Redskins

Clippers send Lakers to 0-3 start with 105-95 win

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Clippers send Lakers to 0-3 start with 105-95 win

LOS ANGELES (AP) Kobe Bryant stuck his injured foot in an ice bucket and tried to relax. His star-studded Los Angeles Lakers are off to their first 0-3 start in 34 years, and even he isn't sure why nothing is working so far.

``It's particularly hard for me, because I'm not the most patient individual in the world,'' Bryant said. ``But you have to be. You have to be. You have to stay persistent. You have to stay committed to what you're doing, and just keep on trucking.''

So far this season, the Lakers have been a mighty 16-wheeler broken down on the side of the interstate - while their Staples Center co-tenants are cruising down the road.

Chris Paul had 18 points and 15 assists, Jamal Crawford scored 21 points and the Clippers beat the winless Lakers 105-95 Friday night.

Bryant scored 40 points and Dwight Howard had 13 points and eight rebounds while battling constant foul trouble for the Lakers, who are 0-3 for just the fourth time in franchise history. Steve Nash sat out with a bruised left leg for the Lakers, who have followed up their 0-8 preseason with three losses in four days.

``We need a win, obviously,'' Lakers coach Mike Brown said. ``I'm not trying to fool anyone here. That's part of the reason Kobe played the minutes he played, which is too many.''

Bryant logged 43 minutes on his bruised foot, which ``felt like it's about to fall off,'' he said.

``We're not supposed to coast and assume things are going to fix themselves,'' Bryant said. ``You've got to push at it. We've just got to keep working on what we do.''

The Clippers are no strangers to franchise turmoil, yet they coolly snapped a nine-game ``road'' losing streak against the Lakers dating to April 12, 2007. Blake Griffin scored 15 points before fouling out and Caron Butler had 14 for the Clippers, who pulled away steadily in the second half.

Just don't try to tell the Clippers that they're the new kings of L.A.

``I think it's the second game of the year, and you've got two teams here that just got together,'' Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said. ``It's too early to tell anything yet, other than we have to keep getting better.''

While the Clippers celebrated, the pro-Lakers crowd reacted to another loss with angry shouts piercing the silence, much of it profane criticism of Brown and his new Princeton-based offense.

Bryant attempted to put the Lakers on his shoulders in the second half, scoring 26 points out of sets that resembled the Lakers' old offenses, but the Clippers stayed comfortably ahead with big second halves from Paul and Griffin.

``We're getting better as a team,'' Griffin said. ``It's a great win for us, because they're a great team and they're in our division. I think the biggest difference in these games now ... is when we used to run out that tunnel for the starting lineups, nobody used to boo us. They didn't really care. And now they throw heat a little bit. So I think that says a lot about where we're at.''

Nash's absence was only one reason Paul had the same number of assists as the Lakers, with Nash replacement Steve Blake managing just two assists in 38 minutes before fouling out in the final minute.

The Clippers pulled away in the third quarter, making an 18-5 run with nine points from Griffin to take an 82-67 lead into the fourth quarter. The Lakers trimmed it to 91-83 with 5 minutes to play, but Crawford and Matt Barnes kept the Clippers ahead with big buckets.

``The key was that we weathered the storm,'' Paul said. ``We had a lead going into the fourth, and then Kobe started being Kobe. I've played against the Lakers enough times to see him get like that and have them come back and win. But we got some timely shots from our bench, and they stepped up for us.''

Bryant became the Lakers' career steals leader with his 1,725th in the third quarter, passing Magic Johnson. But the Lakers' defense was largely ineffective against Paul, and the Clippers forced 20 Lakers turnovers.

The Lakers haven't been very good, but they also have caught few breaks since training camp opened with Howard still recovering from offseason back surgery. Nash was hurt in the first half of the Lakers' loss at Portland on Wednesday night in a collision with rookie Damian Lillard.

Just three games into his three-year contract with Los Angeles, the two-time MVP had to sit out. Brown doesn't know whether Nash will play in Sunday's home game against Detroit.

NOTES: Bryant moved past Johnson into 15th place on the NBA's career steals list. Isiah Thomas is 14th with 1,861. ... Clippers C DeAndre Jordan threw down a stunning putback dunk in the third quarter, barely throwing down a rebound before falling onto his back. Jordan scored just four points. ... Barry Diller, Diane Von Furstenberg and directors Kevin Smith, James L. Brooks and Adam McKay attended the game.

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With the game put in their hands, the Redskins defense got the job done again

With the game put in their hands, the Redskins defense got the job done again

The Redskins got going quickly on offense against the Packers on Sunday. They scored in four plays the first time they had the ball. After a three and out they drove to another touchdown. In the second quarter they embarked on the longest touchdown drive they have had since 1999, a 98-yard march. By the time halftime came they had scored 28 points. 

That’s great but that four touchdowns are not always enough to beat an Aaron Rodgers-led Packers team. In 2016, the last season that Rodgers played all 16 games, Green Bay averaged 27 points per game. Basically, no lead is safe. 

But Jay Gruden played it very safe with the offensive play calling in the second half. Alex Smith, who was on fire in the first half, attempted only five passes in the last 30 minutes. They had 57 yards rushing in the second half, 32 of which came on the Redskins final possession when they drove for a field goal, their only points of the final two quarters. 

It was a similar performance to their season opener against the Cardinals when they were up 21-0 at halftime and then posted just a field goal in the second quarter. 

While the lack of offense in the second half of the Redskins’ two wins has been a talking point among fans and in the media, the key point is that both games turned out in the Redskins’ favor. They now have a defense that Gruden can trust to hold a lead. 

In Arizona, the Redskins defense gave up a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter, but the lead was never in danger. On Sunday, a fourth-down stop and a takeaway kept the Packers game from ever getting to be a one-score game. 

In the second halves of their three games, including the Week 2 loss to the Colts, the Redskins have given up an average of 147 yards and seven points. It’s a small sample size but so far, they are doing a good job of shutting the door. 

Another thing the Redskins have been doing well defensively is preventing big plays. The longest play against them was the 64-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter against the Packers. Other than that, they have given up just four plays that gained over 20 yards and none longer than 27 yards. 

They are second in total defense. They are giving up a miniscule 4.3 adjusted net yards per pass attempt, a full two yards less than the league average. If you prefer to use the more traditional passer rating stat, opponents have compiled a 77.0, well below the league aggregate rating of 91.2. Again, it’s early but this is a good start. 

The Washington defense will need to keep it going the next two weeks. First up after the bye is Drew Brees of the Saints, who is healthy and completing over 80 percent of his passes. New Orleans also has running back Alvin Kamara, one of the best two-way threats in the game. After that is Cam Newton of the Panthers, who the Redskins never have beaten, and his dual-threat running back Christian McCaffrey. 

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John Carlson will make his preseason debut Tuesday, but Devante Smith-Pelly will not

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John Carlson will make his preseason debut Tuesday, but Devante Smith-Pelly will not

A lower-body injury kept defenseman John Carlson out of the first few days of training camp and has thus far kept him out of preseason action. On Tuesday, however, as the Capitals head to St. Louis to take on the Blues, Carlson will be in the lineup for his preseason debut.

Carlson was held out of Friday’s game as a precaution, but head coach Todd Reirden said he was “really close” at that point to returning. He will play with his normal partner Michal Kempny.

Carlson enters the season on a new eight-year contract that he signed in the offseason. This is a big year for him to prove to the team that his career year in 2017-18 (15 goals, 53 assists, 68 points, all career highs) was a reflection of his true value and not simply the result of a motivated player playing for his next contract.

While Carlson is set to make his debut, forward Devante Smith-Pelly still will be held from the lineup.

Tuesday’s game will be Washington’s fifth preseason game out of seven and Smith-Pelly has yet to play in any of them.

Reirden would not go into specifics as to why Smith-Pelly is not in the lineup. When asked Friday, Smith-Pelly called it a “coach’s decision” and said he was not dealing with any injury.

Reirden had no real update to offer on Monday regarding the winger’s status.

“It’s something that we’re going to continue to monitor every day and get him close to playing,” Reirden said.

While no one is expected to play every preseason game, Smith-Pelly is rapidly running out of time to get any playing time in before the start of the regular season. If he is not ready to play yet in the preseason, it is fair to wonder just how far away he may be from suiting up when the games actually start to matter.

Missing Tuesday’s game means there are only two chances left to get Smith-Pelly into the lineup with games on Friday and Sunday.

When asked how many games Smith-Pelly would need to prepare for the season, Reirden said, “Ideally, I'd like to have him ready for as many as possible. As soon as he's ready to play, he'll play.”

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