Beard returns to DC as Mystics host Sparks


Beard returns to DC as Mystics host Sparks

The matchup: If youre a team trying to snap a six-game losing streak like the Washington Mystics, facing a squad thats dropped three straight is not a bad way to go. Over the course of the season, the Los Angeles Sparks have not been a squad that is easily defeated. The Mystics know this first hand.Washington (5-22) hosts Los Angeles Friday night (7 p.m. Comcast SportsNet), which means the squad has a chance at revenge after suffering its worst defeat of the season on the Sparks home court. It also marks the return of Alana Beard, the franchises all-time leading scorer, to Washington after the four-time All-Star signed with Los Angeles (19-9) this offseason.Beard and other ex-Mystics and former DMVers were not exactly hospitable back on June 18 when they pounded the current Mystics 101-70. Washington committed 25 turnovers while Los Angeles shot 53.6 percent from the field and six players reach double figure scoring including Beards 10.Michelle Snow led the Mystics with 15 points in that game, but the aggressive centers minutes have dwindled as of late, playing a combined 11 minutes in Washingtons last two games.Owners of the worst record in the league, Washington hasn't lost seven straight games since dropping nine in a row August 13-30, 2011. After missing the entire 2010 and 2011 seasons with injuries, Beard has missed only one of Los Angeles 28 games this season. She leads the team in minutes played (31.7) while averaging 10.9 points, 3.4 assists and 1.7 steals.Last time out: For the fifth time this season and nine straight game overall, the Connecticut Sun eclipsed Washington 77-70 on Tuesday behind another dominant performance from center Tina Charles. Though Washington's leading scorer and rebounder Crystal Langhorne knocked down 10 of 14 shots and led the Mystics with 24 points and nine rebounds, Charles finished with 20 points and 13 rebounds. Her basket with 46 seconds remaining put the Sun ahead 73-70 after the Mystics closed the gap with an 8-0 run in the fourth quarter. Noelle Quinn and Shannon Bobbitt each scored 10 points off the bench for Washington.DMVWest: In addition to Beard, there are plenty of familiar names on the Los Angeles roster including former University of Maryland star Kristi Tolliver, who leads the high-scoring Sparks in points (18.2) and assists (4.9). The charismatic DeLisha Milton-Jones, a member of the Mystics from 2005-07, averages 9.8 points. Marissa Coleman, drafted by the Mystics in the first round of the 2009 and former teammate of Toliver and Langhornes at College Park, is averaging a career-low 3.2 points in her first season with the Sparks.
While the Mystics (69.6 points) are the only WNBA team averaging fewer than 70 points per game, Los Angeles ranks third overall with 82.8 points per game.

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Williams, Capitals' third line cashes vs. the Cats

Williams, Capitals' third line cashes vs. the Cats

After being held without a point through the season’s first three games, the Capitals’ third line broke through in Thursday’s 4-2 win over the Panthers in South Florida.

Right wing Justin Williams staked the Caps to an early 1-0 lead by finishing off a splendid centering pass from defenseman Nate Schmidt. As Williams whacked his own rebound past Florida goalie Roberto Luongo, center Lars Eller crashed the net while left wing Brett Connolly covered the point for Schmidt, who was credited with the only assist.


Although Eller and Connolly are still looking for their first point, it’s now official: all four of the Capitals’ forward lines have scored at least one goal.

“They were a hard working line,” Coach Barry Trotz told reporters afterward. “They were keeping it simple. They were working hard. They were winning their battles that were in on. And when you do that [and] you play the right way, you’re going to have some success. And they did.”

It was goal No. 250 for Williams, who acknowledged the milestone by noting that he's only 500 goals behind Jaromir Jagr, who netted No. 750 in the same game.

Thursday’s matchup marked the second straight game for the Connolly-Eller-Williams combination, but it was the first in which all three registered at least one shot on goal. Williams, in fact, finished tied for the team lead in shots on goal with four. Entering the game, he had mustered just one shot in three contests.

“I think we’ve done better, marginally, every game we’ve played,” Williams said. “It’s kind of hard not to; we didn’t have some great games to start.”

Prior to Thursday’s breakthrough, Trotz said he believed the unit’s slow offensive start may have been caused, in part, by having new players (Connolly, Eller and Sanford) who are still getting settled and the simple fact that there are four players on the line, meaning there’s a rotation, which reduces reps and can negatively impact communication, continuity and chemistry.

Williams, though, indicated after the game that the line's chemistry is slowly revealing itself.

“We’re talking a little bit more,” he said. “We’re supporting a little bit more. We’re getting to know each other a little bit more.”

The question now is when will Sanford see the ice again? The third line is coming off its best game, and hockey coaches don’t like to make changes to a winning lineup. At the same time, Sanford, a 21-year-old first year pro, needs to play.

It’s not an issue yet. But it’s something that will bear watching in the coming days and weeks.


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Redskins place first-round rookie WR Josh Doctson on injured reserve

Redskins place first-round rookie WR Josh Doctson on injured reserve

When the Redskins drafted Josh Doctson No. 22 overall, the idea was the rookie receiver out of TCU would push DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon for snaps and catches. An Achilles injury limited Doctson's ability to hit the field, and now has landed the receiver on the injured reserve list.

Washington coach Jay Gruden announced the move to IR on Friday and said "It's best for him. For his state of mind it's important to get this thing fixed."

Doctson opened training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list and did not play in the preseason. He did not open the regular season on the IR, however, and played in the Redskins first two games against the Steelers and Cowboys, both losses.

From there, Doctson was inactive for four weeks before landing on the IR.

"I feel terrible for Josh," offensive coordinator Sean McVay said.

Moving Doctson to the IR had been discussed for a few weeks as his Achilles injury did not seem to improve, but Gruden and the Redskins front office wanted to wait and see if the rookie could rebound from the injury. A myriad of tests have been done on the affected area and did not reveal damage, so the cause of Doctson's pain remains unknown. 

Expect much more information on Doctson and what it means for the Redskins receiving group to come. 

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