Obama, Romney weigh in on the replacement refs

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Obama, Romney weigh in on the replacement refs

From Comcast SportsNetWASHINGTON (AP) -- The embarrassing NFL referee saga and the disputed call that gave the Seattle Seahawks a victory over the Green Bay Packers on Monday night has reached the campaign for the White House, with President Barack Obama deeming it "terrible" and declaring it was time to get regular officiating crews back on the job."I've been saying for months we've got to get our refs back," Obama said as he returned to the White House from an appearance before the United Nations. In a tweet that went out under his initials, Obama said: "NFL fans on both sides of the aisle hope the refs' lockout is settled soon."In a rare moment of agreement with Obama, presidential rival Mitt Romney and GOP running mate Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin native, also said it was time to bring back the "real refs." The NFL locked out the officials in June after their contract expired. The league has been using replacement officials, who have come under increasing criticism over the way they handled some games."I sure would like to see some experienced referees, with NFL experience, come back on to the NFL playing fields," Romney said in an interview with CNN.Ryan added a partisan note, using the referee imbroglio to make a case for kicking the president out of office."It reminds me of President Obama and the economy," Ryan said in Cincinnati. "If you can't get it right, it's time to get out. I half think that these refs work part-time for the Obama administration in the budget office. ... They're trying to pick the winners and losers, and they don't even do that very well."Seattle won 14-12 over Green Bay after referees ruled a Seattle receiver caught the ball amid a pile of bodies in the end zone on the game's last play. The NFL conceded that a Seattle penalty in the course of the play went uncalled and cost the Packers the victory, but the league upheld the catch itself and the Seahawks' victory. Legions of football fans watched the play and the referees' call in disbelief, and buzzed about it all day Tuesday.Typically, Obama, a diehard Chicago Bears enthusiast, is not one to wish the rival Green Bay Packers well.But besides being an avid sports fan, Obama recently has redoubled efforts to win in the Packer's home state of Wisconsin. His campaign recently started airing ads in the state and Obama held a rally Saturday in Milwaukee, his first visit to the state since February.White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters aboard Air Force One that Obama watched the Monday night game and "thinks there was a real problem with that call.""He said that what happened in that game is why both sides need to come together, resolve their differences so that the regular refs can get back on the field so we can start focusing on a game that so many of us love rather than debating whether or not a game was won or lost because of a bad call," Carney said.Obama said in a phone interview Tuesday with The Des Moines Register that he doesn't blame the replacement refs."They've been put in a tough situation," the president said. "But the fact is this is a fast, tough game to control. And it doesn't make sense to me for a league that's been so successful not to want to put their very best out there."

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Film study: Wizards find success with having Marcin Gortat extend defense to perimeter

Film study: Wizards find success with having Marcin Gortat extend defense to perimeter

The defense of Marcin Gortat hasn't been nothing short of stellar in the last three games, even though the Wizards are 1-2. Forget that he had a season-best 21 points and18 rebounds in a loss to San Antonio because it's his position defense one-on-one that has stood out along with his help rotations.

"The last three games," said Wizards coach Scott Brooks, alluding to vs. the Sacramento Kings, Oklahoma City Thunder and Spurs, "that's the best I've seen him."

It's not about how much the person Gortat guarding scores, or any player for that matter. It's about how difficult he makes it and doubling his efforts to protect the rim. That doesn't mean shot blocks. It means making the opponent finish over his size (6-11) and fighting them for position on the low block to prevent clean looks. 

How has Brooks gotten through in ways that others haven't with the Polish center? DeMarcus Cousins had 36 points for the Kings, but it took 34 shots in that victory for Washington. Steven Adams of the Thunder was neutralized. He even stepped away from the rim to match up with LaMarcus Aldridge, a forward who is too big for Markieff Morris, in Friday's loss in San Antonio. 

"I keep talking about it. That's important. It's simple," Brooks said of Gortat's play on defense. "He's helped us put us in position to win. He did a great job on Cousins. On the road against two very good teams in tough buildings, he gave us a chance to win both of those games with the way he was defending. Even against LaMarcus, he did a great job guarding him. (Pau) Gasol hit those two threes but those weren't his fault."

Gortat, who has come under fire for several years for his role in the defensive breakdowns in the interior, explained his improvement. 

"It's not like we're playing suddenly a different defense than any other team in the NBA. We are playing the same defense. It's about committment, it's about basketball knowledge and basketball IQ. Stay solid. Don't foul. Put a guy in a stuation when he's going ot shoot a difficult shot or I'm in a situation where I have to hit him hard," Gortat said after Sunday's practice. "Make sure next time he's not going to come into the paint. He's not going to do certain moves against me. I'm not doing anything specific. I think we're all playing hard. It's about being dedicated and have the passion to play defense. It's a commitment. It's a hard-ass thing to do. It's easy to go on the other side, set a screen and shoot the ball. It's easy to play offense. Playing defense is the hard part." 

Showing that he can actually defend away from the basket without help at times, Gortat gives the Wizards options with his 11.8 points on 58.1% shooting and 12.1 rebounds. The "without help" part is significant because it allows teammates to focus on defending their man without having to pull double duty as often. It can make the Wizards a better team though the results so far have produced a 6-12 record.

"I'm not really surprised," Gortat said when asked about how he has played on defense recently. "Looking at the game against Sacramento, Cousins was going out to destroy me. He made so many shots, so many drives and I missed so many easy blocks on him. It's not like he beat me, I lay down on the court and I was just crying and he was laying it in going to the basket. I was right there missing the block. I would say it's just commitment. Staying in the right place. Knowing tendencies of the guy you're guarding. I dont think I'm great. I dont think I'm terrible. I'll say I'm definitely above average. I take a lot of pride in what I do and I'll try to do better."

A quick look at Gortat's work in the the last three games:

Brooks surprisingly left Gortat on Cousins, opting to go with his size and strength over Morris who was too small to defend him. Cousins made shots like this over Gortat, but what's important is he had to work for most of them and he danced with the ball so frequently for long periods of the shot clock it took away shot opportunities for others. Despite the make, Gortat defended well in space without help most of the night and kept his man in front of him. He played more as a stretch forward than a center which was totally out of his comfort zone.

Note how he battles the Thunder's big man pre-catch. Where Adams wants the ball to post up is a much different spot than where he actually catches it. Gortat harrasses Adams every step of the way and holds his ground without reaching for a cheap foul.

Andre Roberson empties the space on the strongside so Adams can have room to go one-on-one. Adams, however, can't get to his spot because he meets too much resistance from Gortat and leaves it short. 

The position defense by Gortat here, coupled with his physical strength and not biting his fakes, forces Adams into a traveling call. This basket is negated.

Aldridge feasts on teams with this post-up, fadeaway. Gortat defends it better than Markieff Morris, who had trouble with his size and allowed some easy duck-ins to the basket, and was able to contest the lower-percentage shot that misses against the Spurs. 

Brooks took a risk by leaving Gortat exposed on Cousins, but that experience appears to have given both confidence. The assignments won't get much tougher than that on the perimeter. 

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Ruth's Chris 5 Sizzling Stats: What decided Ravens-Dolphins

Ruth's Chris 5 Sizzling Stats: What decided Ravens-Dolphins

Here are 5 Sizzling Stats, brought to you by Ruth's Chris, that helped to decide Ravens-Dolphins. 

36 -- Number of completions by Joe Flacco, a franchise record. He completed 36 of 47 passes.

381 -- The number of passing yards for Flacco on the day, his highest total of the season.

6 -- The number of points scored by Miami’s offense, the lowest total to which Baltimore has held an opponent to this season. The Ravens held Cleveland to seven points on two separate occasions, both Baltimore wins.

2 -- Touchdown receptions for Dennis Pitta, marking his first score since Week 14 of 2013. It was his first multi-touchdown game since Dec. 2012.

61 -- Rushing yards by Miami’s Jay Ajayi. His rushing average was 5.1 yards per carry, but he only carried the ball 12 times because of Baltimore’s early (and large) lead.