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Vikes' Frazier not concerned with contract status

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Vikes' Frazier not concerned with contract status

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) Leslie Frazier has one year left on his contract and no concern about his future.

The Minnesota Vikings coach said Tuesday he and his agent will speak soon with team officials about his deal.

``Things will work out just fine. I'm not worried at all,'' Frazier said, adding that he's been told ``a number of times'' by owners Zygi Wilf and Mark Wilf, and general manager Rick Spielman that they were pleased with the job the coaches have done this season.

``I'm very appreciative of their support throughout the year,'' Frazier said.

The Vikings went 10-6 and made the postseason after last season's 3-13 finish - tied for the worst record in franchise history. Frazier took over as the interim replacement for Brad Childress with six games left on the 2010 schedule and was formally given the job for 2011.

Considering the turnaround by the team on the field, the harmony in the locker room and the respect the players have expressed for Frazier, he's one of the top candidates for the Coach of the Year award.

``He has positive energy, and you just can't help but feed off him,'' running back Adrian Peterson said. ``He's really been a big part of my development, not only as a football player but as a human being. He's very inspirational.''

Frazier interviewed for seven head coaching vacancies over a three-year span before the Vikings job opened: Atlanta and Miami in 2008; Denver, Detroit and St. Louis in 2009; and Buffalo and Seattle in 2010. Four of those teams have already fired the men they picked instead, and Detroit finished 4-12 this season. Only Atlanta and Seattle are in the playoffs with the same coach they hired then.

``So happy I'm in Minnesota, my friend,'' Frazier said, smiling and raising his arms during his news conference Tuesday as though he were signaling a touchdown. ``I love the Minnesota Vikings.''

Frazier said he was proud of the way his assistants worked together to help develop a young roster into a playoff team, and he said they'd all be back unless they find a promotion elsewhere. Linebackers coach Mike Singletary and special teams coordinator Mike Priefer have been requested by Chicago to interview for the head position there.

``The foundation has really been set with our team without question. Our core identity showed up. The traits that we talked about throughout the year, being a tough, smart, disciplined football team, were exemplified through this group of young men,'' Frazier said.

NFL foundations always center on the quarterback position, and Christian Ponder showed he still has a lot of room to grow into a reliable, productive starter for the long term. But even if there's a more capable backup brought in to replace or demote Joe Webb, Frazier left no doubt that the job is still Ponder's for 2013.

``We're excited about his progress. The way he played down the stretch, he was great,'' Frazier said. ``He had a lot to do with us winning those last four games the way we did.''

The wide receivers will have a lot to do with Ponder's development, and the status of Percy Harvin is the primary story of the offseason. After expressing his frustration with the organization last summer and requesting a trade, Harvin was assuaged by the time training camp began. He was playing like an All-Pro, leading the league in total yardage before he badly sprained his left ankle and was eventually placed on injured reserve.

Harvin went home to rehab in Florida, but Frazier downplayed his absence from the team down the stretch.

``There is probably nobody more excited about what we achieved as a team than Percy,'' Frazier said. ``He's going to be coming through for his exit physical, so he and I will get a chance to chat and talk a little bit. He's enthused about what has happened with our football team. We have some other guys who are on injured reserve who weren't around as much, either. There will be guys that are injured this offseason that will do their rehab in other places as well. It's not unusual in that regard.''

Frazier said their conversation will be about reconnecting and assessing the health of his foot rather than clearing up any issues between them.

``I don't know if there's anything that needs to be done. He'll coexist peacefully. He exists peacefully now. Just get back, get healthy,'' he said.

Harvin will enter the final year of his rookie deal, so the Vikings will either have to sign him to an extension or trade him unless they want to take the risk of bringing back a player with a history of anti-authoritarian behavior on an expiring contract.

``He's a great player. When he was playing, everyone was saying he was MVP of the league,'' Ponder said. ``So he's a guy that I think everyone would like to see on the field.''

Notes: In addition to left shoulder surgery for defensive end Jared Allen to fix a torn labrum, which will take place after the Pro Bowl, Frazier said punter Chris Kluwe will have an operation to repair meniscus cartilage damage in his left knee. But neither Ponder (deeply bruised right triceps) nor cornerback Antoine Winfield (broken right hand) will need additional treatment or surgery. ... Winfield and defensive tackle Kevin Williams are the team's two longest-tenured players, with expensive remaining years on their contracts. Williams said he wants to return. Frazier said he believes Winfield will be back, too. ``There are some things, of course, he wants to think about this offseason, but all indications are he wants to give it another try,'' the coach said.

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Bradley Beal fouling out nearly changed the series, but Wizards rallied

Bradley Beal fouling out nearly changed the series, but Wizards rallied

After calling an inconsistent game throughout the night, the referees made a decision with five minutes to go in Game 4 that nearly altered the entire series between the Wizards and Raptors.

DeMar DeRozan was chasing a rebound on the baseline and ran into Bradley Beal. Beal, who had a team-high 31 points, was levied a sixth foul. He was out of the game with the score tied.

Beal had unloaded for 20 points in 12 minutes in the second half, but now the Wizards would have to close it out without their All-Star shooting guard. Somehow, they were able to seal the win and tie the series.

Beal heard the whistle as he laid on the ground. He immediately hopped up and unleashed a tantrum that nobody could blame him for. He jumped up and down, screaming at the referees, who had just called by all accounts a questionable foul and in a key moment of a playoff game.

Both Beal and head coach Scott Brooks were incensed and with good reason.

“I was beyond emotional, beyond mad, frustrated," Beal said. "I honestly thought they were going to kick me out of the game I was so mad, but I was happy they didn’t do that."

Beal is probably lucky the referees didn't take offense to his reaction because it continued when he was on the bench. He walked past his teammates and leaned over with his hands on his knees, still furious. Then he returned to the sideline to yell at the refs. Center Ian Mahinmi helped convince him to step back and cool off.

Beal has made a major difference in this series. He averaged 14.0 points in the first two games, both losses. He has averaged 29.5 points in Games 3 and 4, two Wizards wins.

Getting him out of the game was a major break for the Raptors, but they couldn't take advantage. The Wizards closed the final five minutes on a 14-6 tear. John Wall stepped up to lead the charge with eight of those points.

The Wizards still had one star on the court and he played like one.

“Just go in attack mode," Wall said. "When Brad went out, I knew I had to do whatever it took... I just wanted to do whatever, so that we could advance to Game 5, tied 2-2.”

Once Beal composed himself, his confidence grew in his teammates. He and Wall feel comfortable playing without each other because they have done so often throughout their careers.

This year, Wall missed 41 games due to a left knee injury. Two years ago, Beal missed 27 games. Early on in his career, he had trouble staying healthy. Now he is an iron man who played in all 82 games during the 2017-18 regular season.

Beal has grown accustomed to being on the floor a lot, but he realized he can still affect the game from the sidelines.

"I just gathered my emotions, gathered my thoughts and told my team we were going to win, regardless. I knew if we still had John [Wall] in the game I loved our chances," Beal said. "Face the adversity that I had to overcome, just gather myself and be a leader, being vocal and keeping everyone encouraged in the game.”

Wall and others did the heavy lifting in the end. The Wizards used Kelly Oubre, Jr. as the shooting guard with Beal out and he made key plays down the stretch, including a steal on Kyle Lowry in the closing seconds.

The Wizards were thrown a significant curveball and they overcame it to put themselves in good position now having won two straight.

“You have to have resolve to win in this league," Brooks said. "You win playoff games and you win playoff series with having that. We have that, and we have to continue to have that because we have to win two more games and one of them has to be on the road."

When it comes to the officiating, the Wizards deserve credit for their resilience and restraint early in Game 4. The Raptors had 16 free throws in the first quarter compared to the Wizards' four. Washington perservered and ended up with more free throws (31) than the Raptors (30) did for the game.

In Game 1, the Wizards appeared to be affected by a lack of foul calls. That came was called loosely by the referees, while this one was officiated tightly. Though Beal went off, the Wizards for the most part stayed the course and were rewarded for it.

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The Wizards supplied all the highlights and fireworks; 5 must-see moments from Game 4

The Wizards supplied all the highlights and fireworks; 5 must-see moments from Game 4

WASHINGTON -- As the home team in a dire situation you have to take advantage, and that is exactly what the Washington Wizards did in their 106-98 win over the Toronto Raptors.

Highlight reel play after highlight reel play, the Wizards ignited the crowd with some of their best plays from the entire season to make it 2-2 in the series. Here are just a few of them:

1. John Wall collects posters in the first half

The first one was perhaps the best. Everything was going wrong for the Wizards, poor turnovers, bad shots, a three from Toronto. Then John Wall had enough. Not only did he fly past his defender Kyle Lowry, but he went up and slammed one home past the 7-foot Jonas Valanciunas. Up until that point, the Wizards were shooting 1-for-7.

Rinse and repeat, except this time Jakob Poeltl was Wall’s victim.

2. Wall to Beal alley-oop in transition

With the Wizards’ offense faltering, the Raptors remained on the verge of blowing the game open throughout the second quarter. But with a steal from Otto Porter Jr., Wall hung up the ball for Bradley Beal to slam home. The alley-oop kept the Wizards within single digits in the second with an uninspiring offensive effort.

3. Otto Porter breaks out of the half

A subdued offensive start to the game was due in part to the production from Porter. In the first half he went 0-for-4 with one point in nearly 17 minutes of action.

Throw that away in the second half. He broke out of halftime with back-to-back threes and 10 of the Wizards’ 26 in a monster 26-14 run to take the lead back in the third.

He finished the quarter with 10 points, an assist, and two blocks.

4. The Polish Hammer throwing it home

Are you convinced yet that Marcin Gortat’s new haircut is doing him some good? Gortat squeezed through two Raptors’ defenders, threw it down, gave a Goliath-type roar to the crowd before officially bringing the hammer down. 

5. Beal being called for his sixth foul of the game

Agree with the call or not, there is no denying that Beal’s removal from the game lit a fire underneath the Wizards. From that point Washington went on a 14-6 scoring run to end the game, closing out for the win.

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