Ravens

Take two: Turnover-plagued Mystics readying for Shock

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Take two: Turnover-plagued Mystics readying for Shock

Losing the season opener at home is one thing.Losing because of a steady and at times voluminous amount of miscues is quite another for the retooled Washington Mystics.Really just silly turnovers. Not reading the defense, rushing with the basketball, not making good decisions, said Mystics coach Trudi Lacey, reflecting about what went wrong in game one of the 2012 season.In her dual role as general manager, Lacey overhauled the roster after a trying 6-28 campaign, adding seven new players.It could be a product of so many new faces, people coming late to or missing training camp. Doesnt really matter, said Lacey following Thursdays practice. Weve worked on that and hopefully we are able to read each other better and read defenses.All those mistakes led to being on the wrong end of a 29-8 first half run which put the Mystics into a 13-point halftime hole. A third quarter rally pulled them close. A fourth quarter fade did not.We werent jelling enough I think, said All-Star forward Crystal Langhorne, who led the Mystics with 16 points and eight rebounds against the Sky, but also committed four turnovers. There were a lot of turnovers; unforced, not knowing where people would be. We really cleaned that up this week, worked on our offense.Beyond their offensive miscues, the Mystics allowed the Sky to shoot 62.5 percent (5-of-8) from long range.I was disappointed in our 3-point field defense, Lacey said. We had gotten better in those areas during preseason and then in the first game we got away from that and it cost us.Last season injuries exposed an inexperienced roster that frequently wilted late in games so Lacey traded for and signed veteran players. That steady presence was lacking in the opener.Thats why I brought experienced players in, to avoid the mental mistakes and lack of focus, said a critiquing Lacey, before letting her usual optimistic demeanor seep out.
Saturday, I expect it to be so much better.Thats when the Mystics face the Tulsa Shock (0-2), owners of the WNBAs worst record last season. Thats also when guard Matee Ajavon returns to game action. Washingtons second leading scorer last season practiced fully this week after missing the opener and most of training camp with a sore knee. Shes back to 100 percent, Lacey said. She adds so much to us. She plays both sides of the ballShes a competitor. Its been really good to have her out there this week.Ajavon scored 21 points in Washingtons win over Tulsa last season. The teams split the two-game season series, winning on their respective home courts.Lacey would not commit to putting Ajavon immediately back in the starting lineup - newcomers Noelle Quinn and Natasha Lacy started in the backcourt against Chicago - but said the slashing scoring threat will definitely be on the floor, I can guarantee that.The latest game will also be the second of three straight home dates for the Mystics. With two more games at home, we really need to get our wins before we start going on the road next month, Langhorne said. After the homestand, the Mystics will play five of seven away from the Verizon Center.It may be only game two of the 34-game regular season, but that opening performance, the upcoming schedule and wanting to move on from last seasons woes makes Saturdays tilt no ordinary second game.Were looking at this like its a must win, Langhorne said.

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Lamar Jackson received congratulatory postgame texts from Doug Williams, Randall Cunningham

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USA TODAY Sports

Lamar Jackson received congratulatory postgame texts from Doug Williams, Randall Cunningham

Lamar Jackson's first NFL start against the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday will go down as one of the most memorable days of his career.

Going 13-of-19 for 150 yards in the air while rushing for 117 yards on 27 attempts is a pretty solid day for a rookie quarterback

With several days to reflect, one of Jackson's favorite parts of the 24-21 win was the congratulatory texts he received from two former quarterbacks.

"I got a text from Doug Williams and Randall Cunningham congratulating me," Jackson said Wednesday. "So, that was pretty cool."

Williams, who became the first African-American quarterback to win a Super Bowl with the Washington Redskins in 1987, and Randall Cunningham, who had a long career with the Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings, and Ravens, are seen as trailblazers by Jackson.

The rookie QB noted that he has been in contact with the two prior to earning the starting job in Week 11.

"Those are the guys that paved the way for us," Jackson added.

"Without those guys, you know, we probably wouldn't be in the situation we are [in]. So, hats of to those guys. Them congratulating me, from the GOATS, I'm like, 'yeah, that's cool.'

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Capitals return home still short-handed, but with momentum after strong road trip

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Capitals return home still short-handed, but with momentum after strong road trip

The Capitals return home to play the Chicago Blackhawks (7 p.m., NBC Sports Washington) after a successful road trip (3-1-0), but will still be without forwards Evgeny Kuznetsov and T.J. Oshie (upper-body injuries), who remain day-to-day, according to coach Todd Reirden.   

Here are four things to watch:

Holtby’s back

After missing three games with an upper-body injury of his own, Caps goalie Braden Holtby was thrown into the fire down 4-2 at Montreal on Monday. But he played lights out and matched Habs goalie Carey Price save-for-save, finishing with 22 as Washington rallied for a 5-4 overtime win. Holtby now feels good enough as he will start against the Blackhawks tonight. In his past four appearances, Holtby has stopped 116 of 122 shots on goal.

New-look Blackhawks

Chicago’s slow start cost Joel Quenneville his job on Nov. 6. An NHL coach getting fired is rarely news. But when it’s a guy who’s been in his post for more than a decade and has won three Stanley Cups it is still jarring. The results are mixed since Jeremy Colliton took over. Chicago lost his first two games behind the bench, but is 2-0-2 in its past four games. That’s a small step in the right direction, but the Blackhawks are in sixth place in the Central Division.

Wilsonnnnn!!!!!

This was supposed to be the day Tom Wilson returned to the lineup after his 20-game suspension. An arbitrator cut that short last week so Wilson played on all four games of the road trip and had a goal and four assists. Not a bad start. Wednesday he gets his first home game of the year and what should be a raucous reception from the faithful at Capital One Arena. 

Old mates

On Monday, the crowd at Bell Centre booed former Canadien Lars Eller, who promptly took the puck up ice and scored the game-winning goal in overtime. It was a great moment for a player who felt Montreal gave up on him way too soon when trading him to the Capitals. Michal Kempny knows how he feels. 

Languishing on the bench for most of last season in Chicago as a healthy scratch – he played just 31 games - Kempny sees his old team for the first time since helping Washington win a Stanley Cup. Quenneville is gone, but the defenseman would love to show the rest of the organization trading him was a mistake. 

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