Wizards

St. John's wins 4th straight

St. John's wins 4th straight

NEW YORK (AP) St. John's coach Steve Lavin called a timeout when the Red Storm's 16-point lead over Seton Hall had been cut one with 4:21 to play. He was surprised with what he saw.

``The kids looked despondent. They looked like we just lost the game or were down 25,'' he said. ``I said, `Fellas, this is the Big East. I would have liked to see the lead go to 25 or 30 but inevitably teams make runs.' Part of a young team is teams get down on themselves. We have to remind them to not be concerned with what just happened. Go for the win, but don't get carried away.''

One player who heeded Lavin's advice was sophomore D'Angelo Harrison, who scored 10 of the Red Storm's final 12 points in a 71-67 victory over Seton Hall on Sunday at Madison Square Garden.

Harrison finished with 24 points and seven rebounds and freshman JaKarr Sampson added 19 points as St. John's won its fourth straight game.

Harrison, who is second in the Big East in scoring with a 19.6 average, started his burst with 9 minutes left and helped keep the Pirates, who closed within one point with 4:21 to play, at bay.

``That's our captain stepping up and doing what he does best,'' Sampson said of Harrison. ``He scores the ball in tough situations.''

Seton Hall used an 11-2 run to get within 60-59, but Harrison took over, hitting two jumpers and two free throws in the final 2:24.

``He plays all 40 minutes. He plays hard and makes free throws which is so important,'' Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said. ``What's tough about him is he can score off the dribble. He's a heck of a guard.''

Phil Greene had 10 points for St. John's (13-7, 5-3 Big East) while freshman Chris Obekpa, who leads the nation with 4.6 blocked shots per game, had four blocks. He finished with four points, the last two a tip-in with 41 seconds left that gave the Red Storm a 67-62 lead.

Eugene Teague had a career-high 22 points for Seton Hall (13-7, 2-5), which has lost five of six. Fuquan Edwin, the fifth-leading scorer in the conference at 17.2 points per game, was hounded by the Red Storm into a 4-for-15 game from the field, including making one of six 3-point attempts. He finished with 14 points and nine rebounds.

``Fu's taking a lot of shots. He has to take better shots,'' Willard said. ``If you don't double-team him he'll abuse you. He'll be back. He's the least of our worries.''

Seton Hall had won three straight over the Red Storm and four of the last five. This was Seton Hall's first game against St. John's in Madison Square Garden since 2006.

St. John's closed the first half on a 17-4 run and the Red Storm scored the first six points of the second half for a 44-33 lead. The Red Storm's biggest lead was 16 points, the last time at 53-37 on a jumper by Greene with 14:46 to play.

``We haven't started or finished halves well,'' Willard said. ``With all we're talking about, we shouldn't have been down 16.''

Lavin said the winning streak, which also includes wins over Notre Dame, DePaul and Rutgers, has been filled with games which have been a lot alike.

``The last four games have had similar themes,'' Lavin said. ``There have been stretches where we play brilliantly and stretches where teams will make runs on us. There are plenty of things we can improve upon both offensively and defensively. I'm most proud we found a way after Seton Hall went on a run. We went on a run of our own. That's the trend that is emerging now.''

The Pirates made eight of their first 10 shots from the field and was ahead 29-21 with about 9 minutes to play. The Red Storm started their closing 17-4 run with a by Harrison who ended it with a 3 at the buzzer. He was standing alone near midcourt letting the clock run down and with 5 seconds left took a step back then dribbled across to his right and hit the shot at the buzzer for a 38-33 lead.

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Isaiah Thomas wants to make it clear that Marcus Smart flops

Isaiah Thomas wants to make it clear that Marcus Smart flops

When you know, you know.

Washington Wizards starting point guard Isaiah Thomas gave his take on former teammate Marcus Smart's reputation for flopping. Spoilers: he flops.

Thomas, who is returning to Boston on Wednesday for the first time as a starter, was teammates with Smart during his run with the Celtics from 2014-17. He didn't hold back from interrupting reporters to make sure everyone knows that Smart flops. (See the entire sequence play out in the video above.)

Despite being familiar with Smart, don't expect Thomas to know everything about how the Celtics will prepare for the Wizards. Thomas pointed out that only two of his former teammates are still with the team.

His history with Boston means a lot to Thomas, but his only focus on Wednesday will be earning the victory.

"The love is genuine between me and the city," Thomas said. "Hopefully we can just win the game. That's the most important." 

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Lamar Jackson’s play this season has begun to make some analysts and fans backtrack 

Lamar Jackson’s play this season has begun to make some analysts and fans backtrack 

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Lamar Jackson is starting to make people reconsider what they think of him. 

After the Ravens’ 49-13 win over the Bengals on Sunday, the rest of the NFL is starting to take notice about Lamar Jackson’s status in the NFL. Especially considering his spin move through the Bengals defense.

Hall of Fame NFL general manager Bill Polian recently admitted that he was wrong when he said that Jackson should be an NFL wide receiver during his draft process in 2018.

“I was wrong, because I used the old, traditional quarterback standard with him, which is clearly why John Harbaugh and Ozzie Newsome were more prescient than I was,” Polian told USA TODAY Sports. 

Jackson is currently building an MVP case for himself and is on-pace for over 30 touchdowns and nearly 5,000 yards of total offense. 

It’s a nice change of pace for the 22-year-old quarterback in his second year as a pro. Jackson had to face heavy criticism after he left Louisville for a variety of reasons headed into the draft. Even after he took over as the Ravens quarterback, those evaluations persisted. 

“We always knew what he was about,” Ravens center Matt Skura said. “We always knew his ability to make plays and all that stuff. I think it’s just people right now seeing it on a much larger scale and it’s just getting the attention now.”

At this point, however, it’s clear that not only is Jackson a quarterback, he might even be the MVP of the league.

Of the five quarterbacks drafted in the first round of the 2018 Draft, only four are starting and just two have led their teams to a winning record. Jackson leads all of his draft counterparts in total yards and total touchdowns. 

But as anyone in the Ravens’ locker room will say, the accolades don’t concern Jackson — only the record does.

“I think he’s more concerned with winning than anything,” Orlando Brown Jr. said. “As individuals, we’ve all got people to prove wrong and things that we used to put a chip on our shoulder. At the end of the day, I know he’s more concerned with winning more than anything.”

Still, it’s noteworthy that it only took Jackson a complete season of starts, through two partial seasons, to begin the backtracking across the NFL landscape.

“If you watch ESPN or you watch TV, it’s going to come up no matter what,” Skura said. “Even on your Instagram feed it’s going to come up. I think for a lot of us, just in one ear and out the other as far as people pumping us up. You’ve kind of got to stay level-headed and ride the rollercoaster, so to say.”

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