Bill Belichick accepts a hefty fine from the NFL


Bill Belichick accepts a hefty fine from the NFL

From Comcast SportsNetNEW YORK (AP) -- The NFL fined New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick 50,000 and Washington Redskins assistant Kyle Shanahan 25,000 on Wednesday for their conduct toward replacement officials.The fines come as the league and its referees' union were meeting amid reports they were close to ending the lockout of the regular officials.Belichick grabbed an official's arm at the end of Sunday night's game after the Ravens kicked a winning field goal. Shanahan was cited by the league for "abuse of officials" in Washington's loss to Cincinnati."It was inappropriate for me to contact the official. I take responsibility for what happened," Belichick said in statement released by the team. " I accept the discipline and I apologize for the incident Sunday night in Baltimore."Shanahan, the son of Redskins coach Mike Shanahan, was called for unsportsmanlike conduct for berating officials in the final seconds of the Redskins' 38-31 loss. He also confronted an official in a stadium tunnel after the game."Any time you do what he did you're going to get fined, and that's the nature of the game," Mike Shanahan said. "If you don't abide by the rules, you're going to pay a penalty and usually after a guy pays 25 grand, they usually learn very quickly."Also, the NFL said Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh won't be fined for making contact with a game official during Sunday's 31-30 win over New England. Ray Anderson, the NFL's vice president of football operations, said Harbaugh did not violate the rule regarding abuse of officials.On Monday, the league fined Broncos coach John Fox 30,000 and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio 25,000 for berating officials during a loss to Atlanta on Sept. 17.

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Caps start road trip on a low note with loss to Edmonton

Caps start road trip on a low note with loss to Edmonton

In a game that featured Alex Ovechkin and Connor McDavid, it was Benoit Pouliot who stole the show as the Washington Capitals fell to the Edmonton Oilers 4-1.

How it happened: An Alex Ovechkin turnover in the second period led to a rush the other way for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. He had Dmitry Orlov spinning in circles before firing the puck at the net. The shot hit off of Pouliot to fool Braden Holtby. Pouliot added a second tally in the period as he banked a shot in off the back of Holtby. Alex Ovechkin tried to spark a comeback with a quick goal in the third, but Edmonton added two goals in the final frame to put it out of reach.

What it means: Wednesday's loss was the Caps' second straight with both defeats coming in regulation. Last season, Washington did not lose consecutive games until Jan. 2. They did not lose consecutive games in regulation until the postseason. With three games left to go on their current road trip, the Caps wanted to get off to a strong start in Edmonton. A 4-1 loss was not the kind of start they were hoping for.


Ovechkin vs. McDavid: This game was billed as Ovechkin vs. Edmonton's budding superstar Connor McDavid. Both players made their presence felt. With the Caps trailing 2-0 to start the third period, Ovechkin scored just nine seconds in to pull the Caps within one. The Great 8 now has goals in four-straight games. He would finish with four shots on goal. McDavid tallied two assists and the Caps struggled early to contain him as he drew both of the Caps' penalties in the first period.

Second period dilemma: The second period has been identified as a weakness and Wednesday's game was no exception...sort of. The Caps allowed two goals in the middle frame allowing Edmonton to take control of the game. But the Caps took the first seven shots of the period and did not even allow a shot on goal until the 7:48 mark of the period. The problem? Edmonton scored on that shot. The optimistic view is that the Caps controlled the play and were just unlucky with the Oilers' goals coming off a deflection and a bank shot. But a goal's a goal. The Caps have now been outscored in the second period 8-2.

Power outage: The Capitals still need to get on track on the power play. Edmonton took two penalties in the first period, but the Caps were unable to take advantage and finished the game 0-for-3 with the extra man. A goal in either of those chances would obviously have changed the course of the game.

Look ahead: The Caps continue their Canadian road trip on Saturday in Vancouver with a quick turnaround to Calgary the next night. The road trip wraps up Tuesday in Winnipeg.


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Evaluating what Wizards need from reserves to succeed in 2016-17

Evaluating what Wizards need from reserves to succeed in 2016-17

The new season begins for the Wizards on Thursdsay at the Atlanta Hawks (CSN, 6:30 p.m.). While coach Scott Brooks hasn't made his starters official, the likely five are John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat. 

But what about the rest? Without a balanced bench, it won't matter how good those starters are if the Wizards are going to turn last year's .500 record into their third playoff berth in four seasons. No official declaration has been made by Brooks about how he'll use his reserves, but based on recent comments and how he used players to end the preseason, these are the primary candidates (Note: Ian Mahinmi isn't listed because he's out with left knee surgery.)

PG Trey Burke: The assumption is that he’ll be Wall’s primary backup, and given his three years NBA experience, that seems to be the short-term plan. But Burke will be pushed. He averages 12.1 points which is good for a backup, but that’s hardly the only thing that matters. 1.) Ball pressure to set up the defense. Brooks is putting a lot of responsibility on all of his backcourt players to be more engaged. Burke didn't do that consistently in the preseason. Allowing the other team to walk the ball up and get into their offensive sets is a sure way to spend more time on the bench under Brooks. 2.) Running half-court offense more efficiently. In the preseason, Burke was indecisive with the ball and the Wizards were disjointed when the pace slowed. They couldn’t get into their offense and took low-percentage shots late in the shot clock.   

PG Tomas Satoransky: With four years under his belt as a pro in Europe, he’s not a typical rookie. At 6-7, he’s significantly bigger than Burke and has more of the edge that Brooks likes to see on defense. He has the chance to overtake Burke as the primary backup for Wall or give Brooks the option of a three-guard lineup. 1.) Develop a jumper. The Wizards realize he needs time but the easiest thing to improve is a stroke. If he puts in the work, it’ll come. Defenders will go under on pick-and-rolls when Satoransky has the ball and play the passing lanes. He can pick a team a part with his vision. 2.) Use length to slow down the ball. The downside of no Wall last season was Ramon Sessions was the fill-in, and he was a defensive liability. Satoransky has better size and there shouldn't be a major drop off whenever he comes in, especially against second-tier players for the opposing team.  

SG Marcus Thornton: His primary job will be shooting and scoring. Is he Beal's primary backup or will he be used in spot minutes when the Wizards require an offensive spark? Some nights, Thornton can score in bunches. 1.) An instant-offense option, Thornton is more of a scorer than a pure shooter. Some nights he has it and he can score in bunches. Other times he doesn’t. 2.) Efficient shooting. Thornton has been in the low 30s from three-point range since shooting about 42 percent from there during a 39-game stretch with the Celtics a few years ago. 3.) Movement. Thornton will have better results and higher-percentage shots if he doesn't stand and wait for the ball to shoot.

SF Kelly Oubre: He pushed Porter for the starting job but is still a year away from having a real shot at being a starter. The effort already is there. He just needs to polish. When he was drafted, the projection from president Ernie Grunfeld was two to three years. 1.) Control. Whenever Oubre gets into trouble, he’s too hyper. On offense, he will try to force the ball to the basket when the driving lane has been closed off and will result in a turnover or an awkward-looking blocked attempt. He has to realize there’s nothing wrong with being calm, kicking the ball back out and resetting. Defensively, he gambles a lot. There’s nothing wrong with containment. Every play doesn’t have to result in a steal. 2.) Diversify his game off the bounce. Oubre has to come up with counter moves to get to the rim. He can't go in straight lines, exclusively to his preferred left hand to dunk on everybody at will. 

PF/C Andrew Nicholson: At $26 million, he might prove to be a bargain acquisition considering the deals that were handed out this summer. Nicholson could end up like a lot of other players who step on the floor with Wall, who have their three-point accuracy skyrocket. He can play on the low block and doesn't shy from contact. 1.) Stretch four. He shot a career-high 36 percent from three-point range last season. His stroke looks better. When Nicholson was brought in, the question about whether he could be a legitimate three-point shooting, power forward was the first thing that came to mind. He only attempted 114 with the Magic. 2.) Spread five. The knee injury to Mahinmi means Brooks has to use Nicholson behind Gortat, too, and though he's just 6-foot-9, his 250-pound frame can handle it. When they go really small with Nicholson here, they can look like the Hawks did the last few years with Pero Antic and Al Horford spreading from the five spot. It can pose major matchup problems.

PF/C Jason Smith: Despite his jolly disposition, Smith can get nasty down low which is a quality the Wizards could use inside. How much he plays when Mahinmi comes back isn't clear. Though Smith isn't a three-point shooter, he has a solid face-up game that can draw his man from the rim. 1.) Focus on mid-range. Smith took his share of threes in the preseason, but that's still out of his comfort zone. He only attempted 16 threes in 76 appearances with the Magic. 2.) Hustle hard. The most surprising aspect of Smith's game is his ability to recover on defense and his help to close out runs at the rim. That kind of effort forces Brooks to find minutes for you.  

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