Wizards

Sleepy Mystics seek peppy start against Fever

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Sleepy Mystics seek peppy start against Fever

Most folksrelate to sleepy starts at work. Of course, the typical 9-to-5 crowd has plenty time to catch up over the course of the day, week, maybe longer. Not so for the Washington Mystics. The recent trend of snoozing after the opening tipoff has put thelast place team in the WNBA's Eastern Conferenceinto uphill and ultimately losing situations. No more snooze button: The Mysticsmust right that slumbering wrong - like now to avoid letting the 2012 campaign slip away.In their last two home games, the Mystics (1-5) have fallen behind in the first half by 24 points to Minnesota and 29 to New York. In both cases, furious comebacks took place and deciding points were scored in the final seconds. By the other side. Starting with Friday nights home contest at the Verizon Center against Indiana, Washington hopes it energy is there from the start. There is a four-game losing streak to break and with a West coast road trip looming perhaps a season to save.We keep doing this to ourselves and we dont have all season to learn, Mystics forward Monique Currie said after the 76-70 loss to the Liberty one week ago. We were passive, we were relaxed and we let them come into our home and be the aggressors. We need to be aggressive; we need to not wait until were behind to start playing how we can play. Its too tough to come back and win against these teams. Its possible, but wed make it a lot easier on ourselves if we just stay in the games.After facing Indiana for thefirst offour-game season series, Washington embarks on a difficult three-game road trip, starting in Los Angeles.In their last game, the Mystics allowed the Liberty to shoot 60 percent from the field in the first half. When their defense tightened after halftime, so did the game.When we play our defense, were pretty good, Mystics coach Trudi Lacey said after practice this week. We can turn our defense into offense and thats what we want to do. We just have to play both sides of the ball for 40 minutes.That goes double for Currie, the Mystics third-leading scorer (10.7) and the rest of Washingtons frontcourt against the Fever (4-2), losers of two straight. Indianas All-Star forward Tamika Catchings is third in the WNBA in scoring, averaging 21.5 points per game. The Mystics finished 0-5 against the Fever last season.Year in and year out, Catchings is always somebody we have to deal with, said Currie, herself coming of a season-low two point outing. Shes a great player, shes a tough player, but we prepare the same way that she does. Well do all that we can to slow her down.Getting out to a fast start might help.NotesThe Mystics waived guard Dominique Canty and signed free agent guard Shannon Bobbitt, the team announced on Wednesday.

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Marcin Gortat dedicates big game against Sixers to late former Polish teammate Adam Wójcik

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USA Today Sports Images

Marcin Gortat dedicates big game against Sixers to late former Polish teammate Adam Wójcik

Marcin Gortat is a legend in his home country of Poland and on Wednesday night he paid homage to one of his predecessors.

Adam Wójcik, one of the most decorated Polish basketball players of all time, passed away in August after a battle with Leukemia. Months later, in the first game of the 2017-18 season, Gortat took the floor with Wójcik's initials, the date of his death, a cross and 'RIP' inscribed on his shoes.

Gortat went out and delivered one of the best games of his career. He had 16 points, 17 rebounds and three blocks, just the third time in his 11 NBA seasons he has posted those numbers. His production was pivotal in the Wizards' 120-115 win over the Sixers in their season opener.

"I'm just glad I did that wearing the initials of the greatest players from Poland, Adam Wójcik," Gortat said. "I'm glad in the first game, we came up with a win."

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Ten of Gortat's points came in the fourth quarter, as he consistently fed off pick-and-roll mismatches. John Wall found him over and over, including for a big dunk that allowed Gortat to do his signature Polish Hammer celebration.

That Wall-to-Gortat combination is something head coach Scott Brooks wants to see more of.

"It’s simple for him. I’ve been telling him for about a year and at the start of this season," Brooks said. "You run into your screen and you roll out, and you’re going to get open looks. We have some special players handling the ball. They’re going to have to guard with an extra man and if he rolls hard, he’s going be able to finish."

Wójcik died at just 47 years old after a long and successful basketball career. He won eight Polish League championships and won MVP three times. Gortat and Wójcik played together for the Polish national team and Wójcik is someone Gortat looked up to for a long time.

"I dedicate this game to him," he said.

[RELATED: PODCAST - WIZARDS TIPOFF SEASON PREVIEW]

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Three plays that show why the Redskins' screen game is so effective

Three plays that show why the Redskins' screen game is so effective

By Ryan Wormeli

The Redskins eked out a close win at home on Sunday, coming away with a 26-24 final over the 49ers. One of the keys to the team's success on offense was their effective screen game. 

Doc Walker says running back Chris Thompson is the best in the NFL at catching screens and turning them into big plays. Still, he knows it takes more than just one great player to find success in the screen game.

On Redskins Gameplan, he turned to the film to break down three big plays from Sunday's victory, highlighting the offensive line in giving Thompson the room he needed to make something happen.

Play 1: Recievers getting in on the "Block Party"

Nearly half of the Redskins on the field for this play found themselves with someone to block. Walker points out how active the big guys are, shouting out Brandon Scherff and Shawn Lauvao in particular. The receivers get some shine too, with Doc even pointing out, "You know you gotta give 11 some credit on that."

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Play 2: Trent Williams just keeps looking for guys to block

With the Redskins deep in their own territory, they once again call for a screen pass, and you know Doc gets really excited to see the big fellas move.

"Now watch the big uglies, downfield. Agile! Hostile! Getting after it! Staying on their feet, no belly floppers," exclaimed Walker. "That's the key to it."

Play 3: Brandon Scherff redeems himself later in the drive

Brandon Scherff started off this important drive with a holding penalty, costing his team valuable yards. He then saw the screen pass as an opportunity to make it up to his teammates, and he takes full advantage.

Doc has just one thing to say for players staring down an angry Brandon Scherff.

"You, my friend, are in trouble."

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The Redskins probably hoped their game against the winless 49ers would be a bit more comfortable than a 26-24 victory. Still, when they found themselves in a dogfight, they were able to rely on their quality screen game to get them big yardage when needed, and it helped them come out with a big Week 6 win.

For more segments like this, tune in to Redskins Gameplan at 6 p.m. on Thursday.