Redskins

Durant and Westbrook lift Thunder over Suns

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Durant and Westbrook lift Thunder over Suns

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Kevin Durant scored 30 points, Russell Westbrook returned from a cut above his eye to finish with 24 points, nine assists and seven rebounds and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Phoenix Suns 114-96 on Monday night.

Oklahoma City extended its home-court winning streak to 12 games - longest in the NBA - and won on New Year's Eve for the fifth straight year since the franchise moved from Seattle. The Thunder closed 2012 by winning 15 of its last 17 games.

Luis Scola scored 24 points to lead Phoenix, which dropped its sixth straight game and fell to the Thunder for the seventh straight time. The Suns haven't beaten Oklahoma City since December 19, 2010.

Westbrook left the game late in the first half with a cut over his right eye that required stitches. In his absence, the Thunder started the second half with Reggie Jackson at point guard and went on a 12-0 run to seize control. Oklahoma City never trailed again, although Phoenix pulled within two points twice in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter.

After missing about seven minutes of game time, Westbrook came straight from the locker room with tape above his eye, checked in with 6:24 left in the third quarter and went to work. He drew a foul and made both free throws, and after a two-handed dunk by Durant, Westbrook drilled a 17-foot jumper, then hit three free throws after being fouled behind the arc.

Westbrook then assisted on a basket by Serge Ibaka and followed with a 3-pointer to put Oklahoma City ahead 82-68, its biggest lead of the game, at the 3:44 mark.

Scola had seven points in a 9-2 run by the Suns that pulled them within 84-78 by quarter's end and Phoenix closed within 87-85 with 9:05 left on a basket by Jermaine O'Neal, but Nick Collison answered with a 16-foot jumper for the Thunder, and after a couple of empty possessions by both teams, Thabo Sefolosha's 3-pointer with 7:32 left put Oklahoma City up 92-85.

The Thunder put the game away with a 12-2 run, capped by a eight-foot floating jumper by Westbrook in the lane with 3:08 left to make it 104-89.

Durant recorded his 13th outing this season of 30 points or more, but had a poor shooting night, finishing 11-of-24 from the field. Westbrook, who has struggled with his shot in recent games, finished 7-of-16. Ibaka scored 16 points, Sefolosha added 14 points and Collison had 10 points and nine rebounds for the Thunder.

Goran Dragic added 16 points for Phoenix, while Marcin Gortat had 12 points and 10 rebounds and O'Neal had 12 points.

The Thunder led 54-53 at halftime, but lost Westbrook temporarily after he was inadvertently elbowed by Scola while attempting a layup with 1:32 left in the half. Westbrook went down, bleeding from around his right eye, as no foul was called and play continued.

The Suns stayed in the game in the half by shooting 51.2 percent from the field and 42.9 percent (6 of 14) from 3-point range. Sebastian Telfair hit three 3-pointers in four attempts in the first half but didn't score again.

NOTES: The Thunder recalled first-round draft choice Perry Jones III and a pair of former Kentucky players, center Daniel Orton and guard DeAndre Liggins, from the Tulsa 66ers of the NBA Development League . The Suns have recorded 1,998 wins in franchise history and are all but assured of being the fourth-fastest franchise to reach the 2,000-win mark, trailing Boston, the Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia. Phoenix's next two games are Jan. 2 against Philadelphia and Jan. 4 against Utah, both at home . Longtime Oklahoma Christian University professor, coach and administrator Max Dobson received the Devon Community Hero Award from the Thunder for his 37 years of teaching a class in which OC students work with special-needs children from Edmond Public Schools. Among those celebrating Dobson in a video shown during the ceremony was Oklahoma women's basketball coach Sherri Coale, whom Dobson recruited to OC in the early 1980s . The Thunder recorded its 32nd straight sellout at Chesapeake Energy Arena, including 15 this season.

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Despite loss, Dwayne Haskins has best game with Redskins

Despite loss, Dwayne Haskins has best game with Redskins

LANDOVER — What you are looking for is progress. 

Game by game, Redskins quarterback Dwayne Haskins is under an intense glare. He is only a rookie. There is still so much to learn. But a first-round draft pick at his position is almost never given the luxury of time. 

Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles, Haskins had a breakthrough. He kept Washington in a back-and-forth game that featured 10 lead changes. But ultimately, the Redskins lost 37-27. A strip and a fumble return on the final Hail Mary throw from the 47 was returned for a touchdown by the Eagles instead.

The result stung. Bill Callahan sped to the press conference room in record time and didn’t offer much praise for Haskins or anyone else. Haskins himself was bummed. 

“I’m nowhere close to where I want to be,” Haskins said. “That should be an average game for me.”

That’s a harsh self assessment. But in his sixth start as an NFL quarterback, there was more to like than not. Haskins completed eight of his first nine passes and 19 of 28 overall. Yes, Terry McLaurin did most of the work on a 75-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown, but Haskins put the ball in a perfect spot where his old Ohio State teammate didn’t have to break stride.

Haskins didn’t throw an interception, wasn’t sacked and you can cut him some slack on the final play. The Eagles jumped the Hail Mary with an all out blitz and Haskins never had a chance to get a throw off.

Steven Sims also caught a 5-yard touchdown pass from Haskins, who finished with a 121.3 quarterback rating. It was easily his best game so far. We might not know who will be coaching the Redskins next season, but they at least have some encouraging film to watch heading into the offseason next month. Callahan didn’t have much to say. So let’s get Eagles coach Doug Pederson’s perspective. 

“They study the tape as well and I thought Haskins really stepped in and did a nice job today, and led his team.” Pederson said. “It was something that you know he is capable of doing. He’s in this league for a reason.”

Haskins’ pass to McLaurin came on the first play of Washington’s second drive of the game. It's third drive went 75 yards, too, and only took seven plays. A 19-yard pass to Sims pushed the ball into Philadelphia territory. The Eagles helped with three penalties on the drive, but Haskins found Sims on a 3rd-and-5 from the 5. The Redskins were in position to score a touchdown and did it to take a 14-10 lead.

Down 17-14, Haskins led another scoring drive in the third quarter. His 11-yard pass to McLaurin on 2nd-and-12 set up a first down run by Adrian Peterson on 3rd-and-short. He found Peterson out of the backfield for seven yards and then used his legs to gain 23 yards on the ground himself.

That isn’t something we’ve seen much from Haskins yet. Call it another sign of growth. Haskins knew the Eagles were going to come with a blitz. The Redskins had run that play six times before and he noticed a linebacker where a defensive end should be. So he tucked it and ran. That scoring drive then ended on the first play of the fourth quarter with a 10-yard cutback run by Peterson to make it 21-17.

A couple more fourth-quarter drives stalled, but the Redskins got points on a pair of Dustin Hopkins field goals. In the end, that wasn’t enough. The Eagles took the lead 31-27 on a Carson Wentz touchdown pass with 26 seconds to go and then added the final score to win it.

There are no moral victories for Haskins or the Redskins. Their standing is clear: It’s a 3-11 team just hoping to see signs from its young quarterback. Sunday, at least, they were there all game and not just in the fourth quarter of blowout losses.

There was the 75-yard touchdown pass to McLaurin, his 23-yard run and six other passes for more than 10 yards. Haskins set his career high in passing yards (286) and tied his career high in completions (19). The result wasn’t what he wanted, but the process was better. Now for the hard part. Do it again.  

“We did a lot of good things that we can continue to work on for next week [against the New York Giants],” Haskins said. “Let’s bring it for the last home game of the season and hopefully we come out with a win.”

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Urban Meyer attended the Redskins-Eagles game as Terry McLaurin’s guest, according to McLaurin

Urban Meyer attended the Redskins-Eagles game as Terry McLaurin’s guest, according to McLaurin

The Urban-Meyer-to-the-Redskins movement picked up a lot of momentum Sunday when Meyer showed up at FedEx Field for the team’s Week 15 matchup against the Eagles.  

Was Meyer there on behalf of Dan Snyder? Did his presence mean that he’s possibly considering coaching Washington? WAS HE GOING TO SIGN A CONTRACT AND ASSUME THE POSITION AT HALFTIME?

All of those theories were flying on social media, but afterward, Terry McLaurin offered an explanation that cooled them off a bit. According to the receiver, Meyer was at the contest to support McLaurin and Dwayne Haskins. 

“He was my guest,” McLaurin said. “It was good to see him again, good to talk to him, surpasses football. Has nothing to do with his coaching status.” 

Meyer was apparently in Philadelphia on Saturday for the Army-Navy rivalry and made the trip to Landover on Sunday to see the Ohio State stars battle the Eagles. He was spotted in the owner’s box throughout the game: 

At one point, he was also shown catching up with Alex Smith, who played under Meyer at Utah. 

When informed that Meyer was in attendance, Haskins told the media he had no idea before smiling at the fact. Both he and McLaurin just so happened to post the best performances in their respective pro careers on Sunday against Philly. 

So, it sounds as if McLaurin was the main reason for Meyer’s trip to FedEx Field, and not the fact that the Burgundy and Gold will likely need a new head coach in just a few weeks. However, no one should be surprised if Snyder or Smith or another official discussed the job with Meyer while he was there. 

The Redskins haven’t had much to advertise when it comes to on-field production, but if they were hoping to convince someone to take over the team, Sunday was the day to make the sales pitch. Perhaps, Meyer left the stadium feeling impressed by what he saw. 

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