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Lions GM Mayhew looking forward after 4-12 season

Lions GM Mayhew looking forward after 4-12 season

ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) Martin Mayhew was asked almost immediately if he expects to return as Detroit's general manager - and if Lions coach Jim Schwartz will be back to after a disappointing 4-12 season.

``As far as I know, we're going to be back,'' he said matter-of-factly, adding that he's already spoken with ownership and discussed his plans going forward.

With that out of the way, Mayhew spoke with reporters for about 45 minutes Wednesday night about how the Lions can improve after losing their final eight games of the season. Mayhew helped rebuild Detroit into a playoff team in 2011, but this year was a humbling one, and the pressure is on.

``I think that's the nature of the NFL,'' Mayhew said. ``You're here to win football games, so any time you only win four you better have a sense of urgency.''

Mayhew said wide receiver Titus Young was back at the team's facility for an exit physical. Young was exiled by the Lions in November for what Schwartz described as poor behavior. Mayhew now seems to be taking a wait-and-see approach on whether Young will return to the team.

``I had a great conversation with him, and he met with Jim,'' Mayhew said. ``A lot of time between now and when he has to come back, and I think there's a lot that has to happen between now and then, and we'll decide that at the appropriate time.''

Running back Jahvid Best also faces an uncertain future after missing the whole season because of a concussion sustained in 2011. Mayhew said he made a mistake last offseason by counting on Best to return.

``This is a new era with regard to treatment of head injuries and the caution that we're taking with head injuries,'' Mayhew said.

Last offseason, Detroit signed Calvin Johnson to a new contract, and he responded with a record 1,964 yards receiving. Quarterback Matthew Stafford could be the next key player with a new deal, especially if it can help Detroit clear salary cap space.

``We'll make an effort to renegotiate or extend Matthew Stafford,'' Mayhew said. ``We'll free up some cap room doing that, hopefully.''

The Lions will pick fifth in this year's draft. It's their highest selection since taking defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh second overall in 2010, but it's also their fourth top-five pick since 2007. Stafford (first in 2009) and Johnson (second in 2007) were drafted high and helped give the Lions an impressive young nucleus.

But after a failed attempt to go back to the postseason, Mayhew has to be open to making changes to the rest of the roster.

``Obviously, coming off this season, we want to take a look at everything that we're doing,'' Mayhew said. ``Clearly, we're not good enough.''

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Remembering the other series-clinching goal from Evgeny Kuznetsov

Remembering the other series-clinching goal from Evgeny Kuznetsov

When you think about Evgeny Kuznetsov in the playoffs, most probably think of his overtime-winning goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2018 that ended the series and handed Washington a long-awaited victory over its archrival. But that wasn’t the first series-clinching goal Kuznetsov scored.

Before the Stanley Cup was brought to Washington, before the bird celebration, there was another epic moment of Kuznetsov’s career that now feels overshadowed by the 2018 run.

In 2015, the Caps returned to the playoffs after a one-year hiatus. They entered the postseason as the second-place team in the Metropolitan Division, drawing the third-place New York Islanders in the first round.

A back-and-forth series, it ultimately went the distance with Game 7 being played in Washington. As even as the series had been, the Caps dominated that Game 7, suffocating the Islanders and giving up only 11 shots on goal. Joel Ward put Washington ahead 1-0, but Frans Nielsen tied it early in the third period. Despite the dominant defensive performance, Jaroslav Halak (remember him?) would not allow the Caps to the chance to put the game away.

Just when it began to feel as if Halak was going to steal away another Game 7 from the Caps, a young Russian center in just his first full NHL season took over.

With less than eight minutes remaining in the third period, Kuznetsov took a pass along the half wall, showed Frans Nielsen his back and when Nielsen bit, he spun and cut to the center of the ice. Nielsen was caught a step behind and whacked Kuznetsov in desperation, actually diving to the ice to try to keep him from breaking loose. In one slick move Kuznetsov had cut through the Islanders’ defense and was in alone on net. Halak went down to the butterfly as Kuznetsov cut to center, but Kuznetsov showed incredible patience and did not immediately shoot. Suddenly, Halak was committed and helpless. He dove to his right desperately holding up the glove as Kuznetsov kept gliding across the ice, but Halak had left too much of the net open by going down too soon and Kuznetsov hit the corner.

With 7:18 remaining in the game and the series, Kuznetsov had given the Caps the 2-1 lead.

The series was a breakout performance for Kuznetsov who returned the following season and earned a top-six role, something not all that easy for young players to do under head coach Barry Trotz. It also gave a franchise still bearing the scars of Halak’s 2010 upset a measure of revenge.

And the rest is history.

What heroics does Kuznetsov have in store for the Islanders on Saturday when the two teams meet at 1 p.m.? Tune in to NBC Sports Washington at 12 p.m. for coverage.

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Wizards committed more turnovers against the Raptors than they have in any game in 25 years

Wizards committed more turnovers against the Raptors than they have in any game in 25 years

Whether it's good or bad, nothing the Wizards do is subtle. 

They'll score a million points and give up two million points. They'll beat the Heat, Nuggets and Celtics without Bradley Beal but also blow an 18-point fourth quarter lead to the Bulls. 

The Wizards had some turnover issues Friday night, but again, they're never subtle. 

Washington committed 28 turnovers on the way to a 29-point loss. Following the first seven minutes of play, the Wizards had seven turnovers and seven points. 

The last time the Wizards turned the ball over that much was April 2, 1994, in a 104-96 win over the Bucks. The last time an NBA team turned it over 28 times? The 2010 Suns. 

Nine Wizards players had multiple turnovers, while five players had at least three. 

Following Bradley Beal's comments criticizing the team's culture and need to develop winning habits, the Wizards' response left more than enough to be desired. Credit the Raptors defense utilizing their length and ball pressure to take advantage of when the Wizards were loose with the ball, but it takes more than good defense to turn it over 28 times. 

The bright side is this was an uncharacteristic performance for the Wizards. They currently average the 10th-fewest turnovers per game in the NBA, so there's a good chance they clean things up on Monday against the Pistons. 

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