Jackson, Morant lift Grizzlies past Pistons 125-112

Memphis Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr., right, shoots over Detroit Pistons forward Christian Wood (35) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

AP Sports Writer
DETROIT (AP) — Jaren Jackson Jr.’s big first half helped the Memphis Grizzlies return to their high-scoring ways.
Jackson scored 24 of his 29 points in the first two quarters, and he sank a big 3-pointer in the fourth to lift the Grizzlies to a 125-112 win over the Detroit Pistons on Friday night. Memphis took an early 15-point lead, and after the Pistons rallied, the Grizzlies controlled the last few minutes of the game.
“For us to come out and throw the first punch, it was good,” said Jackson, a former Michigan State star. ìAnd then late, we didn’t waiver, and we finished the game strong.”
Memphis was coming off a 119-95 loss at Boston, a game that snapped the Grizzlies’ streak of 14 straight games with at least 110 points. They bounced back by shooting 54% from the field, 11 of 22 from beyond the arc and 28 of 31 on free throws against the Pistons.
“It shows our aggression, getting downhill and getting fouled,” Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins said. “Guys play the right way, we get the efficient shots, we get open shots, it usually leads to high percentages for us.”
The Grizzlies are averaging 121 points this month.
Jackson was limited by foul trouble after halftime, but his 3-pointer with just over three minutes remaining gave the Grizzlies a 114-108 lead. Ja Morant had 16 points and 12 assists for Memphis, and Dillon Brooks scored 22 of his 27 points in the second half.
Derrick Rose had 22 points for the Pistons, who were missing center Andre Drummond because of a lacerated lip.
The Grizzlies went on a 14-0 run and led 35-20 late in the first quarter. There was plenty of time for Detroit to come back, and the Pistons had the game tied before the midway point of the second.
It was close for most of the second half. Detroit look a 104-103 lead on a 3-pointer by Reggie Jackson, but Brandon Clarke’s layup off an assist from Morant put Memphis back ahead.
Jaren Jackson’s big 3-pointer gave the Grizzlies a little bit of a cushion, and the Pistons never really recovered.
“We just had some breakdowns toward the end of the game that’s not supposed to happen,” Detroit forward Markieff Morris said. “They’re a young, quick team. They play hard, they play together and they’ve got some young, great talent.”
Detroit now trails eighth-place Brooklyn by 2 1/2 games in the Eastern Conference. Memphis entered the day a half-game behind eighth-place San Antonio in the West. The Spurs hosted Phoenix on Friday night.
Rose and Reggie Jackson started for Detroit — it was Jackson’s second game back from a lumbar stress reaction that has kept him out most of the season. Jackson finished with 14 points but was not among the five players who started the third quarter for the Pistons. Coach Dwane Casey indicated that was because the team closed the first quarter so poorly while neither Rose nor Jackson was on the court.
“You give up a lead, now the rest of the night we are clawing from behind,î Casey said. “Trying to generate some offense with our second unit is why we split them up in the second half.”
Grizzlies: Memphis was missing F Bruno Caboclo (knee).
Pistons: In addition to Drummond, the Pistons have been without star F Blake Griffin (knee) — and on Friday they were also without G Bruce Brown (illness), F Tony Snell (illness) and G Luke Kennard (knee). … Rose scored at least 20 points for an 11th straight game, the longest streak of his career.
Grizzlies: Host Phoenix on Sunday night.
Pistons: Host Brooklyn on Saturday night.

Westbrook scores season-high 45, Rockets beat Wolves 131-124

By Brian Hall
Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Russell Westbrook scored a season-high 45 points and had 10 assists, and the Houston Rockets overcame another tough night from James Harden to rally past the Minnesota Timberwolves 131-124 on Friday night.
Westbrook helped key a second-half comeback after Minnesota led by six points in the third quarter. He finished 16-of-27 shooting, was 13 of 13 from the free-throw line and added six rebounds. Eric Gordon scored a season-high 27 points off the bench for Houston, which won its second straight game following a season-long, four-game losing streak.
Harden, who went 1 for 17 from 3-point range in a home loss to Oklahoma City on Monday night, was 3 of 13 overall and 0 for 6 from beyond the arc against Minnesota. He finished with a season-low 12 points. Harden also left the game for part of the third quarter, limping badly to the bench before returning in the fourth.
Karl-Anthony Towns had 30 points and 12 rebounds for Minnesota, which has lost eight straight. Andrew Wiggins scored 28 points for the Timberwolves.
Minnesota’s streak prompted some frustration after Wednesday’s 117-110 loss at Chicago, when coach Ryan Saunders said the team is simply not playing well. Saunders also challenged Wiggins at halftime of that game to be more productive.
The Wolves started strong while Houston was missing shots. Minnesota led by six in the opening quarter. The Rockets hit just two of their first 11 shots and Harden was 1 of 5. The Rockets also trailed in Minnesota in November before recovering for a 125-105 win.
Led by Westbrook, Houston led by as many as 13 on Friday, but the Wolves didn’t fade.
Minnesota cut the Rockets’ lead to 110-108 with 6 minutes remaining.
Houston had the finisher in Westbrook. He scored 15 points in the fourth quarter, including 11 after the Wolves closed within two.
Rockets: Houston scored 23 points off 17 Minnesota turnovers. … The Rockets only had 10 turnovers, leading to 13 points for the Wolves. … Danuel House started the second half in place of Ben McLemore and finished with eight points and five rebounds.
Timberwolves: Josh Okogie started in place of rookie Jarrett Culver, in part for matching up against Harden. Okogie finished with 17 points. … Starting PG Shabazz Napier left the game late in the second quarter, limping off the court. He returned for the second half and had nine points, five rebounds and five assists. … Minnesota outrebounded Houston 52-34. The Wolves grabbed 36 rebounds in the first half, tied for the second most all-time franchise history for a half. They had 36 in the first half against Memphis on April 12, 2008.
Rockets: At Denver on Sunday.
Timberwolves: Host Oklahoma City on Saturday.

Early voting means 2020 primary is already here for millions

By KATHLEEN RONAYNE Associated Press
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The Iowa caucuses are more than a week away, but millions of Americans are already free to vote.
Early voting in the crush of Super Tuesday states that hold primaries on March 3 amounts to a parallel campaign for the Democratic nomination. While much of the focus is on who will come out on top in the traditional first four voting states, early voting will allow a much broader swath of voters to play a key role in picking the nominee.
In Minnesota, in-person early voting began Jan. 17. Vermont’s deadline to mail out its absentee ballots was the same day. Many of the 14 Super Tuesday states will offer some form of early voting between now and mid-February.
These states will test the organizational strength of the White House hopefuls. The campaigns must balance the demands of the first four states — Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada — while also making sure to target potential supporters in the Super Tuesday states that follow. Some campaigns must manage that two-step while their candidate is stuck in Washington participating in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.
Several campaigns said they’ve been working to perfect this balance for months.
“Super Tuesday has never really been March 3 for us,” said Pete Kavanaugh, an adviser for former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign. “In our minds and from a resource allocation perspective, Super Tuesday begins in early February.”
Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire businessman, is ignoring the early states entirely and using his nearly bottomless resources to campaign hard in the Super Tuesday states.
“We need supporters for Mike Bloomberg to vote early, independent of whatever is going on,” said Will Dubbs, deputy states director for Bloomberg’s campaign. “It is just very, very important for us to make sure we bank those votes, and we can concentrate our efforts elsewhere.”
Bernie Sanders, meanwhile, sees early voting as a way to boost turnout among core constituencies like young, minority and working-class voters. Early voting opens new opportunities for people with strict work schedules or other barriers to voting to find time to cast ballots beyond the typical Election Day, spokeswoman Sarah Ford said.
“Early voting is another vehicle to make sure those people have the opportunity to vote for Bernie,” she said.
The campaign of Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is educating volunteers in Minnesota, Colorado, California and Texas about the early voting process. And Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar rallied in her home state recently to mark the start of early voting and generate enthusiasm among voters who have sent her to the U.S. Senate three times, while freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar campaigned on behalf of Sanders.
Davis Senseman slept in an RV outside a Minnesota polling place with friends so that they could be some of the first people to vote in the presidential election.
“With Elizabeth Warren I finally had a candidate that I’m really excited about,” said Senseman, a 42-year-old attorney. “I want to do this first because I’m for something, not voting against something.”
The biggest early voting state, California, will mail ballots to more than 12 million voters starting Feb. 3, the same day as the Iowa caucuses, though not all of those voters will get a Democratic primary ballot. Colorado, North Carolina and Texas, which offer combinations of mail-in and in-person early voting, are also likely to have a high percentage of early voters, said Michael McDonald, a voting expert who directs the United States Elections Project at the University of Florida.
It’s difficult to predict how many people will take advantage of early voting, McDonald said. While early voting offers an opportunity for campaigns to ensure their most intense supporters cast ballots early, many primary voters will wait until they begin seeing the results in earlier voting states in case their preferred candidates drop out. At least one state, Minnesota, gives voters an option to retrieve their ballot and change their votes up to a week before Election Day.
California has by far the largest population of would-be early voters. Paul Mitchell, who runs the nonpartisan Political Data Inc. that analyzes and sells voter data, predicts about a quarter of the state’s eventual Democratic electorate will have cast ballots by the time Nevada holds its caucuses on Feb. 22. He projects that will increase to 40% by the time South Carolina votes on Feb. 29.
“If you have people who are with you now, you need to bank those votes,” he said. “If you’re running a campaign and can turn out 1 million voters on Election Day, if you can get 200,000 of them to vote early, that reduces your workload.”
In Colorado, where everyone is mailed a ballot, state officials expect 60% of voters to send their ballots back early. In North Carolina, about a quarter of people could vote early, McDonald predicted.
While early voting is an important component of campaign strategy, some experts and campaign veterans doubt its overall effect on a race’s outcome. Robby Mook, who managed Democrat Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, said the voters who are likely to vote early are a campaign’s most hardcore supporters who would have supported that candidate no matter what.
“You’re often cannibalizing from what you were going to get on Election Day anyway,” he said. “The question every campaign, if it’s honest, is asking itself is: ‘How many new votes have I turned out?'”
But other observers say early voting can affect candidates’ momentum. Take California, which takes weeks to finish counting its ballots. The first reported votes on election night will be a reflection of the votes that came in earliest. If a candidate does particularly well with those voters, he or she could get an initial boost of energy, even if the results change as later votes roll in in the following weeks.
“If campaigns can use the mechanics of the election to drive their votes to get cast in those earlier tranches, you can have a greater impact on the national narrative,” Mitchell said.
Catch up on the 2020 election campaign with AP experts on our weekly politics podcast, “Ground Game.”

Psychiatrist pleads guilty to criminal sexual conduct

HASTINGS, Minn. (AP) — A Twin Cities psychiatrist has pleaded guilty to having a sexual relationship with a woman who sought help for past sexual assaults.
Gavin Meany, 38, of Apple Valley, entered the plea Thursday to four counts of felony third-degree criminal sexual conduct in Dakota County District Court.
A criminal complaint says the woman began seeing Meany at a St. Louis Park clinic because of past trauma that involved prior sexual assaults from her youth, as well as domestic violence from a prior partner.
The complaint says the two had sexual contact beginning in May 2017 to this past August, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
“Criminal activity of this nature is a significant breach of trust by a psychotherapist as to any patient,” Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom said in a statement Thursday. “We are pleased the defendant has accepted responsibility for this egregious behavior by his guilty plea today.
Sentencing is scheduled for April 20.

Lewis supports Minnesota county’s vote to limit refugees

BEMIDJI, Minn. (AP) — U.S. Senate candidate Jason Lewis told an audience in Minnesota’s Beltrami County that elected officials did the right thing when they voted to ban resettlement of refugees earlier this month.
The northern Minnesota county became the first in the state to ban refugee resettlement. The move was allowed by local governments under an executive order signed by President Donald Trump, but a federal judge has since halted that order.
Beltrami County’s move will have little practical effect as no refugees have been resettled in there in the past five years.
Lewis is a former Republican congressman who is running for Senate.
“Your county took the decision to exercise, here’s a novel idea, are you ready for this? Self-government, and say, we want to pause on refugee resettlement,” Lewis told the roughly 100 people gathered at a public meeting Thursday. “The reaction from a far-away capital decided for me that I have to get up here and have your back. That’s why I’m here. I wanted to make certain that you are not alone.”
Minnesota Public Radio News reported that one man asked whether Muslims could be prevented from running for public office.
“I would not be in favor of that. Religious affiliation can never be a test for public office,” Lewis said.
Sherry Kloha, one of a few dozen present who supported refugees, said Lewis “purposefully chose a very contentious, very emotional topic to rally the troops.”

Bodies of father, daughter found after fire in Bigfork

BIGFORK, Minn. (AP) — The bodies of a 92-year-old man and his 62-year-old daughter were found in a Bigfork home after a fire and possible explosion, Itasca County sheriff’s officials said Friday.
Authorities said they got a call Thursday morning about a structure fire that happened after a loud bang in the Turtle Lake area. Sheriff’s deputies arrived to find a fully engulfed structure, with downed power lines and debris scattered around the property.
Authorities said they were told that Roy Earl Halverson lived alone at the home, but his daughter was recently visiting. Halverson and his daughter, Christie Lee Kurtz of Milaca, were both found dead. Autopsies are pending.

Can Klobuchar build a late surge from a long distance?

STANTON, Iowa (AP) — It was the kind of event designed to play up the Midwestern sensibilities that Amy Klobuchar so often talks about on the campaign trail. In a small rural Iowa community, voters gathered in a neighbor’s home. They ate tater tot hot dish — Klobuchar’s award-winning recipe — and listened to the case for the Minnesota senator to be Democrats’ nominee for president.
The only thing missing was the candidate, who was stuck in the Senate chamber some 1,100 miles away for the start of President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial. Instead, her potential supporters at Tuesday night’s house party got a pitch from the senator’s 24-year-old daughter.
“She actually has a record of winning in places Trump has won,” said Abigail Bessler, delivering Klobuchar’s well-worn lines. “When I talk to voters in New Hampshire, when I talk to people here … it’s just ‘Is she going to be able to beat Donald Trump?’ They want a candidate who is going to win, and I think she has the best record for proving that.”
The impeachment trial that got underway this week is happening at an inopportune time for all four of the senators in the Democratic primary. Just as voters in the nation’s leadoff caucus state are finalizing their decisions ahead of the Feb. 3 caucuses, Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Michael Bennet and Klobuchar are stuck in their seats in Washington.
But it’s a particularly bad moment for Klobuchar. The three-term senator built her campaign on a strategy of a slow and steady build in Iowa. She spent campaign funds conservatively all year, hoping to be able to capitalize on a late surge just before the caucuses. A strong showing in Iowa, her campaign hopes, will catapult her into the top tier in New Hampshire and beyond. Now her absence could blunt the gains from what Klobuchar described Wednesday as “quite a 48 hours.”
In recent days Klobuchar earned endorsements from The New York Times, which also endorsed Warren, and the Quad-City Times, one of Iowa’s largest newspapers. On Tuesday, she got the backing of a state senator who is a leading advocate for action on climate change, and two other state lawmakers who previously supported Sen. Cory Booker and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who have dropped out of the 2020 race. She picked up 14 more local endorsers on Wednesday, including two well-known Iowa Democratic activists who were previously with Sen. Kamala Harris, who quit the race last year.
But Klobuchar is running out of time to gain ground on the four front-runners — Warren, Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Those candidates also have surrogates on the trail, including some big-name performers and nationally known politicians. Actress Mandy Moore was in Iowa for Buttigieg, and actress and activist Ashley Judd will stump with Warren in New Hampshire on Friday and Saturday. Sanders is bringing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and musical acts Bon Iver and Vampire Weekend to Iowa.
Klobuchar says that the breadth of her support shows she can bring together people from all political leanings and that the roster of well-known local supporters will provide crucial credibility and organizing support in her absence.
“I just have to hope that that kind of grassroots campaigning is going to last,” she said. “It’s not something where you just bring in one celebrity. It is built to last.”
For some Iowans, there is no substitute for personal contact with the candidate.
Iowa state Sen. Rob Hogg met with almost every presidential candidate to discuss their plans to address climate change before endorsing Klobuchar on Tuesday. He said he was sold on her record of attracting both progressive Democrats and independents, and is drawn to her pragmatic approach.
Hogg said that since making his announcement, he’s heard from several people who said they were reaching the same conclusion he did, many of whom have waited longer than usual to make a decision this election cycle.
“I think a lot of Iowans have been slow to decide because there are so many candidates,” Hogg said. That makes the impeachment trial “bad for all of (the senators).”
“I think that it’s a challenge because there is nothing like seeing a candidate in person when you’re making up your mind,” he said.
Klobuchar, 59, is running as a pragmatic progressive who can win over liberal and moderate Democrats as well as independents and some Republicans. She’s looking to pick up voters who backed other candidates, such as Booker and Harris, and convince moderates who may see Biden as too old and Buttigieg as too inexperienced that she’s what they’re looking for.
But after banking much of her campaign on Iowa, Klobuchar is still polling in fifth place there, with significant ground to make up if she’s going to knock out any of the top four and become the surprise of caucus night. The campaign believes a fourth-place finish would put her on strong footing heading into New Hampshire, where she also has invested significant money and time and has been seeing larger crowds than what she’s getting in Iowa.
From there the electoral calendar gets much tougher. Klobuchar’s campaign got a late start in Nevada and South Carolina, and her low polling among black voters could be a big liability in South Carolina, where African Americans make up roughly two-thirds of Democratic primary voters. She also has far less money in her campaign fund than her rivals do, which could make it difficult to compete in the “Super Tuesday” contests in places like California and Texas on March 3 — if she makes it that far.
But first she must perform in Iowa, where Klobuchar’s campaign says even a fifth-place finish would be notable for a candidate who’s already outlasted other candidates, such as Harris, who were seen early on as having a much better shot. On Wednesday night, almost 12,000 Iowa voters participated in a telephone town hall with the senator, who was in Washington. Klobuchar is scheduled to be back in the state Sunday for three town halls.
For some voters, her absence this week doesn’t matter. Chris Nelson, a 71-year-old farmer from Stanton, Iowa, who attended Tuesday night’s gathering at his neighbor’s home, said Bessler was “a joy.”
Nelson was with Sanders in 2016 and likely will be again this year. But he said he’s been impressed with Klobuchar, who he says shares farmers’ values of working hard and keeping your word. After hearing Bessler speak on Klobuchar’s behalf, Nelson said he will likely caucus first for Sanders this time and support Klobuchar if Sanders doesn’t have enough voters on caucus night to reach “viability,” or a 15% threshold required to receive delegates.
And supporters say they’re seeing firsthand that interest in Klobuchar is growing. Vicky Rossander, a retired teacher who opened her home for Tuesday’s house party and will be a precinct captain for Klobuchar on caucus night, said several people mentioned The New York Times endorsement at a county Democratic meeting earlier this week.
“People were saying – ‘Wow, maybe we need to relook at her.'”
Burnett reported from Chicago. Associated Press writer Will Weissert contributed to this report from Washington.
Catch up on the 2020 election campaign with AP experts on our weekly politics podcast, “Ground Game.”
This story was first published on Jan. 23, 2020. It was updated on Jan. 24, 2020, to correct the timing of Ashley Judd campaigning with Elizabeth Warren. Judd will stump with Warren in New Hampshire on Friday and Saturday, not on Sunday.

Correction: Struggling Church story

COTTAGE GROVE, Minn. (AP) — In a Jan. 20 story about the planned relaunch of Grove United Methodist Church’s campus in Cottage Grove, Minnesota, The Associated Press, relying on information from the St. Paul Pioneer Press, erroneously reported that the church was asking older congregants to leave in the hopes of becoming more attractive to younger families. The church, which also has a campus in nearby Woodbury, has asked current members to wait 15 to 18 months after the Cottage Grove campus re-launches before returning to worship there, but it didn’t single out older members in that request. The story also erroneously reported the age of the pastor who will be guiding the relaunch and the number of children he has. Jeremy Peters is 32 years old, not 30, and he and his wife have three children, not two.

No charges filed in fatal stabbing on Minnesota light rail

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota prosecutors say no charges will be filed in connection with a fatal stabbing that occurred on a light rail in the Minneapolis suburb of Bloomington.
The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office said Friday that after reviewing the case, prosecutors determined they would not be able to disprove a self-defense claim.
Authorities say a 67-year-old man pulled out a knife and fatally stabbed 45-year-old Anthony Demetrius early Thursday after an argument escalated into a physical fight. The stabbing happened on the Blue Line light rail, near the Mall of America.
Court records show the suspect has past convictions for assault, disorderly conduct, and criminal sexual conduct, t he Star Tribune reported.

Man loses ‘bright lights’ appeal

YPSILANTI, Mich. (AP) — Bright lights — long prison stay.
Police had probable cause to pull over a man who was driving in Ypsilanti with his high beams on, a stop that led to the discovery of cocaine, an outstanding arrest warrant — and ultimately a 10-year prison sentence, an appeals court said Thursday.
Damario Tubbs-Smith wanted the evidence suppressed. He argued that the stop wasn’t necessary because it was reasonable to drive in that area with bright lights. But the appeals court noted that Tubbs-Smith passed several oncoming cars before he was stopped.
He still had his high beams on when a sheriff’s deputy approached the vehicle.
Michigan law says drivers must ensure that their headlights do not cast “glaring rays” in the eyes of oncoming drivers within 500 feet, the federal court said.
The officer had “sufficient reason” to stop Tubbs-Smith, the court said.