Lewis barely recognizable at Ravens camp

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Lewis barely recognizable at Ravens camp

From Comcast SportsNet

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) -- In preparation for his 17th NFL season, Ray Lewis decided the best way to cope with his advancing age was to reduce his waistline.

The 38-year-old linebacker began training camp with the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday much lighter than his listed playing weight of 240 pounds. Lewis wouldn't reveal his exact weight, but said he's never weighed less since coming to Baltimore in 1996.

A 13-time Pro Bowl star, Lewis has built a reputation through his punishing hits on quarterbacks and running backs. Although that's always going to be his calling card, Lewis figures he can be a better LB by losing some lbs.

"The game is changing. The game isn't any more (about) 250, 260-pound fullbacks," he said. "You don't have the offenses running the ball 25, 30, 40-plus times. Passing is just happening more."

Lewis has maintained a high level of play throughout his career by adapting to his surroundings and keeping his body in excellent shape. He may be pushing 40, but he has no intention of coming off the field on a third-and-9.

"People want to find mismatches here, there. So, you just change with the game," Lewis said. "If everybody runs, who can't run? So for me, that's kind of what my thought process was coming into these next years. The lighter you get, the lighter you play, and you just feel better. You feel better because you have the wisdom to go off and do whatever you want to do. I just think playing a little lighter is a lot smarter for me."

Lewis has already played 222 NFL games, made 2,586 tackles and notched 40 sacks. There's no telling how high those numbers will get before he begins to think about retirement.

"I would be a very selfish person if I thought about that day, because until passion leaves you for the game, then that's impossible to think about," he reasoned. "To ever think about walking away from what I've been born to do in one phase of my life. I love the game too much, and I have a great connection to Baltimore, and as long as I am playing and my body feels great, then I'll keep doing it."

Lewis doesn't just play for the fun of it. He's all about winning. He already has one Super Bowl ring, and he spent the past 11 years striving to get another. His bid last season fell tantalizingly short when the Ravens lost to New England 23-20 in the AFC title game.

The narrow defeat was a crushing blow to Lewis, but he used the occasion to put on a display of leadership that resonates within the core of the team to this day.

"You're a pro, you always think about what you could have done better, how you felt, and quite frankly, that was not the best feeling," running back Ray Rice said. "But we had a great leader pull us back together, and that was No. 52. Without him in that locker room at that moment, I don't think the gelling would have come back. Ray Lewis brought us together as a team, and you'll see a team come out here with pride, ready to come out here and practice."

The Ravens have plenty of coaches but only one leader on the field: Lewis, their starting linebacker since the team arrived from Cleveland. He is the voice of experience, perhaps the one man on the roster capable of putting the proper perspective on an agonizing loss.

"There is a lot of pain in this world, real pain. People look toward us during games to be courageous in the times of loss in big defeats like that," he said. "It's OK to still be a man. It's OK to walk up and congratulate somebody else because they won. Those are the things that I think make you appreciate every moment."

Ravens linebacker Courtney Upshaw, the team's top draft pick in 2012, was a 6-year-old when Lewis made his Baltimore debut. The Lewis that Upshaw saw Thursday was a far different version than the rookie who played for Ted Marchibroda so long ago.

"It's just being blessed, that I've been able to maintain through my injuries and through the ups and downs of this game," Lewis said. "I think it's a credit to my work ethic and just everything that I've bought into over the years. And every year I'm always trying to change, always trying to come back better for my team."

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Wizards players complain about referees after loss to Utah Jazz: 'No-name guys are getting calls'

Wizards players complain about referees after loss to Utah Jazz: 'No-name guys are getting calls'

The Wizards' loss to the Utah Jazz on Sunday featured a significant difference in free throw attempts between the teams, so drastic that several Wizards players spoke at length about what they felt was a major slight by the officiating crew.

At halftime, the Wizards had just one free throw attempt compared to 18 for the Jazz. By the end of the game, Utah held a 32-13 advantage and that was even after some makeup calls at the end, according to Wizards point guard John Wall.

"We were being physical and we were competing. We attacked the basket just as much as them. You look at some of the calls they got and some of the calls we should have got," he said. "Near the end of the game refs always try to make up for what they missed. But you can't make up for [18] to one free throws in the first half."

Wall thought the refs did not call a fair game and seemed almost insulted by the late effort to give him and his teammates free throws.

"Just ask the refs. They know. They didn't make the calls," he said. "You keep attacking the basket and no-name guys are getting calls on the other end on little contact. Then you drive to the basket and get contact the whole game and they try to make up for those calls in the last two or three minutes of the game... Don't try to give me the calls when there is 30, 45 seconds or a minute left to make me feel good. That's not going to change the outcome or how aggressive I want to be the whole game."

The Wizards were called for 27 fouls, while the Jazz were tagged for 19. Combined with an already tough defense and Utah was too much for the Wizards in a 102-92 loss. That snapped a 23-game streak for the Wizards of scoring at least 100 points.

Guard Bradley Beal pointed out the difference in free throws at halftime as a "little weird." Forward Markieff Morris went further.

"All we can ask for them is to do their job to the best of their capabilities, like they ask of us every night," he said of referees Bill Spooner, Eric Dalen and Eric Lewis. "We had a bad game, they had a bad game. We came out with the loss and that's the consequences in those games."

For the Wizards, they feel like this has been a common theme this season. Washington is 26th out of 30 NBA teams in free throw attempts (21.3) per game. Opponents average 24.2 free throws per game, ninth-most in the league.

"We haven't been getting calls all year," Beal said.

"That's typically been happening all year. It's unfortunate," Morris added.

"It didn't go our way and that's nothing new. We've dealt with this before," Wall said. "I'm used to it. We're used to it by now. We don't get too many calls. It's funny. They always say the same thing. All we can do is try to put it aside and try to compete. But it's tough when you have an outrageously high number, [18] to one and it ended up being 32 to 13."

Morris fouled out of the game after picking up two in less than a minute. His final foul was a charging call. Morris then tossed the basketball in the referee's direction and was called for two technical fouls. He fouled out, then got ejected, all on the same play.

"Refs and their feelings. It's like that all the time. It is what it is," he said.

Wall also let his emotions get the best of him. He was issued a technical foul with :22 seconds left in the first half. That's his 11th of the season.

"It gets frustrating, but I've gotta do a better job of holding my emotions in check," he said.

If Wall gets to 16 he will be suspended one game, per NBA rules.

[RELATED: Jazz coach: Wall and Beal are NBA's best backcourt]

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Takeaways from Wizards' loss to tough Utah Jazz behind Gordon Hayward's 30 points

Takeaways from Wizards' loss to tough Utah Jazz behind Gordon Hayward's 30 points

The good times are no longer rolling for the Wizards now that the All-Star break is over. They lost their second in a row Sunday – the first time they’ve lost consecutive games since Jan. 3 – 102-92 to the Utah Jazz at Verizon Center in front of 19,648.

John Wall (23 points, 11 assists) and Bradley Beal (22 points) led Washington but it was dominated on both ends of the floor by one of the league’s elite defensive teams. The Wizards were held to less than 100 points for the first time in 24 games after being embarrassed Friday in a 120-112 loss at the Philadelphia 76ers.

They were bruised early and often by Utah (37-22), which held them to just 15 points in the second quarter as they trailed 49-39 at the half and never got the deficit to less than 10 until a jumper from Beal in the final four minutes.

Gordon Hayward (30 points, eight rebounds) led all scorers for the Jazz, followed by George Hill (21 points, six assists), Rudy Gobert (15 points, 20 rebounds), Rodney Hood (11 points) and Derrick Favors (10 points, seven rebounds).

A pair of foul shots by Bojan Bogdanovic (15 points), playing for the second time since being acquired in a trade, pulled the Wizards to 95-89 but Hayward responded with a pair of three-pointers to slam the door shut.

[RELATED: Jazz coach: Wall and Beal are NBA's best backcourt]

--Beal didn’t score in the first half, missing his only two shots as he played 11 minutes as he was limited by three fouls. His pull-up jump shot at 8:54 of the third was his first field goal but the Wizards still were down 56-43.

--Morris fouled out with 7:31 because of a charge. He was then ejected as he received his seventh and eighth technical of the season. Wall was called for his 10th technical in the first half. Hill didn’t get called for his first foul until 5:17 was left in the game, which was part of Wall’s frustration. The Jazz were 23 of 32 from the foul line. The Wizards were 10 of 13.

--Ian Mahinmi (seven points, two rebounds) only played seven minutes against Philadelphia because of back spasms. He returned to play a season-high 16 minutes and was part of a late run in the third quarter that trimmed the 24-point deficit to 73-60 to enter the fourth.

--Gobert and Favors dominated inside. They combined for seven blocks and converted lob after lob at the rim. Marcin Gortat (six points, eight rebounds) was pulled at 6:48 of the third quarter. Defensively they snuffed out the Wizards’ pick-and-roll and broke up lobs at the rim to Morris on two occasions. They also combined to grabbed 27 total rebounds and contributed to the overall one-sidedness,  51-27.

--Jason Smith, who was the best player off the bench for Washington in the loss to Philadelphia, didn’t make an appearance for the first time since Dec. 18. He’s lost his time to Mahinmi and Bogdanovic.

[RELATED: VIDEO: Wall has crossover and alley-oop back-to-back]