Towns, Wiggins shine as Timberwolves top Pelicans

By Patrick Donnelly
Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Karl-Anthony Towns had 25 points and 16 rebounds, Andrew Wiggins scored 23 and the Minnesota Timberwolves improved to 2-0 since trading Jimmy Butler with a 107-100 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday night.
Jeff Teague added 14 points and 14 assists for the Timberwolves.
E’Twaun Moore scored a season-high 31 and Anthony Davis had 29 points and 11 rebounds for the Pelicans, who had won three straight.
Minnesota led 52-31 early in the second quarter but the Pelicans chipped away, cutting their deficit to 13 at halftime and just four going into the fourth quarter.
The Timberwolves scored the first seven points of the period to stretch their lead to 92-81, but New Orleans responded with a 15-2 run to take its first lead of the game on a 12-foot jumper by Jrue Holiday.
Wiggins’ 3-pointer put the Wolves back on top and Towns followed with a three-point play to give Minnesota some breathing room.
Then with 2 minutes to go, Towns, playing with five fouls, blocked Davis’ layup attempt and fed Wiggins on the other end for a thunderous dunk. Wiggins was fouled as well, and his free throw put Minnesota up 105-98.
The game was Minnesota’s first with forwards Robert Covington and Dario Saric. They were acquired from the Philadelphia 76ers along with injured guard Jerryd Bayless in exchange for the disgruntled Butler.
The trade was completed Monday, meaning Covington and Saric did not join their new teammates in time for the Timberwolves’ 120-113 victory over Brooklyn that night.
Covington started Wednesday, scoring 13 points and grabbing seven rebounds. He drained a pair of long, catch-and-shoot 3s in the third quarter as the Timberwolves were trying to hold off a Pelicans comeback.
Saric came off the bench to contribute 9 points and three boards in 20 minutes.
Towns had 15 points and nine rebounds in the first quarter as Minnesota raced out to a 38-28 lead, shooting 55.6 percent from the field and hitting 6 of 11 3-pointers in the process.
TIP-INS
Pelicans: C Nikola Mirotic returned after missing two games with a right ankle sprain. He had 16 points and 10 boards. . Head coach Alvin Gentry said PG Elfrid Payton is close to returning from his own right ankle sprain, but he sat out his ninth straight game.
Timberwolves: The win was Minnesota’s fifth straight against New Orleans. . G Derrick Rose (left knee soreness) did not dress after playing 39 minutes in the win over Brooklyn on Monday. Rose is averaging 19.2 points and 4.8 assists per game this season. . Teague played for the second time in three days after missing six games with a bruised left knee.
UP NEXT
Pelicans: Host the New York Knicks on Friday night.
Timberwolves: Host the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night.

Ex-Shakopee superintendent facing additional bribery charges

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A federal count of bribery has been added to charges against a former Minnesota superintendent accused of embezzling public funds.
Prosecutors say Shakopee’s former schools chief Rod Thompson used his position of authority to solicit a construction company to make renovations at his home, pay for personal travel and attend sporting events.
The 53-year-old Thompson is facing a federal charge of corrupt solicitation of a bribe. He is already facing trial in Scott County on 20 felony charges, including 13 counts of embezzlement. Authorities say Thompson embezzled more than $70,000 from the school district over a six-year period.
His attorney, Peter Wold, says Thompson plans to make a plea deal in both cases and has been cooperating with prosecutors.

Minnesota’s Omar faces criticism over Israel sanction issue

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota Democrat Ilhan Omar, set to be one of the first two Muslim women in Congress next year, is facing criticism from groups that say she’s reversing her position on Israel.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune report ed Omar told several websites this week that she supports the pro-Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel.
Though she told the website MuslimGirl.com that she has “reservations on the effectiveness of the movement in accomplishing a lasting solution,” she made clear she supported the movement, known as BDS. She repeated that stance to the Minnesota website TC Jewfolk, pointing to her vote in the Minnesota Legislature against a ban on using contractors supportive of the movement.
But during a candidate forum in August, when Omar was running a crowded primary to replace Rep. Keith Ellison in the Minneapolis-area congressional district, Omar called that movement “counteractive.” She added then that she supports a two-state solution for Israel.
Asked about the BDS movement, she said: “I think that stops the dialogue, and so I want to make sure we are furthering policies and advocating for things that gets people closer to having that conversation.”
Steve Hunegs, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas, said he was “deeply disappointed” by Omar’s latest answer.
Omar’s campaign didn’t immediately respond to an interview request from The Associated Press on Wednesday. The Minneapolis Star Tribune said it did not receive a response from Omar after a campaign spokeswoman forwarded questions to her.
As an incoming freshman congresswoman, Omar will play little direct role in shaping U.S. foreign policy. But her rising political star — she became the nation’s first Somali-American state lawmaker in 2016 before moving on to Congress — and previous statements about Israel have made her a visible figure.
She referenced Israel’s “evil doings” in a 2012 Twitter post and said the country had “hypnotized the world.”
Omar will be sworn into Congress in January, joining Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib as the first two Muslim women in Congress.
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Information from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com

Founder of Feed My Starving Children, Richard Proudfit, dies

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Richard Proudfit, the founder of Feed My Starving Children, a Minnesota-based nonprofit that has delivered billions of nutritious meals to malnourished children worldwide, has died. He was 88.
Proudfit died Tuesday at a nursing home in Bloomington, Minnesota, said Andy Carr, a spokesman for Coon Rapids-based Feed My Starving Children . Carr did not know the cause of death.
A native of St. Paul, Minnesota, Proudfit went to Honduras in 1982 on a medical relief mission and witnessed that country’s starvation. In 1987, he founded Feed My Starving Children, a Christian-based nonprofit that has sent more than 2 billion meals to children and families in 70 countries since its inception.
An entrepreneur and philanthropist, Proudfit assembled scientists from General Mills, Cargill and other companies to create a food product that met nutritional requirements for the malnourished, the Star Tribune reported . The group settled on a mix of rice, soy, dehydrated vegetables and chicken flavoring, plus vitamins and minerals, still used today. Proudfit served as the organization’s chief executive from 1987 to 1998.
Feed My Starving Children’s current CEO, Mark Crea, said Proudfit “left behind a simply amazing legacy.”
“He planted the seeds for thousands upon thousands of children to be fed when he answered God’s call to ‘Feed my starving children.’ We are honored to continue following this call 31 years later,” Crea said in a statement Tuesday.
This year, 1.4 million volunteers at Feed My Starving Children sites across the United States will package 365 million meals, Carr said. In 2017, volunteers packed and shipped the organization’s 2 billionth meal.
Proudfit left Feed My Starving Children in 1998 to create another nonprofit, Kids Against Hunger . In 2012, Proudfit received a Jefferson Award for public service.

Man jailed in fatal shooting in northwest Minnesota

AUDUBON, Minn. (AP) — Authorities in northwestern Minnesota are holding a 29-year-old man in connection with a fatal shooting.
The Becker County Sheriff’s Office received a report of shots fired at a home in Audubon on Tuesday afternoon. Authorities confirm one male died.
An Audubon man is in jail. The name of the victim has not been released.
Authorities continue to investigate.

Food safety officials stress safe handling of raw turkey

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Food safety officials are stressing the importance of proper handling and cooking practices amid a nationwide outbreak of drug-resistant Salmonella found in raw turkey, with Thanksgiving approaching.
The Centers for Disease Control last week said the number of reported illnesses has nearly doubled since July to 164. Minnesota has the most cases at 16. There’s been one reported death , in California, linked to tainted turkey.
The Star Tribune of Minneapolis reports that the USDA hasn’t named the suppliers associated with the tainted meat or identified a single, common source.
Officials say consumers should always wash their hands and all surface areas where turkey is prepared, never leave it to thaw on the counter, and use a meat thermometer to cook it to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
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Information from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com

Natural gas explosion hurts 2 at North Mankato truck shop

NORTH MANKATO, Minn. (AP) — A natural gas explosion has injured two workers at a truck service shop in North Mankato.
The explosion happened just before noon Wednesday at Allstate Peterbilt. North Mankato Police Chief Ross Gullickson says employees were working on a garbage truck when the vehicle began leaking compressed natural gas into the shop.
Employees were evacuating the building when the natural gas ignited, causing the explosion.
A 59-year-old Ellendale man was taken by helicopter to Regions Hospital in St. Paul with first- and second-degree burns. A 41-year-old Gibbon man injured his hand and was treated at the scene.
The Mankato Free Press reports authorities closed a nearby road. The explosion is under investigation.

Later Le’Veon; Steelers move on with Bell out of the mix

By Will Graves
AP Sports Writer

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburgh Steelers spent the better part of 10 months waiting on Le’Veon Bell to show up for work. They said all the right things, stressed they understood the star running back was making a business decision by opting to stay home in hopes of protecting himself ahead of a potentially lucrative payday next spring.
And they’d welcome him with open arms whenever he returned.
On Wednesday, with Bell’s absence for the rest of the season a certainty after he declined to sign his one-year, $14.5-million franchise tender, they exhaled.
And pillaged.
Bell’s teammates invaded his locker after practice, helping themselves to whatever they wanted — or at least whatever fit — with Bell’s career in Pittsburgh all but over. It wasn’t personal. Just business. A celebration of sorts to honor — they hope anyway — the last time they’ll have to answer questions about Bell’s unorthodox approach, one that included leaving his teammates in the dark about his plans.
“I think we all just assumed he’d be here and it’d be the same as the year before,” guard David DeCastro said. “It amazes me in this day and age when you can tweet about things but you can’t talk to each other. You’re so connected, but you’re disconnected at the same time. It’s really interesting when you think about it from the big picture side of it. After that it is what it is, you stop worrying about it and you just move on.”
Something the first-place Steelers (6-2-1) are more than happy to do. They take a five-game winning streak into Sunday’s game at Jacksonville (3-6) looking for a bit of revenge against a team that beat them twice last season at Heinz Field, including a 45-42 stunner in the divisional round of the playoffs.
Bell finished with 157 total yards and two touchdowns in the loss. The Steelers cleaned out their lockers the following day, Bell among them. Despite saying he wanted to be a “Steeler for life” he never returned.
Ben Roethlisberger attempted to reach out to Bell, texting him before Tuesday’s 4 p.m. deadline saying he hoped Bell would come in and sign. Bell never arrived and never responded to the quarterback he played alongside during the first five years of his career.
“He was a great teammate here, a great football player,” Roethlisberger said. “To each his own on what they want to walk away from.”
The Steelers, meanwhile, will try to move forward without the versatile Bell, who played a vital role in the team’s run of four straight playoff berths. Yet they have hardly missed a beat thanks to the rapid development of second-year back James Conner. The former Pitt star is second in the NFL in yards from scrimmage (1,158 yards) and his 10 rushing touchdowns are already one more than Bell ever put up in a single season.
Conner’s success, however, also put him in an awkward position. He considers Bell a friend — and while Bell did otherwise stay silent on Tuesday he did share an Instagram story that appeared to show him promoting Conner to make the Pro Bowl — and never wanted to be put into an adversarial position against a mentor.
“I never really pay attention to it,” James said. “I always go by the model ‘control what you can control,’ so I’m just going to keep doing what I’ve been doing.”
Those concerns are gone now. While Bell will spend the next four months getting ready to hit free agency in hopes of landing a contract that would make him the highest-paid back in the NFL, Conner’s goals are more immediate. He sat out the late portions of a 52-21 romp over Carolina last Thursday after being placed in the concussion protocol for the first time as a pro.
Conner admitted he felt “dizzy” initially, but was cleared to return to practice on Wednesday and should be fine to face the Jaguars.
“I feel good, feel like me again,” Conner said. “Back to normal.”
And his team again looks like the class of the AFC North. While Bell’s absence caused a furor when he didn’t come in before the regular season began — as he did in 2017 — things have died down considerably over the last month. Going unbeaten since the start of October helps. So does having Conner look like a Pro Bowler in his own right.
“It’s nice that it’s over,” DeCastro said. “I don’t have to give (the media) clichés, broken-record answers. We’re just going to keep getting James some more yards and keep winning games. At the end of the day it’s been fun. We’re on a roll and the season goes by a lot faster when you’re winning games.”
NOTES: The NFL flexed San Diego’s visit to Pittsburgh on Dec. 2 to 8:20 p.m. EDT. The game had originally been scheduled to kick off at 1 p.m. … The league also moved Pittsburgh’s game at Oakland on Dec. 9 from 8:20 EDT to 4:25 EDT. … RT Marcus Gilbert (knee) and DE Stephon Tuitt (elbow) did not practice on Wednesday. … Roethlisberger was given the day off, as is typical.

Mets’ deGrom gets Cy with record-low wins; Snell takes AL

By Jake Seiner
AP Sports Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — After a season marred by narrow defeats, Jacob deGrom became a runaway winner.
The New York Mets ace easily won the National League Cy Young Award on Wednesday night, a reward for a historically fruitless season in Flushing. The right-hander won just 10 games, the fewest ever by a Cy Young-winning starter.
DeGrom easily beat out Washington’s Max Scherzer, who was seeking a third straight Cy Young and fourth overall. DeGrom got 29 first-place votes and 207 points from members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. Scherzer had the other first-place vote.
Blake Snell of the Tampa Bay Rays narrowly beat out past winners Justin Verlander and Corey Kluber for his first AL Cy Young after leading the majors with 21 victories.
In his first season after chopping off his distinctive long hair, deGrom cut down hitters from start to finish despite little help from teammates. He had a 1.70 ERA, the lowest in the NL since Zack Greinke’s 1.66 mark in 2015. Yet the 30-year-old right-hander went 10-9, eclipsing the low bar among starters set by Seattle’s Felix Hernandez when he took the award with 13 victories in 2010.
DeGrom allowed three runs or fewer in 29 consecutive starts to close the season, breaking Leslie “King” Cole’s 108-year-old record of 26 such outings. Yet the Mets were 11-18 in those games and 14-18 overall with deGrom on the mound.
“My thought process was, ‘Hey, take the ball every fifth day and continue to try to put this team in position to win and control what you can control,'” deGrom said.
Hernandez’s Cy Young victory signaled a major shift from voters, who once prioritized pitcher wins. The push toward advanced analytics made deGrom’s candidacy possible, and by September there was little debate deGrom was worthy, even as the Mets regularly wasted his dominance.
Perhaps no pitcher had ever been such a hard-luck loser. New York averaged 3.5 runs in games started by deGrom, second only to Cole Hamels for worst support in the majors among qualified pitchers. During one stretch late in the season, the Mets totaled 10 runs over seven of deGrom’s outings, and four of those were driven in by the pitcher himself.
DeGrom nearly produced more wins above replacement than actual wins — a dubious sabermetric feat that has only been accomplished once, when the Philadelphia Athletics’ Eddie Smith went 4-17 with 4.1 WAR in 1937. Baseball-Reference calculated deGrom for 9.6 WAR.
The 2014 NL Rookie of the Year, he became the seventh rookie winner voted a Cy Young, joining fellow Mets Tom Seaver and Dwight Gooden. R.A. Dickey was the only other Met to win a Cy Young.
Snell got 17 first-place votes and 169 points to 13 first-place votes and 154 points for Verlander. Kluber had 71 points, followed by Boston’s Chris Sale and Houston’s Gerrit Cole.
Snell led the AL with a 1.89 ERA. The 25-year-old pitched just 180 2/3 innings, 33 1/3 fewer than Verlander, but his dominance was enough to sway the electorate.
The lefty nicknamed Snellzilla wreaked havoc against the AL’s top lineups. He was 3-0 with a 1.08 ERA in four starts against the World Series champion Red Sox, and 2-0 in two starts each against the Astros and Indians. The Yankees roughed Snell up twice, but he got threw five scoreless innings in a victory Aug. 16. That came during a late-season run of nine consecutive wins for Snell, including a victory against every team in the AL East.
Snell was the first player 25-or-younger to win 21 games since Barry Zito in 2002. He was highly regarded as a minor leaguer for his electric arsenal, but subpar control led to struggles during his first two major league seasons. He was even demoted to Triple-A for a month in 2017.
It all came together this year. Snell was a stalwart for a most unusual pitching staff, taking the ball every fifth day while manager Kevin Cash successfully experimented with reliever “openers” to start games in between. Snell led the Rays with 31 starts, and no other traditional starter had more than 17. After longtime franchise ace Chris Archer was traded to the Pirates on July 31, Snell went 9-0 with a 1.17 ERA.
“I felt with the opener, I had a bigger role on the team,” Snell said.
Snell is the second Rays pitcher to win the award, following David Price in 2012.
Scherzer went 18-7 with a 2.53 ERA and led the majors with 220 2/3 innings and 300 strikeouts. He was attempting to become the first player since Randy Johnson to win three consecutive Cy Youngs. He got the first-place vote of John Maffei of the San Diego Union-Tribune, 29 seconds and 123 points. Aaron Nola of the Philadelphia Phillies was third with 86 points, followed by Colorado’s Kyle Freeland and Arizona’s Patrick Corbin.
Verlander led the AL with 290 strikeouts while going 16-9 with a 2.52 ERA for AL West champion Houston. This is his third second-place finish since winning the Cy Young and MVP in 2011 with Detroit.
Kluber was attempting to win his second straight Cy Young and third overall. He went 20-7 with a 2.89 ERA for AL Central champion Cleveland and led the AL with 215 innings.

No. 25 Minnesota women breeze by Xavier

CINCINNATI (AP) — Kenisha Bell scored 18 points, Taiye Bello had 11 points and 16 rebounds and No. 25 Minnesota beat Xavier 78-53 on Wednesday night.
Minnesota’s full-court defense caused problems for Xavier in the first half, turning it over seven times and shooting 27.6 percent. The Gophers opened a 20-7 first-quarter lead and extended it to 42-20 by halftime.
Jasmine Brunson added 13 points for Minnesota (2-0), and Destiny Pitts had 14 points. Brunson scored 11 in the first half, and four Gophers were in double figures entering the fourth quarter.
Tierra Floyd scored 10 points for Xavier (2-1). A’riana Gray nearly had her second double-double of the season with nine points and 10 rebounds. Xavier was just 8 of 29 from the field in the first half, including 3 of 11 from distance.