Take two: Turnover-plagued Mystics readying for Shock

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Take two: Turnover-plagued Mystics readying for Shock

Losing the season opener at home is one thing.Losing because of a steady and at times voluminous amount of miscues is quite another for the retooled Washington Mystics.Really just silly turnovers. Not reading the defense, rushing with the basketball, not making good decisions, said Mystics coach Trudi Lacey, reflecting about what went wrong in game one of the 2012 season.In her dual role as general manager, Lacey overhauled the roster after a trying 6-28 campaign, adding seven new players.It could be a product of so many new faces, people coming late to or missing training camp. Doesnt really matter, said Lacey following Thursdays practice. Weve worked on that and hopefully we are able to read each other better and read defenses.All those mistakes led to being on the wrong end of a 29-8 first half run which put the Mystics into a 13-point halftime hole. A third quarter rally pulled them close. A fourth quarter fade did not.We werent jelling enough I think, said All-Star forward Crystal Langhorne, who led the Mystics with 16 points and eight rebounds against the Sky, but also committed four turnovers. There were a lot of turnovers; unforced, not knowing where people would be. We really cleaned that up this week, worked on our offense.Beyond their offensive miscues, the Mystics allowed the Sky to shoot 62.5 percent (5-of-8) from long range.I was disappointed in our 3-point field defense, Lacey said. We had gotten better in those areas during preseason and then in the first game we got away from that and it cost us.Last season injuries exposed an inexperienced roster that frequently wilted late in games so Lacey traded for and signed veteran players. That steady presence was lacking in the opener.Thats why I brought experienced players in, to avoid the mental mistakes and lack of focus, said a critiquing Lacey, before letting her usual optimistic demeanor seep out.
Saturday, I expect it to be so much better.Thats when the Mystics face the Tulsa Shock (0-2), owners of the WNBAs worst record last season. Thats also when guard Matee Ajavon returns to game action. Washingtons second leading scorer last season practiced fully this week after missing the opener and most of training camp with a sore knee. Shes back to 100 percent, Lacey said. She adds so much to us. She plays both sides of the ballShes a competitor. Its been really good to have her out there this week.Ajavon scored 21 points in Washingtons win over Tulsa last season. The teams split the two-game season series, winning on their respective home courts.Lacey would not commit to putting Ajavon immediately back in the starting lineup - newcomers Noelle Quinn and Natasha Lacy started in the backcourt against Chicago - but said the slashing scoring threat will definitely be on the floor, I can guarantee that.The latest game will also be the second of three straight home dates for the Mystics. With two more games at home, we really need to get our wins before we start going on the road next month, Langhorne said. After the homestand, the Mystics will play five of seven away from the Verizon Center.It may be only game two of the 34-game regular season, but that opening performance, the upcoming schedule and wanting to move on from last seasons woes makes Saturdays tilt no ordinary second game.Were looking at this like its a must win, Langhorne said.

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Anthony Rendon homers in third straight game, but Nationals fall to Mariners in series finale

Anthony Rendon homers in third straight game, but Nationals fall to Mariners in series finale

WASHINGTON -- Nelson Cruz greeted reliever Jacob Turner with a go-ahead, three-run homer in the sixth inning, and the Seattle Mariners beat the Washington Nationals 4-2 Thursday to stop a five-game losing streak.

Gio Gonzalez took a 2-0 lead into the sixth, when Jean Segura singled leading off and Guillermo Heredia took a called third strike. That prompted Seattle manager Scott Servais to complain from the dugout, which led to his ejection by plate umpire Adam Hamari.

Robinson Cano singled, and Washington manager Dusty Baker brought in Turner (2-3), despite Cruz having just one hit in 15 at-bats against Gonzalez. Cruz drove a belt-high slider over the fence in left-center for his 12th homer this season and a 3-2 lead. Cruz leads the AL with 40 RBIs.

Cano added an RBI single off Turner in the seventh. Seattle scored multiple runs for the first time since May 18.

Ariel Miranda (4-2) allowed two runs, three hits and three walks in five innings. Edwin Diaz, Seattle's sixth pitcher, threw a one-hit ninth that completed a six-hitter. Diaz got his first save since May 9 and has eight in 10 chances overall.

Gonzalez gave up two runs, three hits and four walks in 5 1/3 innings, striking out eight.

Washington's Anthony Rendon homered in the fifth, his ninth this season and fourth in the three-game series. Jayson Werth added an RBI single later in the inning.

FAMILY FIRST

Baker will be leaving the Nationals for their weekend series against San Diego Padres to attend his son Darren's high school graduation in Northern California and will rejoin the team Monday in San Francisco.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Mariners: LHP James Paxton (forearm strain) could return to the rotation in the first or second game of a homestand that starts Wednesday, Servais said. ... 1B Danny Valencia was in the lineup for a second straight day after sitting out three games with a wrist injury.

Nationals: Baker may continue to use an eight-man bullpen. Baker said the decision depends the progress of INF Stephen Drew's rehabilitation from a hamstring strain. Drew is at extended spring training.

UP NEXT

Mariners: RHP Yovani Gallardo is 2-2 with a 5.28 ERA against Boston, where Seattle begins a three-game set on Friday.

Nationals: RHP Max Scherzer (4-3, 3.02) has allowed two runs or fewer in his last three starts against San Diego, which opens a three-game series in Washington on Friday.

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Josh Norman critiques Roger Goodell, fires warning shot about coming penalties

Josh Norman critiques Roger Goodell, fires warning shot about coming penalties

Josh Norman is great talker. He almost always has something provocative to say, and his Bleacher Report interview published Thursday didn't buck the trend. 

Norman's sneering at NFC East receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Dez Bryant drew immediate, look-what-he-just-said attention.

But let's not gloss over the larger theme of this interview: Norman thinks the NFL is headed down the wrong path. The timid path. 

In his five seasons, the Redskins corner has been on the receiving end of flags and fines for taunting and excess contact. And yet he told Bleacher Report that he's never once met commissioner Roger Goodell. 

Asked how he would handle the commissioner job differently, Norman started with interpersonal basics. 

"First, I would change how I handle people. For one, you don't show up anywhere. You don't show up where the players show up. So how are you going to know what they want?"

"If this is the guy who is your commissioner, who makes all these rules, wouldn't you think you'd want to see him other than when you get in trouble?" he continued. "Why would I see you if I'm in trouble—what's the point? Why wouldn't I see you before then so you can eliminate that?"

MORE REDSKINS: Scouting each opponent on the Redskins' 2017 schedule

But Norman's criticism morphed from finding fault with Goodell to dissatisfaction with the overall evolution of the league.

You're going to recognize this argument. It starts with defensive players lamenting how NFL rules have moved to limit contact, turning guys timid. 

"Now you have to stop and think about it before you actually hit somebody or you're going to get fined," Norman said. "But where's the offense getting fined?"

Then comes the nostalgia for the old days when football players were tough, as opposed to today, when everyone is Mary's little lamb. 

"Playing the way people used to play it in the old days. Like Mike Haynes. Those kinds of guys. Lester Hayes. People who played it with violence and ruthlessness," Norman said when asked what kind of legacy he wants to leave. "Lockjaw. No pussyfooting around. No inching off. None of that softness."

It's that soft mindset of the modern world that's diluting football, and the young guys are part of the problem. 

"We have too many soft guys, too many guys coming up saying, 'I don't know....' Playing their little off, soft technique," he complained. "That's how the soft mind-set of this world has us thinking now."

MORE REDSKINS: Trent Murphy trying to move on from 'gut-wrenching' suspension

This line of reasoning should be very familiar so far, but most that espouse it stop short of saying what they're going to do about it.

Not Norman. 

"You can't touch guys after five yards. ... Screw that! Hands on. Call it if you call it. So what. You're going to have to call it all game."

"I want him to see me with my hands in his face. That's what I want you to see. In their chest, their breast plate, so they cough up air. They skip a beat in their heart kind of thing," Norman said. 

So ... expect some rule-stretching this season? Perhaps against NFC East opponents?

"Trust me when I tell you, it's going to be bad blood this year," he warned. "There's going to be a lot of fines and maybe some suspensions. I'm going to be honest with you: This s--- is going to get really ugly. Because I do have a safety that don't give a f--- and I definitely don't."

"I'm letting all hell break loose."

Well, then. Noted. We'll let the league – and the Redskins – decide how to feel about this plan. 

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins’ Norman confident that changes will improve defense