Hayward, Celtics hold off Wolves

By Dave Campbell
AP Sports Writer

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Gordon Hayward scored 29 points, Daniel Theis had career highs with 25 points and 16 rebounds and the Boston Celtics stayed strong out of the All-Star break, holding off the Minnesota Timberwolves 127-117 on Friday night.
Jalen Brown scored 25 points and Jayson Tatum had 28 points and 11 rebounds as fellow All-Star Kemba Walker sat out because of a minor knee injury. Marcus Smart had 10 points and a season-high 10 assists as the primary point guard in Walker’s place, helping the Celtics win for the ninth time in last 10 games. They’re 1 1/2 games behind defending NBA champion Toronto for second place in the suddenly stacked Eastern Conference.
Malik Beasley scored 27 points, D’Angelo Russell had 18 points and a season-high 13 assists, and Juancho Hernangomez added a season-high 17 points for the Timberwolves. They have lost 16 of 17 games. Playing without center Karl-Anthony Towns, whose broken wrist will keep him out at least another two weeks, the Wolves fell to 6-30 since Dec. 1.
Rookie point guard Jordan McLaughlin, who’s been on a two-way contract, made all three of his 3-point attempts for Minnesota, the last one that cut the lead to 100-98. The crowd was alive as the Wolves twice came within one point after that, only to fail to take back the lead they hadn’t had since midway through the first quarter.
After Theis muscled inside for a layup and Russell missed from deep, Tatum swished a 3-pointer to give the Celtics a 119-11 edge with 3:55 to go.
Without Towns, the Timberwolves looked even more like a randomly patched together team, in the aftermath of their roster-rattling trades two weeks ago with Russell as the key acquisition. With plenty of youngsters seeking to prove their value and secure their future, they played with an energy the Celtics didn’t always mirror, even if their talent levels didn’t match.
Beasley, who had 16 points in the second quarter, pulled up for a 28-footer at the halftime horn to bring the Wolves within 61-53 right after Tatum had blown by them for a dunk on the other end.
Hayward had 15 points in the third quarter for the Celtics, who ran their lead up to 68-55 before the Wolves motored back. Beasley took a no-look backward bounce pass from Russell on a fast break for a layup that cut the lead to 72-67. Naz Reid’s 3-pointer then brought the Wolves within 2.

Twins’ staff holds the key to team loaded with offense

By Ken Powtak
Associated Press

FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — Expecting another big season from their high-octane offense, the Minnesota Twins hope to pitch well enough to win a second straight AL Central title.
Minnesota set a major-league record with 307 homers and was eighth with a 4.18 ERA last year.
“We had a pretty darn good pitching staff last year statistically speaking,” said right-hander Jake Odorizzi, who went 15-7 with a 3.51 ERA in 30 starts. “You didn’t hear anything about it because we had such a historic offense. As with any staff, I think we’re fine with it. We don’t need the notoriety. This isn’t the Nationals’ pitching staff, the guys that have tremendous staffs that always get talked about.”
Minnesota was second in runs with 939 and batting average at .274. The ERA was fifth among AL teams.
“I think we’re just going to try and build off what we did last year,” the 29-year-old Odorizzi said. “If we get talked about a little more this year, great. If not, as long as we win, we’re a happy group.”
Minnesota signing a pair of free agent starters; right-hander Homer Bailey and 40-year-old lefty Rich Hill, who is recovering from elbow surgery and not expected to pitch in the major leagues until June.
Just over a week ago, the Twins acquired righty Kenta Maeda from the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was 10-8 with a 4.04 ERA last year in 26 starts and 11 relief appearances.
Bailey, 33, a veteran with 13 seasons in the big leagues, split time between Kansas City and Oakland last season, going 13-9 with 4.57 ERA in 31 starts.
“I need all the run support I can get,” he said, joking. “They won a hundred games and they’re going to be competing for a championship, essentially. When you get in those types of positions, it’s just a lot more fun.”
Ace José Berríos is coming off his third straight season with a sub-4.00 ERA. The 25-year-old righty was an All-Star the past two seasons and thinks the Twins’-promising core is lined up for a successful run after the addition of veterans, including third baseman Josh Donaldson, a free agent who signed a $92 million, four-year contract.
“It feels great. There’s a lot of motivation for us because we know we can do a lot of good things for us and for our city,” Berríos said. “We take that as motivation and come to the ballpark every day and bring it 100% and try to be better every day.”
While Minnesota is expected to score a lot, the starting pitchers know pitching likely will determine success.
“It always does regardless of your team,” Odorizzi said. “You look at the good teams, the good teams can pitch.”
NELLIE NICKED
Nelson Cruz was hit on the left wrist by right-hander Cody Stashak during batting practice on the main field.
“I had an X-ray, it came back negative, it’s just a bruise,” he said, showing the mark on his wrist while standing at his locker. “The tendon hurts, but it doesn’t hurt to the swing, just where it got hit.”
Manager Rocco Baldelli said: “It looks like it’ll just be a few days.”
Notes: Twins’ greats Rod Carew, Tony Oliva and Torii Hunter were on hand in steamy, humid conditions. … Before BP, the team took grounders — with 3B Donaldson snagging one down the line barehanded — and cutoffs. Donaldson looked at his right hand briefly but stayed on the field.

Garza scores 24 points; No. 21 Iowa beats Minnesota 58-55

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Winning on the road in the Big Ten has proven to be a monumental task for most every team this season. Even trailing by eight points late at Minnesota, No. 21 Iowa believed it was going to shake that trend.
Luka Garza had 24 points and the Hawkeyes closed the game by scoring the final 11 points to rally past the Gophers 58-55 on Sunday.
Minnesota’s Daniel Oturu missed the front end of a one-and-one free-throw attempt with a chance to tie the game with 3.8 seconds left and Iowa (18-8, 9-6) came away with a rare road win. The highest-scoring team in the Big Ten, the Hawkeyes were held to a season-low 58 points.
“I think it was a belief in the huddle within this team that we’re going to win the game,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffrey said. “Luka said it. He verbalized it. He said, ‘We’re going to win the game.’ There was just never any panic. You cannot go on the road and you go down eight with five minutes to go and panic.”
The Hawkeyes trailed by eight points with 5:25 remaining. The Gophers had five of their 13 turnovers during the final stretch.
Iowa was 1-5 on the road in conference play entering the game and Big Ten teams are now 28-70 on the road in conference.
“I told everybody we were going to win this game because I had confidence in us and I knew we had enough time to do it” Garza said.
Oturu scored 15 points and Marcus Carr added 10 points, eight rebounds and six assists for Minnesota. Gabe Kalscheur 12, but the Gophers (12-12, 6-8) lost for the fourth time in five games.
“They all hurt, but obviously this is a rivalry game and we’re kind of trying to make a run at the end here,” Carr said. “And to have the game in our hands, it was ours to lose. Yeah, it was pretty tough.”
Bakari Evelyn hit a pair of free throws with 1:15 remaining to give the Hawkeyes a 57-55 lead, its first since leading 21-20 in the first half. Evelyn was fouled right before the shot clock expired.
“I was more disappointed in the composure down the stretch,” Gophers coach Richard Pitino said. “The turnovers, the foul at the end of a shot clock where we had them. That was where I was disappointed. We didn’t want to go win that game when we needed to.”
INJURIES
Iowa’s Ryan Kreiner had 10 points in his fourth start of the season with CJ Frederick out because of an ankle injury he sustained in the previous game at Indiana. McCaffrey said Frederick, who’s third on the team in scoring, wasn’t close to playing and said he’s unsure how long he’ll be out.
STAR WATCH
Garza dealt with foul trouble throughout and said he “tweaked” his ankle early in the game. But he scored at least 20 points in his 11th straight Big Ten game. He scored the first eight points of the game and had Iowa’s first 10 points, becoming just the 12th Hawkeyes player to score at least 600 points in a season.
POLL IMPLICATIONS
Iowa should stay ranked after going 1-1 on the road during the week. While No. 23 Creighton won twice, including against No. 10 Seton Hall, No. 22 Illinois lost twice. Texas Tech at No. 24 and No. 25 LSU lost their only games of the week.
BIG PICTURE
Iowa: The Hawkeyes helped their NCAA standing. They started the day 30th in the NCAA NET rankings, the primary tool used to determine the NCAA brackets and picked up their sixth Quad 1 win of the season on the road against Minnesota, ranked No. 40 in the NET rankings.
Minnesota: The Gophers missed a big chance to boost their tournament credentials and they are running out of time for more impressive wins. Minnesota lost its second home game in Big Ten play and now might need to beat Maryland at home on Feb. 26 or Wisconsin or Indiana on the road.
UP NEXT
Iowa returns home for one game against Ohio State on Thursday night. The Hawkeyes then go back on the road at Michigan State on Feb. 25.
Minnesota will look to bolster its tournament standing with another home game on Wednesday against Indiana.
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Martin Jones shuts out Wild, Sharks win 2-0

By Brian Hall
Associated Press

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Martin Jones stopped 39 shots for his first shutout of the season, and Dylan Gambrell scored his third goal for the San Jose Sharks in a 2-0 win against the Minnesota Wild on Saturday.
Melker Karlsson added an empty-net goal for San Jose, which won for the fourth time in five games after learning earlier in the day it would be without leading scorer Erik Karlsson and leading goal-scorer Evander Kane.
Erik Karlsson, the defenseman who leads the team with 34 assists and 40 points, is out for the rest of the season after breaking his thumb in Friday’s win at Winnipeg. Kane, who has 21 goals, was suspended three games for elbowing Jets defenseman Neal Pionk in the same game.
Alex Stalock made 19 saves for Minnesota, which lost its first game under interim coach Dean Evason a day after firing Bruce Boudreau .
Neither team came out with much fire in a sleepy afternoon contest.
The Sharks played in Winnipeg the previous evening and the Wild, who started the day three points behind Arizona for the final wild card in the Western Conference, hoped the coaching change would spark a run to the playoffs.
General manager Bill Guerin made the move to fire Boudreau, who was 158-110-35 in three-plus seasons with Minnesota, following a shootout loss at home on Thursday to the New York Rangers in which the Wild surrendered a two-goal, third-period lead.
Minnesota had won seven of its past 11 games during a home-heavy stretch under Boudreau. A day later, the Wild finished a stretch of 18 out of 22 games at home with another lackluster effort against San Jose.
The Sharks, who are 11-12-2 under their interim coach Bob Boughner, have started to find their way even as injuries have taken out many key players. Logan Couture has missed 13 games because of a broken left ankle. Now, Erik Karlsson and Tomas Hertl are out for the season.
Gambrell is trying to make the most of his opportunity as one of the fill-ins.
He scored his first goal since Nov. 30, a span which includes a stint in the minors, just over 3 minutes into the third period. San Jose defenseman Brent Burns flipped a shot on net that deflected off Gambrell and past Stalock.
Jones, who’s seen his playing time diminished behind Aaron Dell, made the goal stand up even as Minnesota outshot the Sharks 39-21
NOTES: Jones had one win in his previous 11 games and had allowed more than three goals in seven of them. … San Jose is 8-7-1 under Boughner since the calendar turned to 2020. … Evason is getting his first opportunity as an NHL coach. He was an assistant under Boudreau the past two seasons after spending six seasons as a coach in the American Hockey League. Evason played two seasons with the Sharks. … San Jose recalled D Jacob Middleton from the AHL after placing Erik Karlsson on injured reserve. … Minnesota was 11-3-2 previously when tied after two periods.
UP NEXT
Sharks: Return home against Florida on Monday.
Wild: Get a three-day break and play at Vancouver on Wednesday.

Minnesota, Lindsay Whalen agree on contract extension

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The University of Minnesota and women’s basketball coach Lindsay Whalen have agreed on a contract extension that will keep her with the Golden Gophers into 2024.
The university’s Board of Regents approved the extension Friday.
Whalen is one of the Golden Gophers’ most decorated players in women’s basketball history. She returned to Minnesota as coach on April 13, 2018. The team is 36-21 overall during her tenure.
Whalen led the Gophers to their only Final Four in program history in 2004. After playing five seasons with the Connecticut Sun, Whalen returned to her home state with the Minnesota Lynx and won four WNBA championships.
In her first season coaching the Gophers, Whalen guided the team to a 21-11 record overall, a 9-9 mark in league play and a spot in the second round of the WNIT.
Minnesota began the 2018-19 season by winning its first 12 games, tied for the third best streak in team history. With the 12-0 start, Whalen tied her former coach, Pam Borton (2002-03), for the best undefeated start by a coach in their first year at a Big Ten school since the incorporation of women’s athletics in the conference in 1982-83. The only coach at a Big Ten school with more wins in their first year there was Ohio State’s Debbie Wilson, who started 14-0 in 1972-73.

Minnesota Wild fire coach Bruce Boudreau

By Stephen Whyno
AP Hockey Writer

The Minnesota Wild fired coach Bruce Boudreau on Friday with the goal of correcting some inconsistencies and making a late-season push for a playoff spot.
First-year general manager Bill Guerin said he felt the timing was right to move on from Boudreau and replace him with interim coach Dean Evason despite the Wild having won seven of their past 11 games. Boudreau was fired in the aftermath of a shootout loss to the New York Rangers.
“It’s not just one loss. It’s not one week. It’s a series of things,” Guerin said at a news conference in St. Paul, Minnesota. “We have shown that we can be (one of) the best teams in the league or the so-called best teams in the league. I think in some of the tighter game situations we could be a little bit better.”
This is the eighth coaching change in the NHL this season, and Boudreau is the sixth fired for team performance reasons. That matches the most for one season in NHL history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Minnesota is 27-23-7 and three points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference with 25 games left. Guerin hopes a “new voice” from Evason helps the Wild return to the playoffs.
“This is all a matter of just winning games down the stretch,” Guerin said. “I expect this team to compete for a playoff spot.”
Boudreau, 65, was in his fourth season with the Wild. He had been hired by Chuck Fletcher, who has since been fired and joined Philadelphia as its GM. Boudreau took Minnesota to the playoffs in his first two seasons there.
Guerin took over last summer following the firing of one-season GM Paul Fenton. He said it was not his intent from the time he got the job to fire Boudreau.
“We had a good working relationship and we got along as people, as well,” Guerin said. “I like Bruce. He’s a good guy and I planned on seeing it through. I came in with an open mind and didn’t have a decision made. This was just something that’s been on my mind for a little while and I felt like today was the day.”
Boudreau is in his 13th season after previously coaching the Washington Capitals and Anaheim Ducks. His team has made the playoffs in 10 of 12 full seasons, and his 567 wins rank 22nd.
Evason is in his second season with the Wild after coaching the American Hockey League’s Milwaukee Admirals the previous six years. He was an assistant under Boudreau for parts of five seasons in Washington.
Guerin said the front office will conduct a search for a full-time coach once this season is over. For now, it’s Evason’s team.
“Dean has his own thoughts and beliefs and what he believes is going to give us success,” Guerin said. “I have full confidence in him. The one thing I really do like about Dean is his passion, his fire for the game. I am hoping that that translates to the players.”

Twins’ right-hander Berríos expected to lead staff again

By Ken Powtak
Associated Press

FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — Minnesota’s José Berríos hardly has the frame and look of an overpowering pitcher.
He didn’t even want to be a pitcher until his agent convinced him it was the best option for a major league career, a decision just five months before Berríos was drafted 32nd overall by Minnesota in 2012.
“When I grew up, I didn’t like being a pitcher,” Berríos said Friday. “I liked playing around the field — shortstop, second base.”
Once he dedicated himself to pitching, the 25-year-old used YouTube videos to watch and learn from some of the game’s best.
“I started watching videos of Justin Verlander, and José Fernández,” said Berríos, who lived in Puerto Rico.
After that, he started watching others, including Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom.
He was a quick learner. He made his big league debut in May 2017 and became an All-Star in each of the last two seasons. The baby-faced hurler is the ace who helped the Twins last year to their first division title since 2010.
“For me, it’s an honor and a privilege to be named like that,” he said. “But, at the same time, with all the work I’ve put in to get here, my past six, seven years, now I can start to see the success and, at the same time, I want to keep doing what I’ve been doing and be more consistent with my stuff and take that as motivation to be better every day.”
Berríos was 14-8 last season with a 3.68 ERA, leading a rotation that benefited from Minnesota mashing its way to MLB-record 307 homers. The Twins are looking for similar or better numbers.
“I don’t take it as pressure,” he said, breaking into a slight smile. “I take it as motivation for me. I know a lot of people watch me and they want to follow me.”
MAEDA MOMENT
Four days after joining the Twins, Kenta Maeda had a bullpen session. His wife and two small children were on the field before he started his workout.
After finishing that, he worked on pickoff moves on the mound in the main stadium, ran the left field track and even threw a football — just once on a short pass to one of the team’s strength coaches — before heading off to sign a few autographs.
“Never thrown a football,” he said through a translator, breaking into a grin.
It’s a practice many pitchers use to work on different rotation for their shoulders. Many relievers do it a few times during the week in the outfield before BP.

Fiala has goal, 2 assists, as Wild beat Golden Knights 4-0

By Dave Campbell
AP Sports Writer

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Kevin Fiala kept up his recent surge for Minnesota with a goal and two assists, and the Wild matched their season high with three power-play scores on the way to a 4-0 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday night.
Joel Eriksson Ek, Jared Spurgeon and Zach Parise scored with the man advantage, giving the Wild an NHL-leading 15 power-play goals in 33 opportunities over their last 11 games. Parise has six during that span, also the most in the league. The majority of those contests have been at home, where Minnesota has the third-best power-play conversion rate in the NHL (27 for 93) at 29%.
Alex Stalock stopped 26 shots for his third shutout of the season, making him 12-5-3 in his last 20 decisions as he keeps pushing to become the team’s top goalie. The Golden Knights had 12 goals in their previous two games.
Marc-Andre Fleury, making his 10th start in the Vegas net in the last 11 games, was pulled by coach Peter DeBoer after making 16 saves through two periods. Malcolm Subban relieved him.
The Wild had the Golden Knights on their heels from the start, going on their first power play just 3:37 into the game. Eric Staal’s shot glanced off the right post and rolled along the goal line behind Fleury before Brayden McNabb knocked it away. The crowd roared as if the puck had crossed over, but no replay review was initiated. Unfazed, the Wild took the lead with seven seconds remaining on the man advantage when Eriksson Ek knocked in his first career power-play goal.
Spurgeon scored about seven minutes later, swooping in for a rebound of a shot by Fiala that he first snagged before losing control of the puck.
The 23-year-old Fiala, who tied Mats Zuccarello and the just-traded Jason Zucker for third on the team with 14 goals this season, matched his career high with three points.
Zucker was dealt on Monday to Pittsburgh for left wing Alex Galchenyuk, a prospect and a draft pick, but the Wild didn’t flinch and won for the seventh time in their last 10 games. The Golden Knights entered the night in control of third place in the Pacific Division, but they’re now just four points ahead of Wild, who have played two fewer games than them in the crowded Western Conference playoff race.

MacKinnon scores 32nd goal; Avalanche beat Wild 3-2

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Nathan MacKinnon scored his 32nd goal of the season, Pavel Francouz made 34 saves and the Colorado Avalanche ended their road trip with four wins in five games, beating the Minnesota Wild 3-2 on Sunday night.
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Gabriel Landeskog also scored for Colorado, which has won seven of the past eight games and is second in the league behind Washington with 18 road wins this season.
Jared Spurgeon and Kevin Fiala scored for Minnesota, which lost for the first time in four games. Devan Dubnyk made his second straight start for the Wild and stopped 30 shots.
Minnesota has tried to get back into playoff positioning with a friendly February schedule that includes a record nine games at home, where it’s 16-8-4 this season. Playing away from Colorado has been no problem for the Avalanche.
Behind its 18-9-2 record on the road, Colorado is second in the Western Conference with 70 points and is just behind Washington’s league-leading 20 road wins this season.
Bellemare opened the scoring with his eighth goal of the season just 1:37 into the second period with the Avalanche short-handed. It’s the eighth short-handed goal of the season for Colorado.
Spurgeon answered just over three minutes later as the Wild had another power play. Zach Parise passed across the slot to Spurgeon, who was charging in for a one-timer past Francouz.
Fiala also scored on the power play for Minnesota. The Wild are 12 of 29 on the power play over the last 10 games and lead the NHL with 12 power-play goals since Jan. 14.
Fiala has been a big reason for the success. He has scored three power-play goals in the past four games and is second on the team with a career-high, five power-play goals. He has four goals and three assists in his last four games.
But Colorado scored three goals in the second. MacKinnon, fourth in the league in goals scored, wristed a shot through a screen by Landeskog on Dubnyk. Landeskog added his 14th goal of the season later in the period, quickly beating Dubnyk after the goaltender allowed a big rebound to slide out in front of the net.
Alex Stalock had won four of his five starts in goal for Minnesota, but Wild coach Bruce Boudreau went back to Dubnyk after he made 31 saves in a win against Dallas on Friday.
NOTES: Cale Makar became the second rookie defenseman in franchise history to collect 30-plus assists in a single season. Bruce Bell had 31 assists for the Nordiques when the franchise was located in Quebec. Makar leads all rookies with 42 points. … Colorado is 26-1-4 when leading after two periods this season. Minnesota is 1-17-1 when trailing after two. … Minnesota had won five straight games against its Central Division opponents.
UP NEXT
Avalanche: return home against Ottawa on Tuesday night.
Wild: host Vegas on Tuesday night.
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Eriksson Ek scores 2, Wild rally to beat Stars

DALLAS (AP) — Joel Eriksson Ek scored his second goal of the game with 26 seconds to play and the Minnesota Wild rallied from a two-goal deficit to beat the Dallas Stars 3-2 on Friday night.
Eriksson Ek skated from behind the net to the right goalpost and put a wraparound behind Dallas goalie Ben Bishop for the winning goal.
Ryan Donato also scored for the Wild, and Devan Dubnyk stopped 31 shots.
Joe Pavelski and Denis Gurianov scored for the Stars, who led 2-0 early in the second period. Bishop finished with 27 saves.
Eriksson Ek and Donato scored less than four minutes apart to tie the score with less than eight minutes remaining in the middle period.
Before Friday, Eriksson Ek had not scored a point in nine career games against Dallas. His first goal came on a play when he barely touched the puck before it went in off a Stars player’s stick.
Dallas remained third in the Central Division. Central rival Minnesota moved up to a sixth-place tie with Chicago, just two points behind Calgary for the second wild card in the Western Conference.
Dallas came out strong early. Mattias Janmark hit the right goalpost barely a minute into the game, and the Wild killed a hooking penalty to Luke Kunin at 2:23 of the first period, with Dubnyk stopping two shots.
The Stars also finished strong in the first, taking the last nine shots on goal, including Pavelski’s goal on the power play. From low in the slot, he put in the rebound of a shot by Tyler Seguin with 4:32 left.
Dallas outshot Minnesota 16-12 in the first.
Each team killed a penalty early in the second, but 2 seconds after Eriksson Ek left the penalty box, Gurianov drilled a slap shot from the right faceoff dot past Dubnyk.
The Wild pulled within one at 8:25 of the second. Ryan Suter passed from behind the net and players from both teams touched the puck with Eriksson Ek credited with an unassisted goal.
At 12:09, Donato took a wrist shot from low in the right circle that squeezed into a small space between Bishop and the right post.
NOTES: Minnesota LW Zach Parise played in his 1,000th game. … Stars C Joe Pavelski has a four-game points streak with five points (four goals, one assist). He has three of his six power-play goals this season during that streak.