Mystics seek relief against Sun

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Mystics seek relief against Sun

Two of the Mystics 12 gloomy losses this season have come against the Connecticut Sun, leaders of the Eastern Conference pack. A home-and-home scenario between the two sides tips off on Tuesday morning. Based on this seasons head-to-head and collective results, the projected forecast for Washington when it comes to avoiding another pair of defeats, ominous.After coming up with a winning formula against Phoenix on July 1, the Mystics (3-12) have dropped two straight including Sundays stunning 16-point road loss to the three-win Tulsa Shock. Looking to reverse the trend, one that has seen Washington lose seven of eight games, against surging Connecticut (12-4) is the epitome of an uphill battle. Its one the last place squad must grapple with and quickly. Only three games remain before the WNBAs month-long Olympic break. The first one tips off at 11:30 AM on Tuesday at home followed by a Wednesday road contest in Connecticut.Our goal is to play better for longer stretches of time and to put together a 40 minute game, Mystics coach Trudi Lacey said following the 78-62 loss at Tulsa. There are stretches where we play well and we look good and then we have defensive breakdowns and we turn the ball over. We allow teams to go on runs and that has to stop. After Fridays 78-73 home loss to San Antonio, center Michelle Snow offered a blunt assessment of the current situation. "It's very frustrating. I'm not used to losing,'' said Snow, a 10-year veteran playing her first season in Washington. "You just want to scream, you want to blow up, you want to fight, whatever it takes to wake everybody up. Honestly, a change is going to come. You can be part of that change here or you'll just be part of that rotation (leaving town). That's the way any job is.''The main job for Snow and her fellow post players against Connecticut involves containing Tina Charles. Good luck. The center and 2012 Olympian averages 18.6 points and ranks second in the league with 11.6 rebounds.In a 94-86 win over the Mystics on June 3, Charles exploded for a season-high 30 points, knocking down 13 of 22 field goal attempts. In the June 29 rematch,her13 and 10 double-double spurred ona 77-64 victory at the Verizon Center.Tina is a great player and she is going to do her thing, Mystics leading scorer Crystal Langhorne said after tangling the first time with Charles. We let her get some easy chip-ins in the first half, which got her going, and then she was really hot in the second half and she was hitting everything. We just needed to contain her a little better than we did.Charles is not the Suns only threat, or Olympian. Forward Asjha Jones averages 12.8 points, a number boosted by the she20 points she tallied in the road win. Collectively the Sun, winners of two straight and sixconsecutive against Washington,average 83 points per game. That's nearly 14 more than the Mystics, the leagues lowest scoring team.Only Langhorne reached double figures against Tulsa as the Mystics struggled with consistency and maintaining possession, giving away scoring opportunities with 19 turnovers. Our main focus when we play Connecticut is slowing down our offense, said Langhorne, who is averaging 18 points against the Sun and 16.6 overall. They have great post players and great shooters. We just really need to pick it up.Pick it up, and quickly.

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Film study: 1st All-NBA selection should be in John Wall's immediate future

Film study: 1st All-NBA selection should be in John Wall's immediate future

Kyle Lowry and Damian Lillard have made the All-NBA team before John Wall, and two years ago Kyrie Irving beat out the Wizards’ point guard when he didn’t really have the better individual season.

This year, Wall should reach his self-stated goal of being a four-time All-Star (accomplished) and first-time All-NBA player. It's just a question of if it'll be on the first, second or third team.

It’s not just about Wall's individual accomplishments – career highs of 23 points, 10.8 assists and 2.0 steals  – it’s his team’s success that should help him achieve that recognition. 

Saturday night, he dominated his matchup with Irving for the second time in three meetings and put on display why as a two-way player there's not much of a debate to be had about it. Irving, who plays next to LeBron James which inflates his credibility and his marks in the team success category, was voted the All-Star starter but if it were a spot that was solely merit-based Wall again was better this season.

He not only had game highs of 37 points and 11 assists in the 127-115 win for Washington, Wall isolated Irving in plain sight, posted him, shot over him and defended James himself 1 vs. 1 with tremendous success.

Wall is doing all of this despite coming off surgeries to both knees May 5 and a slow start to the season. His conditioning wasn’t always there. He still can gamble a lot defensively and allow the ball in the lane because he’s going for steals. He still can be better. 

When Wall is disciplined the way he was Saturday, not Irving, not Lillard, not Lowry, not Steph Curry and not even Russell Westbrook can be his peer on defense (Yes, Westbrook has a reputation for being a lockdown defender but there's ample evidence to show he's not and is in fact extremely undisciplined).

The Wizards (45-28) haven’t had an All-NBA player since Gilbert Arenas was second team in 2006-07 and third team in 2005-06 and 2004-05. Rod Strickland made it as a second-team selection for Washington in 1997-98.

And based on the way Wall's backcourt mate Bradley Beal is closing the season -- and being mistakenly omitted from his first All-Star apperance though he's no worse than the second-best shooting guard in the conference with DeMar DeRozan -- there's an argument to be made for him as All-NBA, too. Defensively, Beal has been more steady for longer stretches of the season than Wall.

Let's steamline the topic, however, and stay focused on Wall:

When isolated vs. Wall with no help, Irving has no chance of stopping Wall. Not good enough defensively and not nearly strong enough. And team defense isn't good, either, as Irving usually does  a lot of reaching in and getting lost on the weak side of the floor:

When is the last time you've ever seen Irving defend like this?

And for all Irving's talents, his speed and handle that produce an array of offensive moves, he usually creates for himself. Wall creates for others even when it appears he has nothing:

There's far more evidence than this and it goes beyond one game and one matchup. Irving will have his moments where he gets the better of Wall. If you're in a situation when you need one bucket with the game on the line like in Game 7 of the NBA Finals?

Irving is a better option than James in that situation. But he's still not a better player than James.

Over an 82-game season/big picture, this represents the primary differences between the two and why Wall deserves to be rewarded because he's just better of the two. And the same applies to many others who have gotten the recognition that Wall has not in his seventh season.

It's time.

MORE WIZARDS: Wizards sky high after dominating Cavs

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Don't believe trade hype: Bruce Allen insists Kirk Cousins will be Redskins quarterback in 2017

Don't believe trade hype: Bruce Allen insists Kirk Cousins will be Redskins quarterback in 2017

Kirk Cousins will be the Redskins quarterback in 2017. Period. At least that's the word from team president Bruce Allen.

"That's why we franchised him," Allen said of Cousins.

Asked about numerous trade rumors and reports on the Redskins single season passing record holder, Allen dismissed them all.

"I can't keep up with the rumors," Allen said. "Kirk and I have talked almost a dozen times this offseason, and we get to laugh when we hear these different rumors. We haven't talked to anyone."

MORE REDSKINS: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 6.0

Allen has spoken with Cousins representatives a number of times this offseason, and the organization still wants to get a long-term deal done with their passer. 

"Our goal from the beginning has been long-term," the team president said. "I'm still hopeful and confident we'll do it."

The team could again use a tag on Cousins, an option Allen mentioned. 

MORE REDSKINS: Exclusive: Allen answers questions on McCloughan firing