Storm beat Mystics 79-71 for 5th straight win

802758.png

Storm beat Mystics 79-71 for 5th straight win

WASHINGTON (AP) -- After losing seven of their first eight games, the Seattle Storm decided to stop thinking too much and just let their instincts take over. Now, they're on an unbeatable roll.

Sue Bird scored 25 points and Ann Wauters added 14 as the Storm completed a home-and-home sweep of the Washington Mystics with a 79-71 win on Tuesday night for their fifth straight victory.

Seattle (6-7) never trailed and held a 30-17 advantage at the free throw line in the opener of a four-game road swing. The Storm moved into a tie with San Antonio for third place in the Western Conference.

"When you're in a comfort zone as a team, you're able to play instinctively, not think too much," said Bird, who scored 18 points in the second half. "Early in the season we were a new group, a think there was a lot of thought going on. Now, we're just out there playing."

Crystal Langhorne led the Mystics (2-9) with 20 points and 10 rebounds.

The Storm led by 14 points in the first half, though their edge was only 32-26 at halftime. With a second-half lineup featuring Langhorne and four reserves, the Mystics knocked down 7 of 10 shots opening the third quarter and tied the score at 36.

Seattle only made five 3-point field goals, but three came in the subsequent stretch. After 3s from Bird and Katie Smith countered Mystics scores, Wauters' shot from beyond the arc put the Storm ahead for good at 45-42 and sparked an 11-2 run.

"You can feel when a team is making a run and in those moments, you really need to bear down and focus even more then you were," Bird said. "We're veterans. We've been in this league. We know that you have to answer."

The Storm's lead didn't dip below five points in the fourth quarter, and Bird ended any hopes of a Mystics comeback with consecutive jump shots for a 70-62 lead. The Storm made 9 of 10 free throws inside the final two minutes.

Washington, returning home following a winless road trip has lost four straight and eight of nine overall. Monique Currie scored 15 points and Natasha Lacy 11 for the Mystics.

"We didn't start off well," Mystics Coach Trudi Lacey said. "Anytime a team scores 30 points off the free throw line, that's tough."

The WNBA's two lowest scoring teams played to form early on, scoring a combined 11 points over the opening 7 minutes before Seattle found its range late in the first quarter. Ewelina Kobryn scored Seattle's final seven points in the opening quarter and the Storm pulled away with a 16-4 run bridging the first two quarters for a 26-12 lead.

"We weren't really scoring there for a while and she just kind of came in and got us some buckets," Bird said.

The Storm improved to 2-6 on the road. By the time their current trip is completed, they will have played 10 of 15 games away from KeyArena.

"Our team has gotten better over the last three weeks," Storm coach Brian Agler said. "We better get some road wins because we have so many of them over the first half of the season."

Earlier in the day, the Storm waived second-year forward Victoria Dunlap. Drafted in the first round by the Mystics last year, Dunlap was sent to Seattle in a trade in the offseason. Agler expects the team to add a veteran to the roster on Friday and said the team is "talking a lot" with veteran free agent Svetlana Abrosimova.

McFarland recuperating from knee injury at Norfolk

showalter052316orsulakrefframe_1.jpg

McFarland recuperating from knee injury at Norfolk

The Orioles’ summoning Ashur Tolliver to the major leagues may have taken some by surprise. They may have wondered why the Orioles didn’t bring T.J. McFarland back from Norfolk.

McFarland injured his knee in Saturday’s game for Norfolk, but had he been healthy, he would have likely gotten the call. 

Manager Buck Showalter likes McFarland’s versatility, and while he’s not a matchup left-hander, he can throw multiple innings, which is always a plus. 

The injury to McFarland’s left patella tendon was sustained when he tried to cover home plate on a wild pitch, and he told the Virginian- Pilot that he’s already going through drills to strengthen the knee. 

McFarland returned to Baltimore over the weekend for an MRI on the knee, but no structural damage was found. 

In other Norfolk news, veteran major league pitcher Brian Duensing, another left-hander has reported to the Tides. He opted out of a minor league deal with Kansas City, and reportedly could opt out of his Orioles contract next month if he’s not added to the major league roster.

Last year, the Orioles added Chris Parmelee to the major league roster in mid-June, and in 2013, briefly brought Travis Ishikawa up to the team after he invoked his opt-out clause. Ishikawa was released by the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday. 

Veteran infielder Steve Tolleson, who played for the Orioles in 2012 and returned on a minor league contract this spring, was released by the Tides earlier this week. 

MORE ORIOLES: ORIOLES PITCHERS IMITATE BULLPEN COACH IN PREGAME PRANK 

 

Orioles pitchers imitate bullpen coach in pregame prank

showalter052316orsulakrefframe_1.jpg

Orioles pitchers imitate bullpen coach in pregame prank

BY ERIC GARLAND, CSNmidatlantic.com 

If the saying, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” is true, Orioles bullpen coach Dom Chiti must be feeling really honored. 

Before Wednesday's game against the Houston Astros, the Orioles bullpen went through their normal pregame routine. However, something was very different this time around. 

Each pitcher wore fake mustaches to imitate Chiti, who sports a thick gray mustache himself. 

The Orioles tweeted out proof of the prank, with two photos showing the pitchers posing in the clubhouse and warming up in the outfield while doing their best Chiti imitation. 

Were they able to pull off the look? You be the judge. 

Old man Tracy McGrady shakes cane at Bradley Beal for wanting max deal

jmichaelbenbeal052316refframe_1.jpg

Old man Tracy McGrady shakes cane at Bradley Beal for wanting max deal

Tracy McGrady, 37, is proving that there's no minimum age for former players to complain about today's NBA.

Two weeks after McGrady lamented Stephen Curry's unanimous MVP Award as evidence of a "watered-down" league, he set his crotchety sights on Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal. 

The two-time scoring champion appeared on ESPN's The Jump on Tuesday and scoffed at Beal wanting a max contract this summer. Via Bullets Forever:

If he's a max player, then I'm coming back.

Ha. First of all, no you're not, Tracy. Everyone saw you in the All-Star Celebrity Game this year. 

Second, there are few people less qualified to shake their canes at Beal than T-Mac.

Yes, a five-year, $92 million extension seems like big money for a player who averaged 17.4 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.9 assists last season. But let's rewind to 2000 when McGrady signed his first max contract at age 21.

This from The Philadelphia Inquirer archives:

The Magic worked out sign-and-trade deals with the Pistons and Raptors, resulting in a nice extra chunk of cash for Grant Hill and Tracy McGrady.

Both players signed seven-year, maximum-salary deals worth $93 million with their old teams, then were traded to the Magic.

So what did T-Mac do to merit max money? Average 15.4 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game the season prior ... not exactly numbers that blow Beal out of the water. 

Also, Beal has started 21 playoff games so far in his career and put up 21.2 points per game in the postseason. McGrady, meanwhile, had recorded 16.2 points per game in only three playoff appearances before signing his max. (Don't you just love Basketball-Reference.com?)

So the two players will likely end up getting similar money for similar production in their first big NBA contracts, but Wizards fans should hope that's where the parallells end.

While McGrady made seven-straight All-Star appearances, his career was derailed by major injuries and postseason futility. T-Mac never advanced past the second round of the playoffs until signing with San Antonio at the start of their 2012 Finals run. 

Womp womp.