Langhorne scores 22, Mystics hold off Fever


Langhorne scores 22, Mystics hold off Fever

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Crystal Langhorne had 22 points and 13 rebounds and the Washington Mystics held off the Indiana Fever 67-66 Friday night to snap a four-game losing streak.

Matee Ajavon added 15 in her first start of the season for the Mystics (2-6), who had an 11-point lead in the second half before Indiana made a run in the fourth quarter.

Tamika Catchings scored 15 points and Tammy Sutton-Brown had 13 for the Fever (4-3), who lost their third straight.

Catchings had a shot to win it, but her 3-pointer from the top of the key with 2 seconds left bounced off the rim. Katie Douglas got the rebound along the baseline, but her one-hander missed at the buzzer.

Washington led by six at halftime and by 10 after three quarters.

Catchings hit a 3 with 6:55 left to play to pull Indiana within five and the Fever were still down five when Sutton-Brown was fouled on a drive and converted the three-point play to make 63-61 with 2:46 left.

Indiana had several chances to tie it, but Jeanette Pohlen missed a jumper and, after a loose ball foul gave the ball back to the Fever, Catchings missed twice from inside.

Washington then got baskets from Michelle Snow and Shannon Bobbitt around a free throw by Catchings to go up 67-62, but Indiana rallied one last time.

Briann January hit two free throws and, after a Washington timeout, the Mystics were unable to inbound the ball and turned it over. Pohlen's layup made it 67-66 with 28 seconds to play.

After a miss by Snow miss, the Fever had the game's final possession.

Both teams shot 37 percent from the field, but the Fever missed nine free throws and were outrebounded, 41-32.

2015-16 Season in Review: Mike Weber


2015-16 Season in Review: Mike Weber

With the Capitals’ 2015-16 season now in the rearview mirror, we continue with our numerical player-by-player roster analysis.

No. 6 Mike Weber

Age: 28 (turns 29 on Dec. 16)

Games: 45 (10 with Caps, 35 with Buffalo)

Goals: 1 (with Buffalo)

Assists: 4 (with Buffalo)

Points: 5

Plus-minus: Plus-2 (minus-1 with Caps)

Penalty minutes: 60 (28 with Caps)

Time on ice: 15:28 (13:58 with Caps)

Playoff stats: 2 games, 0 goals, 0 assists, minus-1, 0 PIM, 9:51

Contract status: Unrestricted free agent ($2 million salary in 2015-16)

Mike Weber will remember his short stint in Washington as one of the best experiences of his NHL career. Caps fans may not.

Acquired from the Buffalo Sabres for a third-round pick in the 2017 NHL draft, Weber’s final act as a member of the Capitals was a crushing one.

It came in Game 4 in Pittsburgh, a game in which the Penguins were without suspended defenseman Kris Letang and the Capitals were one win away from tying the series. With 2:34 gone in overtime, Conor Sheary threw a puck toward the net. Weber blocked it on his backhand, but as the puck trickled away from him he jabbed at it, sending it right onto the stick of Patric Hornqvist. The Penguins’ right wing snapped a shot between the legs of Braden Holtby to give the Penguins a 3-2 win and a commanding 3-1 series lead.

Weber, who appeared in only one other playoff game for the Caps – a series-clinching Game 6 win in Philadelphia -- never played another shift for the Capitals. And as an unrestricted free agent on July 1, there’s a good chance he never will again.

But that didn’t stop Weber from raving about the Capitals and how close he thinks they are to winning the first championship in team history.

“Obviously, it’s a pretty special group,” Weber told reporters on breakup day. “We didn’t accomplish what we wanted to accomplish, but for myself, being in a situation where I was somewhere for so long and to come in and be welcomed by this group was pretty special.

“What this group was able to do and accomplish while I was here before (the playoffs,) it was a record-setting year. But obviously it’s disappointing that we’re talking to you guys right now.”

Weber spent his entire eight-year NHL career in Buffalo before coming to the Capitals in a trade deadline deal. He played in 10 of the Capitals’ final 24 games of the regular season and just two of their 12 playoff games, filling in admirably as a no-frills, 6-foot-2, 212-pounder. It was during his two months with the Capitals that Weber saw something he had never experienced in his eight years with the Sabres.     

“You don’t say this too often,” he said. “I’ve played on teams where guys haven’t been close and you know some guys aren’t going to battle every night. You’ve got some guys on board and you’ve got some guys not.

“Coming in here and seeing the way this locker room is – there was stuff away from the scenes that (media) don’t really get to see. This is a special group, and a good thing going forward is a lot of this group is going to be together and can hopefully get it done in the future.

“But again, I felt privileged and honored that I was able to wear a Washington Capitals jersey this year and be able to play some games for this team and try to do what I can when I did.”

The Capitals have six defensemen under contract for next season – John Carlson, Matt Niskanen, Karl Alzner, Brooks Orpik, Taylor Chorney and Nate Schmidt – and another (Dmitry Orlov) they expect to re-sign as a restricted free agent. With prospects like Tyler Lewington, Madison Bowey, Christian Djoos and Jonas Siegenthaler knocking on the door, it’s pretty clear Weber will hope to catch on with another NHL team through free agency. July 1 will mark his first time as an unrestricted free agent.  

“I’ve done my job, I’ve played,” He said. “I’ve got a body of work and now it’s time to kind of let the pieces fall. I’d love to be back in Washington. I’d love to be back playing here with this group of guys, but it’s a business and you’ve got to accept that and be patient and see what the summer brings.”

From a personal standpoint, Weber said he was excited to be reuniting with his family in Buffalo, from where he left shortly after his wife gave birth to the couple’s second child in late February.

“I’ve got a great family and two great kids that I get to go home to this summer and make sure I’m ready to play, wherever that may be,” Weber said. “I’m looking forward to getting home. Obviously, it is under terrible circumstances, but it’ll be nice to get home to the kids and my wife.”

Redskins teammates already putting Jordan Reed in elite class


Redskins teammates already putting Jordan Reed in elite class

Jordan Reed is expected to be front-and-center for the Redskins' offense in 2016, and with good reason.

The athletic tight end had his best season as a pro in 2015, hauling in 87 catches for 952 yards and 11 touchdowns. Reed was also the healthiest he's been since he entered the league in 2012.

The organization has made it clear that Reed is a key cog in their machine, signing him to a five-year, $50-million contract extension earlier in the month

Simply put, Reed is a matchup nightmare. He is part of the new breed of tight ends: Physical freaks with uncanny athleticism and unparalleled agility for someone of that stature.

But where Reed really stands out is in his route-running.

Reed's route-running isn't just good, it's great.

Former Maryland standout and two-time Pro Bowl tight end Vernon Davis was signed by the Redskins this offseason to provide guidance and depth to the position. He's had very little time to work with Reed, but it's clear to him that Reed's ability to run routes isn't just the best among tight ends, but the best among every pass-catcher in the NFL.

"I think Jordan Reed runs routes better than the best wide receivers in the National Football League," Davis told reporters following OTAs on Wednesday. "Route-running is his super power."

It may be hard to fathom given the type of season Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown had a year ago, or just how easy Cincinnati's A.J. Green and Atlanta's Julio Jones makes it look. On top of that Reed has to be compared to Seattle's Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski. But the praise coming from a standout tight end like Davis should be evident to just how good Reed is. But Davis isn't the only teammate effusive in praise.

Kirk Cousins looked Reed's way often last season, and very rarely did the decision to do so end up in an incompletion. During the last four games of the season, in which the Redskins went 4-0 and locked up an NFC East championship, Cousins threw to Reed 31 times, and Reed caught all but two of the passes. 

When asked if Reed still needs to improve, Cousins was quite honest. "Does he have to improve a lot?" he quipped at the pool of reporters at the Redskins' facility.

"Well, he was pretty good last year."


Matz too much as Mets take finale and series against Nationals


Matz too much as Mets take finale and series against Nationals

Postgame analysis of the Nats' 2-0 loss to the New York Mets on Wednesday afternoon at Nationals Park.

How it happened: Facing any pitcher for the first time can be a challenge, especially when that foe is an emerging star lefty with a mid-90s sinker that dives over the plate like a fighter jet.

Mets southpaw Steven Matz has had his way with the Nationals on Wednesday, just as he has with the rest of the league in his brief MLB career. He went eight efficient, shutout innings with just four hits allowed, at times retiring Nationals hitters with leisure. Perhaps they'll have better luck the next time they see him, but this simply wasn't their day.

Matz outdueled Nats starter Tanner Roark, who was pretty good himself. He went seven innings with two runs allowed, only one of them earned. The second came home after a Daniel Murphy error that ultimately proved a costly one.

What it means: The Mets have evened up the season series at 3-3 and cut the Nats' division lead back to a half-game in the NL East. The Nationals fell to 28-19 on the year with the St. Louis Cardinals up next.

Roark strong again: Roark was excellent in his first meeting with the Mets of this season despite giving up an early run on a homer to David Wright in the first inning. The right-hander settled in after that and at one point retired eight in a row from the second through the fourth. Roark did let another run in in the seventh inning before he was removed, but it wasn't earned. That's thanks to Murphy's error on a hard-hit groundball right to him by Eric Campbell. Murphy couldn't corral it and that set up runners on the corners for Rene Rivera, who singled to left field to make it 2-0 Mets. It was Murphy's fifth error this season, most on the Nationals.

Roark finished with seven innings and one earned run on five hits, two walks and five strikeouts. He threw 113 total pitches and made it at least seven innings for the fifth time in 10 starts this season. It was the sixth time he's gone at least six innings with one earned run or less allowed. It's also the fourth time this season he's reached the 110-pitch mark.

Matz tough in first matchup: This was the first time the Nationals had ever faced Matz and the lefty certainly didn't take it easy on them. Matz dazzled with a mid-90s sinker combined with a sharp slider to go eight shutout innings. He was pulled after throwing 104 pitches with seven strikeouts and just four hits and a walk allowed. Michael Taylor, Wilson Ramos, Clint Robinson and Murphy were the only ones to get hits off of him. Matz held Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman and Anthony Rendon to a combined 0-for-9 with three strikeouts. Before giving up the hit to Robinson - who pinch-hit in the eighth - he had retired 16 straight batters. He allowed Robinson's single with two outs and then got Bryce Harper - who also pinch-hit - to ground out and end the frame.

Murphy nears Nats record: Murphy may have committed a costly error, but he also inched closer to setting a Nationals record for most hits in a single month with an infield single in the first inning on Wednesday. That gave him 38 hits in the month, just two away from Denard Span's record of 40 set in August of 2014. The Nats have six more games left in May, plenty of time for Murphy to break it. And if he does, he will have set a Nats hits record in just his second month with the team.

Schu ejected: Nats hitting coach Rick Schu was tossed by home plate umpire D.J. Reyburn in the bottom of the fifth for arguing about the strike zone. It happened after Chris Heisey struck out looking against Matz. Schu was seen on the TV replay in the dugout taunting Reyburn by waving his hand over his head. It was Schu's first ejection as a member of the Nats' coaching staff.

Good attendance: The Nats and Mets drew 38,700 for the series finale on Wednesday. That's a sellout and the second-largest crowd of the season so far at Nationals Park.

Up next: The Nationals turn their attention towards the St. Louis Cardinals, who come to Washington for a four-game series through the weekend. Thursday's series opener will pit Joe Ross (3-4, 2.70) against Cardinals right-hander Mike Leake (3-3, 4.07) with a 7:05 p.m. first pitch.