Wizards

NYC Marathon off, Wade donates to relief effort

NYC Marathon off, Wade donates to relief effort

The New York City Marathon is off, and a marathon ride into the city prompted Dwyane Wade to help those still dealing with the horrendous aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the cancellation of the marathon on Friday, just hours after insisting that the race needed to be run Sunday as scheduled to help the city continue recovering from the massive storm. Instead, Bloomberg said the ``controversy and division'' about whether the race should be run caused the change of plans.

``We cannot allow a controversy over an athletic event - even one as meaningful as this - to distract attention away from all the critically important work that is being done to recover from the storm and get our city back on track,'' Bloomberg said.

Wade had similar sentiments. After questioning who was assisting the victims of the storm - and why he and the rest of the Miami Heat were even in New York to play the Knicks on Friday night with so many people still facing so many difficulties because of the massive system - Wade said he would give the equivalent of his paycheck from the game to relief efforts.

That gift: Roughly $210,000, before taxes.

``I just felt there were bigger things to be concerned about than us being here to play a basketball game,'' Wade said Friday, one day after the Heat needed nearly three hours for the 6-mile ride from the airport to their hotel. ``Obviously, sports is things that takes people's minds away from things, but, you know, I think there's bigger things that need to be done here in the city.''

After the Knicks-Heat game on Friday, the Brooklyn Nets will make their delayed home debut at Barclays Center on Saturday night against the Toronto Raptors.

The lone NFL game in the greater New York region also will be played as scheduled on Sunday, when the Pittsburgh Steelers visit the New York Giants. The Steelers are planning to fly in for the game Sunday morning because of a lack of available hotel rooms.

Hotel issues also were going to affect the marathon, and some of those registered to run on Sunday were being urged to donate their rooms to area residents whose homes were either lost or damaged - just so they would have a place to go over the weekend.

Meanwhile, from Florida to California and plenty of places in between, the storm has been in the minds of teams who weren't even directly affected.

The Los Angeles Lakers are hoping to generate $150,000 for the American Red Cross to assist Sandy's victims. The team said Friday it's giving $50,000, and will match donations of up to another $50,000 from fans.

``Although the devastation caused by this hurricane was thousands of miles from Southern California, we consider the Lakers to be part of a much larger community,'' said Janie Drexel, the Lakers' director of charitable services.

Miami Hurricanes football coach Al Golden taped an appeal this week for fans to give to the United Way's storm relief fund. Golden's family has deep ties to the Jersey Shore - one of the hardest-hit areas in Sandy's path - and his brother Shaun Golden is the sheriff of Monmouth County, N.J., which was heavily damaged.

``We know friends that have nothing left,'' Golden said. ``So it's tough for everybody. ... You can't even describe it.''

The Minnesota Vikings and owner Zygi Wilf's family pledged $100,000 toward the recovery effort, and NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson is joining with his Hendrick Motorsports team and primary sponsor Lowe's to donate to disaster relief for the communities affected by the storm.

Lowe's has made a $1 million pledge, and also will match Johnson's earnings in Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway with a minimum donation of $250,000 to the American Red Cross. Johnson, who is the polesitter for the race, and Hendrick will together donate an additional $48,000.

Johnson and his wife, Chandra, own an apartment in Manhattan, but neither of them was there during the storm. The Sprint Cup points leader said the building was evacuated after the bottom two floors were flooded and the main lobby was damaged.

``It's impacted us in a small way, to many others in a much greater capacity,'' Johnson said in Fort Worth, Texas. ``It's a wild, wild deal up there. We've talked to our friends and the experiences they've had, and to know how many people through Manhattan and all the surrounding areas that are dealing with all the water issues, it's a sad thing.''

Also Friday, Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association announced plans to donate $1 million to the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army and Feeding America to assist relief efforts. Commissioner Bud Selig called it ``a privilege'' to be part of such a contribution.

``Natural disasters know no boundaries, and this one was a direct hit that affected many in the MLBPA's office personally,'' union chief Michael Weiner said.

On Thursday, the NFL and its players union announced a $1 million gift, the same amount that the NBA and its players union have pledged. Also, along with Wade's donation, the Heat said they were planning to make a donation to relief efforts.

Athletes were even some of the first responders to the storm.

On Tuesday morning, USA Luge athlete Joe Mortensen was on the ice in Lake Placid, N.Y., 300 miles north of New York, training. Later that day, Mortensen - a sergeant in the Army National Guard - was summoned to duty, and wound up helping evacuate patients from Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan.

U.S. bobsled team members Nick Cunningham and Dallas Robinson were also called to duty. Like Mortensen, they are Army reservists.

``I don't even know the word to describe the amount of damage that was done,'' Mortensen said. ``You could see how high the water rose in certain areas. It was astonishing.''

A slew of high school and college games along most of the East Coast have been affected by the storm as well, including many fall-sport playoff matchups.

``Trying to get these families and everything back right where it needs to be is, I think we all know, more important than a basketball game,'' Heat forward and reigning NBA MVP LeBron James said. ``But we also know that sports does things for people that a lot of things can't do as far as, you know, giving them a brighter side of things when something happens.''

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Jodie Meeks

2017-18 Wizards roster review: Jodie Meeks

To wrap up the 2017-18 season, we are looking at each player on the Wizards' roster. Today, we evaluate Jodie Meeks' season...

Player: Jodie Meeks

Position: Shooting guard

Age: 30

2017-18 salary: $3.3 million

2017-18 stats: 77 G, 14.5 mpg, 6.3 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 0.9 apg, 0.4 spg, 0.1 bpg, 39.9 FG%, 34.3 3P%, 86.3 FT%, 49.1 eFG%, 111 ORtg, 112 DRtg

Best game: 11/29 at Sixers - 21 points, 4 rebounds, assist, steal, 5-for-11 FG, 3-for-6 3PT, 8-for-9 FT

Season review: The Wizards took a flier on Jodie Meeks last summer in what seemed at the time to be a low-risk contract with a potentially high reward, if he could stay healthy and play to his career norms. They were in obvious need of help at backup shooting guard and three-point shooting for their bench.

Meeks fell short of those expectations for a variety of reasons. Though he stayed healthy for the first time in years, he could not make shots at the clip the Wizards were hoping for. His field goal percentage was not far off from what he posted in recent years, but his three-point percentage was nowhere near the 38.8 percent he shot in his previous four seasons.

Meeks bottomed out midseason, shooting 28.9 percent from three in December and 28 percent in January. Those numbers ticked up beginning in February, but Meeks never fully gained the trust of his coaching staff. He rarely got hot enough to alter games and his best stat-lines often came in blowouts. 

There was a domino effect from Meeks' struggles, as starting shooting guard Bradley Beal had no one to spell him. As a result, Beal logged the fourth-most minutes of any NBA player this season.

For Meeks personally, it was a bittersweet year because staying healthy was no small feat. He had a run of bad luck and finally broke out of it this season. On the other hand, he never made the impact he felt he was capable of and that wasn't easy for a guy joining a new team and a new locker room.

Meeks' 2017-18 season was ultimately defined by more than his shooting woes. First, he expressed interest in a trade in February and did not get his wish. Then, he was suspended for allegedy using performance-enhancing drugs after the regular season ended. He was out for the playoffs and will miss the first 19 games of the 2018-19 season without pay as he waits out a 25-game ban.

Meeks may or may not serve that suspension as a member of the Wizards. He has a player option for next season worth $3.5 million. He has yet to inform the team of his decision, but the expectation is that he will pick it up. Given how poorly his season went and ended, it would likely be the smart move financially for him to opt in and hope for better results next season.

Potential to improve: Shooting percentage, perimeter defense, passing

More player season reviews:

John Wall, PG

Bradley Beal, SG

Otto Porter, SF

Markieff Morris, PF

Marcin Gortat, C

Kelly Oubre, Jr., SF

Tomas Satoransky, PG

Ian Mahinmi, C

Ty Lawson, PG

Tim Frazier, PG

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Want the Stanley Cup? Five ways the Caps can beat the Golden Knights

Want the Stanley Cup? Five ways the Caps can beat the Golden Knights

The Caps stand just four wins away from winning their first Stanley Cup. To get those four wins, however, they will have to beat the Vegas Golden Knights.

Here are the keys to the series that will give the Caps the win.

Figure out how to beat Marc-Andre Fleury

No player has been as important to his team this postseason as Fleury is to the Golden Knights. He is reason No. 1, 2 and 3 why they have made their improbable run to the Stanley Cup Final in the team’s inaugural season.

Fleury’s personal numbers are staggering. Through 15 games, he has a .947 save percentage and has recorded four shutouts.

Vegas has been a middle of the pack team in terms of offense this postseason scoring 2.87 goals per game. They have lost only three playoff games thus far, but, as dominant as they have been, they certainly are not blowing away the competition. Of their 12 wins, ten of them have come with a margin of victory of two goals or less.

This shows you just how important Fleury is to their success. They are not scoring opponents into submission, rather they are relying on Fleury to keep opponents at bay.

Fleury is the absolute key to the Golden Knights’ success. It’s easier said than done, but if the Caps find a way to beat him consistently, Vegas becomes exponentially more beatable.

Win the neutral zone battle

Much of this series will be determined between the blue lines. The Golden Knights are an incredibly fast team.

Just to get to this point, the Caps had to beat two other speedy teams in the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Tampa Bay Lightning. They did it primarily by slowing down the offense in the neutral zone with a 1-3-1 trap. With so many bodies defending in the neutral zone, opponents have struggled to break the puck cleanly into the Caps’ defensive zone. The Caps are cutting off passing and skating lanes, creating turnovers and generating odd-man breaks in the other direction by catching opponents’ defensemen playing too aggressively on the rush.

As fast as the Penguins and Lightning were, however, the Golden Knights are even faster. Will the trap be as effective against Vegas?

Limit obstruction penalties

When playing against a team with speed, penalties often become a major issue. When trying to defend against fast players, if you get caught flat-footed or out of position, this tends to lead to obstruction penalties like tripping and hooking. When a player realizes he’s been beat, he does everything he can to prevent that from costing his team, leading to those type of penalties.

Vegas’ power play has not been lights out by any means with a success rate of only 17.6-percent this postseason, but you cannot continually give the opposition chances to score by frequently having a player sent to the penalty box.

Positioning is going to make all the difference in the world in this series to make sure a player is not forced into taking an obstruction penalty just to slow down the Golden Knights.

Get off to good starts

Vegas is 10-1 in the postseason when scoring first. Their secret to success is a mix between goaltending and speed.

Fleury has been phenomenal in net and the Golden Knights are a quick breakout team. It is very hard to get much sustained offensive pressure against them because once they get the puck, they are going down the ice at a million miles an hour.

Having to play from behind against a team like Vegas is not a recipe for success. Just getting the puck and keeping up with them is exhausting. Having to then find a way to then beat Fleury when he has a lead to protect is all the more daunting.

Strong starts will be vital to ensuring the Caps are not frequently having to play from behind.

Depth scoring

Vegas head coach Gerard Gallant likes to roll his four lines. It makes sense since there drop-off between his top line and fourth line is not as dramatic as it is on most NHL teams.

Consider how this team was constructed. The expansion draft did not give Vegas access to superstar players, but they also did not have to take any fringe NHL/healthy scratch players to fill the fourth line either. They filled their roster with the best players available to them which gives them four lines of much more comparative strength than most NHL teams.

While this means the Caps have a stronger top six, it also allows Vegas to roll four lines and take advantage of other teams’ bottom six.

You can never take a shift off against Vegas. There is no weak line to exploit. The Golden Knights come at you with four lines and relentless pressure and forecheck for 60 minutes.

Washington will probably get more production from its top six than Vegas will, or at the very least it will be a push. The question is what kind of production will each team get from the bottom six? If the Caps have the edge in depth production as well, they will be in good shape.

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