapons the Ravens acquired this offseason, and he has talked about how much he looked forward to playing with Flacco. Perhaps the Ravens will get more from Wallace than the Vikings and Dolphins did in recent years.

3. Flacco did enough to enter Week 1 feeling even more confident.

He won’t play in the preseason finale, so Flacco can prepare for Week 1 against the Bills, and he has already gotten his feet wet in game action. Mission accomplished.