The Wizards have won a game!

952229.jpg

The Wizards have won a game!

From Comcast SportsNetWASHINGTON (AP) -- After their worst start in history, the Washington Wizards became a national punch line. On TNT, Charles Barkley compared them with the Washington Generals, and a local newspaper had photos of fans wearing paper bags over their heads at Monday's 26-point loss to San Antonio.The jokes can stop -- at least for now.Washington earned its first victory after starting the season with 12 straight losses, beating the Portland Trail Blazers 84-82 on Wednesday night."When you're 0-12, guys are going to make fun. That's our business, guys," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said."When you get to this level, you've got to have some thick skin, and you've got to be able to overcome those kind of things."Washington survived a scoreless 6:47 in the fourth when Jordan Crawford, who had 19 points, hit on a 3-pointer with 2:06 to play. The Wizards finally took the 84-82 lead on Emeka Okafor's two free throws with 39.1 seconds remaining.Damian Lillard was called for traveling with 28 seconds left. After Nene was called for an offensive foul, J.J. Hickson missed a jumper with 2.8 seconds to play. The Wizards lost the ball with 0.2 seconds to go, but held on to end the skid."Well, we made it interesting, but we won," Wittman said.Nine teams started the season 0-13, and the Wizards were tired of the ridicule they'd been subjected to -- locally and nationally -- as they crept toward the Nets' NBA record-worst start of 0-18."We don't want to go down in history as one of the worst teams ever," Washington forward Chris Singleton said.Wittman, whose team travels to New York on Friday and plays Miami next Tuesday, knows the next win may be hard to get."We just broke through the ice. I've lived in Minnesota for 15, 17 years. That ice was 4 or 5 feet deep, but it's broken through now," Wittman said.Trevor Ariza had 14 and Kevin Seraphin added 10 points and 10 rebounds for Washington, which ended the third quarter on a 23-7 run to take a 68-59 lead, then padded its lead to 15 barely three minutes into the fourth.The 79-64 lead seemed safe -- even for the Wizards -- but the Trail Blazers ran off 16 straight points to take a 80-79 lead with 2:27 to play.Lillard and Nicolas Batum led Portland, losers of three straight, with 20. LaMarcus Aldridge had 17. Hickson had 15 points and 19 rebounds."Loss is a loss, but this one definitely stings knowing the team is 0-12. You never want to be the team they get the win on but we were that team," Hickson said.Wesley Matthews addressed the Blazers after his team lost, and all his teammates were especially downcast."You don't want to be the first team, that's very embarrassing," Batum said.Martel Webster had also used "embarrassing" to describe Washington's 26-point loss on Monday. He was a bit relieved after the game."We are definitely an underdog. We're definitely looked at as the losers of the league, but that's OK. We believe in each other," Webster said.Rookie Bradley Beal wasn't celebrating his first NBA win -- one that took 29 days to get. He claimed, like most of the Wizards, to ignore the chatter on TV and in the cyber world."I don't pay attention to that stuff. They're on the outside looking in. They don't know how hard we work. They just see us playing and the scores," Beal said.The Blazers hit six of their first seven shots and took a 15-4 lead four minutes into the game.Nene entered the game with 1:43 to play and helped spur the Wizards to a 37-31 lead with six minutes to play in the first half. At halftime, the teams were tied at 43-all.After missing the first nine games of the season with a left foot injury, Nene played two games before missing Monday night's loss. He had six points in 19 minutes."For tonight: fresh air, that's all I can say," Nene said.Notes: Washington F Trevor Booker missed his fourth straight game with a right knee injury. ... This was the 100th all-time meeting between the teams. Portland leads 52-48. ... The Wizards' bench outscored the Trail Blazers' 46-4. ... Portland has four more games in eight days left on this season-high, seven-game road trip: at Boston, Cleveland, Charlotte and Indiana.

Falcons' outcome to determine 49ers' interview schedule

Falcons' outcome to determine 49ers' interview schedule

The 49ers will hold their second interview with Atlanta offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan as early as Monday, a source told CSNBayArea.com on Sunday morning.

If the Falcons lose Sunday in the NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers, the 49ers are tentatively scheduled to interview Shanahan on Monday and Tuesday in Atlanta, the source said.

If the Falcons win and advance to the Super Bowl, the 49ers’ second interview with Shanahan would wait until Friday. The early part of the week would be devoted to planning for the Super Bowl.

The 49ers would have until the Sunday the week before the Super Bowl to hold a second interview with Shanahan, who originally met with 49ers executives Jed York and Paraag Marathe on Jan. 6 in Atlanta.

Shanahan is the only 49ers coaching candidate remaining among the six individuals who interviewed to replace Chip Kelly. All signs point to Shanahan to become the team’s next head coach. Atlanta coach Dan Quinn announced to his staff that Shanahan would be taking the job, the NFL Network reported last week. The 49ers are prohibited from officially hiring Shanahan until the Falcons' season is over.

Shanahan is also expected to have a major influence in the 49ers’ hiring of a general manager to replace Trent Baalke, whose firing was announced shortly after the 49ers finished the season with a 2-14 record.

Minnesota assistant general manager George Paton appears to be the front-runner for the position. Paton, like Shanahan, first interviewed with the 49ers on Jan. 6 in Atlanta.

Of the 49ers’ original candidates for the general manager position, Arizona vice president of player personnel Terry McDonough is the only other individual who is still in the mix. The 49ers have not ruled out bringing in other GM candidates to interview, a source said.

Royals ace Yordano Ventura dies in car crash at 25 years old

Royals ace Yordano Ventura dies in car crash at 25 years old

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura, whose electric arm and confident demeanor helped lead his long-suffering team to the 2015 World Series title, died in a car crash in his native Dominican Republic early Sunday. He was 25.

With the fitting nickname of "Ace," Ventura burst onto the baseball scene with a 100 mph fastball and an explosive attitude to match. He was a fierce competitor always willing to challenge hitters inside, then deal with the ramifications when they decided to charge the mound.

Not surprisingly, he quickly became a fan favorite as Kansas City embraced baseball once again.

"Our prayers right now are with Yordano's family as we mourn this young man's passing," Royals general manager Dayton Moore said in a statement. "He was so young and so talented, full of youthful exuberance and always brought a smile to everyone he interacted with. We will get through this as an organization, but right now is a time to mourn and celebrate the life of Yordano."

Highway patrol spokesman Jacobo Mateo said Ventura died on a highway leading to the town of Juan Adrian, about 40 miles northwest of Santo Domingo. Mateo did not say whether Ventura was driving.

Also Sunday, former major league infielder Andy Marte died in a separate car accident in the Dominican Republic. Metropolitan traffic authorities said he died about 95 miles north of the capital.

"We are deeply saddened to learn of the tragic passing of Andy Marte and Yordano Ventura," players union executive Tony Clark said. "It's never easy to lose a member of our fraternity, and there are no words to describe the feeling of losing two young men in the prime of their lives. Our thoughts and prayers go out to their families, friends, teammates and fans throughout the United States and Latin America."

Ventura is the second young pitching star to die in past four months. Marlins ace Jose Fernandez was among three men killed in a boating accident in late September, when the 24-year-old pitcher's boat crashed into a jetty off Miami Beach in the early morning hours.

Ventura went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA in 2014, his first full season in the big leagues, and helped the long-downtrodden Royals reach the World Series for the first time since 1985. He proceeded to dominate San Francisco in both of his starts, though the Royals would ultimately lose in seven games.

In an eerie coincidence, Ventura paid tribute to his friend and countryman, Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras, with a handwritten message on his cap during Game 6. Taveras also was killed in a car accident in the Dominican Republic, and his funeral occurred just hours before Ventura stepped on the mound.

The following year, now firmly entrenched in the rotation, Ventura helped lead Kansas City back to the World Series, pitching well in two starts against Toronto in the AL championship Series. The Royals went on to beat the New York Mets in five games to win their second championship.

Not surprisingly, the Royals moved quickly to sign their burgeoning young ace to a five-year contract through the 2019 season that included two more options that could have kept him in Kansas City.

He wound up pitching his entire career for the Royals, going 38-31 with a 3.89 ERA.

Born June 3, 1991, in Samana, Dominican Republic, Ventura represented a true rags-to-riches story. He quit school at 14 and was laboring on a construction crew to support his family when Ventura heard about a tryout, which led to a spot in the Royals' academy located on his picturesque island home.

Still, the odds were long that Ventura would ever make it to the big leagues. Very few players from the Dominican academies reached the pinnacle of the sport.

But over time, Ventura was able to harness one of the most electric fastballs that scouts had seen in years, and his headstrong and confident nature was essential in his rapid rise. He made his big league debut to great fanfare in 2013, allowing just one run again Cleveland in a sign of things to come.

He eventually became a cornerstone of a youth movement that included young stars such as first baseman Eric Hosmer and third baseman Mike Moustakas, one that carried the Royals first to respectability, then to the top of the American League — rare heights the organization had not experienced in decades.

Hosmer took to Twitter upon hearing the news of Ventura's death, saying: "I love you my brother. I'm in disbelief and don't know what to say. I love you ACE."

Moustakas also expressed disbelief, tweeting: "I love you Ace. I don't know what to say other than I'm going to miss you a lot. RIP ACE."