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Raiders reinstate McClain, cut Bartell, Schmitt

Raiders reinstate McClain, cut Bartell, Schmitt

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) The Oakland Raiders reinstated linebacker Rolando McClain from the suspended list on Monday and cut starting cornerback Ron Bartell in the team's latest roster shake-up.

The Raiders (3-10) also cut backup fullback Owen Schmitt and promoted cornerback Chimdi Chekwa from the practice squad as they plan to get a better look at young players down the stretch of another disappointing season.

McClain had been suspended for two games on Nov. 30 for conduct detrimental to the team after a practice run-in with coach Dennis Allen. McClain did not practice Monday and is not required to return to the team until he meets with Allen, who was in Texas on Monday for his father's funeral. The team says Allen will discuss McClain's role with him after he returns.

General manager Reggie McKenzie declined to comment on the moves and Allen will not be available to discuss them until he returns to practice on Wednesday.

But players said the news that Bartell was gone took them by surprise.

``I came in this morning and heard everybody talking about it. I didn't believe it at first, but got in here and didn't see him in here,'' cornerback Michael Huff said. ``Definitely, definitely tough, but obviously part of the business.''

Bartell was signed to a one-year contract worth $3 million in the offseason after missing all but one game in 2011 with St. Louis because of two neck fractures.

Bartell began the season as the starter but broke his left shoulder blade in the season opener. He returned to the lineup Nov. 11 in Baltimore and started the past five games, playing 95 percent of the defensive snaps. For the year, Bartell allowed 18 catches on 28 throws in his direction for 295 yards and four touchdowns, according to Pro Football Focus. He had no interceptions.

He was benched briefly in the first half on Dec. 2 against Cleveland before returning in the second half when Phillip Adams sustained a concussion.

The Raiders are now without both cornerbacks who began the season as starters with Shawntae Spencer on injured reserve with a sprained right foot. Pat Lee, who started seven games earlier this year, was released last month, leaving converted safety Huff as the only player on the roster who has started at cornerback this year.

Adams got additional playing time the past two weeks as coaching staff wanted to see what he could bring to the team. He played well in his brief time, intercepting two passes, including one last week from Peyton Manning. Adams allowed two catches on six throws his direction for 6 yards, according to Pro Football Focus.

``I just come in and do what I'm supposed to do,'' Adams said. ``You can't worry about anything else. It's a business. You can't worry about what's going on. I just try to approach the game how it should be approached and go and work hard every day because your teammates rely on you. That's what I plan to do.''

Chekwa was a fourth-round pick by the Raiders in 2011 and played four games as a rookie, starting once, before missing the rest of the season with a hamstring injury. He did not make the 53-man roster out of training camp this season as the new regime headed by McKenzie and Allen wanted to look at other options at cornerback.

But Chekwa will finally get a chance to show what he can do in the final three games this season.

``I'm not really worried about people watching me or them making a decision on what they want to do in the future,'' Chekwa said. ``I just want to play football.''

Schmitt played sparingly in his first season with Oakland, getting his most action when Marcel Reece shifted to tailback following injuries to Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson. With McFadden and Goodson healthy again and the Raiders having signed fullback Jamize Olawale from the Dallas Cowboys practice squad last week, Schmitt was expendable.

NOTES: McFadden practiced after leaving last Thursday's game when he re-aggravated a right ankle injury. ... DT Richard Seymour returned to practice for the first time since missing five games with a hamstring injury. ... S Tyvon Branch missed practice with injuries to his ankle and neck. ... The Raiders also re-signed S Akwasi Owusu-Ansah to the practice squad.

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Wizards notebook: Backing Bradley Beal; Downhill for Decker

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Wizards notebook: Backing Bradley Beal; Downhill for Decker

Back to back Beal?

Losing rarely leads to awards. The Wizards lost Monday in Indianapolis, 109-101. They also rallied from 25 points down to pull within one at 98-97 with 4:45 remaining. The comeback against the Pacers occurred with no John Wall (ankle) from the start and sans Otto Porter (knee contusion) after the opening seven minutes.

Lineups included a player making his Washington debut, combinations rarely used and a scoring Kelly Oubre, who shined for the locals with 23 points in one of his more controlled performances.

They also included the newly minted Eastern Conference Player of the Week.

Bradley Beal’s work Monday puts him in line for a repeat performance especially from those that consider leadership in the equation. Beal finished with 30 points, 19 coming in the second half as he played the final 24 minutes. He wasn’t peak efficiency (10 of 27 field goals, four turnovers), but the All-Star battled when crawling into a hole made sense. Beal had two of his three steals in the fourth quarter and finished 4 of 9 on 3-pointers.

Quick reminder: The Wizards lost for a second consecutive game heading into Wednesday’s clash with the Celtics. 

Pacers center Myles Turner dominated inside with 26 points, 12 rebounds and five emphatic blocks. Ex-Wizard Bojan Bogdanovic had 22 points. All five Indiana starters, none named Victor Oladipo, scored in double figures. 

Like many of Washington's opponents, Indiana knocked down shots from deep (10 of 20 from beyond the arc). The Pacers, tops in scoring defense, held the Wizards to 8 of 23 (34.8 percent) from the field in the fourth. 

Tired legs and minds hurt the cause late, but the shorthanded Wizards fought back. This isn’t amateur hour so simply trying doesn’t deserve praise. That the Wizards struggled in that area for chunks of this season makes such performances worth noting, as does the team following Beal’s lead. Keep this up, but pick up wins -- three games this week against the Celtics, at Nets, vs. Lakers -- and perhaps Beal earns another award.

Dekker hustle

It’s also downhill from here for the newest Wizard. Seriously, Sam Dekker, what’s the encore after the team goes on a 19-0 run after you enter for the first time in a Washington uniform?

The 6-foot-9 forward only finished with two points. We don’t take plus-minus seriously most games so that plus-20 is more oddity than reality of the situation. Still, we received a sneak peek at what Dekker could offer going forward once he learns the system, his teammates and gets back into game shape. This marked his first game action since suffering an ankle injury Nov. 5.

Dekker, who added two steals, runs the court with ease and offers energy from the forward position. It’s conceivable he falls outside the rotation most nights when all are available. Then again, if the former University of Wisconsin keeps running the court, his play might eventually badger head coach Scott Brooks into finding him minutes.

 Where art thou Okaro White?

Word came Monday morning that Wall would not face Indiana. Seeing as he acknowledged giving it a go in Saturday’s loss at Cleveland was probably a mistake considering his overall physical condition, cool. 

Around the same time, we found out that rookie swingman Troy Brown Jr. and forward Okaro White would remain with the Capital City Go-Go. The G-League squad plays in Arizona Tuesday.

That meant the Wizards would only have 10 active players in Indiana, a group including Sam Dekker, who only officially joined the team over the weekend. Reminder: Dwight Howard remains sidelined and the 15th roster spot sits empty. 

Perfect world Washington might not use more than nine players in a game so no whoop. As observers of this team know, there’s no such thing as a perfect world this season.

Sure enough, foul trouble struck Tomas Satoransky and Markieff Morris early, as did Porter’s injury. Other than Dekker’s 10 minutes and seven from Ian Mahinmi, Washington effectively used a seven-man rotation.

Nobody would dare suggest having Brown, White or either of their two-way players (Devin Robinson, Jordan McRae) available changes Monday’s result. Brooks might have bypassed all especially the kids. The G-League exists to offer players like Brown and Robinson a place to get in on-court work. It’s also how a team supplements its roster when needed. 

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Five observations from Wizards' loss to the Pacers despite Bradley Beal's big night

Five observations from Wizards' loss to the Pacers despite Bradley Beal's big night

The Washington Wizards lost to the Indiana Pacers 109-101 on Monday night. Here are five observations from the game...

1. Another loss: The Wizards just can't seem to put together a full, 48-minute performance, a collective effort good enough to beat a team that isn't among the worst in basketball. On Monday, they saw a Pacers team that despite missing Victor Oladipo is still very good, and they fell short of what could have been an epic comeback.

The Wizards stormed back from down 25 points, only to collapse in the final minute and get outscored 11-4 to close the game. The final result was another loss, their second straight. They are 11-16 on the year with the Boston Celtics up next on Wednesday.

The defeat spoiled another big night from Bradley Beal. He had 30 points, the fourth straight game he's dropped 27 or more. 

2. Otto went down: The Wizards found themselves in a tough situation on Monday with only nine available players after Otto Porter Jr. left in the first half with a right knee contusion. John Wall and Dwight Howard were already out, meaning the Wizards were down three starters. Markieff Morris then got into early foul trouble, giving head coach Scott Brooks a real dilemma.

Though Porter's injury doesn't seem serious, the Wizards can ill-afford losing anyone right now. It's worth a reminder that, as bad as the Wizards have started this season, they have done so with few injuries to blame.

3. Oubre came through: Not long after Porter went down, Kelly Oubre Jr. stepped in to fill the void. He had one of his best games of the season with 23 points, five rebounds, three steals, and a block.

Oubre shot poorly against the Cavs on Saturday, but overall he has been playing very well lately. This was the fourth straight game he's reached double figures and the third time in that stretch he's scored 19 or more.

In addition to scoring, Oubre did a lot of the things Brooks wants him to do. He drew an offensive foul, brought down two offensive rebounds and forced a few turnovers. Oubre's best attribute is his length and his ability to cause havoc defensively, especially off the ball. He came into this game sixth in the NBA in total deflections and second in deflections per 36 minutes.

4. Dekker debuted: The lack of options for Brooks detailed above and the lopsided score at least brought one positive and that was the debut of Dekker, who checked in with just under four minutes to go in the third quarter. 

Dekker actually played fairly well considering the circumstances and happened to help key a nice little run for the Wizards. Washington closed the third quarter on a 13-0 run once he came in. On one play during that stretch, Dekker got a steal and then finished with a dunk on the other end.

The run with Dekker on the floor extended to 19-0 in the fourth quarter and kept the Wizards within striking distance the rest of the game. Maybe Dekker was the missing piece all along.

5. Turner is good: For the second straight game, the Wizards had no answer for an opposing big man. Last game it was Tristan Thompson, this time it was Myles Turner. 

Turner had a huge first half on the defensive end and found his scoring groove in the second half. He had a monster stat-line of 26 points, 12 rebounds, and five blocks.

The strategy for opposing teams at the moment appears to be to attack the Wizards in the middle, knowing they are just trying to make do with Thomas Bryant and a collection of small-ball fives. Teams may keep doing that until the Wizards stop them.

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