Mystics-Dream preview

Mystics-Dream preview

The matchup: Its not a dream, Washington does indeed face Atlanta for the second time in a week yet so much will look different when the two sides square off on Thursday night.
This week the Dream (12-13), currently third in the Eastern Conference fired longtime coach and general manager Marynell Meadors and suspended star Angel McCoughtry indefinitely for violating a team rule.Atlanta had no problem dispatching Washington 81-69 at the Verizon Center without the WNBAs leading scorer. The Mystics (5-19) fell behind by double digits in the first quarter thanks to nine turnovers and trailed by 28 points in the third before a Matee Ajavon rally pulled them closer late to make the final score respectable, but not indicative of the meeting. If you cant take care of the ball you cant make shots, said Monique Currie about Washingtons miscuing start. The early turnovers led to frequent layups and Atlanta finished with 40 points in the paint. We cant get shots, were not getting back on defense continued Currie, who had 14 points. They had a layup clinicAjavon scored 16 of her 20 points off the bench in the loss, Washingtons fifth in six games since returning from the Olympic break.Washington, four games back of New York and Chicago for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, heads to Atlanta having lost 11 of 12 road games this season.After winning the first meeting this season against Washington, Atlanta has dropped two straight, including a stunning home loss to Tulsa, owners of the worst record in the Western Conference.Last time out: The Mystics avoided a slow start at Indiana, but a 10-2 third quarter proved decisive as the Fever pulled away for an 83-68 win. Reserves Noelle Quinn and Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton led in scoring with 13 and 10 points respectively, but that was not nearly enough to overcome a 10 of 17 3-point shooting barrage by the Fever.We started off well, Quinn said. Gave up too many three point shots. Generally speaking we were the aggressor. But in the third quarter we fell on our Achilles heel and let too many three point baskets be made today.Snowed under: Before and immediately after the Olympic break, center Michelle Snow provided a consistent rebounding presence for the Mystics, averaging a team-high 6.8 rebounds per game. Over the last four games, not so much with only 10 boards overall and just four off the offensive glass.The Dream: Hard to know which is more stunning; McCoughtrys disruptive absence over the last four games or the back-to-back Eastern Conference champions firing their coach. Atlanta replaced Meadors with assistant coach Fred Williams. Former Mystics point guard Lindsey Hardings presence at the point guard remains and Armintie Price scored 19 points in the previous win over Washington.

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Kings no longer have DeMarcus Cousins to blame for dysfunction

Kings no longer have DeMarcus Cousins to blame for dysfunction

NEW ORLEANS – Now that DeMarcus Cousins is finally gone from the Sacramento Kings, after six-plus long years of failure and acrimony, it’s all on them to prove that the three-time All-Star dubbed “Bad Attitude” was the problem.

In typical Kings fashion, they upstaged the All-Star Game itself Sunday by executing a trade to send Cousins and Omri Casspi to the New Orleans Pelicans for Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans and a first- and second-round draft pick.

Monday, GM Vlade Divac said this at a news conference that made the deal official: “It was time for a change and I decided this was the best direction for the organization. Winning begins with culture and character matters. With the upcoming draft class set to be one of the strongest in a decade, this trade will allow us to build the depth needed for a talented and developing roster moving forward."

The thinly veiled shot at Cousins lacking proper character aside, Divac is going to have a difficult time spinning it. While what he said might be true, it doesn't appear to be a good return for a known quantity in Cousins, who is averaging a career-high 29.1 points, 11.2 rebounds and a career-high 5.1 assists. For this deal to work out in the Kings' favor, it requires good decsion-making from a front office that seems immune to sound judgments.

[RELATED: Kings trade DeMarcus Cousins]

Cousins had eye-popping numbers, but there were drawbacks such as 45.1% field-goal shooting for a 6-11 big man -- at least 10 points below where it should be -- and just a 24-33 record to show for it.  Defensively, Cousins' effort alone leaves much to be desired. But ever since Cousins was taken fifth overall in the 2010 draft, this marriage hasn’t worked.

Given where the Pelicans (23-34) are, this move represents a no-lose situation for them. They landed another All-Star to play next to Anthony Davis and were able to keep point guard Jrue Holiday in the process.

Cousins’ value around the NBA clearly wasn’t as high as most people liked to have believed. And the Kings’ bad roster decisions, coaching hires and handling of Cousins had as much to do with his decreasing value as Cousins himself. They undermined their own leverage with him in the market.

Owner Vivek Ranadive loves Hield as much as he did Nik Stauskas. The Kings tried to trade up to acquire Hield last year before New Orleans nabbed him with the No. 6 pick. He averages just 8.6 points and shoots 39.2% from three-point range. 

Stauskas was the No. 8 overall pick of the Kings in 2014, He lasted one season before Ranadive, who made the pick, got bored of him and sent him on his way. Stauskas is now with the Philadelphia 76ers with a career average of 7.1 points and 34.1% shooting from three.

It's difficult to be optimistic about anything that the Kings do. They waived Matt Barnes to facilitate the deal to gt Hield and Evans. And truth be told, despite Barnes' public perception he's regarded as a great teammate and locker rook influence by other respected veterans in the league.

Now Cousins has a chance to put another nail in the coffin of the Kings under the Ranadive-Divac regime and prove he wasn't the primary problem. They'll have no one to blame anymore, except each other.

[RELATED: John Wall reacts to DeMarcus Cousins' trade]

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Career night propels Melo Trimble to another Big Ten Player of the Week award

Career night propels Melo Trimble to another Big Ten Player of the Week award

Melo Trimble is the straw that stirs the No. 24 Maryland Terrapins' drink, and during the team's most important week of the regular season, we saw just how important he is.

The junior guard scored a career-high 32 points in a pivotal road victory against a NCAA Tournament-bound Northwestern team, and followed it up with 27 points in a tough road loss against then No. 11 Wisconsin.

The two-game performance was enough for the Big Ten to award Trimble with Player of the Week honors, the fourth time he has received the award.

Trimble made 12 of his 17 field goal attempts against the Wildcats, including 4-of-5 from beyond the arc. He also contributed three assists and grabbed four rebounds. Against Wisconsin, he scored the bulk of his 27 points in the second half, but struggled from the free throw line, making just 5 of his 10 attempts.

Against the Wildcats, Trimble carried the load, putting the team on his back, and it was more than enough.

He attempted to do the same against the Badgers, but needed some extra help. That's where the Terps have struggled this season. Freshman Justin Jackson, Kevin Huerter and Anthony Cowan have the ability to do so, but they are still just freshman, meaning consistent output on the road late in the season is far from a guarantee.

But one thing is for sure, Melo Trimble continues to prove that he is the type of player that can single-handily carry a team to the NCAA Tournament's second weekend.

The Big Ten knows this, and it won't be long before the rest of the country does too.

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