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Proud Pettine eager to turn Bills defense around

Proud Pettine eager to turn Bills defense around

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) New Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine is still evaluating the high-priced, underachieving group he has inherited, but he saw enough from the opposing sideline last season to know ``the cupboard is not bare'' in Buffalo.

Having spent the past four seasons with the Jets, Pettine says Friday in his introductory press conference that the talent level in Buffalo was one factor in his decision to switch teams two weeks ago.

``There are some good football players here and we are excited to work with them,'' he said. ``They are explosive athletes and playmakers and we are looking forward to building a system that is going to take advantage of that.''

Pettine's challenge is to transform a defense that last season finished 22nd in yards allowed, while giving up 435 points, the second-most in team history. Buffalo went 6-10 before coach Chan Gailey was replaced by Doug Marrone.

The defensive struggles were a surprise, considering Buffalo invested consecutive top 10 picks in defensive lineman Marcell Dareus and cornerback Stephon Gilmore and signed defensive end Mario Williams to a $100 million contract in free agency.

``I can't really speak on what happened here,'' Pettine said. ``I do know that we are going to bring a passion. We are going to work hard and the stuff we are going to do is going to highlight what we do well. There is no substitute for putting the work in, both on the field and in the classroom. I think that's where a lot of people think there is some magic schematically. It really isn't. Football is a game of a million little things.

``And we'll try to get as many of those things taught as we can.''

Pettine said it's too early to declare what schematic changes he may implement. Dave Wannstedt switched the Bills to four-lineman, three-linebacker base formation last season after the team spent two years deploying - and drafting players for - a 3-4 alignment.

Under Pettine, New York's defense has not ranked lower than eighth in the NFL in yards allowed. And that includes a top ranking in 2009. The Jets were known for being a 3-4 team the past four seasons, but Pettine said that is a ``misconception.''

``The cornerstone of our system is its flexibility and its multiplicity,'' he said. ``We'll be in 3-4, we'll be in 4-3, we'll be in 46. If you can draw up a front, we'll probably be in it.''

Pettine was more forthcoming about the attacking style the Bills will play.

``We're going to play smart, we're going to be tough, we're going to be relentless,'' he said. ``We're going to put pressure on you. We're going to force quarterbacks, we're going to force offenses to make very quick decisions. We're going to take our best shot at you. We're not going to be a read-and-react defense. That is not in our vocabulary.''

Marrone has ``always been an admirer'' of Pettine's and that he boarded a flight to meet with him immediately after being introduced in Buffalo Jan. 21.

``Having more of a background on the offensive side of the ball ... you look for someone that has caused a lot of problems for offenses around the NFL. Someone that you don't ever want to play against,'' Marrone said. ``When that was going through my mind, it kept coming around to one name.''

Pettine said he received several calls from mutual friends urging him to go work for Marrone.

``It got to the point,'' Pettine said, ``where I was literally answering the phone and saying if you are calling me to tell me how good of a guy Doug is and how great he is going to be to work for, I'd say, `I already got that. You got anything else?'''

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' blowout loss to Hornets, including Bradley Beal's buzzer-beater

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' blowout loss to Hornets, including Bradley Beal's buzzer-beater

Here are the five best plays or moments from the Wizards' 122-105 loss to the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night...

1. This was a tough one for the Wizards. For the third time this season, they got beaten by the Hornets and for the second straight time it was in a blowout.

They still had their moments, though, including this alley-oop from Tomas Satoransky (11 points) to Markieff Morris (13 points, eight assists, six rebounds). It was the second alley-oop connection for those two in as many games:

PODCAST: WHAT THE SESSIONS SIGNING MEANS FOR SATORANSKY

2. This was a play that encapsulated the Wizards' night. Jodie Meeks drew a flagrant foul on Michael Carter-Williams, but took a hard shot to the head:

3. Kelly Oubre, Jr. had a solid game with 11 points, including this big dunk:

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4. Speaking of Oubre, he helped the Wizards close the first half with a late surge. The real highlight was Bradley Beal stealing the ball and hitting a corner three at the buzzer:

5. Beal ended up with 33 points, six assists and six rebounds. Here's an and-1 he got to go down in the second half:

All in all, it was an ugly performance for the Wizards. To cheer you up, we'll leave you with this young fan who had a great time at Capital One Arena despite the result:

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

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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:

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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.

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