Redskins

Bucks beat Suns 108-99 in Boylan's first game

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Bucks beat Suns 108-99 in Boylan's first game

MILWAUKEE (AP) Brandon Jennings scored 29 points and the Milwaukee Bucks gave Jim Boylan a win in his first game as coach with a 108-99 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night.

The Bucks parted ways with coach Scott Skiles on Monday in what was called a mutual decision, and the Bucks tapped Skiles' top assistant Boylan as a replacement. Milwaukee's new head coach said before the game his top priority would be to get the Bucks playing well again after losing four consecutive games.

The Suns were a perfect opponent, playing poorly in the last few weeks with nine losses in the last 10 games overall to go with a nine-game losing streak on the road.

Jennings, who before the game said he was frustrated that he learned of the coaching change from Skiles himself instead of someone from the Bucks organization, made 9 of 15 shots and had nine assists.

Goran Dragic scored 21 points and Jared Dudley added 18 for Phoenix.

The Bucks won despite an off-night from leading scorer Monta Ellis, who missed 14 of 19 shots and committed five turnovers. Ellis finished with 13 points after coming in with a 19.4 average.

Boylan made a couple of significant changes in his first game at the helm, inserting forward Ersan Ilyasova into the starting lineup and giving more minutes to rookie forward John Henson, the team's first-round draft pick.

Ilyasova had 12 points, six rebounds and four assists in 26 minutes. Henson had 12 points and 11 rebounds in 19 minutes.

Milwaukee took control with a 12-3 run that spanned the end of the third and beginning of the fourth quarters. Beno Udrih had four points in the spurt and hit a 17-foot jumper with 8 minutes left to give the Bucks a 90-79 lead.

Phoenix pulled to 95-91 on a pair of free throws by Dragic with 3:49 left, but Henson scored on a dunk and Mike Dunleavy made a driving layup to extend the Milwaukee lead to 99-91 with 2:45 remaining. Phoenix never seriously threatened the rest of the game.

The Bucks used a 13-0 run, keyed by a pair of 3-pointers from Jennings and four points from Ilyasova, to open a 71-66 lead with 4:57 left in the third quarter.

Luis Scola's baseline jumper tied it at 71, but Ellis drove the lane for a basket that gave Milwaukee the lead for good, 73-71, with 3:34 left in the third.

Marcin Gortat scored 14 points in the first half, and the Suns led 56-50 at halftime.

Phoenix shot well and rebounded strongly in the first quarter, making 64 percent of its shots for a 33-26 lead after one quarter. The Suns, though, missed their first nine shots of the second quarter.

Notes: Bucks GM John Hammond said before the game he and the team were talking about a contract extension. . The ball stopped motionless at the back of the Phoenix rim - not stuck - with 9:24 to go in the second quarter, prompting wide grins from the Suns bench. Milwaukee won the ensuing jump ball. . This is the second time Boylan has succeeded Skiles midseason. He took over the Chicago Bulls when Skiles was fired on Christmas Eve in 2007. . The teams meet again Jan. 17 in Phoenix.

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10 Training Camp Questions: After losing Reuben Foster, how's the Redskins LB situation?

10 Training Camp Questions: After losing Reuben Foster, how's the Redskins LB situation?

The Redskins report to training camp on July 24th, and for the next 10 days, JP Finlay will count down the 10 biggest questions the Redskins face going into the 2019 season.

10) Will the Redskins develop depth on the D-line?

9) Can the Redskins count on Montae Nicholson?

8) Want better offense? Get more out of the tight ends 

7) Will Jimmy Moreland actually win the slot CB job from Fabian Moreau?

When Reuben Foster collapsed to the Ashburn turf in May, time stopped for a second. Signing Foster brought such outrage towards the Washington team, and after being cleared by the NFL for the 2019 season, it seemed like the worst was behind Foster and the Redskins.

Then, in a blur, he was lost for the season with an ACL tear. 

The 2019 rebuilt Redskins defense lost a key cog before he ever even played a game, and suddenly a mediocre linebacking group from 2018 was largely back in the fold. Foster represented a potential game-breaking talent, a former first-round pick with elite pedigree in college. Add in the fact that the Redskins released Zach Brown before free agency, and the group looked humble. 

So going into training camp, one of the most intriguing position groups on the team now looks similar to 2018.

Mason Foster will start at one inside linebacker spot. Write that in Sharpie. And despite some public dustups with fans via social media, Foster is a team leader and a sure tackler. He's lost weight to help in coverage this year, and twice in the last three years has totaled more than 120 tackles. Of all the worries on the Redskins roster, Mason Foster isn't one of them.

After Reuben Foster went down, the team signed former second-round pick Jon Bostic. He's bounced around in his NFL career, as the Redskins will mark his fifth team in six years, but since he's landed in a 3-4 scheme, he's found his game. In the past two seasons with the Steelers and the Colts, Bostic proved highly capable as a run defender. On pass downs, he probably needs to come off the field. 

That's where things get interesting. 

Reuben Foster was the one player that coaches expected to be able to stay on the field for all three downs. Mason Foster might be able to, and it's too early to really determine what best suits Shaun Dion Hamilton.

In just his second year out of Alabama, and a year removed from a major knee injury, Hamilton could emerge as the starter next to Foster. He could emerge as a capable cover linebacker. But he didn't quite show enough last season to be confident in that assessment. 

Josh Harvey-Clemons will be the nickel linebacker, and watching him in minicamp, he finally looks like an NFL linebacker. Harvey-Clemons played safety in college at Louisville, and his first two seasons in Washington seemed like he didn't have the bulk to play in the front seven. If he's really added muscle, it will show up in Richmond. 

Then there's rookie Cole Holcomb. A speed 'backer that should make the team, Holcomb needs to learn to play instinctually. It won't be easy, but if it comes quick, his speed could make plays. 

Add it all up and the Redskins linebacker looks solid, but not spectacular. Reuben Foster was supposed to be that special piece, but he definitely won't play this season. 

If the defensive front plays as well as many think they're capable of, that could change things for the linebackers. And of course, players get better every year. Maybe Hamilton or Harvey-Clemons is on the verge of a breakout. 

That's why they practice and train all offseason, and that's what the fans will be watching for in Richmond. 

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Stephen Strasburg makes history at the plate against Atlanta

Stephen Strasburg makes history at the plate against Atlanta

Stephen Strasburg had the best hitting performance of his career against the Braves Thursday night, going 3-3 at the plate with two singles and a 420-foot three-run bomb. 

He didn't just set personal records but reached rare air in baseball history. He's the second pitcher ever with at least three hits, a HR, and five RBI since the DH debuted in 1973 and the fifth pitcher in the last 50 seasons to get two hits in an inning including a home run. 

Strasburg set franchise firsts with his performance, dating all the way back to the Expos. 

An extraordinary milestone for the Nationals' ace, hopefully Strasburg's performance will inspire the team during a crucial four-game series with Atlanta. 

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