Monthly Archives: December 2017

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WASHINGTON — One night after a humiliating defeat, the Washington Wizards set a season high for points and rolled to an easy win.

Mike Scott scored 18 points, Otto Porter Jr. and Bradley Beal each had 17, and the Wizards beat Orlando 130-103 on Saturday to hand the injury-ravaged Magic their eighth straight loss.

Seven players scored in double figures as Washington rebounded from a 35-point rout at Brooklyn on Friday. Markieff Morris and Kelly Oubre had 16 points apiece. John Wall added 10 points and 13 assists.

Wizards coach Scott Brooks had no simple explanation for the two games.

“Welcome to the world of coaching,” he said. “(Friday) night’s game was a horrible game. There was nothing positive about it.”

Orlando, which has lost 19 of 22, was led by Elfrid Payton’s career-high 30 points.

Magic center Nikola Vucevic broke his left index finger with about seven minutes remaining in the first quarter and will be out indefinitely. Vucevic joins three of Orlando’s opening-night starters on the sideline with injuries. Evan Fournier, Aaron Gordon and Terrence Ross are also hurt.

Vucevic said he got tangled up with Washington center Ian Mahinmi.

“I tried to get out,” Vucevic said. “As I went away I think he might (have) pulled my finger, I’m not sure. I heard it pop when it happened.”

Washington took the lead late in the first quarter and was up 37-29 after one. The Wizards led 72-48 at halftime.


Magic: Fournier (ankle) sat out his eighth straight game. Gordon (calf) missed his fourth in a row, and F Jonathan Isaac (ankle) was out for a second consecutive game. Orlando coach Frank Vogel wouldn’t guess how long they’ll be out. “We’ve got two days until the next game,” Vogel said. “There’s a chance they’re all back. There’s a chance none of them are back.” … Ross hasn’t played since injuring a knee Nov. 29. … The Magic briefly led in the first quarter. They hadn’t led in their previous 15 quarters.

Wizards: Brooks said Wall, who missed nine games with a left knee injury and played just 16 minutes Friday night, won’t be on a minutes restriction soon. By the time Washington plays its next set of back-to-back games (Jan. 5-6), Brooks won’t have to worry about Wall’s minutes, he said. … Wall and Morris were assessed technical fouls in the first five minutes.


Without Vucevic, the team’s third-leading scorer and top rebounder, Vogel said Bismack Biyombo would get the bulk of the playing time.

“You feel bad for him,” Vogel said. “I don’t feel bad for our team and for what we’re trying to get accomplished. We can’t hang our heads and look at all the guys we have out.”

Vucevic reacted with relatively little emotion.

“I’ve never been a part of a team with this many injuries,” he said. “We can’t catch a break from injuries at all.”


Washington’s starters and reserves each contributed 65 points.

“We have so many guys who can shoot the ball,” Beal said. “When we’re moving it and get body movement and player movement and ball movement, that’s great for us rather than just iso ball.”

Scott, who was 9 for 10 from the field on Dec. 15 against the Los Angeles Clippers and 11 for 15 against New Orleans on Tuesday, hit seven of his eight field goal attempts.

Scott, who is in his sixth season, says it’s the best he’s played in his career.

“Healthy, confidence, work on my game a lot,” he said. “With a lot of repetition comes confidence.”

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ASHBURN, Virginia — Washington Redskins rookie Jonathan Allen won’t return this season. With two games left, coach Jay Gruden said there’s not enough time for Allen to resume practicing and then get ready to play in a game.

Gruden said Allen is in good shape, but being in football shape is another matter. With six practices left, that’s not enough time to get Allen into the sort of shape needed to play in a game. Gruden said they’d focus on making sure he’s fully ready for the spring workouts.

“By the time he gets back out to practice and gets in shape, the season will be over,” Gruden said.

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Meanwhile, Gruden reiterated that he’s not yet ready to shut down left tackle Trent Williams for the season. With only two games left, Williams has played hurt for most of the season. He did not play in Sunday’s win over the Arizona Cardinals, but has played in four of the past six games despite the knee issue.

The Redskins placed Allen on injured reserve on Oct. 19. He was eligible to be activated off injured reserve for the Arizona game.

The 17th overall pick made an impact in his five games, serving mostly as a tackle in their nickel package. Allen played the run and the pass well but was best at collapsing the pocket. Linebacker Preston Smith recorded 4.5 of his six sacks when Allen was playing.

Allen recorded one sack.

“He was off to a good start,” Gruden said of Allen. “His strength at the point of attack was outstanding. His ability to play the run was good … he was pushing the pocket extremely well. Sack production didn’t tell the story about how productive he was.”

The Redskins have suffered minus Allen if only because other linemen, such as Ziggy Hood, had to take on a greater role. It’s also given second-year Anthony Lanier a chance to play a lot more. Lanier stood out Sunday, with two sacks, a forced fumble, three batted passes and two quarterback hurries. His batted pass saved a touchdown pass as a receiver broke free in the end zone.

The Redskins consider Lanier someone who still has a lot of work to do, especially vs. the run. But his added strength and improvement in using his hands is starting to help. Defensive line coach Jim Tomsula often gets on him during practices, trying to coax more from Lanier.

“He’s getting more comfortable with what Coach Tomsula is asking of him, and he is starting to get off the ball, use his hands and become more of a presence inside,” Gruden said. “He’s still got to iron out and work on some things in the running game, but for the most part, I’ve been happy with Anthony’s progress.”

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Atlanta Falcons coach Dan Quinn reiterated how he made a mistake in declining a holding penalty by the New Orleans Saints late in Thursday night’s 20-17 Falcons win.

The Saints, facing the three-point deficit, were whistled for holding on third-and-1 from the Falcons’ 24-yard line with 2 minutes remaining in regulation. Rather than pushing the Saints back 10 yards for a more difficult third down and pushing back the field goal range, Quinn declined the penalty, assuming the Saints would settle for a field goal attempt.

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Instead, the Saints picked up the first down on a fourth-and-1 sneak by Drew Brees. Fortunately for the Falcons, linebacker Deion Jones intercepted Brees in the end zone three plays later to seal the victory.

“I took a judgment call to think, ‘Would they kick the field goal there to go tie it?’ and I declined it. So if I had to have one to do over, that would be the one based on how it went,” Quinn told reporters during a Friday conference call. “Had they kicked it, it would have been the right call. But when they didn’t kick it and they converted the fourth down, I was bummed at myself for not having that one.”

Quinn said he had no second thoughts about calling a timeout with 1 minutes, 30 seconds left right before the Jones interception because he believed even if the Saints had tied the game there, the offense would have had time to win it. But again, Jones’ interception made it a moot point.

Quinn also defended the playcalling on the Falcons’ last offensive possession, which was an eight-play, 38-yard drive that ended with Matt Bryant’s 52-yard field goal, which ended up being the difference in the final margin. When asked why the Falcons didn’t try to melt more time and give Brees less time to operate, Quinn said he wanted to stay aggressive and try to score at that juncture.

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SEATTLE — Informed last week that the Seahawks were in a rare position as six-point home underdogs to the 10-1 Philadelphia Eagles, winners of nine straight games and owners of the NFL’s best record, Seattle linebacker K.J. Wright offered a warning.

“Don’t sleep on us, man,” Wright said. “This team is really good. We’re still talented. We can be the best of the best.”

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Then he amended that statement.

“We are the best of the best.”

No one would consider the Seahawks as such this season, not with four losses and three stars missing from their defense. But on Sunday night, they delivered a decisive defeat to the team that could most credibly claim that title.

Seahawks 24, Eagles 10.

Seattle started fast, never trailed and pulled away at the end for its most impressive victory of the season.

“I thought it was really a terrific night of football because of the respect that we have for the Eagles,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “This is an excellent football team. There isn’t anything that they’re doing that isn’t at the top of the mark across the board, so for us to play our game and really be in command of the game throughout, it was really a great step forward for us.”

With the win, the Seahawks (8-4) overtake the Carolina Panthers as the No. 5 seed in the NFC playoff standings, which means Seattle would be the first wild-card team if the season ended today. A loss would have dropped the Seahawks out of the No. 6 seed and put them two games behind the NFC West-leading Los Angeles Rams (9-3) with four games to play.
Russell Wilson connected with Jimmy Graham for his ninth touchdown catch of the season, all of which have come in the past eight games. Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
The Seahawks’ playoff hopes remain very much alive after beating Philadelphia. They did it with a fast start on offense — a rarity for them — and as sound of a defensive performance as anyone could have expected under the circumstances.

In their first 11 games, the Seahawks had scored only 39 first-quarter points while also averaging 60 yards of offense in the quarter. On Sunday night, however, they drove for a field goal on their opening possession, then found the end zone at the end of the quarter, when Russell Wilson connected with Jimmy Graham for yet another touchdown. It was Graham’s ninth score of the season, and all of them have come in the past eight games.

Seattle finished the quarter with a 10-0 lead and 111 yards of offense.

The Seahawks held Philadelphia to only a field goal in the first half, a remarkable effort considering the Eagles came in as the NFL’s highest-scoring offense and Seattle was without Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor in its secondary.

Seattle got contributions from all over its defense. Frank Clark had two of the team’s three sacks. NFL Defensive Player of the Year contender Bobby Wagner led the Seahawks with 13 tackles; and Bradley McDougald was right behind him with 12, making up for an unnecessary roughness penalty on Philadelphia’s opening possession.

Sheldon Richardson kept the score at 10-3 in the third quarter when he made his biggest play of the season, stripping Wentz at the 1-yard line. The ball went out of the back of the end zone for a touchback, and Seattle scored on its ensuing possession, when Wilson found Tyler Lockett open in the end zone from a yard out.

One of Sherman’s replacements, former Eagle Byron Maxwell, ended any hope of a Philadelphia comeback when he picked off a desperation heave from Carson Wentz just before the two-minute warning.

“We were tired of people sleeping on us, tired of people doubting us. We understand that we’ve got huge losses,” Wagner said, referring to the season-ending injuries to Sherman, Chancellor and Cliff Avril. “But we’ve got a lot of dogs in this room still, and we’re going to keep coming out, keep playing and putting our best foot forward and keep silencing the doubters.”

Wilson finished with three touchdown passes and no interceptions on 20 of 31 passing. He also rushed for 31 yards. And while Mike Davis (101 yards on 20 touches) finally gave the Seahawks some long-awaited production from a running back, this one was still on No. 3′s shoulders. Wilson’s performance adds credibility to his case for league MVP, especially because it came in a nationally televised game and against Wentz, perhaps the leading candidate for the award.

“He did everything today,” Carroll said of Wilson. “I really think that he had one of the best games that I’ve ever seen him play.”
Leave it to the Seahawks to save their best football for prime time. They improved to 22-4-1 in such games since Carroll took over in 2010, the best record in the NFL during that span. One of those four losses came two weeks ago on a Monday night against the Atlanta Falcons, and it was the Seahawks’ second straight defeat at home.

Just when it seemed as if the Seahawks had lost their magic touch at CenturyLink Field and that their season might end without a playoff berth for the first time since 2011, they turned in their most impressive performance of the year.

Don’t sleep on them, indeed.