CHICAGO – From a standings perspective http://www.chicagobearsteamonline.com/mark-sanchez-jersey , the Brooklyn Nets don’t have much left to play for this season.
But don’t tell that to Nets coach Kenny Atkinson, who, heading into Saturday’s road game against the Chicago Bulls, isn’t finished finding positives from an otherwise disappointing season. The glimmers of hope come after the Nets (26-53) connected on 19 3-point field goals and shot 48.7 percent from beyond the arc on Thursday in a 119-111 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Nets finished with at least 10 long-distance connections for the 14th consecutive game, which tied a franchise record. Brooklyn snapped a two-game losing streak despite playing without injured forward DeMarre Carroll (left hip) and center Jahlil Okafor (right ankle).
Now, the Nets will look to keep building momentum for the future when they play the Bulls, who, like Brooklyn, remain focused on the bigger picture.
“I keep saying, ‘We’re playing for a lot’,” Atkinson told reporters after Thursday’s victory in Milwaukee. “We’re playing for our future Quenton Nelson Jersey , we’re playing for our culture…we’re playing for our fans.”
How close to full strength the Nets will be Saturday in Chicago remains uncertain. Carroll is listed as day-to-day for the remainder of the season while it’s possible Okafor could play against the Bulls.
While Allen Crabbe paced Brooklyn’s offense against the Bucks with 25 points, Nets center Jarrett Allen blocked a career-high five shots on a night when the Nets blocked 12 shots despite being without Carroll and Okafor.
“(Allen) has to be our paint-patroller and rim protector,” Atkinson told reporters after Thursday’s victory.
The Bulls (27-52) saw their three-game winning streak snapped on Friday with a 111-104 loss to the Boston Celtics. Chicago wraps up its home slate on Saturday against the Nets, and the Bulls will face the Nets again on Monday in Brooklyn before wrapping up the regular season on the road against the Detroit Pistons.
For everything this season has produced, between the fight between then-teammates Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic to start the season, injuries and a focus on the future, coach Fred Hoiberg has appreciated the way his team handled what proved to be a season-long roller-coaster ride.
While the Bulls have spent the season in the first year of what is expected to be a multi-year rebuilding process, Hoiberg has been forced to remain patient with a young group of players.
“I give our guys a lot of credit,” Hoiberg said this week, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. “I’ve said it all along: Our guys have played the right way. They’ve found a way to fight through adversity.
“That has been our message to our team – we’re not looking at the end of the game when we come in here, win-loss. The wins are obviously nice Doug Williams Jersey , but you’re looking at, did you play harder than the other team? And, for the most part, our guys have competed at a very high level every time they stepped on the floor.”
Like Atkinson, Hoiberg sees value in how the Bulls finish the final three games of the year as he and the Bulls front office begin to plan ahead to next year. Chicago is building around is young core of talent that includes rookie Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine, both of whom have been shut down for the season due to injuries.
“You look at the standings, where we are and what we’re still trying to accomplish,” Hoiberg said. “And there are still some important minutes this season.”
Nationals manager Dave Martinez acknowledged he was looking for someone who could end the game with one swing in the ninth inning Friday night.
He chose the right guy.
Pinch-hitter Mark Reynolds led off the bottom of the ninth with a home run that lifted the Nationals past the Miami Marlins 3-2.
”Thought about pinch-hitting Michael (A. Taylor). He gets on, he can steal, but then what?” Martinez said. ”So I said, `Hey Charley Taylor Jersey , we need somebody who can hit a home run right now and Mark is the perfect guy.”’
Kyle Barraclough (0-3) fell behind Reynolds in the count 3-0. Reynolds, who is 7 for his last 18 after struggling for most of June, fouled off a pitch. The Nationals slugger then sent a fastball into the visitors’ bullpen in left-center for his eighth home run.
”If I’m up there and it’s 0-2, I’m obviously not looking to turn on something,” he said. ”I knew 3-0 I was going to take a hack and then (he) pretty much threw the same pitch 3-1 and I kind of got my timing a little bit.”
Four Nationals relievers combined to allow only a hit and a walk over the final four innings. Sean Doolittle (3-2) pitched the ninth for the win as Washington defeated Miami for the 13th consecutive game dating to last season.
The Nationals loaded the bases with no outs in the eighth, but failed to score.
Unlike Thursday night when Washington overcame a 9-0 deficit for a 14-12 win, big hits were harder to come by as the teams stranded 17 baserunners.
Miami starter Dan Straily lasted six innings, allowing two runs on five hits.
Gio Gonzalez threw 114 pitches over five innings and gave up eight hits and four walks. He was bailed out by three double plays and struck out Justin Bour and Garrett Cooper with the bases loaded in the fifth after walking in the tying run.
”I thought our offense did a pretty good job with Gio,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. ”We just didn’t really capitalize. . Didn’t get anything in the fourth and one in the fifth with chances to do more damage and didn’t do anything right there. I thought that was kind of the turning point for us.”
The Nationals took a 2-1 lead in the fourth on RBI singles by Adam Eaton and Wilmer Difo.
It was Reynolds’ second career walk-off home run, and first since July 26, 2016 Bruce Smith Jersey , vs. Arizona as a member of the Colorado Rockies. It was Washington’s first walk-off home run of the season.
With two outs in the sixth and Eaton on second base, Difo hit a shot to right-center. Center fielder Cameron Maybin raced to his left and made a diving catch to preserve a 2-2 tie. ”Unreal,” Straily said. ”I saw my reaction and it was one of those things where I was upset at myself for giving up a double in the gap there and all the sudden he lays out and catches it.”
Marlins: Cooper (right wrist contusion) was activated from the 60-day disabled list. Miami optioned LHP Dillon Peters (2-2, 7.16 ERA) to Triple-A New Orleans to make room on the roster.
Nationals: Martinez said RHP Stephen Strasburg (right shoulder inflammation) ”looked real good” throwing a simulated game Friday and could possibly go out on a rehab assignment Tuesday. … C Matt Wieters (left hamstring strain) will likely play a rehab game at Double-A Harrisburg on Saturday. … RHP Joe Ross (elbow surgery) threw a simulated game Friday and hopes to rejoin the team in September. … Martinez said the team ”bleached” the clubhouse due to an illness that has affected a few players.
Marlins: LHP Wei-Yin Chen (2-5, 5.55) has a 9.85 ERA in seven road starts this season. Against Washington, he’s 1-5 with a 4.15 ERA over nine career appearances.
Nationals: RHP Max Scherzer (10-5, 2.16) looks for his first win since June 5. He’s 8-3 with a 3.39 ERA in 15 starts versus the Marlins.
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