Redskins

Pekovic powers Wolves over slumping Hawks, 108-103

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Pekovic powers Wolves over slumping Hawks, 108-103

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Nikola Pekovic had 25 points and a career-high 18 rebounds, Andrei Kirilenko added 21 points and the Minnesota Timberwolves beat the Atlanta Hawks 108-103 on Tuesday night.

Derrick Williams scored 17 points and Alexey Shved had 15 for the Timberwolves, who were missing coach Rick Adelman due to personal reasons. Terry Porter filled in and led the Wolves to their first victory over Atlanta since 2006, snapping an 11-game skid.

Josh Smith had 21 points and 13 rebounds and Al Horford had 19 points and 11 boards for the Hawks, who have lost three straight and four of their last five. They lost for the first time this year when Smith and Horford each get a double-double.

Minnesota point guard Ricky Rubio had eight assists and four points in 18 minutes in his first game back after missing the previous four with back spasms.

Lou Williams finished with 21 points and eight assists for the Hawks, who had a chance to tie the game in the closing seconds. But Dante Cunningham stole the inbounds pass and Luke Ridnour knocked down two free throws to seal the win.

The Timberwolves led by 14 to start the fourth quarter, with the Hawks showing few signs of getting back into the game. But Lou Williams scored seven quick points and Horford backed Derrick Williams down for a short jumper to trim the deficit to four with six minutes to play.

Kirilenko hit two 3s for a 100-89 lead with 4:15 remaining, but Kyle Korver hit two 3s and Lou Williams scored on a driving layup during a 12-2 surge that brought Atlanta within one. Korver finished with 15 points.

Pekovic was given a basket on a goaltending violation by Smith and Cunningham hit a 21-foot jumper with 15.9 seconds left to hold off the Hawks.

The Wolves have been the worst 3-point shooting team in the league virtually all season, but they hit 8 of 15 against the Hawks to get a big win before a four-game road trip.

While the Heat and Knicks grabbed all the headlines in the first two months of the season, the Hawks quietly put together a solid start that kept them right on their heels. They won 19 of their first 28 games, beating the likes of Oklahoma City, Indiana (twice), the Clippers and Memphis along the way to legitimize their standing as a contender in the East. But they lost at Detroit and home against Boston in a back-to-back last weekend, scoring just nine points in the third quarter against the Celtics.

Coach Larry Drew said he thought his team panicked for the first time all season, then watched it struggle to keep up with Minnesota's crisp ball movement and Derrick Williams' shot-making in the first half. The second-year forward has never been in Adelman's good graces, and his playing time has been sporadic, with the veteran coach favoring the more consistent Cunningham.

With Kevin Love out with a broken hand, Williams scored 18 points in the fourth quarter of a loss to Portland on Saturday night, then hit three of four 3-pointers in the first half to help the Wolves take a 17-point lead.

NOTES: Porter interviewed for an assistant position on Drew's staff when he was hired in Atlanta. How'd that go? ``I didn't get it,'' Porter said with a chuckle. ... The Timberwolves played host to 16-year-old Cody Metz as part of the Make-A-Wish program. Metz is a devoted fan who has suffered from numerous complications following surgery on a brain tumor five years ago. Metz watched the game from a suite and planned to accompany the team on a road trip to Oklahoma City. ``This definitely gives me something to look forward to,'' Metz said. ``I'm really excited.''

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Chris Simms doesn't think the Redskins should lock in on Chase Young with the No. 2 pick

Chris Simms doesn't think the Redskins should lock in on Chase Young with the No. 2 pick

It's been widely presumed by Redskins fans, draft experts and many others across the league that Washington is expected to use the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL Draft on Ohio State edge rusher Chase Young.

The 20-year-old is considered a generational talent and one of the best prospects in recent memory. Dwayne Haskins has vowed for the Burgundy and Gold to draft his Ohio State teammate. Derrius Guice has tweeted it too

But NBC Sports analyst Chris Simms is not sure that's the move the right move for the Redskins come April's draft.

"I don't think Chase Young is a lock for the Washington Redskins," Simms said.

Entering the 2019 season, the defensive line was expected to be the strongest position group for the Burgundy and Gold. But the unit, like many others on the team, failed to meet the lofty expectations, and the entire defense struggled as a whole.

But the group is still full of talent. Ryan Kerrigan, should he return in 2020, has been one of the NFL's premier pass rushers since he entered the league in 2011. Washington invested a first-round pick on Montez Sweat a year ago, and the team hopes he can make a large impact in Year 2.

On the interior, Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne are first-rounders that have become staples upfront. Matt Ioannidis was named a Pro Bowl alternate in 2019 and is under contract for two more years.

"The Redskins defensive line is real already," Simms said. "Do they want to put another asset in there? You just got a rookie first-rounder in Montez Sweat. Ryan Kerrigan is still there. You got the Alabama boys in the middle with [Jonathan] Allen and Daron Payne. That's a pretty good front four."

The Redskins defensive struggles in 2019 can be attributed to the scheme former defensive coordinator Greg Manusky ran. The 3-4 system he installed had plenty of moving parts, as multiple players complained about the complexity of the system. Kerrigan and Sweat, who are best served getting after the quarterback, were often dropping back in coverage.

New defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio is shifting the unit back to a 4-3 base, which fits the personnel the Redskins currently have much better. Del Rio's scheme is simple and allows players to play fast and to their strengths, something the Redskins defense never did under Manusky.

One of the weaker units on the defense is at cornerback. Quinton Dunbar emerged as a star in 2019, but the Redskins need a solid cornerback on the opposite side of him. Simms thinks Washington would be wise to trade back and maybe select a cover corner later in the first round.

"If I'm the Redskins, I'm thinking about maybe using my assets to strengthen other parts of my team," Simms said. "Maybe you trade down and get a really good cover corner, something like that."

The draft has multiple cornerbacks that are expected to go in the first round, such as Ohio State's Jeffery Okudah, Florida's CJ Henderson, Alabama's Trevon Diggs, and LSU's Kristian Fulton, among others. 

Simms does not question Young's talent, and there's no doubt selecting the pass rusher would improve the Redskins defense. But he believes trading down, getting extra picks, and addressing other needs on the team could be the best way for Washington to attack to draft.

"Chase Young is special. He's every bit in that discussion of being that guy to come off the board at No. 2," Simms said. "I just wonder if it's the right fit for the Washington Redskins. I don't know about that."

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Kris Bryant loses grievance against Cubs, chances of trade to Nationals slim

Kris Bryant loses grievance against Cubs, chances of trade to Nationals slim

Kris Bryant will remained signed with the Chicago Cubs for at least the next two seasons, although the team continues to field calls for trade proposals, ESPN reported Wednesday morning.

The Cubs have dangled Bryant in trade talks all offseason after the team signaled its desire to get under the luxury tax. Washington was rumored to have contacted Chicago about the third baseman earlier this winter, but those talks have “gone nowhere” according to The Athletic.

After incumbent third baseman Anthony Rendon signed with the Los Angeles Angels at the Winter Meetings, the Nationals pursued Josh Donaldson in free agency but ultimately refused to meet his asking price. Instead, the team re-signed infielder Asdrúbal Cabrera and will give top prospect Carter Kieboom the chance to compete against him for the starting job in spring training.

Chicago retaining two years of control over Bryant raises his trade value to the point where the Nationals likely wouldn’t be able to put together a competitive offer. Washington only has one consensus top-100 prospect in Kieboom and has been hesitant to deal him in past trade discussions.

The Atlanta Braves, who lost Donaldson to the Minnesota Twins in free agency, have been rumored to be interested in Bryant and would be in a much better position to make an offer enticing enough for the Cubs to trade him. The same goes for the Texas Rangers, who are moving into a new ballpark this season and would benefit from bringing in a star like Bryant to put fans in seats.

There’s also the likelihood that Chicago holds onto Bryant to start the 2020 season. The Cubs still have most of the core that led the team to its first World Series in 108 years back in 2016 and figure to be competitive in a wide-open NL Central. If they end up struggling to start the year, they could always field calls for him at the trade deadline when there might be more suitors.

Meanwhile, the Nationals appear content with the depth they’ve accumulated at third base. In addition to Kieboom and Cabrera, Washington also signed Starlin Castro and retained Howie Kendrick—both of whom have experience at third. With the team already projected to be close to the luxury tax threshold, a move for Bryant remains unlikely.

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