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Washington seems intent on screwing up the Kristaps Porziņģis trade

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Kristaps Porziņģis has only appeared in 10 of Washington’s 19 games since being traded.

Kristaps Porziņģis has only appeared in 10 of Washington’s 19 games since being traded.
Image: Getty Images

The Washington Wizards are still playing basketball, and I thought I’d inform you because you may have forgotten about them like the empty La Croix can on your coffee table that’s been there so long it’s basically a centerpiece. “Ignored garbage” is probably the most apt way to describe this team after their hot/lucky start so many months ago.

The only highlight they’ve produced lately was a flagrant foul on Grayson Allen.

A relatively harmless cheap shot on a cheap shot artist who epitomizes everything everyone hates about Duke basketball is always welcome viewing in my eyes, and kudos to Tomas Satoransky for doing what a lot of players would like to do to Allen without breaking Allen’s wrist. Satoransky wasn’t even ejected; he got a flagrant one and was able to finish out the team’s loss to the Bucks.

Honestly, I’d only be half mad if you stopped reading after watching that because the Wizards are so completely, unapologetically futile that it’s depressing. This is the part where I remind you they acquired Kristaps Porziņģis at the trade deadline, and he’s only appeared in 10 of Washington’s 19 games and the team is 3-7 those contests. His stats have marginally improved, though, so there’s that.

If you’re wondering what this team would look like at full strength, I imagine it’s somewhere around .500 and maybe making a play-in game. The Wizards fans I know, and I know a weird amount of them considering I only spent a summer in DC, are apathetic toward Bradley Beal and really don’t care if he stays or goes.

It’s not a Damian Lillard-Portland scenario where the fanbase is distraught over him playing elsewhere, and the people who are pushing for a rebuild are in denial about how much they’ll miss the best player in franchise history. While I can’t come up with a “Greatest Wizard ever” off the top of my head (I wanna say Wes Unseld?) it’s definitely not Beal.

The issue is Beal and Porziņģis are owed more than $70 million combined next season, and if you add in the $26 million going to Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, it’s a lot of money for two glorified role players, a hornless unicorn, and a guy whose All-Star numbers don’t translate into wins. New GM Tommy Sheppard should treat the entire roster as expendable this offseason and either go all in to surround his “star” with a mixture of players — who I’m not sure exist or are even available in free agency — to complement Beal’s skill set, or gut the team and start a rebuild.

I’m never in favor of tearing down a team after multiple postseason-less years. It’s like when you’re making a cake and it’s going horribly but the only options are ice the damn thing and enjoy the crumbling mess or start all over. At least give Wizards fans a slice of menial success before making them fast for the foreseeable future.

The team’s two young Gonzagans have shown promise as it appears Coery Kispert’s shooting will translate to the NBA, and Rui Hachimura will be a serviceable NBA player if he can stay healthy. I like Deni Avdija’s game, too. However, he, like the two former Bulldogs, needs more experience to develop, and Wiz bloggers have been annoyed with new coach Wes Unseld Jr.’s preference to play vets during the dregs of another disappointing season.

When Sheppard brought in Porziņģis, I wrote that it’s basically a calculated gamble. If the Latvian big man puts up impressive numbers in an expanded role, it could resurrect his value and make him a trade asset for another unsuspecting team dumb enough to think he’s anything more than a niche player. That said, they seem intent on proving he’s what NBA teams think he is.

His role hasn’t been expanded. He’s taking fewer shots per game and playing fewer minutes. I mentioned his stats are up — 21 points per game compared with 19 in Dallas, seven free throws per game compared with five for the Mavs, and 49/32/87 shooting splits, up from 45/28/86 (per BasketballReference) — so what gives? What’s holding them back from unleashing the Zinger?

It could be a concern over injuries because you can’t flip a broken asset, but you can’t flip an asset if its value has lessened; that’s called taking a loss. Maybe they want to save him to see what he looks like next to Beal. OK, then why give Kuzma and KCP all these minutes? Leave it up to the Wizards to buy a fixer upper only to grind more feces into the carpet.

The lone reason I can ascertain from this ambling approach to team building is they’re trying to piss off Beal so he requests a trade. I don’t know why they’d want to lose all leverage, but I rarely have an explanation for why Washington does a lot of the weird shit they do.

They don’t want to be good or bad, they seemingly just want to exist.



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Chelsea 2-0 Manchester City: Fran Kirby and Maren Mjelde goals secure first points of WSL title defence

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Kirby struck the opener in the 42nd minute and Mjelde added a spot-kick with 12 minutes of normal time remaining as Emma Hayes’ side bounced back from the shock 2-1 loss at Liverpool in their campaign opener last Sunday.

Gareth Taylor’s City created a number of chances, particularly in the first half, which included a Laura Coombs shot that Ann-Katrin Berger did superbly to divert against a post, but they were unable to save themselves from another loss following last weekend’s 4-3 reverse at Aston Villa.

After Chelsea threatened in the first few seconds of the contest, with Sam Kerr shooting wide, City exerted the greater pressure for much of the opening 45 minutes.

Chloe Kelly saw an attempt held by Berger – back in action for the first time since last month confirming a recurrence of thyroid cancer – and Khadija Shaw sent two efforts over the bar.

Berger subsequently palmed behind when Lauren Hemp tried to beat her at the near post in the 35th minute, before dealing with a deflected effort by Deyna Castellanos.

It was Chelsea who then grabbed the lead late in the half as Guro Reiten knocked the ball across the box to Kirby and the England playmaker, with Lionesses boss Sarina Wiegman watching on from the stands, side-footed home.

Moments later Berger pulled off a fine stop as her leg sent Coombs’ shot against the post. And as City then pushed again early in the second half, Laia Aleixandri flicked wide from a corner and Coombs had another shot saved by Berger.

But the visitors struggled to create much thereafter, while Chelsea sought a second goal with Lauren James curling one shot wide and having another saved by Ellie Roebuck, and Kirby firing over.

Hayes’ team were then awarded a penalty when substitute Sophie Ingle’s strike hit the arm of Leila Ouahabi, and defender Mjelde calmly converted past Roebuck from 12 yards.

Additional reporting by PA.



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Super League Grand Final: St Helens’ Jonny Lomax comes back from the brink to write name in history | Rugby League News

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Marc Bazeley

@MarcBazeley

Jonny Lomax was awarded the Harry Sunderland Trophy for player of the match as St Helens clinched an historic fourth-straight Betfred Super League Grand Final triumph with a 24-12 win over Leeds Rhinos; The half-back had previously considered calling time on his playing days due to injury

Last Updated: 25/09/22 1:50pm

Jonny Lomax was awarded the Harry Sunderland Trophy for his part in helping St Helens to a fourth-straight Grand Final win

Jonny Lomax was awarded the Harry Sunderland Trophy for his part in helping St Helens to a fourth-straight Grand Final win

Seven years ago, Jonny Lomax was contemplating whether he would even play rugby league again. Now the St Helens half-back’s name is in the history books for his pivotal role in helping them to a previously unprecedented fourth-straight Betfred Super League Grand Final triumph.

Knee injuries and surgery which saw him restricted to 15 games in 2014 and only five at the start of the 2015 campaign had worn Lomax down to the extent he had told his father he was going to call time on his playing career as he could not see himself going through the long rehabilitation process again.

The support of his family and Saints team-mates helped get him through those tough times though, and now the 32-year-old is a four-time Grand Final winner and Harry Sunderland Trophy recipient for his starring role in Saturday’s 24-12 win over Leeds Rhinos at Old Trafford.

“If I do go back to 2014 and 2015 when I was going into my third ACL operation and the rest of it, I probably did think my career was done and I didn’t want to go through it all again,” Lomax said, reflecting on his personal journey in the wake of that success.

“Thankfully, I’ve got fantastic people around me at home and in my immediate family and the boys here.

“I’d decided in my head – probably purely on emotion because it was emotional at the time – that’s me, I’m done and can’t see a way back.

“There were a few things that happened speaking with my family that probably turned that around.”

Highlights of the Super League Grand Final between St Helens and Leeds Rhinos.

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Highlights of the Super League Grand Final between St Helens and Leeds Rhinos.

Highlights of the Super League Grand Final between St Helens and Leeds Rhinos.

Along with the members of the Rugby League Writers and Broadcasters Association who voted Lomax as winning of the player of the match award, one other person who was effusive in his praise of the England international was St Helens’ departing head coach Kristian Woof.

The Australian, who is now preparing to lead Tonga at the upcoming Rugby League World Cup before returning home for his new role with NRL expansion club Dolphins, went as far as put Lomax’s contributions to the team’s success during his three seasons in charge alongside those of the club’s inspirational captain James Roby.

“You talk about hard work, selfless acts and what you’re prepared to do for your team-mates and it’s not just about turning up for a Grand Final and doing that,” Woolf said.

“A Grand Final is a reflection of what you do all the time and Robes leads from the front and this team is a reflection of him as a person and in terms of his work ethic and who he is as a player.

The award is nice, but it’s that trophy we’ve lifted as a team is what it’s all about for me. I’d sacrifice anything individually to be a part of this team and come away with the silverware because of the principles we’re about.

Grand Final player of the match Jonny Lomax

“But I’d put Jonny in the same boat, and you talk about two blokes who lead a group in the right direction and in all those things.

“There are no two harder workers, better people or more honest people and they are the reason why there is so much success in this team.”

Lomax, in turn, was quick to highlight Woolf’s contribution to a team which were already Grand Final winners under his predecessor Justin Holbrook and have gone on to establish a level of dominance in Super League hitherto unseen since rugby league’s switch to a summer sport in 1996.

A large part of that, he believes, is down to the 47-year-old’s beliefs aligning with those of the players and St Helens itself – those working-class values which became entrenched on the back of town’s growth as the centre of the glassmaking industry.

Jonny Lomax’s 2022 Grand Final statistics

Try assists 1
Metres made 155
Average metres gained 6
Tackle busts 5
Attacking kicks 9

“The principles Kristian is about as a person tie in very well with us,” Lomax said. “It’s about hard work, being honest and keep trying to show up for your mate and that togetherness.

“Kristian has instilled that into us, and he’s definitely made us tougher as a team to beat. It’s not always a perfect game, but one thing he has made us do is compete hard and keep showing up for each other.

“It’s probably instilled into us as well because St Helens is a working-class town, it’s the principles it is built on and that’s what we want to put onto the field, and that’s something Kristian has been strong in his belief in.”

That attitude of teamwork making the dream work will undoubtedly continue whoever succeeds Woolf as head coach for 2023, when Saints will be aiming for a barely imaginable five Grand Final wins in a row.

Jonny Lomax was proud of his St Helens team after they claimed their fourth Grand Final in a row after victory over Leeds Rhinos.

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Jonny Lomax was proud of his St Helens team after they claimed their fourth Grand Final in a row after victory over Leeds Rhinos.

Jonny Lomax was proud of his St Helens team after they claimed their fourth Grand Final in a row after victory over Leeds Rhinos.

And while Lomax was proud to have been awarded the Harry Sunderland Trophy, becoming the 11th individual St Helens player to win it since it was first presented in 1965, he would gladly swap it for another Grand Final ring.

“The award is nice, but it’s that trophy we’ve lifted as a team is what it’s all about for me,” Lomax said.

“I’d sacrifice anything individually to be a part of this team and come away with the silverware because of the principles we’re about.

“For me, it’s more being proud of being part of this group and that’s the biggest thing I’ll take away.”





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D.J. Uiagalelei bailed out Clemson’s defense this time around

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D.J. Uiagalelei threw for 371 yards and five touchdowns in Clemson's 51-45 win over Wake Forest

D.J. Uiagalelei threw for 371 yards and 5 touchdowns against Wake Forest
Image: Getty Images

Clemson fans finally got the game from D.J. Uiagalelei that they’ve been waiting for, finishing with 371 yards passing and five touchdowns. You’d figure that kind of day would lead to a blowout of No. 21 Wake Forest with the defense we’re accustomed to seeing from the Tigers. After two overtimes and more than 1,000 yards of total offense, the perennial conference champions held off the reigning kings of the ACC, 51-45.

Demon Deacon QB Sam Hartman tallied six touchdown passes, repeatedly hitting receivers for big plays — or pass-interference flags — up until the second overtime when the hopes of an upset were dashed on a fourth down heave to the endzone. Tiger cornerback Nate Wiggins, who was getting targeted all day, made the game-sealing pass breakup, and Dabo Swinney’s team escaped Winston-Salem with its winning streak — now at 10 — still intact.

As comforting as Uiagalelei’s performance was, the defense is just as concerning. The defensive front was without one of its best players, so they’re not at full strength. Yet they’ve shown some hints the past couple of weeks that they might be missing coordinator Brent Venables, and now those signs are blinking bright red.

I liked Wake Forest’s chances in Saturday’s game, but my questions were more about the quarterback. Clemson has allowed more than 40 points only five times in the past five-plus years. Notre Dame, LSU, Ohio State, and Pitt were responsible for the previous four, and now Wake Forest is on that list.

Outside of a one-play possession that ran out the final 14 seconds of the first half, Wake scored on five-straight drives from the second quarter to the fourth. Dave Clawson’s insistence on the run during the Deacs’ final chance at a score in regulation — Clemson’s only stop of the second half — was a weird strategy considering how hot Hartman was.

Saying Dabo out-coached him might not be accurate either as his equally hot offense wasn’t even given a chance to get within field goal range with 49 seconds left to try to win the game sans OT, and Wake hemorrhaging yards. (He also ran his kicker out for a 52-yarder to tie the game with four minutes left in the game, and his trust was rewarded as B.T. Potter drilled the kick.)

The day belonged to Uiagalelei though. This was the exact type of command and playmaking Clemson fans have been waiting for out of him, and it came in a high-pressure situation. The 371 yards passing is the second highest output of his career, and his first game with 300-plus yards since Nov. 7, 2020. The five passing scores are a career-high by three TDs.

He made plenty of tough throws, but the hardest came on a two-point conversion in the third quarter to tie the contest at 28. Under pressure, with a Deacon holding his leg, he found receiver Beaux Collins despite only having one foot on the ground.

Even though Wake’s defense leaves a lot to be desired — the fangless three-man rushes allowed Uiagalelei enough time to write a memoir — this was as perfect of a game as a quarterback can play.

No. 12 NC State and QB Devin Leary visit Death Valley next week, and if the Wolfpack can get by UConn, College Gameday could find itself with another orange-heavy destination. The Clemson defense will have another veteran quarterback to contain, but that can be said of both teams.



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