Houston braces for Linsanity

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Houston braces for Linsanity

From Comcast SportsNet
HOUSTON (AP) -- Jeremy Lin is starting over in Houston. He will have to explain why he said he would have rather stayed in New York. The 23-year-old undrafted point guard out of Harvard is scheduled to meet the Houston media on Thursday, two days after the Knicks opted not to match the Rockets' bold three-year, 25 million offer sheet. Shortly after the deal became official on Tuesday night, SI.com reported that Lin had acknowledged in an interview, "Honestly, I preferred New York. But my main goal in free agency was to go to a team that had plans for me and wanted me." The Rockets certainly did. "They made a very compelling pitch in terms of what I could bring to the team and for the city," Lin said in a statement released through the team on Wednesday. "I am also impressed with (Houston owner Leslie) Alexander and the management's commitment to improving the team." Houston had Lin in training camp in December, but waived him because the Rockets already had Goran Dragic and Kyle Lowry. He got to New York when the Knicks claimed him off waivers, was briefly dropped to the developmental league, was recalled, and then got his chance to play when coach Mike D'Antoni put him in after the Knicks' record dropped to 8-15. He scored 25 points in a 99-92 win over New Jersey Nets, and "Linsanity" was born. Soon, New York was in playoff contention, and Lin was having drinks named after him. Lin said Wednesday that he "loved this past year with the Knicks and truly appreciate the opportunity that New York gave me," even though the team decided to let him go. "The way the fans fully embraced me and our team was something I'll always cherish forever," he said. "It was an extraordinary and unforgettable time that was easily the best year of my life." And now it's on to Houston, which made its biggest move in years and got its man. The Rockets not only filled a position of need, but also snagged a player who might re-establish the franchise in Asia, where the team enjoyed massive popularity during Yao Ming's career. Lin is American-born, but of Chinese and Taiwanese descent. His timing is perfect to capitalize on the NBA's explosive growth in China. He will wear No. 7 for the Rockets, a change from the No. 17 he donned with the Knicks. The team began taking pre-orders for Lin jerseys online on Wednesday. Lin was the buzz of sports radio in Houston on Wednesday and the topic exploded on social media. About 18 hours after the move became official, the Rockets' Twitter page had picked up 3,000 new followers, and the Facebook page added 10,000 "likes." Rockets forward Patrick Patterson is eager to work with Lin, and feels he is an ideal fit for coach Kevin McHale's system. "With the type of athletes that we have, we like to run up and down the court in transition. We like to do pick and rolls," Patterson said before the Rockets' summer league game Wednesday night in Las Vegas. "And that's what he thrives well in: pick and rolls, getting to the basket, getting layups, creating opportunities for each player on the team on the floor." Rockets assistant coach Kelvin Sampson said in Las Vegas that the team hopes Lin brings stability to the point guard position for many seasons in Houston. "We expect Jeremy to come in and be our point guard," Sampson said. "We're not looking for anything other than that. He's a high-character kid, plays hard, really good off pick and rolls. I think he's good in transition. We're going with a really young team next year and Jeremy, with his work ethic and his leadership, I think he's going to be what we really need." Before the season arrives, general manager Daryl Morey still has work to do. The next major priority for Houston is finding a big man. Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard is still available in a potential trade, but that might be long shot. The Rockets expect to sign Bulls center Omer Asik to a three-year, 25 million offer sheet that is similar to Lin's deal. Beyond that, Morey must replenish a roster that has been gutted over the past two weeks. The Rockets traded Chase Budinger and Samuel Dalembert and stockpiled draft picks for a package aimed at enticing Orlando to send them Howard, a six-time All-Star. Houston made three first-round draft picks, selecting Connecticut guard Jeremy Lamb, Iowa State forward Royce White, and Kentucky forward Terrence Jones, who all remain unsigned. The Rockets lost unrestricted free agent Dragic to Phoenix, began their pursuit of Lin, and traded Lowry to Toronto. They withdrew their qualifying offer to guard Courtney Lee, completed a sign-and-trade that sent center Marcus Camby to New York, and used the amnesty clause to waive forward Luis Scola. On Wednesday, the Rockets waived forward Jon Leuer and center Jerome Jordan. Leuer came to Houston in the Dalembert trade with Milwaukee, and Jordan was acquired in the Camby deal.

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Need to Know: The Redskins' five most important backups

Need to Know: The Redskins' five most important backups

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, March 23, 35 days before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/17) 25
—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 50
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 62
—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/15) 114
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 171

The Redskins’ five most valuable backups

QB Colt McCoy—The one time that McCoy came into a game for Kirk Cousins was in 2014, when he took over for the struggling starter at halftime and led the Redskins to a comeback win over the Titans. The way things stand now the only way that McCoy plays this year is if Cousins gets injured. And the fact that Cousins has never missed an NFL snap due to injury doesn’t guarantee that he won’t.

OT Ty Nsekhe—In his seven seasons in the NFL Trent Williams has played in 16 games just twice. That makes the backup player who must protect the quarterback’s blindside very important. It would take just one hit for that Cousins streak to come to an abrupt end. The Redskins had shaky solutions for a backup tackle until they found Nsekhe in 2015.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 6.0

DB Will Blackmon—Versatility is the key with Blackmon. With only 46 active players on game day it helps to have someone who can play either side as a corner, cover the slot, and play free safety. He might be a jack of all trades and master of none but the ability to fill in when the need calls for it is important.

DL Ziggy Hood—I’m assuming here that Hood is indeed a backup. That’s what everyone thought he would be last year but due to injuries and free agent flameouts he ended up 14 games and playing 60 percent of the defensive snaps. Hood could be much more effective as a reserve. And consider the injury histories of projected starters Stacy McGee (7 games missed last year) and Terrell McClain (missed most of 2015) and the teams likely reliance on some rookies (durability unknown), a good rotational lineman who can step up and start could be critical.

TE Vernon Davis—The Redskins moved quickly to ensure that Davis will return in 2017, signing him to a three-year deal early in free agency. Jordan Reed proved that he is as tough as they come by playing through his shoulder injury in Dallas but it still cost him a couple of games. Reed has missed between two and seven games in each of his four NFL seasons so a good backup for him is critical.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' win over Atlanta Hawks

5 must-see moments from Wizards' win over Atlanta Hawks

Here are five plays or moments from the Washington Wizards' 104-100 win over the Atlanta Hawks at the Verizon Center on Wednesday night that are worth revisiting...

1. The first half of this game was hideous on all accounts. The Wizards scored just 16 points in the first quarter and had 40 at halftime. John Wall went scoreless and the Wizards shot 34 percet as a team.

Basically, there wasn't much to highlight through the first two quarters. But there was this three by Bojan Bogdanovic to beat the shot clock buzzer:

Bogdanovic ended up with just five points in 15 minutes.

2. The second half is where all the fun started and the Wizards had some life breathed into them by their bench. In this sequence Kelly Oubre, Jr. and Brandon Jennings combined to key a 5-point rally and give the Wizards a lead:

Oubre was solid with five points and five rebounds in 18 minutes. Jennings got it done again with six assists.

3. The fourth quarter was all Wall and Bradley Beal, who combined for 18 points in the frame. On this play Wall found Beal for a three and used a nifty dribble fake to set up the assist, one of 10 for him on the night:

Did you notice Oubre on the bench? Take another look:

4. On this play Wall found himself wide open on the fastbreak. He threw it down with emphasis:

Wall had 22 points on the night after putting up a zero in the first.

5. Beal helped put the finishing touches on this win with a huge defensive play. He stole a pass and flushed it on the other end:

Beal led the Wizards with 28 points, including four threes, and added nine rebounds. It was a strong night for Big Panda and afterwards he caught up with CSN's Chris Miller, only to have Jason Smith then mess with him during the interview:

As Beal said afterwards, the Wizards have their swag back.

[RELATED: Wizards' Brooks has little sympathy in NBA rest debate]