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Turner believes Falcons can fix holes in run game

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Turner believes Falcons can fix holes in run game

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) Atlanta Falcons running back Michael Turner has heard the critics say that he's too slow and too old to convert short-yardage downs.

He couldn't disagree more.

``Everybody's going to nitpick,'' Turner said on Thursday. ``We're a different team this year, obviously, with philosophies and things like that, but I mean we're 8-1. That's the bottom line. To get Ws. We're not worried about it.''

Coming off their first loss of the season, Turner and the Falcons were punchless in short-yardage situations last week at New Orleans.

The two-time Pro Bowl running back was held to his least productive day in five seasons with Atlanta, running 13 times for 15 yards.

But Turner said that the Falcons have done far more right offensively this season than they've done wrong.

Atlanta ranks fourth in passing and seventh in scoring, but just 26th in rushing. Turner insists that the Falcons only need to make a few corrections against Arizona (4-5) on Sunday to get the running game operating efficiently.

Last week was ugly. On eight plays, New Orleans stuffed Turner either for no gain or lost yardage. The worst came on third-and-goal at the 1 in the game's final 2 minutes.

The Falcons lined up in a seven-man front, sent tight end Michael Palmer in motion and had fullback Mike Cox ready to take on a defender to spring Turner.

Instead, a blocking breakdown by left tackle Sam Baker trigged a collapse that allowed three Saints to tackle Turner in the backfield. On the next snap, Matt Ryan's go-ahead touchdown pass to Roddy White was knocked down.

Turner gave the Saints credit instead of blaming his teammates.

``Sometimes defenses are going to have good schemes against us and be able to get good penetration and things like that,'' Turner said. ``It's just something we have to handle and run different types of plays sometimes and just clean it up.''

Still, the problems must be corrected quickly. The Falcons want to repair the blow to their collective ego from last season's 24-2 playoff loss at the New York Giants.

Three times they lined up to convert short-yardage plays against the eventual Super Bowl champions and three times they failed.

It wasn't the first game in which Atlanta and Turner had struggle struggles. In 40 attempts inside the opponents' 10-yard line last season, Turner averaged a paltry 1.1 yards. The year before, he had just 1.3 yards on 41 attempts.

``We don't take anything for granted,'' Turner said. ``You've got to expect things to get tougher as the years go on and especially if you're a good team, people are going to give you their best shot. So we have to be prepared for everybody's best shot.''

For this same problem to be cropping up again seems like a bad harbinger.

``It's inexcusable,'' tight end Tony Gonzalez said. ``We are too good to let that happen. We should be able to convert those downs especially with a guy like Michael Turner back there. We should be able to get that first down, and I think we will in the future. It's just all about execution, and guys all being on the same page.''

It didn't take long for offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter to see the problems on film.

On several short-yardage plays that failed, the Falcons either missed a blocking assignment, didn't account for an all-out blitz or had multiple issues in protection.

``Yeah, it's a bad thing,'' Koetter said. ``If you had a magic wand and could wave it, then it would be easy to fix everything if you had that magic wand. Again, that's one part of the game. We came up short in that part and eventually that added up to us coming up short on the scoreboard.''

Turner believes that the Falcons must stay persistent and not give up on themselves just because a few plays didn't go their way.

``Of course, of course, but it seems like everybody's finding what's wrong with us and finding reasons to doubt us more than just say things that we're doing good at,'' he said. ``But that's fine. Nobody's putting any more pressure on us than we're putting on ourselves. Our expectations are high, and we take pride in being great and doing the things we need to get better at. We can obviously see it, and we'll take care of it.''

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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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5 must-see moments from Wizards' huge road win over Cavaliers, including Markieff Morris' alley-oop

5 must-see moments from Wizards' huge road win over Cavaliers, including Markieff Morris' alley-oop

Here are the five best plays or moments from the Washington Wizards' 110-103 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night...

1. The Wizards didn't start out well, as they trailed by nine points at the end of the first quarter. Kelly Oubre, Jr. stumbled early by missing four of his first six shots and it looked like a carryover of his slump before the All-Star break.

But Oubre got hot in the second quarter and helped the Wizards turn the game around. This was one of his best plays, a two-handed slam that he celebrated with an emphatic scream to the crowd:

RELATED: BEAL IMPRESSED BY LEBRON AT ALL-STAR GAME

2. Tomas Satoransky was one of the stars of the game. He had 17 points to go along with eight assists, four rebounds and two steals. 

Here's one of his dimes, a perfect alley-oop lob to Markieff Morris, who finished with nine points and eight rebounds:

3. Satoransky has reached double-figures in six of the 10 games since John Wall went out with an injury. This was a very impressive move, a stepback fadeaway that was super smooth:

RELATED: GET TO KNOW NEW WIZARDS FREE AGENT SIGNING

4. Ian Mahinmi made some key contributions including four offensive rebounds and a steal. This was his best basket, a powerful slam that came at a key time:

5. This play helped seal the victory. It was a smart after-timeout set drawn up by head coach Scott Brooks and it worked to perfection:

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS