Redskins

Lakers beat Knicks 100-94 to get to .500

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Lakers beat Knicks 100-94 to get to .500

LOS ANGELES (AP) Kobe Bryant engineered a second-half comeback, helping the Los Angeles beat the New York Knicks 100-94 on Tuesday and extend the Lakers' winning streak to five games while lifting them to .500.

Bryant scored 34 points in his NBA-record 15th Christmas Day game and Metta World Peace added 20 points and seven rebounds while defending Carmelo Anthony, whose 34 points led the Knicks. Bryant, the league's leading scorer, has topped 30 or more points in nine straight games.

The Lakers improved to 14-14 - 9-9 under new coach Mike D'Antoni - and upped their holiday record to 21-18, including 13-9 at home.

The Knicks controlled most of the game behind Anthony and J.R. Smith, who had 24 points. But they struggled offensively in the fourth, when Anthony was limited to seven points and Smith had five.

Smith's 3-pointer pulled New York to 96-94. After Pau Gasol made one of two free throws, Smith missed another 3 that would have tied the game at 97 with 32 seconds left.

Gasol dunked with 12 seconds to go, punctuating a win that sent Lakers fans, frustrated by the team's struggles and coaching change, home happy. The Lakers avenged a 116-107 loss in New York on Dec. 13.

Steve Nash had 16 points, 11 assists and six rebounds in his second game in nearly two months. He missed 24 straight games while recovering from a small fracture in his lower left leg. Dwight Howard had 14 points and 12 rebounds, and Gasol had 13 points and eight rebounds.

Bryant had eight of the Lakers' first 10 points to open the fourth during a run that provided their first lead since the opening quarter in a game matching the two teams that have played the most on Christmas Day.

They took the lead for good on Bryant's basket with 7:38 remaining. Anthony and Tyson Chandler were in foul trouble in the fourth, with Chandler fouling out late.

The Knicks opened the third on a 15-5 run, with Anthony setting up on the perimeter and hitting two 3-pointers as part of his 10 points that stretched their lead to 61-53. His jumper provided the Knicks' largest lead of the game, 69-60.

Bryant and Nash ignited the quiet atmosphere by leading a 17-9 run that drew the Lakers to 78-77 going into the fourth. They combined to score 15 points, although Bryant missed two free throws to end the third that would have given the Lakers their first lead since early in the game. The Knicks' earlier roll dissolved in missed shots and a technical on Chandler for arguing a call.

World Peace scored 16 points in the second quarter, including eight in a row, when the Lakers played catch-up most of the way. His 3-pointer gave the Lakers their first lead of the period with 1:10 remaining. Smith tied it up with a free throw before Nash's jumper sent the Lakers into halftime leading 51-49.

Bryant scored the Lakers' final nine points of the first quarter to give them a 25-23 lead. D'Antoni's plan of having Darius Morris guard Anthony didn't last long after he scored five of the Knicks' first seven points.

NOTES: Bryant surpassed Oscar Robertson as the league's all-time Christmas Day scorer with 383 points. Robertson had 377. ... Knicks F/C Amare Stoudemire shot some before the game. He's been out all season after left knee surgery. ... ... Knicks C Marcus Camby had four points and four rebounds in 8 minutes. He's been sidelined by a sore left foot and barely played this season. ... Asked about Bryant as an MVP candidate, D'Antoni said, ``You can't put anybody MVP if you're below .500.'' ... In their only other Christmas Day meeting in 1963, the Lakers beat the Knicks 134-126 behind 47 points by Jerry West and 27 from Elgin Baylor. ... Several Lakers had unopened gift bags in their lockers with the tag, ``From Kobe Merry Xmas 2012.'' ... The Lakers were all in white, while the Knicks were all in orange down to their socks in a color similar to Syracuse. ... Howard spent time before the game explaining to his teammates a snake chant he wanted them to do during Bryant's pre-game introduction, in honor of his ``Mamba'' nickname. ... Among the celebs holidaying at Staples Center were Rihanna and Chris Brown, Adam Levine, Samuel L. Jackson, George Lopez and Richard Lewis. Vanessa Bryant and her two young daughters sat courtside opposite the Lakers bench.

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Need to Know: Stock up-stock down for the Redskins’ win over Packers

Need to Know: Stock up-stock down for the Redskins’ win over Packers

Here is what you need to know on Monday, September 24, 14 days before the Washington Redskins visit the New Orleans Saints.  

Talking points

Here are some players who saw their stock go up during the Redskins’ impressive win over the Packers and some who saw their stock drop.

Stock up—For the third straight game, DE Matt Ioannidis got a sack. There are many who say that Jamison Crowder is the best late-round gem that Scot McCloughan found in his two drafts as the general manager of the Redskins. But you may have to consider Ioannidis for that title. He was a fifth-round pick who now has 7.5 sacks in the last season plus three games. The Temple product also is a stout run defender. 

Stock down—Right tackle Morgan Moses had to leave the game with a concussion in the first quarter and Ty Nsekhe came in. The substitute got flagged for at least three penalties including a couple of false starts and a holding penalty that cost them field position in the second half. There is a myth going around that he’s just as good as Moses and Trent Williams. He’s good enough to have as a swing tackle, but don’t think that there is not a considerable drop off when he enters the game. 

Stock up—During the past week QB Alex Smith took plenty of fire for being a check-down type of quarterback. He didn’t really stretch the field in the first two games. His only completion of over 34 yards came on a short pass that Adrian Peterson turned into a 53-yard gain. Sunday he aired it out a couple of times with a 46-yard TD bomb to Paul Richardson on the opening drive. In the second quarter, he dropped a dime to Vernon Davis, who was streaking down the right sideline. That play was good for 50 yards and it helped set a touchdown that gave the Redskins a comfortable 28-10 halftime lead. Smith completed 12 of 20 passes for 220 yards, an impressive 11 yards per attempt. 

Stock down—It wouldn't be accurate to say that WR Josh Doctson didn't have an impact on the game. He drew two pass interference flags that helped a scoring drive including one in the end zone that set up Adrian Peterson’s two-yard touchdown run that lifted the Redskins to a 14-0 advantage. But a first-round draft pick needs to have more impact than that. He was targeted three times and he did not catch a pass. He is running out of time to get that breakout year he needs in this third NFL season. 

Stock up—TE Jordan Reed didn’t catch a ton of passes but his four receptions for 64 yards had an impact. In particular, a pass he caught in the second quarter created a swing. The Redskins faced third and six from their own six. Smith went to Reed over the middle about 20 yards downfield. Reed caught the pass, eluded some tacklers with a couple of nice moves, and ended up with a 34-yard gain. That got the Redskins going on a 98-yard touchdown drive. That was their longest touchdown drive since a game against the Bears in 1999 when they drove 99 yards for a TD.

Injury report

OT Morgan Moses left the game in the first quarter with a concussion. 

The agenda

Today: Open locker room 11:30 a.m.; Jay Gruden press conference 

Upcoming:Redskins @ Saints (October 8) 14 days; Panthers @ Redskins 20; Cowboys @ Redskins 27

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Though the refs did, the Redskins saw nothing wrong with Clay Matthews' hit on Alex Smith

Though the refs did, the Redskins saw nothing wrong with Clay Matthews' hit on Alex Smith

A few years ago, the hit would've been celebrated. Last year, it would've gone down as a drive-ending sack.

But in 2018, with the NFL's new emphasis on defenders not being able to fall on quarterbacks with a lot of force, Clay Matthews' very normal-looking third quarter takedown of Alex Smith was ruled roughing the passer.

As a result, the Redskins got to stay on the field. And for the second week in a row, Matthews found himself at the center of a very controversial call.

"Unfortunately, this league is going in a direction that a lot of people don't like and I think they're getting soft," the veteran said after Washington's 31-17 win over Green Bay. "I've been playing this game for over 20 years and that's how you tackle."

Matthews has a point. In a sport that's concerned about dirty or dangerous collisions, this looks like a flawless hit:

But the roughing the passer flag was tossed not because of where Matthews hit Smith or when he hit him. The issue, in the eyes of the officials, is the way he finished the sequence.

"I had judged that the defender landed on the quarterback when he was tackling him with most or all of his body weight and that's not allowed," referre Craig Wrolstad said following the contest. "That was basically my key, that he landed on him with most or all of his body weight."

The person on the not-so-fun end of the exchange had no problem with it, though.

"It's tough," Smith said during his time at the FedEx Field podium. "I'm glad I don't play defense... I felt like he’s playing football. He’s played a long time. He hit me right in the strike zone."

Smith wasn't the only 'Skin to speak out in support of Matthews, either.

"What else do you want the man to do?" Josh Norman (who actually has the same agent as Matthews) asked reporters in the home locker room. "Like, seriously, what else do you want the man to do? "

"When I saw it, there was no malicious, ill intent," Norman continued. "I understand the rules of the situation, but at the same time, it sucks being a defender now. They hit your pockets and then they hit you for a penalty."

The NFL is clearly trying to make itself safer, which is both smart and necessary. But its approach in how its doing so has been confusing in a few critical areas, and this part of roughing the passer enforcement has temporarily surpassed the catch rule and the helmet rule as the most muddled of them all.

After all, when the QB and other opponents have no complaints about a tackle but the refs and the wording of the rule do, there's a disconnect. One that should be addressed.

"I think there's some gray area here with this that needs to be ironed out," Smith observed.  

For a signal caller who was accurate for much of the afternoon, that statement might've been the most on-point part of his day.

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