Wizards hoping for turnover-light outing in Charlotte

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Wizards hoping for turnover-light outing in Charlotte

After five days and eight overall practices, the Washington Wizards take the lessons and play designs they have learned on the road for Sunday's preseason opener at Charlotte. Here's what you need to know about the first of eight exhibition games before the regular season opener on Oct. 30 at Cleveland...

Watch those turnovers: Seeing as the game is not televised, I asked Wizards coach Randy Wittman following Saturday's practice's what those of box score-only analyzers should be on the lookout for against the Bobcats. Like a springy defender anticipating an incoming pass, Wittman jumped my question.

"Turnovers," Wittman exclaimed, sounding a like a coach not willing to participate in a second straight season where the team averages 15.3 miscues per game. "Obviously that's got to be one of the areas that we this year. That number has got to come down a lot for us to be successful. You're always going to have someone what to run and push the ball like we want to but its still got to come down.

"That's probably my number one concern. It always is. We threw the ball all over this gymnasium Tuesday morning so, I'm hoping that doesn't happen."

With John Wall (knee) sidelined and Jannero Pargo (abdominal strain) having missed the previous two days worth of practices, the primary ball handling and push the pace responsibilities fall to A.J. Price and Shelvin Mack.

"I don't think we have any pressure," said Price, one of the several players expected to make their Wizards debut on Sunday. "Our job is simple: just not to turn it over. That's the only thing we have to be concerned with, not to turn the ball over. We don't necessarily have to score. We don't have to really rebound. We don't really have to do anything but not turn the ball over, make sure we get into our sets and we get good shots every time down."

To this point in his first training camp as Wizards head coach, Wittman has been pleased with the work done, the effort provided. Now comes the first opportunity to gauge whether the lessons learned (or at least taught) have sunk in.

"I just want to see a carryover of what we've put in and our execution of it both offensively and defensively," Wittman said. "We've got a long way to go still with what we're going to add, that's my main thing. On the flight back here to George Mason I want to look at the film and say 'oh that's petty good carryover' or it's not and we've got to get right back in here and get to work. That's what I'm looking for."

The Wizards return to George Mason University Monday and Tuesday for the final two days of the formal portion of training camp.

Beal vs. MKG: Wizards rookie Bradley Beal's de facto NBA debut comes against a team sporting another first-year player he's quite familiar with. One pick before Washington selected the University of Florida shooter, Charlotte tabbed another Southeastern Conference stud, Kentucky's grinding small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

"Im pretty sure were going to guard each other," the 19-year-old Beal said. "Hes a competitor and I love playing against him because he never takes it easy on anybody. I mean Im real close friends with him, but that doesnt mean anything to him. He just wants to beat you, he wants to be competitive, he wants to be the best that he can be.

During his one season at Florida, Beal faced Kentucky three times. After shooting 6-for-25 in the first two games, the 6-foot-4 Beal turned in arguably his best game of the season against the Wildcats during the SEC Tournament, finishing with 20 points, eight rebounds, five assists and sank 4-of-7 from 3-point range.

"So, whenever I match up against him, its always a competitive battle. I love his game. I love the way he plays. I love his heart and passion and how hard he plays. I just have to be able to retaliate and hopefully play better than him."

Wittman is simply looking forward to seeing Beal play when the lights come on.

"I want to see what he can do," Wittman said. "As (for) what he's done here these five days and if any of that carried over into a game like situation against another team, that's all I'm concerned about right now as we move forward. I want to see where we're at retain wise and how we execute from where we're been."

While Beal's thoughts are focused on the upcoming events in Charlotte, the St. Louis native confidently offered a prediction for a certain National League Divisional Series that kicks off today in his hometown.

"Cardinals. Thats all Im going to say," Beal said as St. Louis hosts the Nationals for two games before the series shifts to Washington on Wednesday. "Im trying to actually go to the game, if were free. Itll be a close series. I know the Nationals are good, but I still got the Cardinals."

As for whether he caught any of the Cardinals playoff win over the Atlanta Braves on Friday, Beal cracked, "I knew they were going to win, so there was no point in watching."

Charlotte who?: Last season the 20-win Wizards finished 4-0 against the Bobcats. They weren't the only ones to find that winning feeling against a Charlotte team that underwent significant changes this offseason after a seven-win campaign and finishing with the lowest winning percentage in NBA history. Former St. John's assistant Mike Dunlap was named head coach while the roster shakeup included the additions of NBA veterans Ben Gordon and Brendan Haywood along with Kidd-Gilchrist.

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Suggs insists thought of retiring didn't cross his mind during rehab

Suggs insists thought of retiring didn't cross his mind during rehab

OWINGS MILLS – Not only does 33-year-old Terrell Suggs expect to be back on the field soon, the Ravens’ outside linebacker expects to play at a high level for several more seasons after recovering from his torn Achilles injury.

“It’s a fair question,” said Suggs on Wednesday, when asked what can realistically be expected from him in 2016. “This is 14 years for me. I came here a young 20-year-old, really didn’t know anything. I had some of the greatest Jedi Masters teaching me. It’s a fair question. We’ve seen a lot of Ravens come and go, and I’m one of the last few here. It’s a fair question, but in my eyes, premature.”

Suggs will begin training camp on the PUP list, but vows to be back soon.

“It’s not going to be long,” Suggs said. “We’re close to where we want to be. I can’t be timid, but I got to be smart. I feel good.”

Suggs suffered his season-ending Achilles injury Week 1 of last season, and has torn each of his Achilles once. Is it asking a lot for Suggs to still be an every-down player and double-digit sack artist? Yes. Does he sound up for the challenge? Yes.

MORE RAVENS: SUGGS' SHIRT ENDORSES GAME OF THRONES TICKET IN 2016 ELECTION

”Never did it cross my mind that I wasn’t going to come back,” Suggs said. “I got a lot of promises to keep. Many miles before I can sleep.  I love football. I love the locker room. I love my teammates. I love being out here being confrontational.”

Suggs also made it clear he wanted to silence doubters.

“We hear the gossip,” Suggs said. “We hear what y’all are saying. We’re confident, but motivated, too.”

One of the toughest parts of missing last season for Suggs was watching the Ravens go 5-11, and being unable to help.

“It was very tough to watch, and knowing what the guys went through, and for us to not have the success that we expected,” Suggs said. “It just didn’t feel good. Now we get a chance to kind of make it right. Last year’s gone, but we have to make sure that (same) team doesn’t show up Sept. 11 again. We work too hard. Our fans deserve better and we deserve better. We work our tails off. It takes a lot to be considered a Raven. We just got to get back to that.”

How well Suggs plays this year will play a part in determining his future. But as far as Suggs is concerned, it’s too early to start talking about his last ride.

“It’s not something I want to visit at the end of this year, or the end of next year,” Suggs said. “Maybe the year after that we can talk about it. What will I be, 36 then? But I’m not worried about it right now.”

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PHOTO: Suggs endorses Game of Thrones ticket with 2016 election T-shirt

PHOTO: Suggs endorses Game of Thrones ticket with 2016 election T-shirt

BY JEREMY FIALKOW (@JeremyFialkow)

Who are you voting for — Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump? Before you answer, let's turn to Ravens' outside linebacker Terrell Suggs for some other options.

Suggs, who's ready to make his triumphant return to football after a couple season-derailing injuries, tossed out his 2016 election endorsement to ... the Stark/Targaryen ticket?

The names, of course, stem from two powerful family names in HBO's hit show 'Game of Thrones.' 

(Screenshot/CSN Mid-Atlantic)

Whether Suggs actually stays up to date with 'Thrones' or if the network gifted him merchandise from all of their shows remains to be seen. Regardless, T-Sizzle is starting a movement, so climb aboard.

RELATED: FLACCO WON'T RUSH KNEE INJURY REHAB

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Harper continues to struggle, Solis looks good in return for Nats

Harper continues to struggle, Solis looks good in return for Nats

Leftover notes and observations from the Nats' 4-1 win over the Indians on Wednesday afternoon at Progressive Field.

Harper keeps scuffling: Bryce Harper's bizarre struggles continued on Wednesday as the Nats right fielder went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. Both of his outs on balls in play were on pop ups and they weren't just-miss, long-hit flyouts like the two he smacked on Tuesday night. At the moment, it appears his swing is tracking lower than it should be and as a result he's getting under the ball.

Harper is now just 5-for-49 (.102) in his last 13 games with 12 strikeouts, a .237 on-base percentage and .415 OPS. Whatever has been wrong with Harper over the last few weeks and months appears to be getting worse and neither he nor the Nationals seem to have an answer as to why.

Because of his walks and power numbers, there are some stats that suggest Harper has still put in a decent season. Plenty of teams would sign up for his 20 homers, 55 RBI, 15 steals, .377 OBP and .830 OPS through 97 games. But after what we saw both last year and in April, it's clear Harper is not playing anywhere close to his capabilities.

The month of August begins on Monday, which means Harper's offensive slide will reach three months, or half of the season. At some point it may go from being a slump to an overall down-year, unless he can find his swing and turn it around soon. 

Solis looks good in return: Ryan Zimmerman made his return from the DL in Tuesday's loss, and on Wednesday it was Sammy Solis' first appearance since recovering from right knee inflammation. The Nats lefty got two outs in the eighth inning on strikeouts and allowed one hit before getting pulled for Matt Belisle. He only threw seven pitches across three at-bats.

Both Solis' fastball and curveball looked sharp and he was only removed due to a matchup with the right-handed hitting Mike Napoli up and the speedy Francisco Lindor on first. Though it was a brief showing, Solis' return was a positive sign for a Nats' bullpen that can use some help right now. He has been one of their best arms all season and could earn himself an important role down the stretch if he keeps having success.

Rivero stumbles again: Felipe Rivero began the ninth inning on Wednesday afternoon with Jonathan Papelbon and Shawn Kelley both unavailable, and in doing so took the mound for the second time in about 15 hours, given the quick turnaround for a day game. Just like Tuesday night, Rivero found trouble and allowed a run on two hits.

This time Rivero only recorded one out before he was replaced by Blake Treinen, who came in and promptly got a double play to end the game and give the Nats a 4-1 win. The run Rivero surrendered - on a Tyler Naquin RBI single - didn't end up making a difference in the game, but it was the second straight game Rivero gave up a run after he went 17 1/3 straight scoreless innings. That was the longest streak of any Nats reliever this season and made it look like Rivero had turned a corner. Perhaps he has, but the results haven't followed in recent days.

[RELATED: Strasburg rebounds as Nats top Indians]

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