Wizards

Miller back to being a receiving threat

Miller back to being a receiving threat

RENTON, Wash. (AP) Zach Miller is getting re-adjusted to what it's like to be an eligible pass catcher again after a year spent being a de facto offensive lineman.

The former Pro Bowler had his least productive receiving year of his career after joining the Seattle Seahawks last season. Miller caught just 25 passes for the season and failed to find the end zone for the first time in his five-year career.

Miller was called upon to be an extra blocker for a Seattle offensive line that struggled to find its footing early in the year.

The Seahawks were breaking in two rookies on the line with a new offensive line coach in Tom Cable installing a new system. So Miller had to be kept in to block to keep Seattle quarterbacks upright. Miller never complained about the lack of targets a season ago, but knew he could help the team if given a greater opportunity.

``The only frustration was I felt like I could help our offense,'' Miller said.

Miller finally had the breakout offensive game he'd been looking for last week in Seattle's 16-12 win over the Carolina Panthers. Miller caught three passes for 59 yards against the Panthers, his highest yardage total since joining the Seahawks. Russell Wilson found Miller twice over the middle of the field for big gains, his final catch of the game helping lead to a field goal to extend Seattle's lead in the fourth quarter.

``I think it is really, really exciting that Zack is a factor down the field,'' head coach Pete Carroll said. ``He is already a factor at the line of scrimmage, he's a terrific blocker. He's caught everything we've thrown at him, but he's becoming an issue and that's what we want is for our guys to become issues so they have to try to stop him and look for him.''

The offensive line has been more solid in its second year under Cable, which has given Miller more opportunities to leave the line of scrimmage. Miller has already been able to haul in 12 passes for 150 yards on the year and is second on the team in receiving.

``The way they've been playing has allowed me to get out a little more,'' Miller said.

Through five weeks, Seattle's offense has struggled to find consistent production. They are last in the league in red zone efficiency, 27th in total offense and 31st in passing offense. Wilson has been held in check by the coaching staff to try to keep his workload manageable.

Carroll loosened the reins on Wilson slightly in Carolina and he responded by making a few more throws downfield, including the pair to Miller. Yet, getting in the end zone is still a hurdle the Seahawks, and Miller, are looking to overcome.

``As the pass game develops we have to keep getting better, keep improving and I think it's coming along,'' Miller said. ``Once we turn those long drives into touchdowns, we're going to be putting up some points so I think that's the corner we have to turn right now.''

Notes: C Max Unger returned to practice on Friday and is expected to play against the New England Patriots on Sunday. Unger had yet to practice this week after suffering a hip injury in the win over Carolina last week. Unger and RB Marshawn Lynch (back) are listed as probable. ... DT Jaye Howard (foot) has been downgraded to out. He has been unable to practice this week.

---

Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Quick Links

Wizards suffer lopsided loss against Hornets, who have had their number this season

usatsi_10648782.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

Wizards suffer lopsided loss against Hornets, who have had their number this season

The Washington Wizards lost to the Charlotte Hornets 122-105 on Friday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Bad matchup: Despite their poor record, there is something about this Charlotte Hornets team that gives the Wizards trouble. The Wizards lost to the Hornets for the third time in three tries this season on Friday night and, aside from a push in the third quarter, were never really in it.

All in all, it was a dud of a game for the Wizards who were probably due for one. They had won three straight games and eight of 10 since John Wall got injured. They were also coming off a huge road win the night before in Cleveland, a game that started an hour later than usual.

It was a tough turnaround and the Wizards sure looked like it. It was evident in their defense and unforced errors. They did, however, have a decent shooting night. They shot 49.4 percent from the field 16-for-17 from the free throw line.

The Wizards' second unit didn't provide a lift outside of Kelly Oubre, Jr. (11 points). Mike Scott, one of their best bench options, was held scoreless.

PODCAST: WHAT THE SESSIONS SIGNING MEANS FOR SATORANSKY

Ugly first half: The Wizards only trailed by 12 points at halftime, but that score was skewed by a five-point push in the final seconds. The Hornets dominated for much of the first two quarters and did so by hitting threes and forcing turnovers. Those mistakes dug the Wizards a hole they never recovered from.

The Wizards had 10 turnovers in the first half, the same amount they had in their entire game the night before. Limiting mistakes was a big reason they beat the Cavaliers, yet the script was flipped by Charlotte.

The Hornets capitalized with 23 points off those 10 first-half turnovers. The Wizards had 14 giveaways for the games that led to 28 total points. 

Charlotte was 7-for-11 from three at one point in the first half and finished 17-for-39 (43.6%) for the game. That is very uncharacteristic for the Wizards, who entered the night second in the NBA in opponents three-point percentage.

Again, though, the first half ended well as Oubre and Bradley Beal gave the Wizards a jolt in the final seconds:

RELATED: 5 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT RAMON SESSIONS

Bad defense: The Wizards have played some great defense in recent weeks, but they just didn't have it on Friday night. Most surprising were the guys that hurt them most.

Dwight Howard was limited to 11 points and six rebounds and Kemba Walker didn't score his first points until the final minute of the first half. But others like Frank Kaminsky (23 points), Marvin Williams (15 points) and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (14 points) got pretty much anything they wanted.

For Walker, it was a tale of two halves. He was held in check by Tomas Satoransky in the first half, but broke out in the third quarter and finished with 24 points and seven rebounds. Maybe it was tired legs on the Wizards' part, but Walker just kept dribbling until he got space and once he did, he knocked down shots.

Much like Kyle Lowry did a few weeks ago, Walker made adjustments to find success against Satoransky. We haven't seen that happen much since Wall went out, but those two guys have given him some trouble. Both guys are considerably smaller than Satoransky and very quick. Maybe there's something to that.

Add it all up and this was one of the worst defensive games of the season for the Wizards. They allowed their most points in a game since Jan. 17 against, you guessed it, the Hornets. Only three times this year have they given up more than what they allowed on Friday.

No Sessions: The Wizards did not debut their newest player on Friday night, which was probably to be expected given Ramon Sessions has not had any practice time yet. That is part of why he didn't play, but it's also another indication that he is unlikely to play much with the Wizards. Sessions is on a 10-day contract and is not expected to supplant either Satoransky or Tim Frazier at point guard. Frazier would seem to be the guy in danger of losing minutes, but it was business as usual for him against the Hornets.

Up next: The Wizards are off Saturday before returning to action at home against the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday night. Tipoff is at 8 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS

 

Quick Links

Don't expect a big role for Ramon Sessions with Wizards after signing as free agent

Don't expect a big role for Ramon Sessions with Wizards after signing as free agent

When Ramon Sessions was last with the Wizards, he was the primary backup point guard behind starter John Wall. Now back with the team on a 10-day contract, he is expected to play a much more muted role.

Wizards head coach Scott Brooks spoke of Sessions as the fourth-string point guard, not only behind Wall who remains out to recover from left knee surgery, but also behind Tomas Satoransky and Tim Frazier. The presence of Sessions should not affect Satoransky's minutes as the replacement starter and it doesn't sound like Frazier is in jeopardy of moving down the depth chart, either.

"I don't know how many minutes or opportunities he will get, but with the way he holds himself I feel comfortable if we need him in a pinch," Brooks said. "We have some coverage now if one of our guards goes down or gets in foul trouble."

PODCAST: WHAT THE SESSIONS SIGNING MEANS FOR SATORANSKY

Brooks mentioned Sessions' ability to play some at shooting guard if needed. He also praised Sessions' penchant for getting to the free throw line. Sessions has averaged 3.9 free throw attempts in just 23.5 minutes per game. That's highest among active players who have averaged 24 minutes or less in their career.

Sessions played well for the Wizards down the stretch of the 2014-15 season and in the 2015-16 campaign. As a member of the Wizards, he averaged 9.2 points and 3.0 assists per game.

RELATED: 5 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT RAMON SESSIONS

He has played for eight different teams, but has always felt a connection to Washington.

"It just always felt like a place I could end up back one day," he said. "People always ask me, being on so many teams, 'what's the home team to you?' I always come back to the Wizards. It was a place I was only here a year-and-a-half, but it feels like much longer than that with the run we had and the fans and the support I get when I come here."

Exactly how long Sessions will be here is unclear. He couldn't crack the Knicks' rotation earlier this season and has a lot to prove. Still, he's excited for the opportunity.

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS