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Bush out of the doghouse as Dolphins regroup

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Bush out of the doghouse as Dolphins regroup

MIAMI (AP) Reggie Bush is out of coach Joe Philbin's doghouse, which might not be large enough to house all of the deserving Miami Dolphins.

Bush and teammate Richie Incognito were benched for part of Sunday's 37-3 loss to Tennessee, but they were hardly the only culprits in the Dolphins' most lopsided home defeat since 1968.

``It was an uncharacteristic performance by the whole ballclub,'' Philbin said Monday.

The defeat was Miami's second in a row, a deflating development for a team hoping to end a streak of three consecutive losing seasons and perhaps even sneak into the playoffs. The Dolphins (4-5) must regroup quickly before playing Thursday at Buffalo in their lone prime-time game this year.

Despite the short week, Philbin felt the need to review the meltdown against the Titans with his team.

``When you play like that, we need to make some corrections,'' Philbin said. ``We need to make improvements, even though we're in a semi-time crunch.''

Bush's mistake was very publicly noted. He lost a fumble six minutes into the game to set up the Titans' first score, spent the rest of the first half on the sideline and carried only four times for 21 yards.

Philbin seemed ready to put the matter in the past, at least unless Bush coughs the ball up again. He has committed three fumbles and lost two this season.

``He's not in any doghouse that I know of,'' Philbin said. ``The guy shows up, he practices hard, works hard and is competitive. He is very, very professional.''

Incognito, long labeled among the NFL's dirtiest players, was called for unnecessary roughness to take Miami out of field-goal range in the second quarter and was briefly yanked from the game.

Philbin said he has a tough standard when it comes to players taking accountability for their mistakes.

``A zero tolerance policy,'' he said. ``A coach's job is to prepare players to perform well. Their job is to perform. We have to put them in a position to be successful. That mesh didn't get done Sunday. It's on us, it's on them, it's on me ultimately, because I'm the head coach.

``We - meaning coaches and players - have to do a better job. With these guys, the proof will be in the pudding, but I suspect they have a high level of accountability.''

Bush and Incognito said they understood why Philbin benched them.

``I made a mistake, and he wanted to address it then and there,'' Incognito said. ``So, it was handled.''

Said Bush: ``I've got to do a better job protecting the ball. I've been in this league long enough to where I know protecting the ball is the most important thing as a running back. I didn't even deserve to go back into the game.''

After a fast start this season, Bush is averaging only 45 yards rushing over the past seven games. He's on pace to fall shy of 1,000 yards.

``I have to apologize to Dolphin Nation,'' he tweeted. ``My performance these past few weeks has been poor & I'm embarrassed right now! You guys deserve better.''

The entire team has backslid the past two weeks. The ground game and run defense - which had been the strengths of the team - no longer look so formidable. And rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill's steady progress stalled Sunday, when he threw three interceptions.

Tannehill has only five touchdown passes this year, which ranks 33rd in the 32-team NFL. His passer rating of 73.2 is 29th. The offense he directs hasn't scored a TD in the past six quarters.

However, Tannehill did win praise for risking his health after his third interception, when he made an open-field tackle on 242-pound linebacker Zach Brown.

``I was delighted,'' Philbin said. ``He's a football player. I said damn good tackle. If you're playing football, you'd better stop a guy from scoring a touchdown.''

That's one way to stay out of the coach's doghouse.

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10 must-see moments from Wizards' wild OT win over Blazers, including John Wall's Jordan shrug

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NBC Sports Washington

10 must-see moments from Wizards' wild OT win over Blazers, including John Wall's Jordan shrug

The Washington Wizards beat the Portland Trail Blazers 125-124 in overtime on Monday night. Here are five plays or moments worth revisiting...

1. We will get to the game, and we will get to many things done by the Wizards, but we begin with a moment from pregame. Apparently, it was Halloween costume night for the Blazers and Moe Harkless stole the show by dressing up as Tyrone Biggums from Chappelle's Show:

Adam Silver, if you're reading this, please institute a rule requiring every team to do a Halloween costume arrivals night. You owe us this.

2. Okay, now for the game. Kelly Oubre Jr. was one of the stars of the night with 22 points, six rebounds, a block and a steal.

Here is one of his first buckets, a shot off the glass that was not an easy one to get to go down:

3. In the first half, Bradley Beal picked up right where he left off last time he was in Portland when he dropped a career-high 51 points. He had 19 of his 25 total points in the first half, including this baseline drive after a nasty crossover:

4. Markieff Morris also had himself a night. He popped off for 28 points in 25 minutes on 9-for-15 from the field and a career-high six threes. This was an athletic move around the rim you don't often see from Morris:

Was that some jelly from Keef? Not bad.

5. John Wall had a relatively quiet night for his standards with 16 points on 5-for-16 from the field with nine assists. Here was his best play, one of his signature chasedown blocks:

6. Back to Oubre. He was feeling it and even got Steve Buckhantz to drop a 'Tsunami Papi' reference on the broadcast:

For Buckhantz, as Oubre would say, "the wave is free."

7. Beal went cold in the third quarter, missing his first seven shots of the second half. But he got his groove back when the Wizards needed it most.

This three answered a go-ahead shot by Nik Stauskas and forced overtime:

Beal was super pumped:

8. Two of Morris' six threes came in overtime, including this one to help seal the victory. Morris knocked one down with only 38.5 seconds left and it put the Wizards up by four:

9. Wall helped put the Blazers down for good with a bank shot from the elbow. Some might say it was lucky, while others would say he called game:

Wall even had to hit the Blazers with a Jordan shrug. Portland has seen that before.

10. The Blazers had a chance in the final seconds, but Otto Porter Jr. put the finishing touches on the win with this block on Damian Lillard's buzzer-beater attempt. Though Porter didn't have huge numbers - he scored 16 points - his fingerprints were all over this win:

What an incredible game. We can all agree the Wizards and Blazers should play more often. Well, maybe not the Blazers. The Wizards have had a lot of fun at their expense in recent years.

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Five observations from Wizards' thrilling overtime win over the Blazers, including Markieff Morris' career night

Five observations from Wizards' thrilling overtime win over the Blazers, including Markieff Morris' career night

The Washington Wizards beat the Portland Trail Blazers 125-124 in overtime on Monday night. Here are five observations from the game...

Wild game, huge win: Though it was just the third game of the regular season, it felt like the Wizards needed this one. They had just lost their first two games to teams missing key players and battling through the second nights of back-to-backs. And up next is the defending-champion Warriors.

Lose this one and the Wizards could have put themselves in a very tough early season hole, but they rallied to overcome a sluggish offensive start to the second half to secure their first victory of the season.

Considering the alternative, this was about as important a win could be this early in the year.

Oubre showed some life: The shots finally started falling for Kelly Oubre Jr. After shooting just 5-for-16 from the field and 1-for-7 for three in his first two games, Oubre broke out with 22 points on 9-for-13 shooting and 3-for-3 from three in this one. He also added six rebounds, a steal and a block.

To his credit, Oubre didn't force anything out of frustration after the way he started the season. He began the night by calmly knocking down a three from the slot, then attacking the rim for a shot off the glass a play later. Oubre was aggressive getting into the lane and scored with both hands.

This was, quite easily, Oubre's best performance so far in 2018-19, including the preseason. He was active deflecting the ball on defense and played controlled, intelligent basketball on offense. 

There were many plays he made that won't show up in the box score that helped lead the Wizards to their win; deflections, a huge charge taken in the final minutes of overtime. He was absolutely locked in.

Now, there were some lowlights. Oubre let several players get by him too easily, including Evan Turner and Jake Layman. Oubre has the tools to stay in front of those guys. But all in all, Oubre made a big difference in this game and that was good to see.

Morris balled out: While Oubre had his best game in the past few weeks, Markieff Morris may have had his best performance in a Wizards uniform. The Wizards forward exploded for 28 points in 25 minutes with nine rebounds, a block and a steal. He set a career-high with six threes made on 10 attempts.

Two of Morris' threes came in overtime, including one with 38.5 seconds left to put the Wizards up by four. His role in closing out the win in Portland brought back memories of his game-winner in the same building in March of 2017.

Morris is one of the biggest wild cards on the Wizards because it's not always clear which version of him they are going to get. When he's at his best, he's hitting outside shots and playing physical defense. He did that and more on Monday night.

With Dwight Howard out, the Wizards need Morris to step up. Though he didn't exactly do that in their first two games, Morris came to play in this one.

Beal went off early: This game was billed as the return of Bradley Beal to the Moda Center where he dropped a career-high 51 points last December. It took him a bit to get going, but once he did, Beal caught fire and scored at a pace that for a while was reminiscent of that amazing night.

Beal had 19 points in the first half on 8-for-12 from the field and 3-for-4 from three. But then he cooled off a bit in the second half and finished with 25 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and one block. He had zero turnovers.

Beal has now scored at least 25 points in five straight games against the Blazers. Clearly, he likes playing in Portland but one reason for his success against them may deal with C.J. McCollum. 

Beyond the fact facing one of the best shooting guards in the NBA may bring the best out of him, Beal is a tough cover for McCollum because he's more athletic. He's a tick faster and can get higher on his jumpshot. 

McCollum is an underrated defender, but Beal kept him off balance with well-timed pump fakes and consistently got open off screens. Beal's points were mostly within the rhythm of the offense. He was moving consistently without the ball and using the smallest of separation to get his shots off.

Beal also deserves credit for his defense against McCollum. The Blazers star was limited to 13 points on 5-for-25 from the field and 1-for-9 from three. 

Damian Lillard also had a rough shooting night. He had 29 points, but on 7-for-21 from the field and 2-for-10 from three. Many of his points came at the free throw line where he went 13-for-15, 13 of his attempts in the first half.

Two centers are now hurt: The day began with head coach Scott Brooks sharing some bad news about Howard, who not only did not make the trip with the Wizards but is likely to miss at least several more games. Not too long into this game, they lost their backup center, too.

Ian Mahinmi was subbed out after getting two quick fouls and never returned. He went to the locker room to get treated with back spasms, leaving the Wizards perilously thin at the center position. They had to rely on Jason Smith and using forwards Markieff Morris and Jeff Green in small-ball lineups. Thomas Bryant still didn't get the nod.

Back spasms do not sound serious, but any time Mahinmi is unavailable puts a strain on the Wizards. It brings into focus the fact the Wizards have not one, but two roster spots currently vacant. 

 

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