Dave Johnson: 3-Game Win Streak Remains Elusive


Dave Johnson: 3-Game Win Streak Remains Elusive

Saturday, February 20, 2010, 10:30 PM
Wizards-Raptors Highlights and Flip's Response

By Dave Johnson
CSNWashington.comToronto----One is the loneliest number but for the Washington Wizards three is the hardest to get. With a 20-7 run to close the game the Toronto Raptors secured a 109-104 victory and spoiled the Wizards bid for its first three-game winning streak of the season.For the second time in three games Andray Blatche led the Wizards in scoring with 24 points. In an effort to get the game back from the Raptors, Blatche scored six of his points in the final 1:21 of the game including a strong post move on Andrea Bargnani that led to a layup to bring the Wizards to within three points at 105-102.We had opportunities, said Wizards head coach Flip Saunders. We played hard and put ourselves in a position to win. We just could not make that big shot to withstand their momentum.Fort Washington, Marylands Jarrett Jack led the Raptors with 23 points and eight assists and proved to be the catalyst in the Raptors comeback. With 6:35 left in the fourth quarter the Wizards had a 97-89 advantage when Jack returned to the game.Jack then took over by scoring eleven of the Raptors final 20-points.The Wizards struggled with Jacks drives to the basket and at one point he scored seven straight points to cut a nine-point Wizards advantage to two points at 100-98 with 3:54 to go in the game. Then Bargnani, who added 18 points on the night, changed the game with his length as he frustrated the Wizards by protecting the rim. With 3:33 remaining, Bargnani blocked a Blatche layup attempt that would have given the Wizards a four-point cushion.Instead Hedo Turkoglu scored two of his 16 points on a driving reverse layup on the baseline to tie the game at 100. Then it was back to the defensive work of Bargnani as he blocked a Randy Foye layup attempt that would have given the Wizards the lead back with 2:23 left in the fourth quarter.Bargnani denied the Wizards again with 1:54 left on the clock as he rejected an Al Thornton drive to the basket to preserve the Raptors 105-100 lead. The Wizards did not settle for jumpers. They attacked the basket but the seven-foot frame of Bargnani was a problem.Still the chances were there for the Wizards. Again attacking the basket, Blatche was able to weave around Bargnani and work the baseline for a reverse layup attempt with 41-second left. Instead Blatches shot bounced several times on the rim but did not fall and the Raptors lead stayed at 105-102.With 14.9 seconds left Turkoglu saved the game for the Raptors. Turkoglu is known for his dramatic game-winning shots, but this time it was a rebound that proved decisive. Amazingly Jack missed a driving layup but Turkoglu was able to wiggle and grab the rebound to again allow the Raptors to stay in front 105-102.The Wizards just could not find a way to fight through the fourth quarter on a night when they did so many things well. The ball again moved as the Wizards recorded 20 assists marking the third straight game they reached the 20-assist mark as a team.The Wizards also again showed resilience on defense. The Raptors have now scored at least 100-points in twenty straight games, but in the third quarter the Wizards become more disruptive on defense and forced the Raptors into six turnovers.The energy on defense allowed the Wizards to turn a seven-point half time deficit into a three point advantage at 88-85 heading into the final quarter. While Raptors shot 50-percent from the field in the third quarter, the Wizards outscored them 31-21 and did not allow any second-chance points.The loss to the Raptors marked the sixth-time this season the Wizards failed to extend a winning streak to three games

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Need to Know: Tandler's Take—Drafting a running back early not a cure-all for Redskins' ground game

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Need to Know: Tandler's Take—Drafting a running back early not a cure-all for Redskins' ground game

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, February 18, 24 days before NFL free agency starts.

Tandler’s Take

The topic for today’s post comes from Twitter:

When I asked for topics for this post, the subject of the running game came up with several of them. And since John brought up the draft, let’s look at that as a potential solution.

Let’s first establish that the Redskins’ running game was not good enough last year. I don’t need to spend a bunch of time on this but here are some numbers. They were 28th in rushing yards and 29th in yards per carry. If you like to weigh more complete metrics, they were 28th in rushing DVOA. If you want to look at a key situation, they were last in the league in yards per first-down rushing attempt. Last year a team gained 100 yards rushing or more 274 times. The Redskins got there five times.

I’m going to leave it at that here since, again, if you’re reading this you probably watched a lot of their games and you don’t need to be persuaded that the running game was largely unproductive. Yes, there were injuries that had the offensive linemen playing snaps just days after being signed and the broken leg suffered by Chris Thompson and Rob Kelley’s various ailments. But the Redskins haven’t ranked higher than 19th in rushing yards since Jay Gruden became the head coach. Rushing game struggles are an ongoing issue.

I am going to work on the premise that those who advocate having the Redskins improve their running game via the draft are talking about drafting a running back in the first or second round. That may be overgeneralizing but that gives me a good-sized chunk of data to work with and still be able to analyze it in the 1000 words or so I am allotted here.

I’m also going to call a 1,000-yard season the minimum that would be expected out of a back drafted in the first two rounds. There are other ways a back can contribute, of course, and we can deal with them separately.

From 2010-2017, there were 45 thousand-yard rushing seasons by players who entered the league during those years (all data via the indispensable Pro Football Reference unless noted). Twelve of them were accomplished by players drafted in the first round. Six came from second-round picks, six from third-rounders, four from the fourth, three from the fifth, four from the sixth and none from the seventh. Oh, and there were 10 thousand-yard seasons that came from undrafted players.

It should be noted that four of those seasons from undrafted players came from the Texans’ Arian Foster. And two each came from LeGarrette Blount and BenJarvus Green-Ellis. So those 10 thousand-yard seasons should not be seen as an indication that there is a treasure trove of running back talent going undrafted every year.

Back to the first and second rounders, the combined 16 thousand-yard seasons doesn’t mean much in isolation. How many backs were drafted in the first two rounds in that time? How many opportunities have they had to post big seasons?

In the past eight drafts, 34 running backs were drafted in the first and second round. That group has had 170 opportunities to post a 1,000-yard season. What I mean by opportunities is the number of seasons that have elapsed since the player was drafted. The six backs drafted in the first two rounds in 2010 have each had eight chances to gain 1,000 yards in a season so they have combined for 48 opportunities (6*8). There were five backs drafted in the first and second seven seasons ago, so there have combined for 35 opportunities, and so on. Through the eight years that adds up to 170 seasons.

The combined 16 thousand-yard seasons in 170 opportunities comes to a success rate of 9.4 percent when it comes to reaching the bar that most fans would set as the minimum.

A couple of things need to be pointed out here. There are some backs like Giovani Bernard, Shane Vereen, and Christian McCaffrey who do not have any big rushing seasons on their resumes but have been valuable catching passes out of the backfield. And some like Dalvin Cook, who was injured after a promising start last year, and McCaffrey seemed destined to have 1,000-yard seasons in their futures. So all of the backs who have not gained 1,000 yards in a season are not necessarily draft busts or failures.

But here are first-round running back busts, just like there are busts at every position. There were 12 running back picked in the first round of the past eight drafts. Javid Best, David Wilson, and Trent Richardson clearly were disappointments (the former two struggled with injuries). Doug Martin, Ryan Mathews, and C.J. Spiller have had some success but perhaps not enough to justify being first-round picks. It took Mark Ingram a while, but he got rolling in his sixth NFL season. I want to see more out of McCaffrey before judging him and Melvin Gordon needs to continue his upward trajectory. It’s safe to say that even with small sample sizes of data in the books on Ezekiel Elliott and Leonard Fournette they were home runs. So was Todd Gurley.

So out of 12 first-round backs in the last eight years, you have three clear busts, three moderate disappointments, four top-level performers (including Ingram) and two TBD.

In any case, it’s clear that just drafting a back early is not a panacea for a struggling running game. Blocking (from both the line and the receivers and other backs), play calling, scheme, and some intangible factors like attitude (as Brian Mitchell will tell you) all play into the success and failure of moving the ball on the ground.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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2018 NBA All-Star Game: TV and live stream info, rosters, things to watch for dunk contest, three-point contest

2018 NBA All-Star Game: TV and live stream info, rosters, things to watch for dunk contest, three-point contest

The 2018 NBA All-Star Game is here with the annual showcase set for Los Angeles.

Here is all you need to know: TV and live stream info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch:


Where: Staples Center
Tip-off: 8 p.m.
Online with no cable TV: fuboTV (try for free)



Coach: Dwane Casey, Raptors
LeBron James, Cavaliers
Kevin Durant, Warriors
Kyrie Irving, Celtics
Anthony Davis, Pelicans
LaMarcus Aldridge, Spurs
Bradley Beal, Wizards
Goran Dragic, Heat
Andre Drummond, Pistons
Paul George, Thunder
Victor Oladipo, Pacers
Russell Westbrook, Thunder
Kemba Walker, Hornets


Coach: Mike D'Antoni, Rockets
Stephen Curry, Warriors
James Harden, Rockets
Joel Embiid, 76ers
DeMar DeRozan, Raptors
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks
Jimmy Butler, Timberwolves
Draymond Green, Warriors
Klay Thompson, Warriors
Al Horford, Celtics
Damian Lillard, Blazers
Kyle Lowry, Raptors
Karl-Anthony Towns, Timberwolves


Three things to watch...

New format

The NBA switched it up this season by doing away with the traditional matchup between the East and West. The teams were instead chosen by captains LeBron James and Stephen Curry, the two top vote-getters in All-Star fan voting. The idea was to breath new life into the All-Star Game and hopefully make it more competitive. The league also installed a system where the winners each get $100,000, $75,000 more than the losing team. 

All pro sports leagues struggle drawing interest with their All-Star showcases. They are always trying to get ratings up and this is the latest ploy by the NBA. The new format is definitely intriguing, but whether it will have a major impact on the competition itself is hard to tell. We'll see how the fans respond.


Reunion time

The teams picked by James and Curry will give fans some throwback combinations with former teammates back together again. Team LeBron is full of them. James will reunite with Kyrie Irving, who essentially forced his way out of Cleveland over the summer after the two combined to reach three straight NBA Finals and win one title.

We will also see Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook play together again. They of course teamed up to win a lot of games with the Oklahoma City Thunder before Durant signed with the Warriors. Westbrook will also be reunited with Victor Oladipo, who was traded from OKC to the Pacers over the summer.


Beal's All-Star debut

Wizards fans will of course be focused on Bradley Beal, who is making his first All-Star appearance. He is Washington's lone representative, as John Wall is still recovering from left knee surgery.

Beal may not get many minutes on a stacked roster of guys who have been in the game before. If that happens, it's probably for the best. Beal is currently fifth in the NBA in total minutes played. He needs the rest if he can get it.