Mystics rally falls short vs. Liberty

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Mystics rally falls short vs. Liberty

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Cappie Pondexter scored 25 points, the New York Liberty took control with a 30-5 first-half run and survived a frantic fourth quarter for their first road victory of the season, 76-70 over the Washington Mystics on Friday night.

Leilani Mitchell hit four 3-pointers and scored 16 points for the Liberty, winners of three straight after opening the season 0-5. The latest victory also snapped a five-game losing streak in Washington dating to the 2009 season. The Liberty lost their three previous road games this season by an average of 21.3 points.

New York shot 60 percent (21 of 35) from the field in the first half, including 5 of 6 from beyond the arc and held a 29 point with just under nine minutes 9 in the second quarter.

Crystal Langhorne led the Mystics (1-5) with 24 points.

Trailing 65-45 late in the third quarter, the Mystics pulled closer when Langhorne fueled a 15-2 run, followed by a spree of 3-point field goals. Matee Ajavon drilled her second from beyond the arc in the fourth quarter with 1:37 remaining as Washington trailed 73-70, but Essence Carson countered with a 3-pointer of her own on New York's next possession.

Langhorne scored 10 points during the second-half rally. In her first start this season, Michelle Snow finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds.

With the Liberty leading 12-8 midway through the first quarter, Pondexter's running layup started a 13-0 run. Up 27-13, New York had a 15-0 spurt capped by Carson's three-point play that made it 42-13. Pondexter had 16 points in the first half, while Mitchell was perfect on three attempts from beyond the arc.

The Liberty's recent good fortune has coincided with increased production from the starting backcourt.

After failing to score 20 points in the opening five games, Pondexter has topped that mark in three straight, averaging 25.3 points. In that span, Mitchell has connected on 11 of 18 (61.1 percent) 3-point attempts.

Carson finished with 13 points for the Liberty.

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Rare spinal conditon forced Zach Orr to retire

Rare spinal conditon forced Zach Orr to retire

OWINGS MILLS – Ravens inside linebacker Zach Orr had no choice but to retire, after a physical examination detected a spinal condition that made it extremely dangerous for him to continue his career.

“I have a condition that I was born with,” Orr said Friday, making his formal retirement announcement during a press conference. “I’m forced to walk away from the game of football.”

Orr said a CAT scan revealed a rare congenital abnormality, and that the top of his spinal column had never fully developed. Orr was never aware of his issue until he suffered a shoulder injury against the Steelers on Christmas that led to further testing.

While Orr never imagined he would retire at age 24, he felt blessed to be leaving the game before his condition led to a catastrophic injury. Orr has been playing football with his spinal condition since he was nine years old, and said doctors could not explain how he had played so long without his issue being detected.

“When I first found out the news, it was shocking,” Orr said. “Football is something I’ve done my whole life.”

Orr said retirement was his only option, because he would never pass an NFL physical. He also said that reports the Ravens tried to talk him out of retirement were inaccurate.

“They’ve supported me through this,” said Orr, who added that one of his high school teammates was paralyzed playing football.

Orr kept his composure during the press conference, but admitted he took the news hard at first. One of those emotional moments came after a telephone conversation with recently retired wide receiver Steve Smith Sr.

“I broke down a couple of times, as recent as a couple of days ago,” Orr said.

Three of Orr’s teammates attended Friday’s press conference – linebackers C. J. Mosley and Albert McClellan, and safety Eric Weddle. General manager Ozzie Newsome, coach John Harbaugh, defensive coordinator Dean Pees, and linebackers coach Don Martindale were also in attendance. Orr is one of the most popular and respected players in the locker room. An undrafted free agent in 2014, Orr made the team as a special teams standout and earned a starting job for the first time this season. He led the Ravens in tackles (130), finishing 10th in the NFL in that department.

Orr had a bright future as a player. Now, that future will head in another direction.

“Instead of asking – ‘Why me?, ask ‘What’s next?’” Orr said.

“I’m very proud that he’s been a Raven,” said Harbaugh. “I can’t wait to see what the next door holds.”

Related: Ravens name their new offensive line coach

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Redskins D-lineman says team has 'no idea' what'll happen with Kirk Cousins

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@Francis_Sports/USA TODAY

Redskins D-lineman says team has 'no idea' what'll happen with Kirk Cousins

All around the DMV, people are searching for clues as to what the Redskins are going to do with Kirk Cousins.

Lines are being read between. Conclusions are being jumped to. Yet still, no one truly sees how the situation is going to play out — and that includes Cousins' teammates.

"No one outside of the front office knows what they're going to do at any time," defensive lineman A.J. Francis, who has a reserve/futures contract with Washington, told Redskins Insider J.P. Finlay in a recent #RedskinsTalk podcast. 

"I've learned that through all the teams I've been on, crazy moves I've seen, whether it be who they let go, or who they sign back for how much, or who they drafted. You never know. And to say you think you have an idea about what's going to happen is wrong."

MORE REDSKINS: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

There are only a few finite ways the Cousins dilemma can play out (this isn't an M. Night Shyamalan movie, after all). The Redskins can put the franchise tag on him again, they can look to hammer out an extension, they can let him walk or they can try and trade him. 

But, for those hoping to get the scoop from someone who shared the locker room with the quarterback for parts of the last season, sorry to say, but he's got nothin'.

"It's all up to the two or three people that really have a say in the decision making process and they're going to come up with a decision whenever they want to and not a second before," Francis said.

Guess it's time to get back to playing interviews with Cousins in reverse to hear if a secret message is being glossed over, as the wait continues for some news to break between the two sides.

For more from this episode of #RedskinsTalk, including Francis' thoughts on the team's defensive coordinator search and his opinion on Finlay's faltering athletic ability, click below. And don't forget to subscribe, either.