Redskins

Grizzlies beat Warriors 94-87 to complete 3-0 trip

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Grizzlies beat Warriors 94-87 to complete 3-0 trip

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Zach Randolph had 19 points and 12 rebounds, Rudy Gay scored 18 points and the Memphis Grizzlies completed a 3-0 road trip with a 94-87 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night.

Mike Conley added 16 points and Marc Gasol finished with 12 points and nine rebounds to help Memphis make its quick West Coast swing more memorable. The Grizzlies (23-10) also won at Phoenix on Sunday and at Sacramento on Monday.

Stephen Curry scored 24 points and Klay Thompson had 20 points, seven rebounds and seven assists as the Warriors (22-12) lost back-to-back games for only the second time this season.

After falling behind by five late in the fourth quarter, Curry made a pull-up 3-pointer and Thompson drew a fast-break foul to set up the tying free throws. Gasol answered with a reverse layup under heavy pressure, pumping his fist in celebration to give the Grizzlies the lead again.

In the end, defense sealed the game for Memphis.

Mike Conley stole David Lee's pass before getting fouled and making both free throws. On the next possession, Jerryd Bayless blocked Jarrett Jack's shot and that led to a layup for Conley that gave the Grizzlies an 88-82 lead with 1:51 remaining.

Lee followed with a jumper, but Gay answered back with an 18-footer. Curry's 3-pointer brought the Warriors within three for a moment before Randolph made two free throws to finish off Golden State with 13.2 seconds left.

The Warriors were coming off their most lopsided loss of the season, a 115-89 setback at the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday night. They fell to 9-2 after a loss this season.

The length of Randolph and Gasol gave Golden State fits on both ends of the floor.

Memphis took advantage of several second-chance opportunities and started to pull away behind its big men in the second quarter. On one play, Randolph grabbed two straight offensive rebounds - with Lee falling to the floor - before he finished a layup through a crowd of defenders to highlight a 16-2 run to put the Grizzlies up 45-32.

Two late 3-pointers and a reverse layup by Curry eased a horrible defensive half for the Warriors some. After shooting 54 percent from the floor and going ahead by 14 points, Memphis only led 55-46 at the break.

Golden State held the Grizzlies to 5 for 18 shooting in the third quarter, getting a spark from Thompson's two 3s and Jack's aggressiveness. Jack got Tony Allen to jump on a pump-fake and made a long jumper while getting fouled to start a three-point play, and Curry swished another from the perimeter to tie the game at 74 midway through the fourth.

NOTES: The Grizzlies have won eight straight against the Warriors, who last beat Memphis on Nov. 3, 2010. ... Warriors C Andrew Bogut did some light shooting and jogging before the game. He has not played since Nov. 7 while he recovers from the lingering effects of microfracture surgery on his left ankle. ... Grizzlies G Josh Selby was not with the team for personal reasons. ... Memphis beat the Warriors 104-94 in Golden State's home opener Nov. 2. ... Memphis hosts San Antonio on Friday, while the Warriors welcome Portland.

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The Redskins' offense has been bad all year, but they're atrocious on opening drives

The Redskins' offense has been bad all year, but they're atrocious on opening drives

No matter how you break it down — by quarter, by month, by time of day, by location, by whether the opponent has an animal mascot or a human mascot — the numbers show that the Redskins have a really ineffective offense. Currently, they're last in the NFL in points per game and yards per game.

They're bad all the time, honestly.

However, they're downright atrocious when it comes to their opening drives.

In Week 1 against the Eagles, the Redskins scored a touchdown on their opening possession. It was fun. The players had fun. The fans had fun. Everybody had fun.

But since then, they haven't notched a single TD on a first drive. In fact, they haven't converted a field goal, either.

Overall, in their 13 game-opening possessions on the year, Washington has that single end zone trip to go along with a missed kick, seven punts, two fumbles and two interceptions (one of which was taken back for a score).

What's the opposite of coming out hot? The 2019 Redskins' offense.

"I'm tired of the slow starts, our guys are, too," Bill Callahan said Wednesday. "That's the goal of the first drive of the game — try to jump ahead, get ahead, find a way to get on the board early. We haven't succeeded at that." 

The issue is registering with Dwayne Haskins, too. So, what can they possibly do to try to improve?

"Just trying to figure out a way we can move the ball early, not getting behind the chains, finding lanes and getting the ball out fast," the quarterback said. "It helps our defense when we come off fast and move the ball down the field and not put them in a tough scenario with having a short field."

Many have complained about the offense's run-first approach being too predictable under Callahan, and that's something that could be plaguing them at the beginning of their contests. Since he took over as interim coach, for example, the offense has run the ball on their first snap in six-of-eight matchups, including four-out-of-five with Haskins under center.

Of course, this is an area where Jay Gruden struggled as well, but his tendencies weren't as obvious. Plus, and yes, this is minutiae now, he did call two play-action shots in Weeks 2 and 4 that schemed up wide-open receivers that Case Keenum simply missed. He was also in charge for that lone touchdown in Philly.

The most obvious explanation for the problem, however, is one that can explain a lot of things this season: an overall lack of talent. As mentioned at the start of the story, it's not like the offense gets into a rhythm at any point, so their numbers will be underwhelming in any situation or sample.

That said, even with an inexperienced and undermanned group, there should be more production than one TD in 13 chances. Callahan told the media that "we put a lot of thought, focus and concentration" into the early-game plan. Clearly, it's not paying off.

In many ways, the Redskins have fallen behind the rest of the NFL over the past few months. The stats above show that, at least in one way, that's literally very true.  

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Nationals leave Winter Meetings with new fight against complacency underway

Nationals leave Winter Meetings with new fight against complacency underway

SAN DIEGO -- Quiet finally settled over the downtown Hyatt in San Diego on Thursday morning. The baseball industry packed, then left, leaving behind every imaginable facet of the pro machine. Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke Wednesday and a report trying to explain fluctuations with the baseball was delivered. All 30 managers held media sessions across the three days. Recent graduates hunted starts to front office futures. Clubhouse attendants held a meeting of their brethren. Everyone was perpetually stuck in the slow-moving elevators.

In essence, the Nationals’ defense of their World Series title started in southern California while these events transpired around them. They made an enormous move by signing Stephen Strasburg. They continued to manage the third base market, watching warily as they tried to figure out how not to be left short after Anthony Rendon signed a long-term contract with Anaheim and the frenzy for Josh Donaldson began. The Nationals also still need bullpen help.

In addition, a new battle against complacency exists. What’s happening for the Nationals is an offseason unlike any other because they won, and its fresh dynamics include convincing someone full he is still hungry. Ways to do that? Subtle changed mixed with standard procedures. They hope.

Next season always comes calling, loaded with the same 162-game grind, even for those teams who were still pitching on Halloween. Recent champions -- in particular the Nationals -- deployed their starting pitchers differently in the postseason en route to a title. Patrick Corbin made three postseason starts and came out of the bullpen five times. An injection coupled with a chiropractic rescue enabled Max Scherzer’s Game 7 start. Stephen Strasburg threw more pitches than anyone in baseball. 

Boston eased its pitchers into the 2019 season and appeared to pay for it. Their starters rarely threw in spring training games after winning a championship. Three of them threw seven innings or fewer in games during the Grapefruit season. Scherzer threw 26 and 26 ⅔ innings, respectively, the last two spring trainings. So, Mike Rizzo expects standard programming in West Palm Beach, not additional rest.

“I just think that we remind them what we do this stuff for and the elation that we had I think is still going to be with us and for us to feel that way again, we know what it takes to get there,” Rizzo said. “It’s a long hard road and it’s a lot of work. It starts Day 1 spring training and ends the last game. That’s going to be our outlook. We’re going to prepare for spring training like we have every other year. We’re not going to be complacent because we played an extra month of baseball. We’re not going to make any adjustments for preparation of our pitchers.”

Davey Martinez made adjustments. He swung his coaching staff around, moving Bob Henley to first base, Chip Hale to third and Tim Bogar to bench coach. Why? In part to reboot the holdover staff before they begin working with the players.

“Complacency,” Martinez said. “Everybody talks about those World Series blues, and that’s one thing we don’t want. We don’t want to be complacent. There’s going to be a target on our back, so we’ve got to come out and be ready to play from day one. We want these guys to understand that. We’re not just going to sit around and say: ‘Well, we’ve got plenty of time.’ No, the time is from day one. We’re going to get ready for the season, and hopefully do it again.”

Martinez will work with the same premise at spring training: go 1-0. He can still ride other sayings -- like “win your day” -- but the large white flag which said “Conquer” in red letters and traveled with the team is probably due for retirement. “Stay in the fight” fell with the end of the regular season. “Fight finished” isn’t phrasing which can carry to a new season.

“The message is going to be clear: Hey, we're not going to sneak up on anybody this year, that's for sure,” Martinez said. “So we've got to be ready to go from day one. With that being said, I want them to understand, hey, we're going to do business like we've done in the past, and we're just going to try to go 1-0 every day. Why change something that works?”

Why change? That’s the question, and the answer for the defending champions seems to be they don’t want to. Get ready. Stay ready. Try to do it again as if it never happened.

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