INDIANAPOLIS — With the Indiana Pacers unable to move up from the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference Phil Simms Jersey , the team will likely have a new look for the regular-season finale on Tuesday night against Charlotte.
For the Pacers to have reached the No. 4 spot, the Cleveland Cavaliers had to lose back-to-back games to the New York Knicks. But after Cavs beat the Knicks on Monday night, Pacers coach Nate McMillan is expected to rest his starters and key reserves quite a bit against the Hornets.
Rest might be welcome thing.
“Yeah, I thought that they fought through some fatigue,” McMillan said of his players in Sunday’s 123-117 win at Charlotte. “Even though we won, I thought that we were flat for most of this game. We found a way to get some energy. I thought the bench came in and gave us a lot of energy and played well to help us get this win.”
Pacers center/forward Domantas Sabonis scored a career-high 30 points.
“My teammates were trusting me like always and I do my best to finish,” Sabonis told Fox Sports Indiana. “I love it here. It’s been a very fun year. I love my teammates, coaching staff and I’m just happy to represent Indiana.”
Sabonis averages 11.7 points and 7.7 rebounds.
“He’s always crashing the boards, plays well in the pick-and-roll, a very, very smart IQ guy,” Pacers point guard Cory Joseph said.
After scoring below double figures for the first time all season Friday night with five points in a loss at Toronto, Pacers leading scorer Victor Oladipo bounced back with 27 points.
The Hornets were plagued by 22 turnovers Ryan Smith Jersey , and Charlotte coach Steve Clifford said in four of the last five games turnovers have been the difference.
“I think we’re first or second in the NBA in taking care of the basketball, but four of the last five games we’ve had 17 or 18 turnovers, which is more product of playing more guys and something that you can live with,” he said. “So we did some good things. Those guys in the fourth quarter did a good job, so we’ll go there on Tuesday and see if we can put together longer periods of good play.”
Clifford said he will start thinking about the offseason later. After the Hornets won four in a row, they have lost five of the last six games.
“It’s been important to me that we play these games well so in nine of the last 10 we’ve been pretty good, competitive and organized,” he said. “So we’ve been putting just as much into these games as we have all year and frankly you worry about the next season in the next season.
“I want to win Tuesday and I want (the players) to, too. So I haven’t even thought about stuff like that.”
Hornets rookie guard Malik Monk, who averages 6.5 points, has scored 20 or more points in the last three games.
Clifford said Monk has gotten better with his pick-and-roll game and has been more efficient offensively.
“The thing he is doing better is he’s making plays for other people,” Clifford said.
Clifford has noticed Monk’s assists-to-turnovers numbers have been solid recently as well.
“That to me is as much of an indicator as anything of the growth that he’s made in terms of learning how to play in a manner that both he can score and the rest of the guys can play well when he’s on the floor,” he said. “In this league at his size (6 feet 3) Julio Jones Jersey , pick and roll is going to be a big part of it.”
A teenager among men, Juan Soto has impressed his teammates on the Washington Nationals with his maturity and, even more so, his potent bat.
Soto hit a tiebreaking two-run double in the eighth inning, and Washington beat the Baltimore Orioles 4-2 Thursday night in the deciding matchup of a three-game interleague series between neighboring rivals.
Soto, a 19-year-old rookie, is batting .326 with 16 RBIs in 28 games. Starting in the cleanup spot for the first time, he drew a walk and delivered the game’s pivotal hit.
”I think we’re all amazed every single day,” Washington ace Max Scherzer said. ”He puts together great ABs. He has antics and has some flair. He’s a great young player. He’s just enjoying himself.”
Bryce Harper led off the eighth with a double off Mychal Givens (0-4) and Trea Turner followed with a single. After Anthony Rendon struck out, Soto hit a liner into the gap in left-center.
”He’s got unbelievable poise,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said of Soto. ”No matter what the situation is, he goes out there with a game plan.”
Whatever that plan is, it’s effective.
”I just try to be focused and keep working Nazair Jones Jersey ,” Soto said.
Rendon homered for the Nationals, who received seven strong innings from Scherzer and flawless work from their bullpen.
Newcomer Kelvin Herrera (1-0) pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning and Sean Doolittle got three straight outs for his 20th save in 21 tries.
Seeking to end a rare run of two straight losses, Scherzer left a tied game after allowing two runs – both on solo homers – and striking out nine.
Afterward, the right-hander heaped praise upon Soto for the manner in which he’s adapted to playing in the big leagues.
”He has a great feel for the strike zone,” Scherzer said. ”To have that type of eye, it’s remarkable for him to be able to do that at this time and this age and this level.”
Activated from the 60-day disabled list before the game, Colby Rasmus homered for the Orioles in his first at-bat since April 6.
”Me and Max, we go way back, so I felt real good,” said Rasmus, who had been sidelined with a hip injury.
In addition, Rasmus made an outstanding throw from right field to the plate, nailing Wilmer Difo on a tag-up play in the seventh inning with the score tied.
Mark Trumbo also homered for Baltimore Ben Gedeon Jersey , his sixth of the season and third in four games.
Baltimore starter Kevin Gausman gave up two runs and four hits over six innings. The right-hander was lifted with the score tied, leaving him winless in his last seven starts.
WALK THIS WAY
Martinez put Harper in the leadoff spot for the first time since May for this reason: ”The thinking is if he’s hitting up top, he’ll start taking his walks again and it will get him going.” It worked. Harper walked twice.
Struggling Orioles slugger Chris Davis will start Friday night in Atlanta, manager Buck Showalter said. Davis hasn’t played since June 11, when an 0-for-5 outing against Boston dropped his batting average to .150. Since then, he’s been working on his swing and mental approach in an effort to turn around his unproductive season.
In addition to activating Rasmus from the DL, the Orioles optioned OF Joey Rickard to Triple-A Norfolk and moved LHP Richard Bleier (latissimus tear) to the 60-day DL. Also, DH Pedro Alvarez cleared waivers and accepted an assignment to Norfolk.
Orioles: RHP Chris Tillman (back) will next pitch for Class A Delmarva after allowing three runs in two innings for lower Class A Aberdeen on Wednesday night.
Nationals: RHP Brandon Kintzler (flexor strain) is close to coming off the DL. Martinez hopes the reliever can pitch an inning on a rehabilitation assignment before being is activated. … Martinez said RHP Jeremy Hellickson (right hamstring strain) will soon go on a rehab assignment and pitch five or six innings.
Orioles: Alex Cobb (2-9, 7.14 ERA) helps Baltimore open a three-game series on the road Friday night against the Braves, who lead the NL East.
Nationals: Tanner Roark (3-7, 3.87) takes the mound in the opener of a three-game set against the visiting Philadelphia Phillies, who entered play Thursday in a second-place tie with Washington.
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