And to Top It Off, Chooch Got Ejected...

And to Top It Off, Chooch Got Ejected...

Problems … After winning six straight, the Phillies dropped their fourth in a row last night, a 5-2 loss to Washington. They've now lost four of their last five against the Nationals and 13 of 16 going back to last season. More alarming than that trend, Roy Halladay was utterly human, having troubles locating, leaving the ball up in the zone. Doc gave up nine hits and five ER in six IP, including a triple to Bryce Harper and home runs to Ian Desmond and Rick Ankiel. His ERA climbed to 3.58. 
In a painful third inning, the Nats erased the meager 1-0 lead the Phillies had after a Hector Luna ground-rule double scored Henter Pence. Halladay allowed a pair of singles before Harper laced a triple and was later scored by an Adam LaRoche sac. Then Ian Desmond came to the plate and put one over the wall. With Danny Espinosa up next and the count 0-1, Carlos Ruiz disagreed with a Gary Cederstrom call and was tossed. 
Ankiel's homer to lead off the fourth inning was the last of the Nationals' damage, but it was more than they'd need. The Phils would manage just one more run in the game. 
Bright Side: Erik Kratz hit his first career homer, taking Tom Gorzelanny yard when he pinch hit in the eighth, and Jake Diekman allowed only one baserunner in 1.2 innings of relief, striking out four. In fact, every Phils reliever was efficient when there was no lead to protect. Jose Contreras and Antonio Bastardo combined for four straight outs after Diekman. Doc did strike out six, by the way. 
Nine different Phillies (including Halladay) had hits in the game, but none had more than one, and only two drew walks. 
Standings Slide: With the Braves losing the first two games of their series in Cinci, and the Nats winning the first two of this one, Washington is back in first place in the East. Miami (two games back) and the Mets (three) each won on the night as well. The Phils are 5.5 back. 
Outside Reading: Reliving the game any further is kinda pointless, but if you want to read something interesting on it, check out David Murphy's post about Halladay after the game. In it, Halladay describes the Phils' veteran group as pressing and also discusses what got Chooch tossed. Good read. [High Cheese
Photo: Howard Smith, US Presswire

NBA Notes: Magic Johnson takes over Lakers, trades Lou Williams

NBA Notes: Magic Johnson takes over Lakers, trades Lou Williams

With the Los Angeles Lakers mired in the worst years in franchise history, owner Jeanie Buss has turned to Magic Johnson to lead them back to championship contention.

And she removed her own brother from his job to do it.

Jeanie Buss fired general manager Mitch Kupchak on Tuesday and put Johnson in charge of basketball operations. Jim Buss also was dismissed as the Lakers' executive vice president of basketball operations in a major shake-up of the struggling team's front office.

Jim Buss retains his ownership stake in the team, but Jeanie Buss has final say under the structure set up by their late father, Jerry Buss. She used it to chart a new course for the 16-time NBA champion franchise, which has the NBA's third-worst record at 19-39.

The Lakers are almost certain to miss the playoffs for a team-record fourth straight season, and they posted the worst record in team history during each of the previous three years.

"It was such a hard to decision to make, that I probably waited too long," Jeanie Buss said in an interview on Spectrum SportsNet, the Lakers' television network. "For that, I apologize to Laker fans. Now, with clarity and direction, and after talking with Earvin, a change was needed" (see full story).

Lakers: Deal reached to trade Williams to Rockets
The Los Angeles Lakers have swung their first deal of the Magic Johnson Era, agreeing to send Lou Williams to the Houston Rockets for Corey Brewer and a future draft pick.

Brewer's agent Wallace Prather confirmed the terms of the trade, which were first reported Tuesday by Yahoo Sports. Neither team immediately revealed the trade publicly.

"Thanx for the love L.A., I've enjoyed my stay," Williams wrote on Twitter.

Williams led the Lakers in scoring at 18.6 points per game, playing off the bench. Brewer was averaging 4.2 points for Houston.

The trade came hours after the Lakers announced the firing of general manager Mitch Kupchak and put Johnson in charge of basketball operations -- part of a massive front office shake-up.

And while the draft pick will help the Lakers' future, the Rockets just got deeper (see full story).

Grizzlies: Healthy roster for stretch run
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The Memphis Grizzlies' latest injury reports need a second glance, they appear a bit suspect.

Nobody is listed as hurt or nursing an injury. If someone is out, it's simply for rest.

No knee problems requiring forward Chandler Parsons to sit. No ankle issues for reserve forward Brandan Wright. No lingering problems from point guard Mike Conley's broken back earlier this season, and no more groin issues for defensive stalwart Tony Allen.

There's not even foot problems for All-Star center Marc Gasol.

Having no injuries to report is a relief for a team that has been hit hard the last two years. The Grizzlies are 34-24 and sixth in the Western Conference heading down the stretch.

"I think our chemistry is starting to come," forward Zach Randolph said. "Guys are starting to fill into their roles and starting to play a lot better, especially on the defensive end."

It was just a year ago on Feb. 20, 2016, that Gasol had season-ending surgery to repair his broken right foot, sending the Grizzlies spiraling into a historical season for injuries that finished with Memphis using an NBA-record 28 players . Memphis limped into its sixth consecutive playoff appearance and was mercifully swept out of the first round by the San Antonio Spurs (see full story).

Report: Jahlil Okafor 'will get moved by Thursday'

Report: Jahlil Okafor 'will get moved by Thursday'

Will Jahlil Okafor be traded?

That is the big question surrounding the Sixers as Thursday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline inches closer.

According to one report, there’s already an answer.

Appearing on NBA TV Tuesday night, NBA.com’s David Aldridge said Okafor “will get moved by Thursday.”

Aldridge, who said the Sixers have “a lot of offers to sift through,” mentioned the Pacers and Kings as potential landing spots. Following the DeMarcus Cousins trade, Sacramento is left with Kosta Koufos and Willie Cauley-Stein, who aren't offensive bigs. Koufos is averaging 6.1 points in 57 games this season, while Cauley-Stein is scoring 5.8 per game in his second NBA season.

“[The Kings] can offer more minutes and more opportunities for [Okafor] now,” Aldridge said.

According to multiple reports earlier on Tuesday, the Pacers have emerged as a suitor in the Okafor trade talks. Indiana is 29-28 and in sixth place of the Eastern Conference, but only a game ahead of Chicago — also a reported Okafor suitor — and two in front of Detroit.

Through a trying season, the Sixers’ second-year big man is averaging 11.4 points and 4.8 rebounds in 23 minutes per game. He’s played in 38 contests, 22 of which he has started after playing 53 games (48 starts) as a rookie and averaging 17.5 points and seven rebounds.