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Venus, Kastles advance to WTT finals

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Venus, Kastles advance to WTT finals

CHARLESTON, S.C. September 15, 2012 Defending World TeamTennis champions Washington Kastles defeated their arch-rival, the New York Sportimes, 19-15 in the WTT Eastern Conference final, propelling the team into Sundays championship match for the second consecutive year and extending the teams historic win streak to 31 matches.

With the match tied and one set remaining, four-time Olympic gold medalist Venus Williams blasted her way past Ashley Harkleroad 5-1 in women's singles to clinch a spot for the Kastles in the WTT Finals for the third time in four years.

Weve been in this situation before and we knew how to win. There was a lot of pressure on us, but we just knew we had to put the ball in play and go for the shot, said Venus Williams. It shows why we are a great team.

The arch-rival Sportimes had been the Kastles toughest opponent during the regular season, including a thrilling 21-20 Washington win on July 21, when Venus Williams rallied from six games down in the final set to complete the franchise's largest comeback ever.

Next up is the Western Conference champion Sacramento Capitals. They defeated the Orange County Breakers 25-15 on Friday to advance to the WTT championship match. The Kastles defeated Sacramento 21-19 on July 18.

In posting 31 straight victories, the Kastles have the second-longest winning streak in major U.S. professional sports history and are within range of the 33-game streak by the NBAs 1971-1972 Los Angeles Lakers. They have already passed the respective records of 17 straight wins set by the NHL Pittsburgh Penguins in 1992-1993, 21 straight wins by the NFLs New England Patriots in 2003 and 2004, and 26 wins by the 1916 MLB New York Giants.

This years 14-0 regular season by the Kastles marked the first time in major U.S. professional sports history in which a team has had consecutive unbeaten regular seasons. Last season, in addition to winning a second WTT title in three years, the Kastles posted a perfect 16-0 record a first in WTT history.

Kastles closer Bobby Reynolds was named the 2012 WTT Male Most Valuable Player. Kastles Coach Murphy Jensen was selected as 2012 Coach of the Year, the second straight season he has won that honor.

The 37th WTT regular season ran July 9-28. The championship is being played this year in September to accommodate players who participated in the Olympics and US Open.

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Kirk Cousins is real nice - and 3 other things we learned from the 49ers game

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Kirk Cousins is real nice - and 3 other things we learned from the 49ers game

Kirk Cousins got mic'd up during the Redskins win over the 49ers last Sunday, and well, it confirmed a few things Washington fans already knew about their quarterback. 

For starters, Cousins is a nice guy. A real nice guy.

On one play, Cousins completes a pass downfield while facing a bit of pressure. As soon as he throws the ball, he starts shouting to his offensive line, "Good pocket! Great pocket!"

He keeps going, "Hey that was you guys. I took forever, I took forever. Hey nice job."

NFL quarterbacks like to thank their offensive lines, but not always immediately, even while the play is going on. Kirk is a nice guy.

Some other things learned from the mic'd up session:

  • Josh Doctson has a nickname. It's "Papa Doc." No idea if that's an 8 Mile reference. 
  • Trent Williams believes Kirk Cousins' shoulder is worth $200 million. And he might be right. 
  • Kirk Cousins wants to stay aggresive. He laid it out to QB coach Kevin O'Connell. Cousins explained during the Redskins early lead:

"Sometimes I get in a weird place, you get a lead like this. Where you start playing conservative, not to lose. It’s smart to do that but it also kinda hinders your ability to just go play."

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

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

John Wall, Bradley Beal and the Washington Wizards battle Andre Drummond, Avery Bradley and the Detroit Pistons 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. DETROIT PISTONS

Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 7:00 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (coverage begins at 6 p.m. with Wizards HangTime)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

Three things to watch...

Smith may not play

The Wizards may be down not one but two power forwards, as Jason Smith sprained his right shoulder in Wednesday night's opener while filling in for Markieff Morris, who is already out rehabbing from sports hernia surgery. Losing Smith will put extra stress on head coach Scott Brooks, who is already trying to form rotations with a bench full of new faces.

If Smith can't go, which seems likely, the Wizards will start Kelly Oubre, Jr. at the three and push Otto Porter to the four. That lineup itself should have no serious drop-off from the one with Smith. But the domino effect will be interesting. Who plays the three in the second unit? Brooks will probably have to go small with three guards, stagger the minutes of his starters to compensate or turn to someone like Tomas Satoransky, Carrick Felix or Chris McCullough for some playing time after all three were DNPs in the opener.

[RELATED: OTTO PORTER ON HANGING WITH J. COLE]

A familiar foe

Wizards fans rejoiced when the Celtics shipped Avery Bradley to the Pistons, knowing he would not be able to guard John Wall and Bradley Beal if the Wizards see Boston again in the playoffs this season. But he's still in the Eastern Conference and because of that will see the Wizards plenty. Bradley is flat-out one of the best defenders in the NBA and one of the only players who can give Wall fits. He's got the size to guard both Wall and Beal and is as tough as they come.

Bradley will provide a strong test for both Wall and Beal, who each appear to have improved this offseason based on the limited action we've seen so far. Wall is in better shape than he was last year and Beal's confidence handling the ball and running sets continues to grow. They are up for any challenge and Bradley certainly presents one.

[RELATED: HOW MAHINMI LOST WEIGHT, WHY HE LOVES D.C.]

Harris and Drummond

The Wizards' frontcourt injuries won't make it any easier to stop what is one of the better big men combos in the Eastern Conference. Tobias Harris is a well-rounded power forward who can stretch the floor with a solid three-point shot. He puts up similar numbers to Morris, but blew up in the Pistons' first game on Wednesday against the Bobcats. Harris dropped 27 points on 11-of-18 shooting, including 4-of-7 from three, to go along with 10 rebounds and three assists. Last year he averaged 18.0 points and 6.7 rebounds in three games against Washington.

Drummond remains one of the best rebounders in basketball. He's a walking double-double, but did have a tough time against the Wizards last season. Washington held him to 8.7 points and 9.7 rebounds, modest for him, and he shot just 40 percent in three matchups. 

[RELATED: KELLY OUBRE CAN SEE WHY DURANT MADE A FAKE TWITTER ACCOUNT]