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Rookie RB loses grip on ball, backup job

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Rookie RB loses grip on ball, backup job

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Denver coach John Fox makes it pretty clear: running backs have to hold on to the ball to hang on to their jobs. Rookie Ronnie Hillman is just hoping he's not in the Broncos' doghouse as long as Knowshon Moreno was.

``I've got to win Coach Fox's confidence back, my teammates'. I let them down,'' said Hillman, who didn't see the field again after fumbling Sunday while the Broncos were driving for a score against Kansas City.

Cornerback Brandon Flowers returned it 64 yards before tight end Joel Dreessen dragged him down at the 12 with a heart-skipping assist from Peyton Manning.

Moreno didn't suit up for two months after coughing up the football at Atlanta in Week 2, finally getting another chance - and running with it - in November after Willis McGahee blew out a knee.

To get another chance to serve as Moreno's primary backup, Hillman has some work to do.

Lance Ball and Jacob Hester shared running duties after Hillman's blunder, combining for 121 yards and a TD as the Broncos (13-3) routed the Chiefs 38-3.

Hillman said Wednesday he'd love a shot at redemption in the playoffs.

``I want the ball, but I know my role, too, and if they call my number, they call my number,'' he said.

He's not exactly exuding confidence that will happen.

``I hope so, but ... if they don't, I'll cheer on the rest of my teammates,'' Hillman said.

Hillman had a sputtering start to his rookie season after being slowed in camp by a pulled hamstring. But he came on strong down the stretch, carrying 15 times in a pivotal win at Baltimore last month and finishing with 330 yards and a touchdown to go with a 3.9-yard average.

The Broncos still believe Hillman has a bright future in this league, but he realizes it might be training camp before he's allowed the chance to make up what could have been a very costly mistake.

After all, Moreno has rushed for 510 yards and four TDs since becoming the starter six weeks ago, Ball ran for 66 yards Sunday and Hester has given the Broncos a great goal line option and blitz protector in the mold of McGahee, who is on the mend and can return to action if Denver reaches the AFC championship game.

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Bradley Beal still feels 'disrespected' by referees

Bradley Beal still feels 'disrespected' by referees

Back in December following a tough loss to the Clippers, Bradley Beal's frustration with the referees boiled over. 

"Honestly, [my frustration] is out the roof," Beal said that night. "It really is. It's really unfair and unacceptable that they allow a lot of stuff to go on with me out there and I do not calls. Period. It's just unacceptable."

Everything for the Wizards' offense this season starts and ends with Beal, and while he's averaging career-best scoring numbers, he remains frustrated at how he doesn't get to the foul line enough. 

In a 134-129 loss to the Heat Wednesday night, Beal went off for 38 points on 16-24 shooting to go with nine rebounds and four assists. He only had four free throw attempts, resulting in another postgame riff about how he and his team aren't officiated the same as others. 

“It’s kind of sad the way we get disrespected," he said. "Especially myself getting disrespected like I do because I attack the basket.”

Among 32 players who average at least 20 points, Beal ranks ninth in free throw attempts per game. The Wizards themselves are 14th in the NBA in free throw attempts per game. 

What had Beal particularly upset was not getting the whistle when he aggressively attacked the basket in the game's final moments.

"You can look at my last three drives and I got fouled on all three of them," he said. 

The NBA doesn't typically tolerate players and coaches openly criticizing referees after games. Beal knows he could be fined for his comments, so it shows just how frustrated the two-time All-Star is with how he's being called this season. 

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Former Washington Mystics All-Star Alana Beard retires after 14 seasons

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Former Washington Mystics All-Star Alana Beard retires after 14 seasons

One of the Washington Mystics' first stars is hanging up her shoes.

Alana Beard, who spent the first seven seasons of her professional career with the Mystics after Washington drafted her No. 2 overall in 2004, announced her retirement from the sport on Wednesday.

During her time in Washington, Beard made the All-Star team four times. Her best season with the Mystics was in 2006, where she averaged a career-high 19.1 points per game and won the Defensive Player of the Year award.

After missing nearly two years with multiple injuries, Beard signed with the Los Angeles Sparks during free agency in 2012, and spent the rest of her career out west. She won her first WNBA championship in 2016 with the Sparks, highlighted by her game-winning three-pointer in Game 1 of the Finals.

Congratulations on a great career, Alana!

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