Capitals

Harris has 24 as Hawks rally past Jazz, 103-95

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Harris has 24 as Hawks rally past Jazz, 103-95

ATLANTA (AP) ATLANTA (AP) - Devin Harris scored a season-high 24 points and the Atlanta Hawks rallied from a second-half deficit of 15 points to beat the Utah Jazz 103-95 on Friday night.

Randy Foye had 25 points to lead Utah, which had won four of five but was denied its first back-to-back road wins of the season. Al Jefferson had 23 points and 10 rebounds and Paul Milsap had 20 points and 13 rebounds for the Jazz.

The Hawks, who trailed 75-60 in the third quarter, played from behind before taking their first lead of the second half on consecutive baskets by Al Horford. The second basket by Horford, set up by Josh Smith's pass, gave Atlanta a 94-92 lead with 2:44 remaining.

Jefferson answered with a tying basket before Ivan Johnson scored on a fast break to give the lead back to Atlanta.

Utah's Jamaal Tinsley made one of two free throws to leave the Hawks' lead at 96-95. Josh Smith's short jumper and Lou Williams' 3-pointer padded the lead.

Smith had 15 points and 10 rebounds. Williams had 14, Ivan Johnson had 13 and Horford and Zaza Pachulia each had 12.

Harris made his first start since missing 10 games with a sore left foot. He played 14 scoreless minutes in a loss at Cleveland on Wednesday night and then said before Friday night's game, ``As far as I'm concerned, I'm ready to roll.''

Harris backed up his claim by making 7 of 8 shots from the field. He added five assists.

Utah took its biggest lead late in the third period when a 3-pointer by Hawks rookie John Jenkins sparked an 8-1 run as Atlanta cut the lead to 76-68 entering the final period.

Pachulia opened the fourth period with back-to-back baskets as the Hawks cut the deficit to four points.

Harris hit a 3-pointer to cut Utah's lead to 82-79 and made only1 of 3 free throws 40 seconds later to trim the deficit to two points.

The Hawks finally pulled even at 85-all with 5:48 remaining when Harris had a steal to set up his 3-pointer. Utah Jazz forward Marvin Williams, traded to Utah in the offseason following seven seasons with the Hawks, was with the team but not in uniform in his first return to Atlanta. Williams, who was held out with inflammation in his right knee, visited his former Hawks teammates before the game.

Harris was acquired by Atlanta in the Williams trade.

Hawks coach Larry Drew started Harris with Jeff Teague in the backcourt and Kyle Korver at small forward as he tweaked the lineup.

NOTES: Former Hawks star Dominique Wilkins, on press row as a TV color analyst, was presented a birthday cake during a break. Wilkins celebrates his 53rd birthday on Saturday. ... Korver hit a 3-pointer in the first quarter to give him 3s in a personal-best 29 consecutive games. ... Foye had 15 points in the first quarter as he made each of his three 3-pointers.

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The only question in net for the Caps is not who the backup will be, but how much he will play

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The only question in net for the Caps is not who the backup will be, but how much he will play

As excited as fans may be about prospect goalie Ilya Samsonov’s first season in North America, it was Pheonix Copley who entered the preseason as the No. 2 goalie behind Braden Holtby.

After a strong performance in the Capitals’ first preseason game on Sunday in which he turned aside 21 of the 22 shots he faced, Copley is doing his best to cement himself as the Capitals’ backup for the upcoming season.

“He knows the challenge that's in front of him and I thought he was real solid [in Sunday’s game],” head coach Todd Reirden said to reporters Monday.

“A number of big saves early on. We were a little bit slow to get going in the game, so we needed him. We needed him in the beginning of the game. He was there for us and I thought he really sent the message in game one that he's prepared for that opportunity." 

Copley, 26, has only two games of NHL experience in his career. He does not generate the same buzz as a player like Samsonov who is believed to be the team’s starter in net. Add in a rough season for Copley in Hershey in 2017-18 and it has led many to believe there is an open competition for the backup goalie this season.

The reality is, however, that this has always been Copley’s job to lose.

As he tries to make the transition from the KHL to the North American game, getting Samsonov as much playing time as possible in the AHL will be better for his development than sitting him on the bench behind Holtby.

While Copley prepares for the NHL, Holtby will have to adjust as well to having a backup not quite as established as Philipp Grubauer to rely on. The relationship between Holtby and Copley, however, is already a strong one and Holtby is excited for the opportunity this preseason brings for his new backup.

“It’s his first chance to get a few good starts in, and my job's just to be there to support him, make sure we can work through things together,” Holtby told reporters on the first day of camp. “I can learn things from him, he can learn things from me and vice-versa.”

Regardless of how Copley plays in the preseason, however, there is risk involved with pinning such an inexperienced goalie as the team’s backup. Until he gets a few starts at the NHL level playing against NHL competition, we ultimately do not know how good he will be. Until that question is answered, we also do not know how much he will play.

Grubauer played in 35 games last season as Holtby struggled. Regardless of how good the Caps may feel about Copley as the backup, it seems safe to assume the team is not expecting Copley to see quite that much action this season. If they believed he would need to, the team likely would have considered other options.

Holtby, for his part, said he is ready to take on a larger load again as the starter.

“Hopefully I play a few more games or something like that would be nice,” he said, “But whatever it is, we're just trying to make sure that our goalie department is as good as we can be from top to bottom."

Holtby seemed to benefit from the extra rest as he elevated his game in the postseason, but he disputes that. Instead, he said it was the heavy workload of the postseason that helped him settle in.

“I'm not a guy that likes time off,” he said. “Through the playoffs was the best I've felt because I was playing every day. That's just the way I like to do it. I find it easier when I'm playing. I find it really difficult when I'm not. That's just the way I work."

With no Grubauer backing him up and Samsonov still developing, Holtby is likely to get his wish of more games.

But while Copley was a major question mark for the Caps heading into the season, Sunday’s game could go a long way towards assuaging those fears and justifying the confidence the team has put in him to be their No. 2 this season.

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The Redskins’ inconsistency is a consistent issue

The Redskins’ inconsistency is a consistent issue

A home loss to a team that was 4-12 a year ago, 0-1 this year, has a rookie head coach, and is clearly in rebuilding mode is more than just a mark in the “L” column. In the case of the Redskins’ loss to the Colts on Sunday, they also lost an opportunity. 

The Eagles lost Sunday, and the Redskins’ loss cost them a chance to have sole possession of first place in the NFC East. That doesn’t mean much two games into the season, but it would have been a psychological boost for the team and its fans. Instead at 1-1, they are in a three-way tie with the Eagles and Cowboys. 

What’s worse for the Redskins, however, is what is ahead.

They will be decided underdogs at home to a Packers team with an apparently healthy Aaron Rodgers on Sunday. After their ridiculously early bye, they travel to New Orleans, the scene of their worst loss of 2017, a game where they blew a 15-point lead late in the game and lost in overtime. The Saints have been struggling but they will be solid favorites. Then the Panthers come to town and the Redskins have not beaten them since Cam Newton become their quarterback (0-4). 

If coming events follow form, the Redskins will go into their Week 7 game against the Cowboys at 1-4. If they had won Sunday that could have been a much more palatable 2-3. 

But just like it was futile to predict that the Redskins would steamroll the Colts, tread carefully if you want to buy a parlay ticket on Washington going 0-3 between now and the end of Week 6. They have looked good and they have looked bad. It would not surprise me in the least if they came out for the Packers game playing at a very high level. 

The Redskins are not the only inconsistent NFL team. The Ravens and Jets posted impressive Week 1 wins and lost in Week 2. It works both ways. The Falcons couldn’t get anything done in the red zone in their opening loss to the Eagles. Yesterday they were 4-4 there and beat the Panthers. 

Still, the egg they laid at home in concerning. Following an impressive win with a deflating loss isn’t an occasional thing with this team, it’s a pattern.

Since 2015, the team has had two four-game winning streaks, one to close out the 2015 season and one in Weeks 3-6 the following year. Other than those, they have not had a winning streak of longer than two games and they have had just three of those. 

Simple math will tell you that a team will have a tough time making the playoffs if it can’t string together an extended winning streak or at least multiple two-game streaks in a season. 

So, while losing to the Colts isn’t the end of the season for the Redskins, it is an indication that they still are having problems stringing wins together. If they are going to contend for the playoffs, something that needs to happen if they are going to fill FedEx Field and if Jay Gruden is to stay employed, they will need to do better than win one, lose one. 

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