Wizards

Seahawks hoping to improve their run defense

Seahawks hoping to improve their run defense

RENTON, Wash. (AP) For the first six weeks of the season, the Seattle Seahawks run defense was among the best in the NFL.

In the eight games that have followed, the Seahawks have statistically been among the worst.

What changed?

``The run game has been solid except for some big plays we've given up to really good players,'' Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. ``We're hoping to play a lot cleaner, a lot sharper.''

Over the first six games, the Seahawks were No. 2 in the NFL in yards rushing allowed per carry at 3.3 yards. That ability to stop the run put more pressure on the opponents passing game to find openings against Seattle's secondary.

But during the past eight games, the Seahawks have struggled. They're giving up 5.3 yards per carry, which ranks last in the NFL.

Part of the problem is the big runs Seattle's defense has allowed to running backs such as Adrian Peterson, Frank Gore and Reggie Bush.

In five of the past eight games, the Seahawks have allowed their opponent at least 100 yards rushing as a team, after not letting any of their first six opponents reach that mark.

Still, there are concerns that have allowed those big runs to happen in the first place.

``We know that we have given up some big plays we know with Adrian and some backs,'' Seattle defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said. ``It's still kind of a work in progress. That's still our No. 1 emphasis after getting the ball.''

Seattle enters Sunday night's matchup against San Francisco still with the No. 2 scoring defense in the NFL - right behind the 49ers - and with the 10th ranked rushing defense.

But it was the 49ers that started Seattle down the path of struggles with its run defense. It was a mix of defensive scheme and talent that helped Gore run for 131 yards when the teams faced off in Week 7. That remains Gore's season high and the second-most yards rushing allowed by the Seahawks this season.

San Francisco found its success by catching the Seahawks with some trap runs, especially in the second half that led to big running lanes for Gore.

It was a smart move schematically as the Seahawks were unprepared. Linebacker K.J. Wright said this week he'd never seen a trap play before until the 49ers ran one.

``I was lost. I was like `what was going on?''' Wright said.

While the trap runs caught Seattle by surprise in the first meeting, it will be how San Francisco uses mobile quarterback Colin Kaepernick that'll be new for the Seahawks this time. Kaepernick was just a spectator when the teams met in October.

Since becoming the starter five games ago, Kaepernick has rushed for 202 yards, adding another element to the 49ers offense.

The Seahawks defensive line took a hit this week when Jason Jones was placed on injured reserve with torn cartilage in his knee, but defensive tackle Alan Branch should be able to play despite an ankle injury.

While Seattle did give up 118 yards rushing last week to Buffalo in an easy win, its victories over Arizona and Chicago featured a run defense that was more like what the Seahawks got earlier in the season.

Seattle held Matt Forte to 66 yards and the Cardinals to just 43 yards rushing as a team. Those two efforts gave Bradley optimism that the run defense was heading in the right direction.

``I thought the Arizona game we played better and the Chicago game for the most part we've played pretty well,'' Bradley said. ``There are some good backs that we have faced ... Some of those guys are going to get their yards. For us the biggest thing is for us to keep the points down so we have a chance to win.''

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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:

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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 (26-33) for the third time in three tries this season on Friday night and, aside from a push in the third quarter, they 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.

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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 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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