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High-scoring Seattle turns focus to San Francisco

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High-scoring Seattle turns focus to San Francisco

RENTON, Wash. (AP) As the Seahawks flew back from Toronto late Sunday night, nearly every person on Seattle's charter was glued to what was happening in New England - watching to see if the Seahawks could be playing for the NFC West division lead this weekend.

San Francisco didn't play along, beating the Patriots and keeping a 1 1/2-game lead in the division.

So while the division lead won't be at stake when the 49ers visit, Seattle coach Pete Carroll said Monday his team will have no problem getting focused especially knowing that a victory will put the Seahawks into the postseason for the second time in three years.

The Seahawks (9-5) need one win in their final two games to at least wrap up a wild-card berth.

A win over San Francisco would keep alive Seattle's slim hopes of the division title.

``It's a big division finish for us and we'll see how it goes,'' Carroll said, noting the Seahawks close at home with NFC West foes San Francisco and St. Louis.

``All we can do is focus on this game right here. We'll have no trouble focusing. They're a great team and coming home and all that it will be exciting to get ready.''

The Seahawks are coming off their 50-17 rout of Buffalo on Sunday that followed a 58-0 win over Arizona, making Seattle the first team since 1950 to score 50 or more points in consecutive weeks.

It's a rarified spot in the record books for a franchise that scored at least 50 just twice in their first 36-plus seasons and now have matched that total the past two weeks.

In Carroll's first two seasons, the Seahawks biggest scoring outburst came in the 2010 playoffs when they beat New Orleans 41-36.

``We're surprised at the scores the last couple of weeks, but we're really thrilled about it and we're going to see if we can keep going and keep growing and keep pushing it and see how far we can take it,'' Carroll said.

While the scores the past two weeks have appeared to be somewhat an anomaly, the Seahawks were trending upward in scoring even before the two blowouts.

Over the past eight weeks, the Seahawks are the second-highest scoring team in the NFL at 33.4 points per game, trailing only New England.

The past two weeks have substantially altered the curve, but even before the blowouts of Arizona and Buffalo, the Seahawks had scored at least 20 points in each game going back to Week 8 against Detroit. That stretch of seven straight games with at least 20 points is the longest since 2007, which is the last time the Seahawks had a 10-win season.

It was back in Week 8 - after losing 13-6 in a lackluster offensive effort at San Francisco - that Seattle started to tweak its offensive plans and give rookie quarterback Russell Wilson more freedom.

The zone-read was added to the run game, allowing Wilson the ability to keep and use his athleticism or handoff to Marshawn Lynch. That little wrinkle has paid off especially the past three weeks.

Wilson ran for 71 yards in Seattle's overtime win at Chicago three weeks ago - then a Seattle team record - then rushed for 92 yards and three touchdowns in Sunday's win over Buffalo.

At the same time, the holes have become larger for Lynch because the defense must now respect Wilson as a runner. In his past two games, Lynch has just 21 carries, but rushed for 241 yards, four touchdowns and averaged 11.5 yards per carry.

Through the first 11 games, Lynch had 19 runs of 10 or more yards. In the past three games, he has 14. Wilson has vaulted up to third in the league in yards rushing among quarterbacks with a franchise single-season record 402 yards.

``It all fits together. The problems that are presented with the quarterback runs make for some opportunities,'' Carroll said. ``... What's really exciting is what we're doing up front too with the blocking and figuring out the schemes and reading well and taking advantage of the looks.''

While the offense is rolling along, there remain some injury concerns defensively. Seattle played Sunday without cornerbacks Walter Thurmond and Marcus Trufant and Carroll said he's unsure of their status for this week.

Both have hamstring injuries and Thurmond was stepping in to replace suspended starter Brandon Browner.

Sidney Rice played against the Bills, but continues to be slowed by foot and toe injuries that Carroll said could be something he has to deal with the rest of the season. Carroll did get encouraging news that defensive tackle Alan Branch's ankle injury wasn't as severe as first believed. Branch will likely be held out of practice until Friday.

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Tom Wilson is single-handedly trying to fight every player on the Lightning in Game 7

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@ianoland

Tom Wilson is single-handedly trying to fight every player on the Lightning in Game 7

TOM WILSON IS ALL JACKED UP ON MOUNTAIN DEW. 

17 minutes into Game 7 and Tom Wilson is already out here doing Tom Wilson things. 

First, there were these shenanigans:

Pretty standard stuff. Some anger words, some glove pulling. Nothing special. Then, friends - then it gets real:

Let this marinate a little bit. Wilson got a minor for fighting, served his time, and then IMMEDIATELY came out of the box and did literally the exact same thing. 

He punched a guys helmet off. Those helmets have straps to stay on for this exact reason, and it didn't matter. If this was medieval jousting, Braydon Coburn would be declared the loser on the spot. 

Get you a friend like Tom Wilson. 

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Wizards' second pre-draft workout highlights quest for shooting, raises question at point guard

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Wizards' second pre-draft workout highlights quest for shooting, raises question at point guard


The Wizards held their second pre-draft workout at Capital One Arena on Wednesday and the theme of this session was shooting. They hosted six players, four of which shot 40 percent or better for their college careers. Not 40 percent for their final season, like they developed a shot over the years, 40 percent for their careers.

Those four would be Aaron Holiday of UCLA, a likely first-round pick, plus likely second-round picks Devonte' Graham and Sviatoslave Mykhailiuk of Kansas, and Zach Thomas of Bucknell who may go undrafted.

One of the outliers was Moe Wagner of Michigan, who shot 39.4 percent as a junior. The other was Johnathan Williams, who shot 33.3 percent from long range in college, but impressed in the workout by knocking down more shots than expected.

Wizards executives raved about the amount of made shots in this workout and the players they chose to host help demonstrate that shooting is a need the Wizards are hoping to address. Head coach Scott Brooks said as much in his final meeting with the media following their playoff loss.

Here are some notes on the players that addressed reporters on Wednesday...

Aaron Holiday, PG, UCLA

 - The brother of NBA players Jrue and Justin, Holiday said he is aiming to find the same success as them at the professional level. Both are good defensive players and Holiday said that is a big part of his game: 

"No pressure at all. I'm here to make my own name for myself... We all like to play defense... I just try to watch how they read guys and force guys into bad plays."

Holiday was informed his brother, Jrue, had just been named All-Defense. He was happy for him, of course.

"That's awesome. That's actually really good. I thought he would do it, too. Obviously, he's a great defender. Both of my brothers do well."

 - Bringing in Holiday was interesting because he is expected to be a first round pick and plays point guard. The Wizards, of course, already have an All-Star point guard in John Wall. Holiday acknowledged that fact, but believes he can play with both Wall and All-Star shooting guard Bradley Beal:

"It was obviously a question of why they would want me, but at the same time I know they need help on the backend, coming off the bench and playing high minutes and producing while John and them aren't on the court. Or, even playing with John Wall out there... with John and Bradley Beal out there, I could space the court pretty well for them."

Holiday would have no problem beginning his career as a bench player, if that's what happens:

"If the coach tells me to come off the bench, play a lot of minutes and get other people involved, that's what I will do. I also can play off the ball as well. I think I fit pretty good."

The Wizards taking a point guard in the first round is not that crazy of an idea. They have long been in need of a viable backup point guard and Fred VanVleet of the Raptors showed how much a really good backup can help.

Moritz Wagner, C, Michigan

 - Wagner worked out with the Bulls first and has the Nets up next. He said the Wizards workout was more intense than the Bulls, which is something we heard from many prospects last year. Washington apparently puts a greater emphasis on physical conditioning than other teams.

 - A native of Germany, and a seven-footer who shoots threes, naturally Wagner grew up a big fan of Mavs great Dirk Nowitzki:

"He was kind of our MJ. He was my MJ. He kind of shows you 'okay, this is possible and this is doable.' It's just basketball. He's from where I'm from, too. It gives you a lot of hope. It gives you a lot of belief and motivation."

 - Questions for Wagner surround his defense and whether he can protect the rim, as he wasn't a shot-blocker in college. Wagner said he is hoping to show teams how his mobility can help on that end of the floor:

"I think the most important thing that I wasn't able to show in college is that I'm able to switch the ball-screen. Especially with the way the league is going; switch on everything and stay in front of guards as a big guy."

Devonte' Graham, G, Kansas

 - Graham also worked out with the Bulls first. He has the Suns, Hawks, Rockets and Grizzlies up next. He expects to work out for 13 or 14 teams in total.

 - Graham is from Raleigh, just like Wall who was in attendance. Wall and Graham sat next to each other to chat after the workout was over:

"We're from the [area code] 919 and we all stick together. I hit him up last night."

 - Graham also knows Wizards forward Kelly Oubre, Jr. very well. They were roommates as freshmen at Kansas:

"He was a goofy dude. That was my boy, though."

 - Graham said he has been talking to Jazz star rookie Donovan Mitchell about the draft process, as he and Mitchell share the same agent.

MORE WIZARDS: 

- Diallo visits: Is the Kentucky star a good fit?
- Turgeon talks: Maryland coach talks 2018 draft
- NBA mock draft: Post combine edition

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