Jeremy Lin makes Rockets debut ... kind of

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Jeremy Lin makes Rockets debut ... kind of

From Comcast SportsNetHOUSTON (AP) -- Jeremy Lin is finally getting his own bed.The 6-foot-3 point guard, who became an international phenomenon during one dazzling month with the Knicks last season, went through his first workout with the Houston Rockets on Tuesday.Naturally, he drew a horde of media to the Toyota Center, evidence that Linsanity has plenty of life left in it."I don't know if I'm the face of the franchise just yet," Lin said. "I think we're a young team and we're all going to buy in. The thing about us is it's not going to be any one person that's going to carry us to where we want to go, it's going to be everybody. I think it's so early on, I'm just trying to get to know the guys."Lin was waived by the Rockets last December, then picked up by the Knicks. He was hesitant to buy a home and slept on teammate Landry Fields' couch the night before his breakout game against New Jersey on Feb. 4.Lin signed a three-year, 25 million contract with Houston over the summer. He arrived on Monday -- but first asked teammate Chandler Parsons if he could "crash" on his couch until he bought furniture.He finally feels secure enough to settle down."I've got to get that bed in there, so I can sleep well tonight," Lin said.The Rockets acquired Lin over the summer by outmaneuvering the Knicks in free agency.New York coach Mike Woodson said the team would match any offer to re-sign Lin and he would be the starter heading into training camp preceding this season. Lin originally signed a four-year, 28.8 million offer sheet with the Rockets, but the team revised its offer and made it three years and 25 million, with much of the guaranteed salary earmarked for the third year.The extra money would've pushed the Knicks over the luxury-tax threshold in 2014-15, so New York backed off.The Rockets held Lin's introductory press conference on a stage on the practice floor at the Toyota Center to accommodate a huge media throng. Lin is American-born, but his maternal grandmother is from China and he has Taiwanese parents, so the event also drew a large contingent of Asian media.Lin toured Asia this summer, running a four-day basketball camp in Beijing and visiting Taiwan for the first time. He's also had the chance over the past few months to catch his breath and reflect on his whirlwind rise to worldwide stardom."Every once a while, I'll take a look back and just be like, I can't believe this is happening,'" Lin said. "I had one of those moments this morning, in the training room, with the big Houston Rockets logo. It was just like, I was just appreciating the fact that I get to wake up and play basketball for a living. And even the whole NBA thing, yes Houston, (but) just (to) be able to play basketball for your job, like those are things I remind myself of every day."The Rockets, meanwhile, were just happy to get Lin back after releasing him in training camp with Kyle Lowry and Goran Dragic ahead of him on the roster. The Knicks claimed Lin off waivers two days after Christmas, and he was put at the end of their depth chart at point guard.Lin was briefly relegated to the developmental league, then recalled when Baron Davis postponed his return from a herniated disk in his back. That's when Linsanity exploded.The undrafted free agent out of Harvard became the first player in league history to average 20 points and seven assists in his first five games. He scored 38 points against Kobe Bryant and the Lakers one night, then drained a game-winning 3-pointer against Toronto on another, and helped the Knicks rally for an eventual playoff berth.Lin seemed to be a perfect fit for Mike D'Antoni's up-tempo system, but D'Antoni resigned in mid-March. Lin's numbers dipped and the Knicks revealed on April 1 that Lin needed surgery to repair a meniscus tear in his left knee and would miss six weeks.Lin recuperated in his native California and said Tuesday that he was back playing basketball within two months. He dunked for the first time since his surgery in July, continued to train and says he's shed 10 pounds since last season."I feel good, I feel healthy," he said. "I feel lighter. I'm excited."The Rockets, entirely rebuilt after a flurry of offseason moves, have their practice on Oct. 1. They'll spend their first full week of training camp in Rio Grande Valley, home of their developmental league affiliate, and will play Oklahoma City there on Oct. 10.Lin met most of his new teammates for the first time on Tuesday. While Lin has had a most unusual NBA career already, he's still only 24 and acknowledges that he still has a lot to learn."Last year, I actually had a real season under my belt, where I got to play and see what works and doesn't work," he said. "Definitely, you want to lead by example, more so this year than last year, or the year before, coming in as a non-guaranteed guy. Now, there's more stability, so I need to be more of a vocal leader and hopefully lead through work ethic and example."

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Stock watch: Sanford impresses in preseason debut

Stock watch: Sanford impresses in preseason debut

The Caps lost their second preseason game on Tuesday night to the Montreal Canadiens, but it's the preseason. The score doesn't matter. What does matter is how the players played. Here's who looked good and who needs to up their game.

3 players who impressed:

Madison Bowey: When Bowey is distributing the puck, it looks like his teammates have magnets on their tape. Every pass from him was crisp and on target. Defensively, he finished the game with a minus-2, but he was hardly the only player to struggle on the defensive end of the ice on Tuesday. He will continue to develop his defensive skills in Hershey, but for now Bowey looks every bit the puck-moving, offensive defenseman the Caps hoped they were getting when they drafted him. In today's NHL, having that type of defenseman on your team is a major plus.

Zach Sanford: The Caps want to keep a 14th forward on the roster this season and in his NHL (preseason) debut, Sanford did everything he could to lay claim to that spot. It took a few minutes for him to settle into the game, but he didn't look out of place at all. He simply looked like a rookie trying to adjust to his first NHL experience. As the game went along, he looked more and more comfortable. What is really impressive about Sanford is his positioning and what he does away from the puck. He always seems to be exactly where he is supposed to be. That positioning ultimately set up his goal late in the third period. Sanford fought off a few hits to maintain his position in front of the net, setting up a perfect screen on Montreal goalie Zachary Fucale. Because of his positioning, he was able to deflect a shot from Connor Hobbs into the net past the helpless netminder. It was not a perfect game for Sanford by any means. Late in the second, he gave up the puck on a bad turnover and compounded the mistake by tripping Michael McCarron, but those kinds of mistakes are to be expected from someone who went straight from college to the NHL preseason. Overall, it was a very impressive performance.

Nathan Walker: When Andrew Shaw boarded Connor Hobbs in the second period, the first player to go after the gritty veteran was Nathan Walker. It didn't matter that Shaw has played in four NHL seasons or has 13 NHL fights on his resume, it didn't matter that he was going to get his butt kicked — he was going to stand up for his teammate. The biggest strike against Walker is his size. He is very generously listed as 5-foot-8. I've seen him in the locker room and let me tell you, there is no way he is that tall. But any fear the team may have had about Walker's ability to handle the size of the NHL has been erased in just two preseason games. Clearly he is not going to let himself be pushed around. At this point, I would be surprised if he does not get his first NHL game at some point this season.

RELATED: PENALTIES DOOM CAPS IN 5-2 LOSS TO MONTREAL

3 players who need to show improvement:

Brett Connolly: Connolly's signing was a surprise move by the Caps in the offseason. He is a former first-round draft pick still trying to live up to his potential. He is going to make the roster, but as a new player, the Caps are still trying to determine just where he fits into the lineup. That means he has more at stake in this preseason than most of his NHL teammates. Connolly registered six hits, but zero shots on net and was completely unable to take advantage of the weaker preseason roster Montreal played. Connolly is a sniper trying to establish his skill and he looked like a fourth-line grinder. If this is how he will play, there's no reason to play him over someone like Stanislav Galiev.

Liam O'Brien: In 2014, Liam O'Brien made the Caps' roster after a strong camp and stuck around for 13 games before getting sent down to the AHL. Two years later, he doesn't look close to that level. O'Brien took an early interference penalty as he slid into goalie Al Montoya. He added a second penalty in the third period as he was upset with a no-call on Nathan Beaulieu and kept trying to draw a fight with him until the referee ultimately sent him to the box. The days when teams could carry enforcers on the fourth line who did little else but fight and take penalties are over. O'Brien has to establish that he has more to offer the Caps and he failed to do so.

Darren Dietz: For the most part, Darren Dietz actually played a decent game on Tuesday. He had six hits and skated well against his former team. There was one major mistake, however, that really stuck out. In the second period, the Caps were about to go on the power play as Jeremy Grégoire slashed Zach Sill in the wrist. At the end of the play, Grégoire really tried to press his luck by giving Sill a little push into the boards. Grégoire is a 21-year-old player trying to make an impression by taking on one of the toughest guys on the ice. Sill is a 28-year-old, 6-foot-1, 202-pound veteran with 32 fights in the last five years in the NHL and AHL. He can take care of himself. Dietz, however, skated in and landed a vicious cross-check to the back of Grégoire and was called for roughing, thus negating the Caps' power play. There was no reason for Dietz to get involved in that scrum. Sill doesn't need him to fight off Grégoire, he could have easily brushed him aside. The referees had already established that they are calling a very tight game so it was no surprise to see Dietz sent to the box. He needs to know better than to lay that kind of hit on the back of an opposing player and risk a penalty in order to protect someone who didn't really need it.

MORE CAPITALS: MARCUS JOHANSSON SCORES FROM STRAIGHT ON VS. CANADIENS

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Lobaton, others step up in Nats' 1st game without Wilson Ramos

Lobaton, others step up in Nats' 1st game without Wilson Ramos

If guys like Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy, Trea Turner and Anthony Rendon play to their capabilities, the Nationals could make do without Wilson Ramos this postseason, at least on offense.

But even those guys can't do it all by themselves. The much more likely scenario involves a collective effort, one in which contributions from all-around lift the Nationals as a team and help compensate for the loss of one of their best and most consistent players. Collective efforts like Tuesday night when both of Ramos' replacements - Jose Lobaton and Pedro Severino - chipped in on offense, Rendon provided the big swing and other bench players like Stephen Drew and Wilmer Difo made pivotal plays in their 4-2 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Lobaton called a strong game behind the dish, helping starter Max Scherzer adjust after allowing two runs in his first three innings to toss three scoreless after that. He then broke up Diamondbacks' starter Matt Koch's no-hitter in the sixth with a leadoff single. That ignited a four-run rally for the Nats, who took the lead and never relinquished it.

"I don't want to get a no-hitter," Lobaton said. "I got a good result and it was good for the team. We got a rally and we won."

"With [Ramos] going down for the year, that’s just heartbreaking," Scherzer said. "But Loby’s a guy that we need to step up and he’s the one who started off that inning."

Lobaton was replaced on the basepaths by Severino, who is faster than Lobaton, who happens to be dealing with a sore right ankle. Severino would later score after moving to third on walks drawn by Trea Turner and Difo. Severino came home on a sacrifice fly hit to left by Drew.

Lobaton and Severino will be a tag team partnership moving forward this season with Ramos out. They will need to spell each other and work together to try and recreate the production Ramos provided as a standout both at the plate and behind it.

On Tuesday, they pulled through.

"That's what they're going to have to do," manager Dusty Baker said. "That's what they're going to have to do to contribute."

Their night also involved a lot of communication once Severino replaced Lobaton. A veteran with more experience catching the Nationals' pitching staff, Lobaton advised Severino throughout the game about how to call it. That's something Ramos often does for Lobaton.

"That is good for a guy that is not playing every time. It's the same with me, I always talk to Wily about the pitchers and what they are doing," Lobaton said. "I try to communicate more, like what he's been doing and what he's working on. So, I try to do the same with Sevi. This is working in the game, this is not. It can be more easy for him when he goes out."

Severino scored the first run and later in the frame Rendon drove in three more on a homer to left field off Randall Delgado. Rendon was pleased to see the foundation laid ahead of him that inning.

"That’s a great example, first day, stepping up,” he said. "Definitely frustration [with Ramos' injury]. You never like to see a teammate get hurt… obviously he’s going to be missed. He’s a big part of this lineup. But we have a lot of good guys who can fill in. It’s going to be awesome to watch.”

The Nationals have five more games before the regular season is over. To capture a World Seires, they will need to win 11 more after that. It won't always be as smooth asTuesday night, but the Nationals demonstrated well to themselves what it will take to get by without their star catcher.

[RELATED: Dodgers set rotation for playoff series against Nationals]

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