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Facing star back Peterson a tall task for Texans

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Facing star back Peterson a tall task for Texans

HOUSTON (AP) The Houston Texans can't help but be impressed by what Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is accomplishing this season.

On Sunday when they face the Vikings, the Texans want to make sure they aren't on the wrong end of history. Peterson enters the game against Houston just 188 yards shy of becoming the seventh 2,000-yard rusher in NFL history.

``This year he's definitely the best,'' veteran Houston linebacker Bradie James said. ``I played against Ricky Williams in his heyday when he would just run over everybody. I played against the Bus (Jerome Bettis), the Bus was great in short yardage. I played against Mike Alstott. I played against all these guys, and what Adrian Peterson is doing right now, I hadn't seen it before.''

``We don't want to be on the end of his record setting,'' he continued. ``We've got to do our job and really not get caught up in all that.''

The Texans (12-2) need a win to secure both a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. To do that they'll have to slow Peterson, the NFL's leading rusher.

``It's going to be the biggest challenge we've had around here in a while,'' Houston coach Gary Kubiak said.

The Texans' defense led by star defensive end J.J. Watt is fifth in the NFL in yards rushing allowed a game with 93.2 - and Peterson is averaging 129.4. But he's been even more dominant of late, averaging 162.4 yards over the last eight games with two 200-yard performances.

``Peterson is a great running back,'' Watt said. ``He's playing as good as anyone in the league right now.''

When asked how to slow Peterson down, Watt had a simple answer.

``Tackle him,'' he said with a chuckle. ``We just need to play sound defense and execute our assignments and we'll be just fine.''

That's certainly easier said than done, and Kubiak is a bit concerned because he thought his team didn't tackle very well in Sunday's 29-17 win over Colts. He said that he's putting extra emphasis on better tackling with Peterson coming to town.

He's also hoping the Texans adjust well to facing a run-first team after weeks of dealing with pass-happy offenses.

``The thing that's really difficult is we've been playing teams that are a lot different,'' Kubiak said. ``We've been playing teams that kind of spread us out, throw the ball. Now all of the sudden we've got to line up and tackle the best in football. So we've got our work cut out for us.''

It isn't just the defensive front that is concerned about Peterson. Houston's secondary knows the entire defense must be aware of what Peterson is doing at all times. Houston's defensive backs know the Vikings could hurt them through the air, but with a passing offense that ranks last in the league, they're much more worried about the running game.

``Obviously he can't score a touchdown without running past the back end, and we know the secondary is the last line of defense,'' cornerback Johnathan Joseph said. ``You have to be on top of your tackling game 100 percent this week.''

Houston's defense could get a boost this week by the return of linebacker Brooks Reed, who started the first 11 games for Houston before missing the last three with a groin injury. Kubiak said he returned to practice Wednesday and that he has a ``good shot'' of playing Sunday if he doesn't have any setbacks in practice this week.

NOTES: Houston RB Arian Foster gifted each of his offensive linemen with a Segway personal transporter on Wednesday. The lineman squealed with delight when they discovered their presents, and learned how to ride them with help from Foster, who has had one for a while. ``I can't do anything without them,'' Foster said of Houston's linemen. ``It was just my way of giving back to the big fellas.''

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Wizards at Heat Game: TV Channel, Live Stream, how to watch

Wizards at Heat Game: TV Channel, Live Stream, how to watch

Thursday’s 119-113 victory over the 76ers was by far the best victory the Wizards have had this season.

Davis Bertans was hot shooting 7-for-10 from three. He even set a career high of 25 points in 27 minutes.  

Miami, on the hand struggled Wednesday night and fell short to Boston 112-93. 

Who will get the victory Friday ngiht? Tune in to find out. 

WIZARDS at HEAT HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Wizards at Heat, Game 21

Where: American Airlines Arena, Miami, FL

When: Friday, December 6, at 8:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Wizards at Heat will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (NBC Sports Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can live stream Wizards at Heat on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the NBC Sports App.

Radio: Wizards Radio Network, 1500 AM

WIZARDS at HEAT TV SCHEDULE

7:00 PM: Wizards Outsiders (LIVE)

7:30 PM: Wizards Pregame Live (LIVE)

8:00 PM: Wizards at Heat (LIVE)

10:30 PM: Wizards Postgame Live (LIVE)

11:00 PM: D.C. Sports Live (LIVE)

11:30 PM: Wizards Talk (LIVE)

WIZARDS at HEAT INJURY REPORT:

Wizards: John Wall (OUT, Left Achilles rehab), Ian Mahinmi (OUT, Right Achilles strain), C.J. Miles (OUT, Wrist), Thomas Bryant (OUT, foot), Isaiah Thomas (OUT, Calf)

Heat: Justise Winslow (OUT, Back), Goran Dragic (OUT, Groin), KZ Okpala (OUT, Achilles), Udonis Haslem (OUT, Illness)

WIZARDS at HEAT PLAYERS TO WATCH

Davis Bertans, PF, (13.6 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.7 app, ): Bertans went off in the first half against the 76ers shooting 6-for-6 from deep to get 22 points going into halftime. Bertans finished Thursday nights game with a season high of 25 points, one rebound, one steal and seven 3 pointers within 37 minutes.

Ish Smith, G, Wizards (8 ppg, 3 rpg, 3.9 apg): With IT out Ish Smith stepped up to the plate dishing out a season high of eight assists with 19 points and one rebound in 34 minutes in Thursday nights win over the 76ers. Smith is averaging

Jimmy Butler, G, Wizards (20.1 ppg, 6 rpg, 6.5 apg): Jimmy Butler was on fire in Miami’s 112-93 loss to Celtics on Wednesday. Butler made 12-of-18 from the field and set a season high of 37 points.

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Davis Bertans reinforces status as Wizards' best offseason addition in win over 76ers

Davis Bertans reinforces status as Wizards' best offseason addition in win over 76ers

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Wizards beat the Philadelphia 76ers 119-113 on Thursday night at Capital One Arena. Here are five takeaways from what went down...

1. The Wizards entered this season with the understanding they probably wouldn't make the playoffs. They wanted to play hard and be a team capable of pulling off upsets on nights their effort and scrappy play caught opponents off guard.

They wanted to have games like they had on Thursday night. For the first time this season, the Wizards jumped all over a very good team and held on for a victory.

The Wizards took out the Sixers 119-113 for what is so far their signature win of the season. Philly is one of the best teams in the East at 15-7 and it was mostly healthy, unlike the Wizards.

Washington snapped a three-game skid as it now flies to Miami for battle with the Heat, who may be the surprise team of the NBA so far this season with a 15-6 record.

2. Though it's not showing in the standings, the Wizards did a nice job in the offseason in flipping their roster and creating long-term financial flexibility. Their most impressive move may have been trading for Davis Bertans.

Bertans was essentially stolen from the San Antonio Spurs for Aaron White, who was likely to never play for the Wizards. And all Bertans has done is thrive in an expanded role with the green light to shoot as often as he wants.

Bertans was lights-out on Thursday with 25 points on 9-for-16 shooting. He set a career high with seven threes, going 7-for-13 from the perimeter. Bertans had 20 points and was 6-for-6 from three in the first half, tying his previous career high for makes.

As I've mentioned before, Bertans is going to be a commodity come the trade deadline and that is going to force a tough decision for the Wizards, whether to trade him or keep him and try to work out an extension in the offseason. If they are offered a first-round pick, it will be hard to pass up.

But there is an argument either way to hold on to him because he is such a good shooter. Just imagine how well he would fit with John Wall.

3. Rookie Rui Hachimura also had a huge game in what was his first career meeting with the Sixers. He popped off for 15 points in the second quarter and ended up with 27 points and six boards.

Hachimura did all of this while dealing with Al Horford and Joel Embiid down low and guarding those guys on the other end. He also spent some time checking Tobias Harris, so there was a lot on his plate.

Hachimura got many of his points with his bread-and-butter midrange game. He made one three and found trouble getting around Embiid at the rim. 

Hachimura took what the defense gave him and it worked. There were several occasions where defenders just let him take long twos and he made them.

Head coach Scott Brooks was just talking pregame about why the Wizards are okay with him living in the midrange, if that's what he is most comfortable with at this point. Good timing with those comments.

Hachimura, by the way, is averaging 22 points over his last four games while shooting 54.4 percent from the field (37-for-68).

4. The Wizards shared some good news on the injury front before the game as both of their backup centers returned. Moe Wagner, who was nursing a left ankle injury, came back after missing two games. And Ian Mahinmi made his season debut after missing two-plus months with an Achilles strain.

Wagner was put in the starting lineup due to Thomas Bryant's absence and, though he did not have his usual scoring numbers, he did what he could to bother Embiid and give the Wizards energy. Wagner finished with five points and 11 rebounds.

Mahinmi played surprisingly well, all things considered. He had some bad moments, some due to rust. Be he did a solid job guarding Embiid, which is no easy task. The Wizards also helped him out with double teams.

The best part of Mahinmi's night, though, was right when he checked in. He has developed a reputation for getting in foul trouble and, sure enough, he got one on his very first play.

5. Though the Wizards got two players back from injury on Thursday, they also lost two. Jordan McRae will be out a few weeks after having a second surgery on his right ring finger. And, in a bigger surprise, starting point guard Isaiah Thomas was a late scratch with a left calf strain.

The Thomas one is a newly disclosed injury and at this point it's unclear if he will miss any more time. But it was enough for him to sit after he had played in 17 straight.

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