Mystics fall to surging Sparks

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Mystics fall to surging Sparks

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Candace Parker and Kristi Toliver scored 18 points each as the Los Angeles Sparks snapped a three-game skid with a 96-68 victory over the Washington Mystics on Friday night. Former Mystics star Alana Beard added 16 points for the Sparks (20-9), who swept the two-game season series against Washington. Los Angeles, which has already clinched a playoff berth and remains in second place in the Western Conference, finishes its five-game road trip Sunday against New York. Monique Curry scored 16 points for the Mystics (5-23), who lost their season-high seventh straight. Jasmine Thomas added 15 points for Washington, which was outscored 197-138 in its two losses to Los Angeles. The Sparks outrebounded the Mystics 39-29 and shot 62 percent from the floor (39 of 63) compared to the Mystics' 36 percent (25 of 69). Los Angeles led by 19 in the second quarter before settling for a 54-39 halftime lead. A 15-2 run stretched it to 34-20 early in the second, DeLisha Milton-Jones' corner 3-pointer later pushed it to 45-30, and Toliver hit back-to-back jumpers to make it 51-32. Mystics guard Shannon Bobbitt hit a 38-foot bank shot at the halftime buzzer. It was more of the same in the second half, with the lead growing to 83-56 early in the fourth quarter. Beard, making her first visit to the Verizon Center since signing with the Sparks in the offseason, received a loud ovation from the crowd in pregame introductions. The four-time WNBA All Star, selected by the Mystics in the first round of the 2004 draft, played six seasons in Washington before foot and ankle injuries forced her to miss the entire 2010 and 2011 seasons.

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VIDEO: Russell Westbrook shoves John Wall during All-Star game, announcers not sure if he's joking

VIDEO: Russell Westbrook shoves John Wall during All-Star game, announcers not sure if he's joking

The NBA All-Star Game over the past several season has turned into a light-hearted exhibition game for the league, players, and most importantly the fans.

Apparently no one told Russell Westbrook. 

Driving to the basket in the second quarter, Westbrook took contact from John Wall, drawing the foul. When Westbrook walked out to the free-throw line, he shoved an unsuspecting Wall out of his way.

Westbrook has always had an aggressive attitude on the court, especially this season following the departure of Kevin Durant from Oklahoma City. Whether it was a playful shove or a just Russ being Russ, Westbrook appeared to be taking the situation lightly afterwards.

Just be sure to remember the last time Wall got into a shoving match.

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Orioles starting rotation ranked near the bottom of MLB

Orioles starting rotation ranked near the bottom of MLB

BY TYLER BYRUM

Coming into the 2017 season, the Baltimore Orioles are looking to build off a Wild Card appearance last year that ended in disappointment. 

In the off-season the team needed to address numerous issues along their roster, especially the team’s starting pitching.  Without any major moves during the winter, the Orioles will start the season with the 24th best starting rotation in the majors according to USA Today.

Last year the team’s rotation was not that great and a majority of them are returning to the squad this season. Behind Kevin Gausman (3.61 ERA) and Chris Tillman (3.77), the remaining six regular starters averaged a 5.35 ERA. Only one of those pitchers had a sub 5.00 ERA and that was right-hander Dylan Bundy (4.02).

He started the season primarily as a reliever but towards the end of the year he was consistently in the five-man rotation. In the games he started, the right-handed pitcher finished with a 8-5 record. None of the other starters, excluding Chris Tillman, finished the season with a winning record. 

Based on essentially no pitching moves by the organization, it appears that the 24-year-old Bundy will be called on to be the third man in the rotation.

READ ALSO: Orioles projected to have a down season

The next rotation spot is lining up for Wade Miley, a starting pitcher the Orioles acquired last season from the Seattle Mariners. Starting in 11 games for Baltimore he only registered two wins.

Leaving only one rotation slot open, returner’s Ubaldo Jimenez, Tyler Wilson, and Mike Wright will be fighting for the spot. Jimenez, who gave up the homerun that ended the 2016 campaign against the Toronto Blue Jays, initially looks to be one of the pitchers to fill in.

While the free agent class was not stellar this off-season, it included two World Series champions Jason Hammel and Edinson Volquez. Other notable free agents were Ivan Nova, R.A. Dickey, and Rich Hill.

Of all the minor transactions the team made in the past three months only one pitcher, Tomo Ohka, has notable experience as a starting pitcher. He turns 41 in March.

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