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Dolphins remain in playoff contention - barely

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Dolphins remain in playoff contention - barely

DAVIE, Fla. (AP) It might be easier for the Miami Dolphins to make the playoffs than to explain how it could happen.

Both tasks are daunting.

With two games left in the regular season, seven teams have a better record than Miami (6-8) in the AFC race for six playoff spots. The Dolphins have a 2.3 percent chance of earning a postseason berth, according to the web site MakeNFLPlayoffs.com.

Hey, it beats being mathematically eliminated. And it gives the Dolphins something to play for Sunday against Buffalo (5-9).

``I heard we're still in the hunt and still have a chance,'' safety Reshad Jones said Wednesday. ``It does kind of surprise me.''

The Dolphins have been above .500 for only one week all season. They recently lost five times in a six-game stretch, and they're ranked in the lower half of the league in both offense and defense.

Even so, they remain eligible. Barely.

``It's a crazy league,'' said rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who last week erroneously declared the Dolphins out of the playoffs. ``You see a strange situation every year. Anything can happen. We've just got to keep plugging away.''

Don't ask them to explain the sequence of results that would get them into the playoffs.

``I really have no idea,'' tight end Anthony Fasano said. ``I don't know what it takes. You control what you can control; no need to exert energy on other things.''

To have any chance at the postseason, the Dolphins must beat Buffalo and win their regular-season finale at New England.

Four other games in the final two weeks must also go the Dolphins' way. They need for the Bengals to lose their final two games, the Steelers to lose to Cleveland, and the Jets to lose once.

If all of those things happen, the Dolphins would finish tied with the Bengals and Steelers at 8-8 and would win the tiebreaker.

Running back Reggie Bush was among those fuzzy on the details. When they were outlined to him, he shook his head.

``That's too much remembering,'' he said. ``I'm just worried about what we can control.''

He offered a slight twist on football's favorite cliche.

``We're just trying to take these next two games one game at a time,'' Bush said.

First-year coach Joe Philbin hasn't talked about the playoffs all season, and he said it's not a point of emphasis this week.

``The emphasis is a division opponent coming into our home stadium - a team that we haven't beaten yet,'' Philbin said. ``If you want to be a consistently good football team in the National Football League, you've got to win your home games and you've got to win your division games. So that's the real emphasis this week.''

Playoffs haven't been talked about much at the Dolphins' complex for the past decade. They've reached the postseason only once during that span.

A week ago, when the Dolphins had won just one game since Halloween, it was understandable for Tannehill to declare his team a non-contender.

``We realize we're out of the playoff race,'' he said.

Tannehill was quickly corrected by the coaching staff. Then the Dolphins beat Jacksonville, while two other teams contending for the final wild-card berth lost.

Tannehill made certain his assessment of the Dolphins' playoffs chances this week was more mathematically precise.

``We still have something to play for at this point, even if it may be realistically small,'' he said. ``We just have to go out and take care of what we can, and that's winning Sunday.''

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Wizards vs. Hornets: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

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USA TODAY Sports

Wizards vs. Hornets: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Jr. and the Washington Wizards battle Kemba Walker, Dwight Howard, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night.

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch:

WASHINGTON WIZARDS VS. CHARLOTTE HORNETS

Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 7 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (coverage begins at 6 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

On a roll

The Wizards have some serious momentum going right now. With an impressive win over the Cavs on Thursday, they have now won three straight games and eight of 10 since John Wall went down with a left knee injury. They had a week off due to the All-Star break, but didn't show any rust at all in their first game back.

The Wizards are now 34-24, 10 games above the .500 mark. They are fourth in the East and could move into third on Friday if they win and the Cavaliers lose. Even with Wall out, things continue to look up for Washington.

PODCAST: BIGGEST STORYLINES COMING OUT OF ALL-STAR BREAK

Hornets have had their number

The Wizards haven't done so well against the Hornets so far this season. Charlotte has taken both meetings and that includes a 24-point win on Jan. 17. That game featured Dwight Howard taunting the Wizards late in the fourth quarter.

Howard has killed the Wizards through two games with averages of 22.0 points and 14.0 rebounds. Jeremy Lamb (20.0 ppg vs. Wizards) has been a big factor as well as All-Star Kemba Walker (21.5 ppg vs. Wizards).

The last time these teams played about a month ago frustrations boiled over in an incident that got Tim Frazier ejected. Michael Carter-Williams picked a fight with Jason Smith and Frazier went off:

RELATED: BEAL IMPRESSED BY LEBRON AT ALL-STAR GAME

Hornets coming in hot

The Hornets are outside the playoff picture at the moment at eight games below .500, but they have won two straight games and Walker and Howard are coming off huge games. In a win over the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday, Walker dropped 31 points and Howard grabbed 24 rebounds.

Those guys will be riding a high coming into Washington on Friday. But it should be noted that Howard complained after the game how tired he is at this point in the season. That exhausion could affect him more in the second game of a back-to-back.

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS

 

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' huge road win over Cavaliers, including Markieff Morris' alley-oop

5 must-see moments from Wizards' huge road win over Cavaliers, including Markieff Morris' alley-oop

Here are the five best plays or moments from the Washington Wizards' 110-103 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night...

1. The Wizards didn't start out well, as they trailed by nine points at the end of the first quarter. Kelly Oubre, Jr. stumbled early by missing four of his first six shots and it looked like a carryover of his slump before the All-Star break.

But Oubre got hot in the second quarter and helped the Wizards turn the game around. This was one of his best plays, a two-handed slam that he celebrated with an emphatic scream to the crowd:

RELATED: BEAL IMPRESSED BY LEBRON AT ALL-STAR GAME

2. Tomas Satoransky was one of the stars of the game. He had 17 points to go along with eight assists, four rebounds and two steals. 

Here's one of his dimes, a perfect alley-oop lob to Markieff Morris, who finished with nine points and eight rebounds:

3. Satoransky has reached double-figures in six of the 10 games since John Wall went out with an injury. This was a very impressive move, a stepback fadeaway that was super smooth:

RELATED: GET TO KNOW NEW WIZARDS FREE AGENT SIGNING

4. Ian Mahinmi made some key contributions including four offensive rebounds and a steal. This was his best basket, a powerful slam that came at a key time:

5. This play helped seal the victory. It was a smart after-timeout set drawn up by head coach Scott Brooks and it worked to perfection:

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS