Storm beat Mystics 79-71 for 5th straight win

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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.

Former Terp Alex Len reportedly saves friend from drowning

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Former Terp Alex Len reportedly saves friend from drowning

During a trip to the Dominican Republic late last month, former Maryland center and current Phoenix Sun Alex Len reportedly saved a friend from drowning, as detailed in a story published on Friday by AZCentral.com Suns beat writer Paul Coro.

Jay Johnson, one of three friends of Len's along for the trip, reportedly entered waters off the coast and was caught in a riptide. Len went in to save him. 

From Coro: 

Len, 22, momentarily thought Johnson was joking, trying to get their attention. He quickly ascertained the fear in Johnson’s voice as his arms flailed and he took quick gasps of air before waves plunged him underwater repeatedly.

Len did not look around for help. Without hesitation, he sprinted into the sea to save his friend.

“By the time I got to him, he was halfway passed out,” Len said of Johnson, whose arms were exhausted as his legs cramped. “He couldn’t swim. He wasn’t moving. If I would’ve come a couple minutes later, he probably would’ve drowned.”

During the 10-minute ordeal, Coro writes, a lifeguard attempted to aid in the effort but the ocean's current became difficult to fight. Len and his physical size and strength were what ultimately allowed for a safe rescue not only of his friend but of the lifeguard as well.

Read more from Coro's story here.

Orioles rained out, will play Saturday day/night doubleheader

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Orioles rained out, will play Saturday day/night doubleheader

BALTIMORE – About 35 minutes before the scheduled start of Friday night’s game with the Oakland Athletics, the Oriole announced the game had been postponed. 

Friday’s game will be made up as part of a day/night doubleheader beginning at 1:05 p.m. on Saturday. The second game will begin at 7:05 p.m.

Mike Wright, who was originally scheduled to pitch Saturday night will start the first game against Rich Hill. Ubaldo Jimenez, who was listed as Friday night’s starter, will pitch in the second game against Jesse Hahn. 

This is the third rainout of the season for the Orioles, the second at home. 

Braden Holtby named finalist for Ted Lindsay Award

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Braden Holtby named finalist for Ted Lindsay Award

Caps netminder Braden Holtby has been named a finalist for the Ted Lindsay Award as announced by the National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA). The Ted Lindsay Award is the annual award to the most outstanding player in the NHL as voted on by members of the NHLPA. Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks and Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars were also named as finalists.

Holtby, 26, won 48 games for the 2015-16 season, tying Martin Brodeur's record for most wins in a single season. He also recorded three shutouts, a 2.20 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage.

After his spectacular season, Holtby was also named a finalist for the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's top goalie. Should he win the Ted Lindsay Award, he will become the second player in franchise history to do so. Alex Ovechkin won the award in three consecutive seasons for 2007-08, 2008-09 and 2009-10.

In addition to Holtby, Barry Trotz is a finalist for the Jack Adams Award and Ovechkin is a finalist for the Mark Messier Leadership Award. The winners will be announced during the 2016 NHL Awards on June 22 in what is shaping up to be a big night for him and the Capitals.

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