The matchup: The matchup: In their final game before the month-long Olympic break, the Mystics rocked The New York Liberty on their home court. Since then, Washington has struggled mightily to win anywhere.The Mystics (5-24) look to snap an eight-game losing streak and win only their second road game of the season Wednesday in Newark, where the Liberty (12-17) are playing their home games this season. Based on how the team has played during the second half of the season and particularly during the past two games, which sounds like a daunting task. Washington lost to Los Angeles and Atlanta by an average of 26.5 points and dropped seven of 10 post-Olympic games by at least 12 points.Cappie Pondexter, the WNBA's third leading scorer with 20.3 points per game, leads a Liberty squad tied with Chicago for the final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. New York, coming off an upset win over Los Angeles, has taken two of three against Washington this season, including a 79-73 revenge home victory on Sept. 1 behind 20 points from Essence Carson and 16 by Pondexter. Washington committed 17 turnovers.In the recent meeting Monique Currie scored 20 points and Crystal Langhorne, the Mystics leading scorer and rebounder on the season, had 19 points and 8 rebounds. After Wednesday's meeting the teams will wrap up the season series Sunday at the Verizon Center.Last time out: Just when it appeared things could not get worse for the Mystics, coming off a 28 point home loss to the Sparks, Washington endured a 93-68 beating by Atlanta on Sunday. The Dream shot 58 percent from the field while holding the Mystics, the WNBAs lowest scoring team, to a 36.5 percent clip (23 of 63). Crystal Langhorne and Noelle Quinn each scored 12 points for the Mystics, who once again coughed away possession after possession, committing 17 turnovers. Langhorne loves Liberty: The 6-foot-2 power forwards scoring has dipped this season over her previous campaign for the first time during her five-year WNBA career but thats certainly not been the case against New York. After posting a career-high 18.2 points per game in 2011, Langhorne is averaging 15.3 points despite shooting a robust 56 percent from the field. Some blame lies with her free throw shooting; the former University of Maryland star is making only 64.3 percent of her attempts, Langhornes lowest since her rookie season. Against the Liberty, the points are flowing. Langhorne has twice scored 24 points and is averaging 22.3 points in three games against New York this season while making 9 of 11 free throws (81.8 percent).
CAPITAL ONE ARENA -- The “Polish Machine” who now plays for the Los Angeles Clippers didn’t quite land the Hollywood movie script ending in his return to Washington.
Don’t fret for Marcin Gortat. Sure, the Wizards, his former team, fought back from a 24-point deficit for a 125-118 win. He’s good with his new scene. Gortat also has thoughts on his former situation and the turmoil brewing.
Gortat made his first appearance in the arena he called home for five seasons Tuesday night since a June 26 trade sent him to Los Angeles for Austin Rivers. He wasn’t sure of how the local fans would react. His journey in Washington ended bumpily, but the overall ride coincided with a positive turn for the franchise. The Wizards reached the playoffs in four of his five seasons.
“Well, obviously a very emotional moment,” Gortat said of his return. “Bottom line is that we came here to get a win. Unfortunately, we lost today. …It was great to be here.”
His arrival in 2013 following a trade with Phoenix led to the franchise’s first playoff appearance since 2008. Three more postseason trips followed as did Mohawks and fabulous quotes. Gortat provided the power just before the NBA veered away from hulking frontcourts. His fame and fortune increased in Washington. His affable and oversized personality attracted fans.
Fans that watched the 6-foot-11 screen-setting center consistently provide double-doubles graciously applauded for the ex-Wizard during pre-game introductions. Gortat, who started 400 of 402 games played in Washington, appreciated the gesture.
“It was weird to sit on that side of the court and play against your guys,” Gortat said. “It was tough, very emotional and weird, but it’s business.”
Gortat wasn’t immune to criticism from fans and teammates during his time in Washington. Part of the reason he now plays for the Clippers is that the relationship with former pick-and-roll partner John Wall soured. When disapproval only went so far up the Wizards’ player hierarchy, it often stopped with the man in the middle.
The Wizards entered Tuesday’s game flailing. Many of the same players from prior seasons remained. Not Gortat, meaning any blame must land elsewhere. With drama engulfing the Wizards, Gortat proudly felt vindicated. He waited for the pack of reporters to clear before expressing such thoughts.
“Listen, the way I was traded out of that team, it looked like I was the cancer of the locker room,” Gortat told NBC Sports Washington. “I think that thing was verified and it was complete [expletive]. It is what it is now.”
Pregame Gortat wondered if the Wizards would join the ranks of teams creating tribute videos for returning players. He would be left wanting.
Rivers, the son of the Clippers head coach, received one in October upon his first arrival back with the team he played for over four seasons. Gortat remembered.
As the formal postgame scrum ended, the ex-Wizard made it clear he had thoughts to share and asked to be asked about the lack of a video tribute.
“Well, what do I think about that? A lot of guys around the league are getting tributes. It ’s obviously up to the organization, but I guess Austin Rivers did enough to get his tribute, but I didn’t do enough to get a tribute here,” Gortat said to NBC Sports Washington. “A few guys around the team understand. It was kind of weird.”
Taking the court with his former teammates was more different than weird, but ultimately cordial and competitive.
“Brad (Beal) fouled me a few times. He admitted he fouled me, but I didn’t get a call,” a chuckling Gortat told NBC Sports Washington. “John, yeah, we had our ups and downs, but at the end of the day, there’s no bad blood. We spoke at the end of the game, said good luck, stay healthy.”
Ultimately, Gortat made peace with his time in Washington. The fond memories outweighed the knocks. Members of the Wizards organization stopped by the Clippers locker room for a chat and a laugh. Gortat bear hugged Wizards equipment manager Jerry Walter to the ground.
The loss stung. Los Angeles does the stinging most nights. The Clippers entered with a five-game winning streak. Their 11-6 record puts them among the Western Conference elite. Gortat’s minutes are down (18 per game). Such limits would have bothered him in Washington.
At 34 and knowing his NBA life could be fleeting with his contract expiring this summer, Gortat is cool with his new world.
“I’m great. I’m great where I am,” the 12-year veteran said. “I get to play and help the team as much as I can either on the court, off the court, in the locker room. I’m going to try to help my team and lead us as much as I can. We have great chemistry and a great team.”
MORE WIZARDS NEWS:
- Brooks' promise: Sato will get more playing time soon
- Emotional leader: John Wall opens up to Chris Miller after win
- Did that just happen? Explaining the Wizards' comeback against the Clippers
- Coach has your back: Scott Brooks defends John Wall
- Season saver? How will the Wizards' victory affect the season
To the surprise of no one, former Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed is one step closer to Hall of Fame enshrinement.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced Tuesday that Reed was named one of the 25 semifinalist for the 2019 class. Reed, cornerback Champ Bailey and tight end Tony Gonzalez are the only first-year eligible players that made the cut.
An obvious first-year ballot Hall of Famer, the next step in the selection process for Reed will take place on Thursday, January 3 when the semifinalist are cut down to 15 Modern-Era Finalist.
Finalist then must receive 80% positive vote from the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee on "Selection Saturday," one day prior to Super Bowl LIII. No more than five Modern-Era Finalist can be elected in a given year. The finalist will be formally enshrined Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019 in Canton, Ohio.
The Ravens selected Reed in the first round of the 2002 NFL Draft, and he would go on to play 11 seasons with the organization. During those 11 seasons, he was voted to the Pro Bowl nine times, was a five-time First-Team All-Pro and started 159 of 160 games.
On the field, Reed had 61 interceptions for 1,541 yards and seven touchdowns. In addition, the safety raked up 11 forced fumbles and 13 fumbles recovered for 152 yards and two touchdowns. Not to forget a Super Bowl XLVII championship.
Reed's enshrinement would make him the third Raven in the history of the organization to be enshrined in his first-year of eligibility alongside linebacker Ray Lewis and offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden.
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- It was fate: Brown Jr.'s father predicted his future with Ravens
- Status unknown: No real answers on Flacco's return date
- Rookies take charge: Jackson and Edwards lead Ravens to another week
- National recognition: King awards Jackson with weekly honor