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Rams defense faces challenge against Seahawks

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Rams defense faces challenge against Seahawks

ST. LOUIS (AP) It's the St. Louis Rams' turn to try to figure how to stop an opponent that has been on a nearly unprecedented scoring binge.

The Seattle Seahawks have averaged 50 points per game in the past three weeks, the most points in a three-week span since the 1950 Los Angeles Rams.

``I don't think I've ever come across a team that's scored 50 points a game three consecutive weeks, and then faced them in the fourth,'' Rams coach Jeff Fisher said. ``So, if we hold them to under 50 (points) is that good?''

St. Louis is coming off its fourth victory in five games on the strength of five turnovers at Tampa Bay, including four interceptions. The Rams have 17 on the season, ninth best in the league, but are second worst in fumble recoveries with just four.

Defensive end Chris Long noted that turnovers do not serve as a prerequisite for a victory, while adding it would obviously make the task easier against the Seahawks.

He believes the Rams' offense can score enough points and the defense can limit Seattle enough for St. Louis to win.

But when someone pointed out that the Buccaneers' offense wasn't playing as well as the Seahawks, Long said you can't compare the Seahawks' recent output to anyone in the league.

``No one is ... on the planet. The best offense on the planet,'' he said. ``We're just going to have to prepare the best we can for it and try to slow them down a little bit.''

Seattle coach Pete Carroll had no explanation for his team's recent scoring prowess.

He said no singular event or person's play turned his team from one that had to scrap for victories - five of its first seven wins were by a touchdown or fewer - into one that outscored its past three opponents 150-30.

He said the difference has been the maturation of his rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, the health of his wide receivers and luck.

``No, I think we've been very fortunate,'' he said. ``But we go into every game hoping we can score a touchdown and then we just try to get another one if we do. I don't have any big claims. If you want me to make a claim about how we can't be stopped, I can't do that because we don't have a clue about that one.

``We're just going to try to make a first down and get in the end zone once and try to get there again.''

The Seahawks have also relied on a stingy defense - tops in the league in points allowed with 15.5 per game - and the second-ranked rushing offense with 161.7 yards a game.

Fisher said the difference between the Seahawks of late September, when the Rams beat them at home 19-13, and now are numerous.

``It's a much improved team,'' he said. ``The offense is much more explosive and I think that's because of the quarterback play.

``You've got to get them into third down. You've got to win on early downs and win on third downs and get off the field, if possible.''

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Wizards vs. Hornets: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

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USA TODAY Sports

Wizards vs. Hornets: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Jr. and the Washington Wizards battle Kemba Walker, Dwight Howard, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night.

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

WASHINGTON WIZARDS VS. CHARLOTTE HORNETS

Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 7 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (coverage begins at 6 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

On a roll

The Wizards have some serious momentum going right now. With an impressive win over the Cavs on Thursday, they have now won three straight games and eight of 10 since John Wall went down with a left knee injury. They had a week off due to the All-Star break, but didn't show any rust at all in their first game back.

The Wizards are now 34-24, 10 games above the .500 mark. They are fourth in the East and could move into third on Friday if they win and the Cavaliers lose. Even with Wall out, things continue to look up for Washington.

PODCAST: BIGGEST STORYLINES COMING OUT OF ALL-STAR BREAK

Hornets have had their number

The Wizards haven't done so well against the Hornets so far this season. Charlotte has taken both meetings and that includes a 24-point win on Jan. 17. That game featured Dwight Howard taunting the Wizards late in the fourth quarter.

Howard has killed the Wizards through two games with averages of 22.0 points and 14.0 rebounds. Jeremy Lamb (20.0 ppg vs. Wizards) has been a big factor as well as All-Star Kemba Walker (21.5 ppg vs. Wizards).

The last time these teams played about a month ago frustrations boiled over in an incident that got Tim Frazier ejected. Michael Carter-Williams picked a fight with Jason Smith and Frazier went off:

RELATED: BEAL IMPRESSED BY LEBRON AT ALL-STAR GAME

Hornets coming in hot

The Hornets are outside the playoff picture at the moment at eight games below .500, but they have won two straight games and Walker and Howard are coming off huge games. In a win over the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday, Walker dropped 31 points and Howard grabbed 24 rebounds.

Those guys will be riding a high coming into Washington on Friday. But it should be noted that Howard complained after the game how tired he is at this point in the season. That exhausion could affect him more in the second game of a back-to-back.

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS

 

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Tarik's 3 stars: Caps come up empty on an emotional night in Florida

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USA TODAY Sports

Tarik's 3 stars: Caps come up empty on an emotional night in Florida

Vincent Trocheck scored on the power play with 18.7 seconds remaining and the Panthers escaped with a 3-2 victory on an emotional night in Sunrise, Fla.

Trocheck’s goal was Florida’s second in the final four minutes…and the Caps were left to lament yet another incomplete performance. Washington has now lost three of its last four games and fell to 4-5-2 in February.

Tarik’s three stars of the game:

1-Vincent Trocheck, Panthers

Trocheck did what Trocheck does in the third period: The Florida forward scored a clutch goal in the final seconds, redirecting a Jonathan Huberdeau shot through Brooks Orpik’s legs and past Braden Holtby. Eller was in the penalty box when Trocheck scored his 13th third period goal of the season.

2-Andre Burakovsky, Capitals

After losing a goal to Eller in the first period, Burakovsky made sure he didn’t go home empty handed. No. 65 scored on the power play in the second period to put the Caps ahead 2-1. It was Burakovsky’s third goal in six games. He also earned a secondary assist on Eller’s redirection score.   

3-Braden Holtby, Capitals

Following a handful of un-Holtby-like performances lately, Holtbeast roared Thursday night at BB&T Center. He made at least one game-saving stop in each period: an arm save on Trocheck in the first period; a pad stop on Denis Malgin in the second and another extended pad stop on Evgenii Dadonov in the third. Holtby finished with 30 stops.

Agree? Disagree? Let us know what you think in the comments.