...while RG3 leaves with an ugly knee injury

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...while RG3 leaves with an ugly knee injury

From Comcast SportsNetLANDOVER, Md. (AP) -- Robert Griffin III reached too far for the football, his already injured right leg twisting gruesomely behind him.Just like that, Griffin was done. And so were the Washington Redskins.The Seattle Seahawks finally won a road playoff game, snapping an eight-game postseason skid away from home with a 24-14 NFC wild-card victory Sunday over the Redskins, who lost Griffin to another knee injury in the fourth quarter."I think I did put myself at more risk by being out there," Griffin said. "But every time you get on the field, you're putting yourself on the line."Griffin didn't know what the injury was, and coach Mike Shanahan said he was scheduled for an MRI to determine the extent of the injury.Washington won seven straight games to win the NFC East title and become the only team in the last 16 years to make the playoffs after a 3-6 start. But any hope for a late comeback win against the Seahawks ended once Griffin's heavily braced right knee buckled badly as he strained to field a bad shotgun snap in the fourth quarter. He lay on the ground, unable to recover the ball as the Seahawks pounced on it.Many fans in the stands stood in silence, their hands covering their faces as Griffin was being attended to. Several of Griffin's Redskins teammates also stood around the quarterback to see if he was OK.Though Griffin walked off the field under his own power after several minutes and saluted the fans, the Redskins (10-7) quickly announced he would not return."If you didn't pull him out then, you should get fired," Shanahan said.Griffin suffered a mild sprain of the lateral collateral ligament located on the outside of the knee against Baltimore on Dec. 9, caused when he was hit by defensive tackle Haloti Ngata at the end of a 13-yard scramble. He was limping earlier in this game, clearly still ailing from that injury."It was hard to watch RGIII tonight," Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. "It was hard on him. He was freaking gallant."Despite Griffin's struggles, Shanahan left him in the game. Not that Griffin would have accepted an early exit."I probably would been right back out there on the field," Griffin said. "You respect authority, and I respect coach Shanahan. But at the same time, you have to step up and be a man, sometimes. There was no way I was coming out of that game."Griffin went to the locker room to get checked out after going down in a heap in the fourth quarter, but walked back out a few minutes later and stood on the sideline as only a spectator for the rest of the game.Seattle's Steven Hauschka kicked his third field goal of the game, and backup quarterback Kirk Cousins couldn't pull off the late-game heroics he displayed a few weeks ago against the Ravens when Griffin was first injured. Griffin was playing in his third game since spraining his right knee against Baltimore, which also brought Cousins into that game.While setting a rookie quarterback record with 815 rushing yards this season, Griffin captivated the D.C. area -- and the football world -- with his dazzling ability to pass and run. After four straight last-place finishes in the NFC East, the Redskins appear to have a bright future with their No. 2 overall pick.As long as Griffin is healthy, of course.Sunday's game was only the second playoff contest in NFL history between rookie quarterbacks, and before his injury, Griffin looked more like a first-year player than he had during Washington's impressive run to end the regular season. He completed 10 of 19 passes for 84 yards with two touchdowns and an interception and ran for 21 yards on five carries."I don't feel like me being out there hurt the team in any way," Griffin said. "I'm the best option."Shanahan said he spoke with Griffin throughout the game about the quarterback's health."He said, Hey, trust me. I want to be in there, and I deserve to be in there,'" Shanahan said. "I couldn't disagree with him."Meanwhile, Marshawn Lynch ran for 132 yards and a touchdown and Russell Wilson completed 15 of 26 passes for 187 yards and ran eight times for 67 yards for the Seahawks, who broke an eight-game postseason losing streak away from home.Wilson was among those who watched and worried after Griffin went down."He's a tremendous football player," Wilson said. "I just prayed he was all right."Seattle (12-5) will visit the top-seeded Atlanta Falcons next Sunday.Lynch's 27-yard run with 7:08 remaining gave the Seahawks their first lead of the game - and then Seattle held on for the win.Griffin tossed touchdown passes to Evan Royster and Logan Paulsen as Washington scored on its first two drives to take a 14-0 lead, but Seattle rallied to move on to the next round."We actually got a chance to sit at the dinner table and experience success," Griffin said. "It was a good meal, but now we want to go back and get dessert, and we'll be ready to get dessert next year."

Stars, studs and duds: Olynyk finding his stride off Celtics bench

Stars, studs and duds: Olynyk finding his stride off Celtics bench

BOSTON – It’s easy to forget that Kelly Olynyk went several months without doing anything basketball-related as he was on the mend from shoulder surgery.

His return had its share of ups and downs, but it seems the 7-foot center has found his stride and he’s making opponents pay for it.

For the second time in as many games, Olynyk came up big for the Celtics as Boston continued on its winning ways with a 108-98 win over Charlotte.

Olynyk, who scored a season-high 26 points in Boston’s win at Atlanta on Friday, had an efficient 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting against the Hornets on Monday.

Assertive. Aggressive. Contract year.

It doesn’t matter how you describe what or why Olynyk is ballin’ so hard lately.

The point is he’s doing it a better job of recognizing opportunities to make plays and executing whatever role he’s being asked to play.

“Just feeling good with the second unit,” Olynyk said. “I’m just trying to be aggressive and help the starters out.”

In the past, teams have mixed up their defensive coverages on Olynyk which frequently left him being guarded by a quicker but smaller player, or a big man with limited mobility.

Often Olynyk settled for long range shots and 3’s, regardless of the defender.

But as we’ve seen the last couple of games, he has hurt teams with his scoring around the rim which has in turn opened things up for his teammates or himself.

“We need him to play like that all the time,” said Boston’s Isaiah Thomas. “When he’s aggressive, looking for his shot, shooting open shots, even getting in there getting rebounds, offensive put-backs, that only helps us as a unit. And he’s done a great job of that the past couple games. We need that from him.”

And as he gets further removed from his offseason surgery, opportunities for him to be an impactful player for Boston will only grow.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Monday’s game.

 

STARS

Isaiah Thomas

The Celtics win, and Isaiah Thomas has another offensive flurry in the fourth quarter. So what else is new? He led all scorers with 35 points which included 17 in the fourth quarter.

Kemba Walker

He’s still playing at a level that puts him in the All-Star conversation, but it’s not going to happen with the Hornets continuing to struggle. They’ve lost five in a row now despite Walker’s 24 points on Monday.

 

STUDS

Al Horford

Boston is playing more inside-out basketball of late, and that’s opening things up for both Horford and his teammates. Against the Hornets he had 22 points on 8-for-14 shooting along with six rebounds and four assists.

Kelly Olynyk

For the second straight game, Olynyk had a strong, impactful performance for the Celtics utilizing his strengths as a perimeter threat and a 7-footer who can take advantage of smaller defenders around the rim. He finished with 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting to go with nine rebounds, four assists and a steal.

Marvin Williams

He was the only other Hornet besides Kemba Walker who really impacted the game significantly. Williams had 21 points on 8-for-14 shooting which included 3-for-6 shooting from 3-point range.

Jae Crowder

The 6-foot-6 Crowder continues to have a sneaky-good season for the Celtics, particularly with his 3-point shooting which ranks among the league leaders. On Monday he had 15 points which included a trio of 3-pointers to go with seven rebounds, three assists and a blocked shot.

 

DUDS

Nicolas Batum

Avery Bradley put most of his effort and attention into defending Batum and man, did it ever pay off. Batum grabbed 10 rebounds, but wound up missing nine of his 11 shots from the field to finish with just four points.

Julien wonders whether Bruins shutout loss was fatigue-related

Julien wonders whether Bruins shutout loss was fatigue-related

BOSTON – The Bruins didn’t show anything on the ice in Monday afternoon’s 4-0 matinee loss, and that’s not really any kind of an overstatement.

The scoring chances were almost nonexistent despite 32 shots on net, the second period was dreadful as the Bruins gave up three goals over the course of a six minute span and there was zero added urgency in the third period once the B’s fell behind. The emotion was missing from the drop of the puck to open the game and it never showed up once the Islanders began taking control of the game.

It was a bitterly disappointing result after the Black and Gold had played so well in their previous five games, and put in strong, winning efforts against the Panthers, Blues and Flyers.

On Monday afternoon, the passes were sloppy and errant all over the ice, there was zero physicality and the Bruins buckled once the Isles turned the intensity up just a little bit in the second period. The game was basically over once Nikolay Kulemin snapped one home wide open from the slot area with Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid and David Krejci all blowing their defensive assignments, and then Tuukka Rask followed it up by allowing a softie to Josh Bailey from a bad angle close to net.  

So Bruins head coach Claude Julien termed it a “flat” performance once it was all over with, and openly wondered whether it was fatigue-related result linked to the compacted schedule Boston has played through this season. Monday marked the seventh straight day that the Bruins held some kind of formal skate, though most of the veteran B's players stayed off the ice during last week's Wednesday off-day practice in Nashville.   

“We were flat tonight, obviously, flat from the get-go. I think that first half of the game, we didn’t give much until they scored that first goal. We were able to stay in, but we certainly weren’t generating much ourselves, from that point of view,” said Claude Julien. “His is really the first year, for me as well, going through a condensed schedule, and I’m certainly not using that as an excuse, is it fatigue?. . . But we were flat tonight. How do you explain it? I don’t know. I know that it’s frustrating. I know that it’s disappointing. That’s all I can say.

“Whether it’s mental fatigue, whatever it is. We made some mistakes tonight like, from the goals you look at, we weren’t even in the position that we’re normally in. So we were totally out of whack, as far as even defending. When you give that first goal that much room in the middle of the ice, your D’s go on the wrong side, your weak-side forward is way on the other side, and you open up the slot area, that’s something I haven’t seen much of this year. I think it said a lot from our game tonight.”

The compacted schedule certainly could be a factor for a Bruins team that’s played more games than anybody else in the Eastern Conference to this point, but the B’s also had 48 hours to recharge after winning a Saturday matinee over the Flyers. So the fatigue excuse seems a little far-fetched for a hockey club that’s no-showed a few too many times this season, and did it again on Monday afternoon against one of the worst teams in the NHL.