Wizards

NBA Capsules

NBA Capsules

NEW YORK (AP) Luol Deng scored a season-high 33 points in the Chicago Bulls' third victory over New York this season, a 108-101 win Friday that sent the Knicks to their season-high third straight loss.

Topping the 29 points he scored here last month, Deng shot 13 of 18 from the field and also led the defensive effort that contained Carmelo Anthony in the decisive first half of his return from a one-game suspension.

Carlos Boozer added 17 points for the Bulls, whose offense won't be at full strength until Derrick Rose is back from knee surgery, yet they still shot 57 percent.

Anthony ended up with 39 points for the Knicks, who were roughed up again a night after losing in Indiana.

HAWKS 103, JAZZ 95

ATLANTA (AP) - ATLANTA (AP) - Devin Harris scored a season-high 24 points and Atlanta rallied from 15 points down in the second half.

Randy Foye had 25 points to lead Utah, which had won four of five but was denied its first back-to-back road wins of the season. Al Jefferson had 23 points and 10 rebounds and Paul Milsap had 20 points and 13 rebounds for the Jazz.

The Hawks, who trailed 75-60 in the third quarter, played from behind before taking their first lead of the second half on consecutive baskets by Al Horford. The second basket by Horford, set up by Josh Smith's pass, gave Atlanta a 94-92 lead with 2:44 remaining.

Jefferson answered with a tying basket before Ivan Johnson scored on a fast break to give the lead back to Atlanta. Utah's Jamaal Tinsley made one of two free throws to leave the Hawks' lead at 96-95. Josh Smith's short jumper and Lou Williams' 3-pointer padded the lead.

HORNETS 104, TIMBERWOLVES 92

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Greivis Vasquez had 18 points and 13 assists to lead New Orleans to its fourth straight win.

Eric Gordon added 16 points, Ryan Anderson had 15, Jason Smith 14, Al-Farouz Aminu 12 and Roger Mason 10 for the Hornets, who have won five out of six with Gordon in the starting lineup.

Luke Ridnour scored 20 points to lead a balanced Timberwolves offense. Nikola Pekovic added 18 points, Andrei Kirilenko 17, Dante Cunningham 12 and Alexey Shved 11.

New Orleans trailed 29-14 after the first quarter but outscored Minnesota 56-32 over the next two periods to take a 70-61 lead.

The Hornets hit the century mark for the first time since 113-102 loss to Minnesota on Dec. 14.

CELTICS 103, ROCKETS 91

BOSTON (AP) - Paul Pierce scored 16 of his 23 points in the second half and Kevin Garnett added 17 points and four blocks as Boston nearly blew a 17-point lead before pulling away late.

The Celtics extended their season-high winning streak to five games, but only after surviving a 12-0 run that pulled the Rockets within two points midway through the fourth quarter.

Rajon Rondo finished with 12 points and eight assists for the Celtics. Courtney Lee and Jared Sullinger scored 14 apiece and Sullinger also had 11 rebounds for his second straight double-double.

James Harden scored 24 and Chandler Parsons added 18 for Houston, which fell to 0-2 during a three-game road trip that concludes Saturday in Philadelphia.

NETS 99, SUNS 79

NEW YORK (AP) - Joe Johnson scored 19 points and MarShon Brooks added 17 points off the bench as Brooklyn won its fifth straight.

The Nets have won three straight games by 20 or more points for the first time in the team's NBA history.

Deron Williams added 14 points and Andray Blatche chipped in 15 points and eight rebounds as the Nets ended a five game home losing streak against Phoenix.

Jared Dudley led the Suns with 18 points and Shannon Brown had 15 off the bench as Phoenix lost its fifth straight and for the 11th time in 12 games.

RAPTORS 99, BOBCATS 78

TORONTO (AP) - Alan Anderson scored 16 points against his former team, Jose Calderon had 15 and Toronto won for the 10th time in 13 games.

Amir Johnson had 13 points and eight rebounds while Ed Davis had 12 points and eight boards for the Raptors, who led by as many as 24. Anderson had four of Toronto's 12 3-pointers, while Calderon and Kyle Lowry each made three.

Starting for the second straight game, Toronto's Landry Fields matched his season high with 11 rebounds.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kemba Walker and Ben Gordon each scored 12 points as Charlotte's modest streak of two straight road victories came to an end.

PISTONS 103, BUCKS 87

MILWAUKEE (AP) - Greg Monroe had 26 points and 11 rebounds, Brandon Knight scored 20 points, and Detroit handed Milwaukee interim coach Jim Boylan his first loss.

Detroit led 74-60 going into the fourth quarter and squashed any hope of a Bucks comeback when Monroe scored on a hook shot, layup and dunk and Knight added a 3 as the lead grew to 83-62 with 9:57 to play.

Rodney Stuckey's 3 gave the Pistons another 21-point lead with 2:48 to go and the Bucks didn't get closer than 14 again.

Brandon Jennings and Beno Udrih had 15 points for Milwaukee.

Boylan, who took over for the fired Scott Skiles earlier this week, had won his first two games - against Phoenix on Tuesday and Chicago on Wednesday.

GRIZZLIES 101, SPURS 98, OT

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Rudy Gay hit a pullup jumper from 14 feet with 27.8 seconds left, and Memphis held off San Antonio in overtime for its fourth straight victory and the first over its Southwest Division rival since the 2011 playoffs.

Gay led Memphis with 23 points, and Mike Conley had 21 points and five assists

San Antonio had won five straight in the series since the Grizzlies upset the then-No. 1 seed in the opening round in 2011. The Spurs also had a 2 1/2-game divisional lead on Memphis coming into this game - with the Grizzlies having played five fewer games - and the teams played at postseason intensity despite the calendar.

Tony Parker, who finished with 30 points for the Spurs, forced overtime, beating the buzzer with a 27-footer tying it at 95. He also opened the extra period with a 3 that turned out to be the Spurs' only bucket as San Antonio went 1 of 10 from the floor. Manu Ginobili missed a long 3 just before the buzzer.

NUGGETS 98, CAVALIERS 91

DENVER (AP) - Danilo Gallinari scored 23 points, hitting a crucial 3-pointer in the waning seconds, and Denver rallied for the win after trailing for the most of the game.

Kosta Koufos added a career-high 21 points and Kenneth Faried had 17 points and 11 rebounds to help the Nuggets withstand 22 turnovers, which matched a season high and led to 24 Cleveland points. It was the fourth win in a row for the Nuggets, who beat Cleveland for the 10th time in the last 13 meetings in Denver.

Kyrie Irving, playing despite an illness, scored 28 points to lead the Cavaliers. Dion Waiters had 18 points and Tristan Thompson 16.

Quick Links

The NBA All-Star pregame introductions were, uh, something

The NBA All-Star pregame introductions were, uh, something

Whoever put together the NBA All-Star Game player introductions has some 'splainin to do. 

The NBA introduced a kinda-full Staples Center to their 2018 All-Stars about an hour ago, and boy was it weird. There were a lot of dancers in different themed costumes. Kevin Hart was screaming. Rob Riggle was screaming. Ludacris showed up? Hey! Did you know that the Barenaked Ladies are still a band? The NBA would like you to know they're still around.  The whole thing was like when you're at an art museum and you're told that abstract piece in the corner is actually really meaningful but you gotta be honest, you don't get it. 

Anyways, the internet hated it. Here are some highlights from the internet hating it:

The lesson here is that you never need Kevin Hart and Rob Riggle. One will do. 

Quick Links

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

guice-michel-jones.png
USA Today Sports Images

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 Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.