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Smith almost perfect, 49ers flatten Arizona 24-3

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Smith almost perfect, 49ers flatten Arizona 24-3

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) On an almost perfect Monday night for Alex Smith, the San Francisco 49ers flexed their NFC West dominance with a 24-3 flattening of the Arizona Cardinals.

Smith completed 18 of 19 passes for 232 yards and three touchdowns - two to Michael Crabtree and one to Randy Moss - to help San Francisco (6-2) open a two-game lead in the division and send Arizona (4-4) to its fourth straight lost.

Smith's only incompletion was dropped by a wide-open receiver.

Smith was 14 of 15 for 146 yards and two touchdowns, both to Crabtree, as the 49ers built a 17-0 halftime lead.

Moss caught a 47-yard TD pass, dodging tacklers down the sideline on a play that seemed to turn back the clock to the receiver's prime. With the catch, he tied Terrell Owens for fourth on the NFL career touchdown list with 156.

Smith, who tied a career high with the three touchdown passes, spread out his completions to 10 receivers. Crabtree led the way with five catches for 72 yards.

Arizona's defense, supposed to be the team's strength, missed tackle after tackle in an embarrassing nationally televised performance at home. The 24 points were the most allowed by the Cardinals this season.

Led by Smith's near-perfect precision passing, the 49ers methodically dominated from the start. The San Francisco quarterback had the best completion percentage of his career, and he would have been perfect had Delanie Walker not dropped the ball when he was wide open on a crossing route in the first half.

A 10-play, 77-yard drive that consumed just over 6 minutes of the first quarter put San Francisco up 7-0. On third-and-goal from the 3, Smith threw a sidelines pass to Crabtree, who outfought Patrick Peterson for the ball and the touchdown.

A flurry missed tackles, most notably an open-field whiff by Sam Acho, helped Ted Ginn Jr. return a punt 35 yards to the Arizona 45 in the second quarter. Daryl Washington sacked Smith to help set up a third-and-23 from the Cardinals 46. But Smith found Crabtree over the middle for 22 yards, just a yard shy of the first down. David Akers' 43 yard field goal made it 10-0 with 5:58 left in the half.

Crabtree beat Peterson again for San Francisco's second touchdown. Smith threw over the middle to the receiver, who caught the ball, then fooled Peterson with an inside move into the end zone to make it 17-0 with 1:41 left in the half. The 49ers drove 68 yards in eight plays, again overcoming a sack, this one by Calais Campbell, that made it second-and-goal from the 16. Smith threw 7 yards to Mario Manningham to set up the TD toss to Crabtree.

The Cardinals were booed off the field by the home crowd at the half.

Things didn't get any better for the home team in the third quarter. On third-and-9, Smith threw 30 yards to Crabtree, who evaded a host of tacklers. Then on third-and-8, Smith tossed a short pass to Moss, who sidestepped a series of would-be defenders all the way to the end zone, putting San Francisco ahead 24-0 with 7:27 left in the third quarter.

The Cardinals averted a shutout with Jay Feely's 28-yard field goal

John Skelton, making his second start since Kevin Kolb went down with rib injuries, completed 32 of 52 passes for 290 yards, often overthrowing receivers. The Cardinals rushed for just 7 yards in nine attempts against the 49ers, who entered the game as the No. 1-ranked defense in the NFL, No. 2 against the run.

Arizona's final possession ended when Larry Fitzgerald was stopped at the 1.

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It's not crazy to think Alex Ovechkin could lead the NHL in goals again

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NBC Sports Washington

It's not crazy to think Alex Ovechkin could lead the NHL in goals again

You may think the odds are against Alex Ovechkin winning yet another Rocket Richard Trophy for leading the league in goals. Ovechkin turned 33 on Sept. 17 and since the trophy was first introduced in the 1998-99 season, only one player over the age of 30 has ever won it.

That player was Ovechkin. He’s done it twice.

Let’s take a minute to appreciate just how dominant a scorer Alex Ovechkin has been through his career. Only three times has a player reached the 50-goal plateau in the past five seasons. Those players are Ovechkin (50 goals in 2015-16), Ovechkin (53 goals in 2014-15) and Ovechkin (51 goals in 2013-14).

Normally, it would be crazy to think a player over 30 could lead the league in goals. It would be crazy to think a player over 30 could score 50.

Ovechkin -- who has led the league in goals in five of the past six seasons -- is anything but normal.

After winning his seventh Rocket Richard Trophy last season and showing no signs of fatigue or decline in a dominant Stanley Cup championship run that won him a Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP, it’s not crazy to think he can do it again at age 33.

Maybe his 50 goal days are behind him. But even if he doesn’t hit that mark, he should still be in contention considering no one else in the league has scored 50 goals since the 2010-11 season when Corey Perry netted 50. Forty-nine goals was all it took last season for Ovechkin to lead the league.

With a balanced line of Evgeny Kuznetsov in the middle and Tom Wilson on the wing and a still dominant power play that will continue to be coached by Todd Reirden and Blaine Forsythe, Ovechkin will be able to light the lamp and will absolutely be in contention to lead the league in goals yet again.

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Wizards coach Scott Brooks is begging Otto Porter Jr. to shoot more 3-pointers

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USA TODAY Sports

Wizards coach Scott Brooks is begging Otto Porter Jr. to shoot more 3-pointers

Scott Brooks is doing just about everything he can to get Otto Porter Jr. to shoot the ball.

The Washington Wizards coach doesn't know how to convince Porter to take more shots -- especially when he's open -- instead of passing the ball. So he jokingly tried to enlist the help of reporters Monday at the team's media day. 

"I know you guys aren't trying to do me any favors here, but if you guys can do me one favor, just yell at him every time he doesn't shoot the ball," Brooks said. "I mean, just scream at him and ask him questions about that every time. 'Otto, why don't you shoot?' He needs to shoot more."

Throughout his five years with the Wizards, Porter's 3-point shooting percentage has progressively improved. In the 2017-18 NBA season, he was shooting 44.1 percent from beyond the arc -- up from 43.4 in 2016-17 and 36.7 in 2015-16. Last year, his field goal percentage was also at 50.3 percent.

But it sounds like Brooks thinks those numbers could be higher if Porter would just take advantage of the open looks.  Brooks estimated the 6-foot-8, 198-pound forward passes up three or four good shots per game.

"I tell him, I can't make it any greener for him," the head coach said. "It's green, shoot. Shoot the ball every time you get an open shot. Do not hesitate. He's one of the best perimeter shooters in the league, and we need more threes.

"We want to shoot more threes this year. We've been trying to do that for two years, and we've got one of our best shooters passing up shots."

While speaking exclusively with NBC Sports Washington at media day, Porter said he's been working with the coaches to see "where I can be more aggressive, where I can help this team get to the next level."

That surely means always having an eye on the basket.

However, Brooks said it's hard to fault Porter for wanting to help get his teammates the ball. But he needs the small forward to be selfish sometimes. 

"It's frustrating, but I love what he does," Brooks added. "He's about team, so he's doing the right thing, you know, always looking for the next play. But to me, sometimes the right thing is taking your best shooter and making sure he shoots shots.

"He's had a great summer, and we're looking forward to him continuing to improve his game."

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