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WASHINGTON — The Washington Wizards are running out of time to right the ship before the NBA Playoffs begin.
What was looking like a signature win turned into a stunning loss Thursday night in Cleveland. The Wizards led by 17 points after Bradley Beal’s 3-pointer with 7:35 to go [url=http://www.buccaneersauthorizedshops.com/authentic-m.j.-stewart-jersey]http://www.buccaneersauthorizedshops.com/authentic-m.j.-stewart-jersey[/url] , but LeBron James (33 points, 14 assists, nine rebounds) and the Cavaliers rallied for a 119-115 win.
The Wizards have lost three in a row and 12 of their last 18 to fall into seventh place with three games remaining in the regular season, starting Friday night when they host the Atlanta Hawks.
However, a seventh-place finish would likely mean a matchup with the now-No. 2 Boston Celtics, who will be without Kyrie Irving for the playoffs.
“We want to play better. We haven’t played well,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks told the Washington Post before the game. “We’re not concerned of our matchups. We’re not concerned with who we’re playing. We’re not concerned where we’re seeded right now. We just got to be focused on how we’re playing and hopefully we’ll play much better than we’ve (been).”
In his third game back after a long absence, Wizards point guard John Wall had 28 points, 14 assists and three steals.
Washington trailed by 15 points in the second quarter but cut the margin to five by halftime and took control in the third.
However [url=http://www.seahawksauthorizedshops.com/authentic-will-dissly-jersey]http://www.seahawksauthorizedshops.com/authentic-will-dissly-jersey[/url] , Wall and Beal (19 points, nine assists) combined to go 2-for-9 from the field in the fourth quarter. Wall finished with six turnovers, including one in the final seconds that sealed the loss. Six Wizards scored in double figures.
“We wanted to win more than anything but the chips didn’t fall that way but we move on,” Beal told the Post. “It’s definitely a statement game for both teams. They showed us what they’re bringing. We showed them what we’re bringing. So, I’m curious to see what happens if that matchup happens.”
Kelly Oubre Jr’s long-range shooting woes continued in the loss. He went 0-for-2 from three and is 2-for-35 beyond the arc in his last seven games.
The Hawks (22-57) remain last in the Eastern Conference and have lost 13 of 15 after dropping back-to-backs to the Miami Heat on Tuesday and Wednesday.
On Wednesday, Miami rested Dwyane Wade, Goran Dragic and James Johnson one day after clinching a playoff berth and still routed the Hawks 115-86.
The Hawks trailed 53-47, but Miami pulled away with a 31-21 third quarter.
“The guys are still trying. They are busting it at both ends,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Sometimes it just doesn’t work out [url=http://www.buffalobillsteamonline.com/josh-allen-jersey]Josh Allen Bills Jersey[/url] , not for lack of effort and hustle.”
Taurean Prince led Atlanta with 20 points, and Damion Lee and Tyler Dorsey each had 15. Hawks guard Antonius Cleveland returned after missing 18 games with a left ankle injury. He last played on Dec. 18 for the Mavericks. Cleveland scored five points and grabbed two rebounds in 12 minutes.
“On his rebounds, he showed his length and athleticism,” Budenholzer told the Journal-Constitution. “He’s still trying to get comfortable for us.”
With the loss, Atlanta maintains the third-worst record in the NBA, two games worse than the Dallas Mavericks. With three games remaining, the Hawks are likely to finish in the bottom three and therefore have at least a 50/50 chance for a top three draft pick.
Washington took two of the first three meetings between the teams.
Once Clayton Kershaw exited, the Chicago Cubs put a positive ending on a 2-6 road trip.
Anthony Rizzo’s three-run double and Addison Russell’s two-run homer highlighted a seven-run seventh inning as Chicago broke loose late and beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 11-5 on Thursday.
The Cubs pounded out 15 hits, including a season-best four by Rizzo. Russell drove in a season-high four runs in the final regular season meeting between the teams that played each other in the NL Championship Series the last two years.
”Over the course of this road trip everyone has been fine-tuning their approaches [url=http://www.coltsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-braden-smith-jersey]http://www.coltsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-braden-smith-jersey[/url] ,” Russell said. ”Today you see a clear example of it being executed. It’s nice to see the ball fly.”
The teams met seven times in 10 days, with the Cubs winning four games over the two series.
”We’re doing this without everybody right now, too, and that’s the even better part,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. ”We have part of our bullpen but not everybody. I give these guys a lot of credit. During this little stretch they’ve been above and beyond.”
The Dodgers staked Kershaw to a 3-1 lead before he departed after five innings because of a pitch limit.
”He’s that good where he can rehab in the big leagues,” Rizzo said. ”It’s amazing.”
The Cubs jumped on reliever Walker Buehler (4-2), who arrived earlier in the morning from Triple-A Oklahoma City, where he had been set for a rehab assignment. Albert Almora Jr. homered on Buehler’s second pitch and Russell’s sacrifice fly tied it at 3 in the sixth.
”Some bad pitches to good hitters,” Buehler lamented.
The Cubs didn’t let up in the seventh when they batted around.
Jason Heyward’s pinch-hit RBI double gave them the lead for good [url=http://www.redskinsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-geron-christian-jersey]http://www.redskinsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-geron-christian-jersey[/url] , 4-3.
Almora followed with a popup to first base. Max Muncy used his glove as a shield against the sun in a cloudless sky, but the ball dropped for a single and scored Kyle Schwarber, who reached on a walk.
Rizzo stroked a double to right-center field off Erik Goeddel, extending the lead to 8-3. Russell followed with a two-run shot on an 0-2 pitch that made it 10-3. The Cubs’ seven runs were the most by a Dodgers’ opponent in an inning this season.
”I just want to stay consistent,” said Rizzo, who has 53 RBIs this season. ”That’s what I’ve shown over the last few years and that’s what I want to get back to.”
Steve Cishek (2-0) got the win with 1 2/3 innings of relief.
Muncy hit his team-leading 17th homer in the third and Justin Turner added a two-run shot in the ninth, giving the Dodgers a major league-leading 53 homers in June and tying the franchise record set last year. Enrique Hernandez drove in a pair of two-out runs with a single in the second and a double in the fourth.
Kershaw tossed five innings of one-run ball in his second start since coming off the disabled list with a lower back strain. He allowed four hits, struck out six and didn’t walk anyone while restricted to 68 pitches.
”Today was a good step and hopefully next time the restrictions should be off,” Kershaw said. ”I kept the pitch count down and didn’t walk anybody. There’s definitely some things to be positive about.”
Cubs starter Jose Quintana gave up three runs and seven hits in 5 1/3 innings [url=http://www.carolinahurricanesteamshop.com/authentic-andrei-svechnikov-jersey]Andrei Svechnikov Hurricanes Jersey[/url] , the fourth time in five starts this month he hasn’t completed six innings. The left-hander struck out four and walked three.
Cubs: RHP Yu Darvish (right triceps tendinitis) threw a bullpen session that didn’t go well when he experienced pain. He will return to Chicago to be re-evaluated and RHP Tyler Chatwood will start in his place on Saturday. Chatwood was activated from the paternity list. … INF Kris Bryant (shoulder) has yet to be cleared for baseball activities, although it’s hoped he will come off the DL next week. … RHP Carl Edwards Jr. (right shoulder inflammation) will pitch for Triple-A Iowa on Friday and if it goes well, he could rejoin the rotation.
Dodgers: RHP Josh Fields (right shoulder inflammation) went on the DL.
Buehler had the quickest turnaround of any of his teammates who faced a day game after a night game. The rookie right-hander arrived in Oklahoma City for a rehab assignment on Wednesday only to board a 6:15 a.m. flight Thursday to LA. He came off the DL where he had been nursing a rib microfracture. The Dodgers needed him with four others unavailable in the bullpen. Buehler, who has been starting this season, refused to use the travel as an excuse. ”These guys are good. You can’t make pitches like that,” he said. ”I didn’t execute.” Manager Dave Roberts said Buehler would toss a bullpen session and then return to the rotation.
Cubs: LHP Mike Montgomery (2-2, 3.39 ERA) starts Friday against Minnesota in the opener of an eight-game homestand. It will be his seventh start to go with 18 relief appearances.
Dodgers: LHP Rich Hill (1-2, 5.30) starts Friday against Colorado. He is 0-3 with a 7.52 ERA in four career starts against the Rockies.
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