Redskins

Clippers manhandle Kings 116-81

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Clippers manhandle Kings 116-81

LOS ANGELES (AP) Jamal Crawford scored 17 points off the bench, leading seven Clippers in double-digit scoring, and Los Angeles rested all of its starters in the fourth quarter of a 116-81 blowout of the Sacramento Kings on Saturday night.

The Clippers beat Sacramento for the fourth straight time. Blake Griffin had 14 points and nine rebounds, Chris Paul had 14 points and five assists, and DeAndre Jordan had 13 points and six boards. The 35-point margin of victory was the Clippers' largest ever against the Kings' franchise, four more than the previous best on April 10, 2009, at Staples Center.

Marcus Thornton scored 20 points for the Kings, and Jason Thompson had 16 points and 12 rebounds. Tyreke Evans missed his second straight contest with a bruised left knee.

Sacramento is 0-6 on the road - the club's worst start since 2007-08, when the Kings lost their first nine to tie a franchise record. The league's only other winless road team is Washington (0-7).

Chauncey Billups scored only six points in his second game since recovering from a torn left Achilles' tendon that sidelined him for the final 38 games of last season and the first 14 this season. But the Clippers outscored the Kings 41-22 while he was in the game.

DeMarcus Cousins finished with eight points and six rebounds in just 18 minutes after sitting out the entire second and fourth quarters. The Kings are 1-7 in head-to-head matchups between Cousins and Griffin. In the seven previous meetings, Griffin averaged 20.6 points, 12.0 rebounds and was shooting 60.2 percent from the field while Cousins averaged 11.0 points, 9.0 rebounds and 35.7 percent shooting.

Los Angeles led 58-34 at halftime - with no one scoring in double digits. The bench had 25 points in the half, including nine by Matt Barnes, who made his first five shots and finished 5 for 7 with 12 points.

The Clippers opened the game with a 17-6 run, led by Jordan's six points and four rebounds. Paul went to the bench after picking up his second foul with 5:15 left in the first quarter, but backup point guard Eric Bledsoe and the rest of the reserves held Sacramento in check - building the lead up to 46-24 by the time Paul reported back in with 6:25 left in the half.

Coach Vinny Del Negro sat his entire starting unit to begin the second quarter, and Crawford gave the Clippers a 37-21 lead on a 3-pointer with 9:33 left in the half. It was his first basket of the game after starting out 0 for 4.

NOTES: A moment of silence was observed for Clippers public address announcer David Courtney, who died Thursday of a pulmonary embolism at age 56. Staples Center's game-night crew put together a photo montage in his memory and showed it on the video board, and a tape of Courtney's voice was used to introduce the Clippers' starting lineup one final time. ... Courtney also handled the p.a. duties for the Angels and the reigning NHL champion Kings, but was denied a chance to preside over the raising of the Stanley Cup banner to the Staples Center rafters because of hockey's lockout. ... Eric Smith, the Dodgers' p.a. announcer, has returned to his old job at the Clippers' courtside table for the rest of the season. ... Sacramento is 0-12 when trailing after three quarters. The Clippers are 8-0 when taking a lead into the fourth.

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Redskins 2018 position outlook: Defensive line

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Redskins 2018 position outlook: Defensive line

Redskins 2018 position outlook: Defensive line

Training camp opens next week, and we have a break here, giving us time to put the depth chart under the microscope. Over the coming week, we will look at every position, compare the group to the rest of the NFL, see if the position has been upgraded or downgraded from last year, and take out the crystal ball to see what might unfold.

Defensive line

Additions: Daron Payne (drafted in first round), Tim Settle (drafted in fifth round)
Departures: Terrell McClain (released)

Starters: Payne (NT), Jonathan Allen, Matt Ioannidis
Other roster locks: Stacy McGee, Anthony Lanier, Settle
On the bubble: Ziggy Hood, Phil Taylor

How the defensive line compares

To the rest of the NFL: We are going to have to see about this. Over the last couple of years the D-line has been transformed from an aging group into one where youth is in good supply. Ioannidis is the oldest of the starters at age 24. Allen is 23 and Payne just turned 21 in May. It looks like there is great potential there but we haven’t seen enough of it on the field to make solid comparisons to other lines around the league. Allen missed 10 games of his rookie year with an injury and Ioannidis missed two and was hampered in a few more with a broken hand. Payne, of course, is a rookie. Let’s check back in late October and see how things are going then. 

To the 2017 Redskins:  The primary reason that the line should be significantly better this year is the presence of Payne and Settle on the roster. That means that it is very unlikely that Hood will have to play nose tackle. He has been the starter there for the past two years, forced there by injuries. Jim Tomsula that Hood is not well suited to play the nose. So they have an improvement there. If they get a mostly healthy season out of Allen and if Ioannidis continue to improve this will be the best defensive line they have had since moving to the 3-4 defensive in 2010. 

2018 outlook

Biggest upside: As noted, Payne just turned 21. He seems to have a rare understanding of the game for a rookie. You often see rookies just trying to survive on physical ability early one. Payne has plenty of that, but he also seems to realize that strength and ability alone won’t let him thrive at this level. He pays close attention to his technique during drills, making sure he does things the right way the first time. If he builds on this for the next year or so the Redskins could have a legitimate star. 

Most to prove: Since so many Redskins fans are accustomed to seeing veteran defensive linemen the team signs as free agents play poorly, they automatically put McGee in the “bust” category. But many of his teammates said he was the most consistent player on the line last year. It’s safe to say that he played better than the popular perception. Next year, he will carry a $4.8 million salary cap number and like most players who are not starters but making good salaries, he will need to play well enough to justify that cap number.  

Rookie watch: The Redskins did not expect Settle to be available in the fifth round and he was too good to pass up when he was still on the board. He should get some opportunity as a rookie. He is likely to be the only other nose tackle on the roster besides Payne (sorry, but the numbers make it unlikely that Phil Taylor will make the roster). That could have him active on many game days and that usually means getting some snaps in the rotation. We will see what he can do with his chances. 

Bottom line: The Redskins were last in the league in rushing defense in 2017. It wasn’t all on the line—in particular, injuries to the inside linebackers hurt a lot—but the simple fact is that the organization long neglected the line. The philosophy was to create a patchwork unit from aging free agents. That has changed now with three homegrown players set to start and Settle and 2016 undrafted free agent find Anthony Lanier providing reserve help. It’s going to be a better unit, no question. But improvement over the last several years is a low bar and we’ll find out if this develops into a quality line over the next few months. 

Quote-unquote

Greg Manusky on Payne:

Payne is doing a great job. He’s trying to get acclimated to some of the calls, hasn’t had a lot of mental errors. He’s done a great job. Physical player.

2018 position outlook series

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

 

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John Wall says Wizards will do less talking this year, but could be best team he's played on

John Wall says Wizards will do less talking this year, but could be best team he's played on

The Wizards in recent years have made a habit of trying to speak things into existence and then not having them actually exist. They have talked the talk and then sometimes haven't walked the walk.

A few instances come to mind, including Bradley Beal saying of the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers that "they didn't want to see us" in the playoffs. Beal also said in November that the Washington was the best team in the East, just hours before James scored 57 points in the Wizards' building.

John Wall has made similar proclomations in the past, usually about himself, including how he is the best point guard in the Eastern Conference. Now, these statements were all relatively normal for professional athletes who pride themselves in always feeling like they are the best player on the floor or the field. It's part of the mindset that makes them who they are.

But when those statements are made and then not backed up, they can be tough to defend, and especially for a Wizards team which last season seemed to overlook the lesser teams and suffered a down year because of it.

Wall insists all that is about to change. In his 1-on-1 interview with Chris Miller on our Wizards Tipoff podcast, Wall said the message this year will be much different, much more muted than it has been in the past.

"We want to go out with a different mindset and a different focus. We're not trying to go in and think we're a team that has already established something and got respect from people. We have to earn that respect and that means going out and competing every night against the good teams or the bad teams," he said.

That doesn't mean Wall isn't confident. His belief in himself hasn't wavered and, in fact, he may believe in his team more now than ever. That's because he is happy with the offseason the front office has produced.

They signed Dwight Howard and Jeff Green in free agency, traded for Austin Rivers and drafted Troy Brown, Jr. in the first round. All should help the Wizards improve between Howard representing an upgrade at starting center and the others providing much-needed depth.

When Wall was asked by Chris if this is the most complete team he has played with in Washington, Wall left no doubts.

"Yeah, for sure. I definitely think so," he said. "I think it gives us the opportunity where we don't have to play as many minutes. That's the key. At the end of the year, you kind of fall short because you're fatigued. Nobody uses that as an excuse. You play and try to get into the best shape possible. But if you're playing 24 minutes, the whole half, and then 24 minutes and the whole half, you kind of get tired at some point. I think those guys can take a little of the burden and pressure off of us at times."

Listen to Wall's full 1-on-1 interview on the Wizards Tipoff podcast:

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