Redskins

Contending Nets start tough stretch against Heat

Contending Nets start tough stretch against Heat

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) P.J. Carlesimo is convinced after a month on the job: The Brooklyn Nets are a winning team.

He still needs to see, even after one of the best months in franchise history, if they can consistently be one against the teams already at that level.

Well, here comes their chance.

The Nets begin a tough three-game stretch Wednesday night against LeBron James and the NBA champion Miami Heat, who have won the last 12 meetings and remain the league's standard in Carlesimo's eyes.

``They're the best team in the league until somebody beats them,'' Carlesimo said Tuesday after practice. ``Maybe when the year's out and we've played 82 games, somebody will have a better record than them. But they're still the champions and they're still going to the finals on a pretty regular basis, so until somebody knocks them off, this to me is the barometer you measure against and we haven't shown yet that we can beat these guys. So that's a huge challenge for us.''

So are the Chicago Bulls at home on Friday, and the Los Angeles Lakers next Tuesday. Starting Wednesday on ESPN, it's the kind of high-profile stretch that can earn the Nets, who may be a little overlooked despite a 27-18 record, some added respect within the league.

``It's a nice stretch for us,'' guard Joe Johnson said. ``I wouldn't say a tough one, but it's a nice one and we should be ready and prepared for this challenge. But we're going to start first with Miami and try to get over that hump.''

The Heat already beat the Nets twice this season - ``smacked,'' says Carlesimo, who described another Nets defeat as ``annihilated,'' apparently believing that when the Nets fall, ``losing'' isn't enough of a description.

Luckily for them, it hasn't happened often since Carlesimo was promoted to interim coach when Avery Johnson was fired on Dec. 27.

They have since gone 13-4, winning eight straight at home and pulling within 1 1/2 games of the neighboring Knicks for first place in the Atlantic Division. The Nets have tied a franchise record for the most wins in January and can equal their best total in any month with a victory Wednesday.

Along the way, they won at Oklahoma City and New York, the kind of performances that give the Nets reason for confidence going into this stretch.

``When we play the way we're capable of playing ... we've beaten a couple of the better teams in the league, even on the road, so we just got to play,'' Carlesimo said. ``We're playing in our place, which is a huge plus for us.''

The Nets rebounded from their first two-game losing streak under Carlesimo with a 97-77 victory over Orlando on Monday. Yet Carlesimo was still dwelling Tuesday on the losses last week at Memphis and Houston that saddled them with a 2-2 mark on a road trip which began with an impressive victory over the Knicks.

``After the steps we took back last week, we have to show that we can be - not that we can be good, we've established that - but that we can be good consistently and that we can be good against the better teams,'' Carlesimo said.

Carlesimo was looking beyond the three-game stretch all the way to the All-Star game. The Nets have another difficult patch leading into the Feb. 14-17 break, facing San Antonio, Indiana and Denver over a four-night stretch.

They seem far more prepared, and a certainly more stable now than in the final days under Johnson, when they fell apart in December after he had led them to 11 wins and Eastern Conference coach of the month honors in November.

``I think we're starting to really finally find out who we are as a team and who we are as individuals and what we can do to help this team win ballgames,'' Johnson said.

Carlesimo still needs to see more, and this would be a nice time.

``Am I happy where we're at? Yes, but very, very sure that we've got a long way to go,'' he said. ``I like where we are, relative to where we were, but we're not anywhere where we need to be.''

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2019 NFL Draft: Best remaining players entering Day 2; Third round targets for Redskins

2019 NFL Draft: Best remaining players entering Day 2; Third round targets for Redskins

Good news: The Redskins ended the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft with quarterback Dwayne Haskins and edge rusher Montez Sweat.

Related news: The Redskins no longer own a second-round pick. 

Nobody is complaining.

The NFL world returns Friday for Day 2. Since Washington dealt the 46th overall selection to the Indianapolis Colts along with a 2020 second for Sweat, it won’t be on the clock without another trade until the first of two third-round choices.

Again, no angry mobs are forming. The Redskins addressed two key needs. Yes, they have several more remaining. The same applies to every team to varying degrees.

Here’s a look at the best players remaining and names to watch for Washington in the third.

Day 2 Best Available

Drew Lock, QB, Missouri – So much for Drew being a round one lock. He was the most polarizing of the top four passing prospects based on pre-draft conversations with league sources. Somebody (Raiders?) will jump on the upside early in the second. Lock finished with 72 touchdown passes to 21 interceptions over his final two seasons. 

Byron Murphy, CB, Washington/Greedy Williams, CB, LSU/ Rock Ya-Sin, CB, Temple – The cornerback run never happened with only Georgia’s DeAndre Baker hearing his name called Friday. Williams owns the most public hype of these three thanks to sub 4.4 40-time and strong cover skills, but his stock plummeted throughout draft season in part because of his limited interest in tackling. Don’t be surprised if he’s third off the board among this trio. 

Cody Ford, G, Oklahoma – Arguably, the most surprising slider based on the foundational aspect of offensive linemen and Ford’s mauling nature. One source told NBCSW pre-draft that the Vikings dropped Ford after their meeting. Perhaps other teams struggled to believe in the college tackle in the first. 

Jawaan Taylor, T, Florida -- Wild day for Taylor, who entered the draft a projected top 10 selection, but several injury and weight red flags popped up in recent days. Seeing as Jacksonville at 7 made for a popular mock selection, maybe the Jaguars circle back on Day 2.

A.J. Brown, WR, Mississippi/D.K. Metcalf, WR, Mississippi -- Two receivers went in the first round. Some are surely shocked the Adonis-like Metcalf fell, but there are concerns about his agility and limited production especially compared to his talented college teammate. He also is 6-foot-3 and runs a 4.33 40-time. Brown had 85 receptions last season. One scout told NBCSW he believes Brown is the better of the two. 

Erik McCoy, C, Texas A&M/Dalton Risner, T, Kansas State – Fine, neither went in the first, but these two versatile linemen remain immediate starters for their yet-to-be-determined NFL team. The athletic and powerful Risner, a three-year starter and 2018 All-American, could play three positions. 

Irv Smith, TE, Alabama – Smith rated just behind the two Iowa tight ends that went in the first. Going with the 6-foot-2 target is more of an upside play, but he did average 16 yards per catch during his junior season with the Crimson Tide. 

Jaylon Ferguson, DE, La. Tech – The pass rusher received some first-round buzz. Don’t be surprised if a team trades up for the edge rusher who had 17.5 sacks and 65 tackles last season. For now… 

Others: Juan Thornhill, CB, Virginia; Nassir Adderley, S, Delaware; J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, WR, Stanford; Parris Campbell, WR, Ohio State; Will Grier, QB, West Virginia; Justin Layne, CB, Michigan State; Dre'Mont Jones, DE/DT, Ohio State; Chase Winovich, DE, Michigan; Deebo Samuel, WR, South Carolina; Taylor Rapp, SS, Washington; Miles Sanders, RB, Penn State; David Long, CB, Michigan.

Third round

The Redskins enter Friday with the 77th and 97th selections and clear needs at wide receiver, free safety, left guard, tight end and inside linebacker.

Wide receiver: Riley Ridley, Georgia; Kelvin Harmon, NC State – Patience pays off and made easier considering the impressive Day 2 positional depth. Both Ridley and Harmon offer 6-foot-2 size, which the roster needs. Harmon, a three-year starter brings strong hands and a physical presence.

Tight end: Jace Sternberger, Texas A&M; Kahale Warring, San Diego State -- Several league sources believed the Redskins entered the draft focused on adding tight end help and not just mere depth. Head coach Jay Gruden said as much this off-season. Warring, a former basketball and water polo player visited Ashburn, pre-draft. The interest isn’t about the stats, but the tape. One scout cited the 6-foot-5 Warring as the player in this class he wanted on his team most regardless of round.

Guard: Conor McGovern, Penn State; Dru Samia, G, Oklahoma – Redskins senior VP of Player Personnel said Monday former Giants bust Ereck Flowers’ evolution from tackle to guard could earn him the starting spot next to Trent Williams. Legit hope or not, the Redskins must add more help somewhere in the draft. The 308-pound McGovern would immediately boost the run blocking.

Inside linebacker: Mack Wilson, Alabama; Bobby Okereke, Stanford – The Redskins have questions all over the place with this unit, including trusting Reuben Foster to make it through a season without incident. The other projected starter, Mason Foster, becomes a free agent in 2020. Wilson would provide the defense with a stout tackler – and yet another Alabama defender.

Safety: Deionte Thompson, Alabama; Amani Hooker, Iowa – Adding Landon Collins should change plenty in the secondary, but the defense lacks a true centerfielder. Injuries and late-season struggles dropped Thompson possibly into the third, but he would be a strong replacement option for fellow Crimson Tide safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. 

Others: Julian Love, CB, Notre Dame; Sean Bunting, CB, Central Michigan; Darrell Henderson, RB, Memphis; Oshane Ximines, DE, Old Dominion; Michael Jordan, C, Ohio State; Marvell Tell, USC

Not included: Any quarterback. You know why. 

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Baltimore Orioles Roundup: Reeling O's set for 3-game weekend set in Minnesota

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Baltimore Orioles Roundup: Reeling O's set for 3-game weekend set in Minnesota

The Baltimore Orioles (10-16) hit the road for Minnesota this weekend. Here's your news and notes ahead of the 3-game set. 

PLAYER NOTES:

ORIOLES:

Right fielder Steve Wilkerson hit his first MLB home Wednesday night, a solo shot to put Baltimore up 4-1. It proved to be the deciding run, as the White Sox scored only two more runs in the game. 

John Means earned the win on his 25th birthday Wednesday, hurling five innings and allowing just one run on four hits and a walk, striking out six. Means is now 3-2 on the season. 

Chris Davis missed out on Wednesday's win due to a personal matter. After a historically cold start, Davis is hitting .360 in his last nine games. 

A pair of Orioles fans, Joe and Katie Demski, got married in their O's jerseys on Wednesday. Congrats to the lovely couple. 

TWINS:

Eddie Rosario leads the major leagues with 10 home runs and is tied for third with 13 outfield assists defensively. His eight long-balls through 17 games marked the most in Twins history since Tony Oliva (1966, seven). 

One of the hottest hitters in Major League Baseball is 25-year-old Jorge Polanco. Not only did the shortstop hit for the cycle already, but he's batting a cool .366 and took Justin Verlander deep recently. 

INJURIES:

RP Richard Bleier: Shoulder, 10-Day IL

SP Nate Karns: Arm, 10-Day IL

DH Mark Trumbo: Knee, 60-Day IL

COMING UP:

Saturday 4/27: Orioles @ Twins, 2:10 p.m., Target Field

Sunday 4/28: Orioles @ Twins, 2:10 p.m., Target Field

Monday, 4/29: Orioles @ White Sox, 8:10 p.m., Comiskey Park 

Source: Rotoworld

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