Mystics fall to Liberty

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Mystics fall to Liberty

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Trailing by nine points with about nine minutes remaining, a loss to last place Washington could have dealt a serious blow to the New York Liberty's playoff chances.

However, thanks to Cappie Pondexter, Nicole Powell and some stifling defense, the Liberty remain in control of their future.

Pondexter had 30 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter, and 11 rebounds as the Liberty rallied to beat the Mystics 75-68.

"Defense is our key," Liberty coach John Whisenant said. "And Cappie. She's been awesome. She's our MVP and the most important player to her team of anybody in the league."

Powell scored 10 of her 18 points in the fourth quarter as well and Essence Carson added 15 points as New York (14-17) won its third straight.

The Liberty retained a one game lead over Chicago for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Sky beat Phoenix 86-55.

Jasmine Thomas scored 16 points (on 7-of-11 shooting) and Monique Currie had 12 to lead the Washington (5-27), which has lost 11 straight.

"I think we played a tough game. We fought through until the end," Currie said. "They executed better than we did. They made some tough shots, some big shots."

After Washington scored the first four points of the fourth quarter to take a 56-49 lead, Pondexter scored the first six of an 8-0 run by the Liberty. The Mystics pushed the lead to 63-58 with 4:36 left and New York called timeout.

"When it looked like they could take over the game with about four minutes left, we had a time out, talked about it, and regrouped," Pondexter said.

Powell's 3-pointer tied the score at 63 with 2:50 left and her short jumper gave the Liberty a 67-65 lead with 1:34 to play.

"Nicole made some huge shots down the stretch," Pondexter said.

After a miss by Currie, Kara Braxton scored on a layup off a nice pass from Pondexter to make it 69-65 with 48 seconds left.

"I think we stepped up our defensive intensity when it mattered most," Pondexter said.

Matee Ajavon missed a short jumper and Pondexter hit two three throws. Thomas's 3-pointer made it 71-68 with 19 seconds to go, but the Mystics got no closer.

"Coming into the stretch I don't know if it's a loss of focus, or what it is, but we have to figure it out," said Thomas.

The Liberty outrebounded the Mystics 13-4 in the fourth quarter.

"We only gave them one shot so we were blocking out well," Whisenant said. "Nicole Powell got a couple of rebound putbacks that were critical when the basket was shrinking up on us a little bit."

The Mystics' Ashley Robinson finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Washington outscored New York 19-12 in the third quarter and built a five-point lead as the Liberty hit just 5-of-22 field goals.

Washington played without leading scorer Crystal Langhorne (14.7 ppg), who left Friday's loss to Atlanta with a left foot sprain, and Noelle Quinn (6.5 ppg), out with an injured right shoulder.

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Wizards vs. Grizzlies: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Wizards vs. Grizzlies: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

John Wall, Bradley Beal and the Washington Wizards host Marc Gasol and the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night as they aim to continue rising the ranks of the NBA's Eastern Conference. Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch…

WASHINGTON WIZARDS vs. MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES

Where: Verizon Center
Tip-off: 7 p.m.
TV: CSN (coverage begins at 6:30 p.m.)
Live stream: CSNmidatlantic.com
Radio: 1500 AM

Three things to watch...

Wizards get another shot

The Wizards and Grizzlies will close their season series on Wednesday night as the Wizards get their turn to host the matchup. The Grizzlies beat the Wizards in Memphis on Oct. 30 and it was one the Wizards felt got away from them. They had a chance to win before center Marc Gasol hit a game-tying three at the end of regulation. The Wizards then got blown away in overtime where the Grizzlies outscored them 12-3.

Gasol's three-pointers - he also hit a big one in overtime - took the Wizards by surprise. Now they know that is a part of his game, as he's hitting 39.1% of them this season, a respectable clip for a 7-footer.

Bradley Beal will also look for a better game this time around. He was limited to just 14 points on 5-of-17 shooting in October.

[RELATED: Next 15 games set table for Wizards' season]

Conley is back

The Wizards went to Memphis for the second game of the season and at that time Grizzlies star point guard Mike Conley was sidelined with a back injury. He has since returned to their lineup to have a strong season. He's second on the team with 19 points per game. He's also posting 6.2 assists and 1.3 steals a night.

Conley should provide another test for John Wall, who has been playing very good defense as of late. Conley averaged 19.5 points on 53.3% shooting against the Wizards last season.

The Grizzlies will also have veteran Tony Allen available after not having him in the first matchup. He is still getting it done defensively with 1.8 steals per game at the age of 35.

Shooting percentage

The Wizards have won 12 straight at home in large part due to the fact they shoot an impressively high percentage at home. Only the Warriors shoot better than the Wizards (48.7%) at home this season.

That will be put to the test on Wednesday night, though, against a Grizzlies team that is exeptional at making their opponents take tough shots. They are third in basketball in opponents field goal percentage, limiting teams to just 43.5% from the field. They allow a league-low 34.2 field goal makes per game. The Grizzlies are also pretty good on the road with a winning record at 11-10.

[RELATED: Wall gives his Eastern Conference All-Star starters]

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Mic picks up Packers trainer telling Cowboys' Tony Romo 'you deserve better'

Mic picks up Packers trainer telling Cowboys' Tony Romo 'you deserve better'

When longtime Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo lost his starting job to rookie Dak Prescott, there was general consensus that Prescott won the job fair and square when Romo got injured.

Romo himself said as much. But there are still people around the NFL who feel Dallas didn't do right by their 10-year starter. 

As Romo was leaving the field after the Cowboys lost to the Packers in the playoffs, Pepper Burruss, Green Bay's director of sports medicine, approached him. A microphone picked up Burruss saying what sounds like, "You deserve better." 

Take a listen. 

It's possible Burruss could have meant something else, like Romo deserved better injury luck. Maybe. 

Also keep in mind that Romo may have been leaving the field as a Cowboy for the final time of his career. What a note to leave on...

The 36-year-old has said he still wants an opportunity to start in the NFL. That won't happen in Dallas, so it's likely he'll move on to another team this offseason. 

According to Adam Schefter on ESPN Radio, the Cowboys may be willing to trade Romo to the team of his choice. 

Speculation has linked him to the Broncos, Bears, Jets and Texans.

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins interviewed internal candidate for DC