Nationals

Crawford leads Clippers to 10th straight win

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Crawford leads Clippers to 10th straight win

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) The Los Angeles Clippers are learning to adapt.

Playing their fourth road game in seven nights, they could have easily been overrun by the often overlooked Detroit Pistons.

Not this club.

Jamal Crawford scored 15 points and Chris Paul added 14 to lead the weary Clippers to their 10th straight win, 88-76 over the Detroit Pistons on Monday night.

``We didn't shoot very well, and we didn't do a lot of things we wanted to do,'' said Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro. ``We just had a lot of guys make plays down the stretch and we get to go home with another win. Early in the season, we probably lose that game, but now we've gotten to the point where we can win ugly.''

No Clippers player scored more than 15 points, but they had five players score in double figures.

``This was a tough one, because we've been playing every other night and we're ready to go home,'' said Detroit native Willie Green. ``This was a great test for us, and we passed it.''

Blake Griffin also had 15 points for Los Angeles and Paul had seven assists. Griffin had two breakaway dunks in the last 30 seconds, one on a pass banked off the backboard by Matt Barnes.

``When I saw that it was just the two of us, I told him to keep coming,'' Barnes joked. ``I figured a lot more people wanted to see Blake dunk than wanted to see me lay one in.''

Brandon Knight led the Pistons with 16 and Tayshaun Prince added 15. Detroit, which committed 17 turnovers, lost its fifth straight.

``We did enough defensive things to win the game, but when you are going against a team that strips and steals the ball and is very aggressive, everything has to be sharp,'' said Pistons coach Lawrence Frank. ``We have to be more precise, and in the last six minutes, you know it is going to be harder against a team like that, but we have to be able to do it.''

Both teams struggled in the first half, with the Clippers taking a 42-40 lead into the intermission despite shooting just 39 percent. Detroit hit 42.5 percent of its shots, but managed only one free throw and two offensive rebounds. The Clippers tried for the last shot of the half, but Prince stole the ball and two quick passes gave Greg Monroe a wide-open layup at the buzzer.

Los Angeles got things in gear in the third quarter, quickly taking a 12-point advantage, but Griffin went to the bench with four fouls and Detroit was able to work its way back into the game.

The Pistons were within 63-60 at quarter's end behind 13 points from Prince, but couldn't keep up the pressure.

``We played a good first half, but once we turned it over a couple times in the third, we let them get out and do their thing,'' Prince said. ``We didn't execute in the second half, and that's when you need it the most.''

Detroit committed three turnovers in a period of four possessions and Jason Maxiell missed a pair of free throws on the fourth, allowing Los Angeles to take an 11-point advantage with 6:45 to play. Brandon Knight also missed a technical-foul free throw in the stretch.

``We weren't hitting a lot of shots, but we trusted our defense to make plays,'' Barnes said. ``That was the way we finally won the game.''

The Pistons kept up the pressure, pulling down four offensive rebounds on one possession in the last 90 seconds, but couldn't hit enough shots to make a serious rally.

``They turned on that playoff mentality, stepped up their defense and kind of shut us down,'' said rookie Andre Drummond. ``The fourth quarter has been an issue all year. We aren't closing games out.''

NOTES: Former Pistons All-Stars Chauncey Billups (foot) and Grant Hill (knee) were both inactive for the Clippers, while Rodney Stuckey (back spasms) missed the game for Detroit. Billups, the MVP of Detroit's championship win in 2004, received a loud ``Chaun-Cey!'' chant from the crowd during a fourth-quarter timeout. ... Several members of the University of Michigan football team attended the game, including team captains Denard Robinson and Jordan Kovacs. Robinson, who hasn't thrown a pass since late October due to an elbow injury, tossed a Nerf football to the Pistons mascot during a timeout.

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Sean Doolittle talks everything from sliders to tweets on the latest episode of The Racing Presidents podcast

Sean Doolittle talks everything from sliders to tweets on the latest episode of The Racing Presidents podcast

Curious thing when Sean Doolittle hops on Twitter: multiple replies from his wife, Eireann Dolan, begin to show up. She, in theory, is working on coursework for a Master’s degree while stationed in the other room. But, she finds time to enter a depth-filled discussion or mock a photo choice of her husband on his derriere which randomly accompanied a story involving him.

“Maybe that’s in the syllabus,” Doolittle said.

Their case of two-room tweeting comes up at the end of our 1-on-1 sit down with the Nationals’ All-Star closer in the latest edition of The Racing Presidents podcast. We talked with Doolittle early in spring training when Bryce Harper remained unsigned and a lagging free agency period was fresh. He used his platform during the winter months to express irritation with the process baseball was going through.

He also uses his Twitter account often and judiciously. Doolittle addresses a range of topics, some with political ramifications, some specific to his sport, others to rebut what he deems a silly media take, as he did Wednesday with Colin Cowherd. Social media can be a dangerous place for famous people with opinions. How does he approach it?

“I would say do your homework before you press tweet on anything you do,” Doolittle said. “And then once you’ve done your homework, do it again. Double-check your work. I try to -- whenever I weigh-in on something -- I’ve done a bunch of research online, I’ve read a bunch of articles. I’ve really tried to consider both points of view. And, obviously, you’ve got to be careful about the way you phrase things so nothing can be taken out of context. I think that’s why some of the topics I’ve weighed-in on there’s been a thread of multiple tweets because I don’t want the 280-character limit to be the reason that something I said could be taken out of context. I want to be able to have that nuance and people understand really what I’m trying to say.”

There’s more on that, where Doolittle is with trying to master a slider and what he thinks can be better with baseball’s collective bargaining agreement.

The guys also had a lot of other baseball happenings to talk about. Most notable is the Anthony Rendon negotiations. NBC Sports Washington reported Wednesday that Rendon turned down a late February extension offer from the Nationals. Rendon said discussions have essentially come to a “halt” between himself and the Nationals. However, that doesn’t mean they are over.

Also on this episode: how Mike Trout’s enormous contract extension relates to Bryce Harper’s situation, Gio Gonzalez joining the Yankees and joy around the fact we’re eight days from Opening Day.

Listen, subscribe, rate, and stay tuned for a 1-on-1 conversations with Ryan Zimmerman to close the week.

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2019 Redskins Draft Bracket: Are Byron Murphy and Dalton Risner legitimate options or luxuries?

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2019 Redskins Draft Bracket: Are Byron Murphy and Dalton Risner legitimate options or luxuries?

NBC Sports Washington wants Redskins fans to help decide the team's ideal 2019 first-round pick by voting in the Redskins Draft Bracket on Twitter. Before you vote, though, take in this breakdown of the next matchup.

Round 1: Byron Murphy vs. Dalton Risner

The second matchup in the 2019 Redskins Draft Bracket features two players with talent and potential you can't question.

What you can question, though, is whether they're legitimate choices at pick No. 15 or more on the luxury side of things, meaning the team would be better served scooping up someone who plays a position they need more immediate help at.

Murphy is a corner from Washington, while Risner is a versatile offensive lineman from Kansas State. As of now, you could make a relatively easy case that the 2019 Redskins have bigger needs at quarterback, edge rusher and receiver than they do in the secondary and up front.

With that being said, you still absolutely shouldn't count out either guy as viable selections for the Burgundy and Gold in the first round.

When it comes to corner, Josh Norman isn't on the most stable ground and he easily could be gone after this year. In 2017, the Redskins drafted Fabian Moreau despite being somewhat settled at CB because they knew Bashaud Breeland wouldn't be around much longer, guaranteeing they had a replacement ready to roll. Taking Murphy would give them similar insurance for a Norman departure.

NFL.com calls him a "ball-hawking man corner who makes up for a lack of physical tools with outstanding instincts, toughness, and short-area quickness." Sounds like a valuable asset in today's league, doesn't it?

As for Risner, his natural position is tackle, a place the 'Skins have two very expensive starters at already. His NFL.com profile, though, has an intriguing piece in it that makes him appealing as well.

"He has the necessary tools to get guys blocked on the NFL level... Risner will need to prove he can handle NFL edge speed, but a move inside could be a failsafe option for him."

If you're reading this blog, you're well aware how badly Jay Gruden and Bill Callahan need a left guard. Could Risner slide in there for the time being, then either remain there long-term like Brandon Scherff or become a tackle in a few seasons once Trent Williams moves on? If so, he too becomes a worthwhile pick.

The main takeaway is that you shouldn't get fully bogged down in what this franchise needs today. Injuries, contracts and underperformance can turn positions of strengths into major holes in one year.

If the Redskins end up with Murphy or Risner in April, sure, you may not be thrilled with it the moment after the card gets turned in. But there's a good chance you'd warm up to them very quickly, considering the way rosters rapidly change.

You've heard the case for both players. Now, retweet or like depending on whom you'd prefer to see move on in the bracket.

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