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Thomas and Ajavon lift Mystics

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Thomas and Ajavon lift Mystics

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Matee Ajavon scored 22 points and Jasmine Thomas made the go-ahead 3-pointer with 16 seconds left in overtime as the Washington Mystics outlasted the Chicago Sky 75-71 on Sunday to snap an eight-game losing streak. Crystal Langhorne had 18 points for the Mystics (5-16), who had lost two straight and played for the third time in four days since returning from the month-long Olympic break. Epiphanny Prince scored 18 points and her free throws with 26.7 seconds left in overtime put the Sky (8-11) up 71-70. Ajavon, whose 3 with 1.7 seconds left in regulation tied the game, fouled out on the play. Thomas stepped up on the next possession with her first field goal since the first half, putting Washington in front 73-71. Monique Currie made two free throws with 7.7 seconds left following a clear path foul. Sylvia Fowles had 13 points and 16 rebounds for the Sky, losers of six straight games. Thomas finished with eight points and a career-high eight assists. Washington had not defeated Chicago since June 19, 2010, with two of the losses coming earlier this season. The Sky turned a nine-point fourth quarter deficit into a 60-57 lead with 1:43 remaining as Swin Cash's jumper capped a 14-2 run. Prince sank two free throws with 10 seconds remaining for a 62-59 advantage, but Ajavon's 3 over Le'coe Willingham tied the game. Both sides labored offensively in the first half, though Washington closed the second quarter on a 16-4 run for a 28-25 halftime lead. Ajavon scored 12 points and outscored Chicago 9-6 in the second quarter as the Sky set season-lows for fewest points in a quarter and in a first half. The Mystics jumped ahead in the third quarter, shooting 71 percent (10 of 14) and opened up their largest lead at 48-39 on Michelle Snow's jumper with 1:48 left in the period. After Sonja Petrovic's jumper gave the Sky a 21-12 lead, Chicago missed its final 11 shots of the second quarter and finished 8 of 30 (27 percent) for the half. Cash made Chicago's first attempt in the third quarter.

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3 stars of the game: Grubauer's heroics not enough against the Habs

3 stars of the game: Grubauer's heroics not enough against the Habs

The first time the Caps host the Montreal Canadiens this season, Alex Ovechkin tallied four goals as the Caps dominated a 6-1 thrashing.

Friday's game featured considerably less offense as Montreal just managed to squeak by Washington 3-2.

Philipp Grubuaer got the start and did everything he could to keep Washington in it, but the Caps struggled to find much offense.

Alex Ovechkin did manage to register assist No. 499 as he set up John Carlson on the power play and Lars Eller scored late, but it would not be enough for the Caps to come back.

Here are the three stars of the game.

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1. Max Pacioretty: The Canadiens struggled to get anything past Grubauer in this one, but Pacioretty finally did in the second period on the power play. It was simple enough, he found the puck at his feet, turned and shot. When goalies start to frustrate teams, we see a lot of players respond by looking for the perfect play.

They give up good opportunities for more difficult passes. Pacioretty was smart, he just shot. He also added an assist on Paul Byron's goal as the puck bounced off the board and off Pacioretty's skate right to Byron.

He ultimately put the exclamation point on the win with an empty-net goal.

2. Philipp Grubauer: Grubauer certainly didn't look like a backup goalie in this one.

He was strong in net all night long, but his best save came in the first period. Pacioretty hit the side of the net to Grubauer's left on a pretty passing play, but the puck bounced out to the slot and Charles Hudon passed it over to Paul Byron on Grubauer's right. Grubauer dove with his arm outstretched and managed to corral the puck into his body to keep it out of the net.

He would finish the game with several more fantastic saves, 23 in all despite the loss.

3. Andre Burakovsky: It would be hard to draw up a better return to the lineup for Burakovsky.

He started on the fourth line, but he wasn't there for long. He had four shot attempts in a first period in which the Caps struggled to get anything going offensively at all. He also had a breakaway opportunity in the third period as he came out of the penalty box. He had Antti Niemi beat, but hit the post.

Burakovsky did just about everything right in this game, but just couldn't light the lamp.

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Scot McCloughan simply said what plenty of others think about Kirk Cousins

Scot McCloughan simply said what plenty of others think about Kirk Cousins

Redskins fans were frenzied when Scot McCloughan said that Kirk Cousins is a good quarterback, but not a special one. The #KirkHive shuddered and the Kirk Haters celebrated.

McCloughan, the former Redskins GM who's wildly popular with fans, explained what few people will say publicly: Cousins is a skilled player but probably not deserving of the money he might make in free agency. 

Let's start with the obvious: Cousins is good.

He's a durable passer in a league that doesn't have enough of them. He's started the last 49 games for the Redskins and thrown for more than 4,000 yards each of the past three seasons. 

Now more obvious: He isn't great.

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Bleacher Report's Chris Simms, speaking on the #RedskinsTalk podcast, said Cousins ranks about 12th among NFL passers. It's top half of the league, but it's not Top 5 or even Top 10. 

Cousins has had tremendous games with the Redskins, like a near perfect performance against Oakland in 2017 or a dominant performance against Green Bay in 2016. 

Cousins has also been awful, as recently as Week 17 in New York a few weeks ago, or an equally stinky Week 17 game against the Giants two seasons ago. 

While some might view McCloughan's statement as controversial — "He’s a good player. Is he special? I don’t see special," he told Denver radio station 104.3 the Fan — it's not. 

Plenty of people agree with McCloughan, including some in Redskins Park. Last year, a source told NBC Sports Washington that the team believed they could get nearly as much production from Colt McCoy as Cousins provided. 

Even this year, Washington head coach Jay Gruden offered lukewarm praise of his quarterback.

When the season ended, asked to evaluate Cousins' play, the coach said, "When you’re 7-9, it’s hard to say, ‘Wow, this guy really was outstanding.’ There’s a few guys obviously that jump out, Pro Bowlers like Ryan Kerrigan had a solid year. Obviously Trent [Williams] when he played was a Pro Bowl-type and Brandon [Scherff] when he was healthy was a Pro Bowl-type guy. Kirk had his flashes where he was really good. From a consistent standpoint, over the course of 16 games, you know, we’re 7-9."

That quote made headlines when Gruden said it, much like McCloughan's comments now are circulating faster than Beltway traffic. 

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Truth is, it's not new. And it's not news.

There are coaches that think Cousins is only scratching the surface of his capabilities. Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay come to mind, but both of those coaches have other QBs likely for the long-term future. 

Cousins might end up being paid like a Top 3 quarterback in the NFL, and that might be the right move given the demand at the position. Will that make him a special passer?

Not if special is defined as Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees. Even Cousins wouldn't argue with that.