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Minnesota Sports

Augustus retires from playing will be an assistant for LA

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Seimone Augustus has retired from playing and will be an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Sparks, the team announced Thursday.
Augustus is a 15-year veteran who played most of her career with the Minnesota Lynx, winning four titles there. She re-signed with the Sparks in February before deciding to retire.
“It’s an honor to continue to serve the game that has given me so much,” Augustus said in a statement. “I’m excited to join the Sparks staff and look forward to developing in this new role.”
She averaged 5.9 points in 21 games for the Sparks last year, her first with the team.
Augustus was drafted No. 1 by the Lynx in 2006 and won titles with Minnesota in 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017. She also won three Olympic gold medals. She finished her career 10th in scoring with 6,005 points, averaging 15.4 points during her career.
“Seimone Augustus is one of the greatest basketball players to ever step foot on a court,” Sparks coach Derek Fisher said. “Her impact as a pioneer in our sport can be seen through all the players and people she’s impacted in this game. It’s been an amazing honor to work with her over the past year and we’re excited to add all of her wisdom to our coaching staff.”
She starred in college at LSU, where she helped the team reach three straight Final Fours and was named Associated Press Player of the Year in 2005 and 2006.
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Minnesota Sports

WNBA returns, celebrating 25th anniversary season

By DOUG FEINBERG AP Basketball Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — The WNBA is back and celebrating its silver anniversary.
It was a busy offseason for the longest running women’s professional sports league that will tip off its 25th season Friday night.
There was a lot of player movement in the offseason, headlined by Candace Parker heading home to Chicago after playing the first 13 years of her career in Los Angeles.
Defending champion Seattle will try to become the first WNBA team to win consecutive titles since Los Angeles did it in 2001 and 2002. The Storm still have a strong nucleus with Sue Bird, Breanna Stewart and Jewell Loyd leading the way.
They added veteran Candice Dupree, but need to find replacements for Natasha Howard, who went to New York and Alysha Clark, who went to Washington.
The Storm will have a lot of competition up top. Las Vegas, which lost to Seattle in the WNBA Finals last year, was picked by the league’s GMs to win the title. The Aces were also No. 1 in the preseason AP WNBA power poll. League MVP A’ja Wilson will have a lot of help this season with the returns of Liz Cambage and Kelsey Plum, and the addition of Chelsea Gray.
The league will have a nearly month-long break for the Olympics in July and early August before resuming with the inaugural Commissioner’s Cup championship game on Aug. 12. That game will be played in Phoenix.
Here are a few other things to watch for this season:
WELCOME BACK
New York Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu returns after playing only 2 1/2 games last season before spraining her ankle and missing the remainder of the season. The No. 1 pick in the 2020 draft will try to help the Liberty improve on the league’s worst record last season.
Nearly a dozen other players who missed last season because of injury or opting out because of the coronavirus are set to return.
WELCOME HOME
The WNBA will be playing in home cities this season after the entire 2020 campaign was held at IMG Academy in Florida because of the coronavirus pandemic. While attendance will be limited to start the year, the league hopes to be able to have more fans in the arenas as the season progresses.
MOVING TO A NEW POSITION
Seimone Augustus retired Thursday after an illustrious career. She won four WNBA titles with the Minnesota Lynx and three Olympic gold medals. After 14 years with the Lynx, she played her final season with the Los Angeles Sparks last year. She will become an assistant coach for Los Angeles this season.
“It’s an honor to continue to serve the game that has given me so much,” Augustus said in a statement. “I’m excited to join the Sparks staff and look forward to developing in this new role.”
SIDELINED
While the league will be welcoming back a lot of its stars who missed last season, two have already suffered season-ending injuries.
Las Vegas’ Angel McCoughtry tore the ACL in her right knee and Connecticut’s Alyssa Thomas injured her Achilles tendon playing overseas and is also out for the year.
VIEWING OPPORTUNITIES
The WNBA will have 100 of its games on national television this season, as well as dozens of games on Twitter, Facebook and Amazon.

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Minnesota Sports

Kirill the thrill: Russian rookie Kaprizov big boost to Wild

By DAVE CAMPBELL AP Sports Writer
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Wary of all kinds of pressure on Kirill Kaprizov and resolute in their team-first culture, the Minnesota Wild tried to keep a lid on the fanfare enveloping his arrival in the NHL.
“I was nervous about the incredible expectations, because our fan base has waited five years for this kid, and he’s had such success,” said general manager Bill Guerin, nodding to Kaprizov’s game-winner that gave Russia the 2018 Olympic gold medal and back-to-back seasons leading the Kontinental Hockey League in goals.
One game in, all bets were off.
Kaprizov intercepted a pass on Jan. 14 in Los Angeles, bolted toward the net on a breakaway, used a slick right-left move to try to deke goalie Jonathan Quick and managed to knock in the puck off his left skate for the overtime winner in the opener.
“I said to myself, ‘OK, I’m done here,” Guerin said, chuckling.
The 24-year-old Kaprizov is about to show his skills on a bigger stage when the Wild open the playoffs against Vegas, with Game 1 on Sunday. He finished the regular season with 27 goals, the eighth-most in the league. He led all NHL rookies with 51 points and in several other categories.
Though he has competition from Dallas’ Jason Robertson, Kaprizov has been the consensus Calder Trophy favorite since that auspicious debut against the Kings. He’d be one of the oldest winners since a 1990 rule change required candidates to be under 26 on Sept. 15 of their rookie season.
“We’ve definitely seen areas of improvement away from the puck, but his skill set, his awareness offensively, is as good as it gets,” coach Dean Evason said.
Kaprizov set numerous single-season Wild rookie records in just 55 games. His scoring pace for a normal 82-game schedule would have threatened the all-time franchise record, shared by Marian Gaborik (2007-08) and Eric Staal (2017-18) with 42 goals each, but these milestones aren’t exactly front of mind for him.
Asked on a recent video conference call about his preference of his two nicknames making the rounds — Kirill The Thrill or Dollar Bill Kirill, which teammates solidified with custom T-shirts — Kaprizov naturally demurred.
“I don’t like to give myself compliments. I don’t like to think of myself as an outlier,” Kaprizov said, through a translator. “It was a team effort, and at the end of the day that’s really all it’s about and all I focus on.”
Kaprizov has given the Wild their first player with true take-over-a-game potential since Gaborik’s departure 12 years ago. He’ll be a big help on their quest to win a playoff series for the first time since 2015, the same year their floppy-haired, easy-smiling left wing was drafted.
“Every time he gets the puck, you can feel it in the arena,” said center Joel Eriksson Ek, the Wild’s third-leading scorer. “It’s amazing the things he does. He’s just creating all the time.”
He’s not overly deferential, ranking second on the team in shots behind Kevin Fiala. The 5-foot-9, 200-pound Kaprizov is also not so defined by the finesse of skating and stickhandling that he won’t pursue and protect the puck with muscle and grit.
“You should see him with his shirt off. He’s pretty chiseled,” linemate Ryan Hartman said. “He’s strong and he can definitely stand up for himself, but ideally we’d like to be doing that for him.”
The Golden Knights went after Kaprizov on May 5, their most recent matchup, when Nicolas Hague hit him from behind in the first period.
While the rest of the Wild stormed to Kaprizov’s defense in the ensuing shoving match, Zach Whitecloud charged him and wound up with a bloody nose after being wrestled to the ice. Kaprizov clearly didn’t need the help. He scored two goals in the third period of that overtime loss.
“That’s one of the things that I love about him,” Guerin said. “Can you play your best game when you’re taking a lot of abuse? He can.”
The Wild, then led by general manager Chuck Fletcher, were able to nab Kaprizov in the fifth round in 2015 because of the common uncertainty of Russian prospects coming to the NHL in light of the KHL’s prominence there.
Hailing from a small village outside of the industrial city of Novokuznetsk, more than 2,000 miles from Moscow, Kaprizov didn’t expect to be drafted, finding out via text message as he readied for bed that night. He honored his commitment to the KHL but promised the Wild he’d come when he was finished, and Guerin made a trip to Russia a few months after getting the job in 2019 to further the relationship. He left with no doubt Kaprizov could handle the transition.
The pandemic created a soft launch, with mostly empty arenas and a trimmed-down schedule. League protocols also left him frequently confined to his downtown Minneapolis apartment — “This season is very much rink, home, sleep, travel, eat, repeat,” he said — and whenever he ventured out for food he wore a mask. The Wild have only arranged four formal interview sessions with the media, including last summer when he signed his contract.
He has steadily improved his English since his arrival thanks mostly to conversation with teammates. Though missing his friends and mother’s cooking from the homeland, Kaprizov has hardly been intimidated by being the only Russian on the team and clearly grown into one of the most popular players in the room.
“He’s really sparked our team,” Guerin said. “He’s an electrifying player.”
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Minnesota Sports

It’s time: Duncan, Bryant, Garnett to enter Hall of Fame

By TIM REYNOLDS AP Basketball Writer
UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) — Vanessa Bryant got a private tour to see some of the newly remodeled Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday, viewing the exhibit that will honor the life and legacy of her late husband before the rest of the world gets their first look.
By the Hall’s description, it’s an exhibit like none other.
Fitting, for a special Hall of Fame enshrinement class.
Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett officially become members of the Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday night, the headline event of a three-day celebration of the game. They were rivals for the better part of two decades, three of the faces of the league throughout a critical period of growth for the league, and there is some symmetry in how they’ll enter the Hall together.
“You can go through the list of NBA greats,” Garnett said Friday. “I couldn’t pick two better players — not just that, but two better people, to go in the Hall with. Both of these are class acts and unbelievable players. I’ve very privileged, if I’m being honest. Every since I stepped into the league it’s been like a big-ass dream and this is no different from it. I’m honored.”
The celebration kicked off Friday at the Mohegan Sun Casino — enshrinement weekend was moved there in part because that venue has more space to allow for social distancing — and will peak Saturday with the actual inductions. Then Sunday, about an hour away in Springfield, Massachusetts, the remodeled Hall of Fame will be formally unveiled and the 2021 class that will be enshrined there this September will be announced.
“It’s fitting that this class, the 2020 class, really breaks open the new Hall of Fame,” Hall chairman Jerry Colangelo said. “There’s been an incredible amount of money put into bringing it into the next century if you will. The Hall of Fame was tired, a lot of static kind of things to look at. But technology has changed it dramatically.”
It’s a group of nine being honored on Saturday night: Bryant, Duncan and Garnett are the NBA players going in; 1,000-game winner Barbara Stevens, two-time NBA champion coach Rudy Tomjanovich, three-time NCAA champion coach Kim Mulkey and three-time Final Four coach Eddie Sutton are getting enshrined, along with four-time women’s Olympic gold medalist Tamika Catchings and longtime FIBA executive Patrick Baumann.
Some of them spoke Friday of their modest beginnings and how reflecting on those days made the emotions for this weekend churn even stronger. Stevens said she thought she hit the jackpot when she landed her first coaching job as an assistant at Clark University for $400 in 1976, Tomjanovich said he didn’t feel ready when he was offered the Houston Rockets job; Mulkey talked about her days as a pigtailed girl playing Pony League baseball with the boys in the little Louisiana town where she grew up.
“I just hope I don’t bawl like a big doofus,” Tomjanovich said.
Garnett still insists he was a risk when the Minnesota Timberwolves drafted him out of high school. Duncan grew up as a swimmer, not a basketball player. Yet here they all are, set to become basketball immortals.
“On behalf of our family, we appreciate the continuous love and support from fans all over the world,” Vanessa Bryant said in a statement distributed through the Hall of Fame. She will speak on her husband’s behalf Saturday night at the enshrinement, with Michael Jordan doing the honors of presenting Bryant to the Hall.
Bryant is one of three members of the class who will be enshrined posthumously; longtime FIBA executive Patrick Baumann was represented by his son and daughter, and three-time Final Four coach Eddie Sutton was represented by his son Sean.
“We were excited that he was alive to hear the news,” Sean Sutton said of his father, who passed away about six weeks after the 2020 class was announced. “I know it meant a great deal to him.”
The six living enshrinees will speak; the three deceased members of the class will have someone speaking for them. The Hall urges honorees to keep the speeches tight. For some like Duncan, San Antonio’s notoriously quiet superstar, that might not be a problem. For others, the stories will likely flow, as has been the case many times over the years.
The Spurs play at home on Saturday afternoon, a game that will end shortly before the Hall ceremony begins, and the team has a number of ways to honor Duncan planned. Duncan highlights will play throughout the Spurs game in the arena, fans will get a Duncan-themed Hall of Fame mini-basketball and poster, and his Hall of Fame banner will be unveiled.
“My message is the same: It’s a simple thank you,” Duncan said. “I’m honored to be here, but my years there and my years on the court are not the same without the people and the fans, without their support. As much as they are honoring me, I’ll be here to thank them.”

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Minnesota Sports

A’s hit four homers to back Montas, beat Twins 6-1

By BRIAN HALL Associated Press
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Ramón Laureano hit the first of Oakland’s four homers and Frankie Montas pitched six effective innings, helping the Athletics beat the sliding Minnesota Twins 6-1 on Friday night.
Sean Murphy and Stephen Piscotty each hit a two-run shot, and Mark Canha contributed a pinch-hit homer. The Athletics have won five of seven.
Montas (5-2) allowed one run and four hits in his third straight win. He is 3-0 with a 3.11 ERA in three May starts after posting a 6.20 ERA in five starts in April.
Matt Shoemaker (2-4) allowed three of the home runs for the Twins. He surrendered five runs in six innings.
Josh Donaldson homered for Minnesota, which has lost five games in a row.
Laureano connected for his eighth homer of the season, a two-out solo drive in the third. Murphy added his fifth homer in the fifth, and Piscotty followed an inning later with his fourth.
Montas kept the Twins off the board until Donaldson’s leadoff homer in the sixth.
TRAINER’S ROOM
Athletics: INF/OF Chad Pinder was reinstated from the injured list after missing 35 games with a sprained left knee. Vimael Machín was optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas but will remain with the team on the road trip as part of the taxi squad. … LHP A.J. Puk was scheduled for another Triple-A rehab appearance on Friday for Las Vegas. He has missed 33 games with a strained left biceps. … Manager Bob Melvin said LHP Jesús Luzardo is throwing up to 60 feet in his rehab from a fractured left hand. Luzardo has not advanced to bullpen work yet.
Twins: OF Alex Kirilloff has been taking part in baseball activities, including taking dry swings, as he recovers from a right wrist sprain. … OF Byron Buxton (right hip strain) was playing catch before the game, but he hasn’t started running. There is still no timeline for his return.
UP NEXT
LHP Cole Irvin (3-4, 3.29 ERA) will start Saturday’s afternoon contest for Oakland. Minnesota counters with RHP José Berríos (3-2, 3.49 ERA). Irvin has a 2.01 ERA, 32 strikeouts and just four walks in 31 1/3 innings in his past five starts after going 0-2 with a 7.45 ERA in his first two starts. Berríos allowed one run in five innings against the Athletics on April 20.
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Minnesota Sports

Pick and click: Minnesota fishing tournaments go virtual

By KIRSTI MAROHN Minnesota Public Radio News
BRAINERD, Minn. (AP) — With the opening of Minnesota’s fishing season marked by the 73rd annual Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener on Otter Tail Lake, some aspects will look a lot like past years: Lots of media, visits by dignitaries and a chance for the local community to promote tourism.
But anglers won’t have to make the drive to Otter Tail County to join this year’s festivities. They won’t even have to own a boat. All they need is a fishing rod and a smart phone.
Anyone can compete in a virtual fishing derby this year: They catch a walleye from any public water body in Minnesota, use an app on their phone to submit a photo, then let the fish go.
The idea was in the works last year, before the Governor’s Fishing Opener event was postponed due to COVID-19. This year, it made sense to have a statewide event that anyone can participate in, said Erik Osberg, chair of the local planning committee.
“It’s safer for everybody involved,” Osberg said. “It’s safer for the angler. It’s safer for the fish. It’s safer for the fisheries. You spread that pressure out.”
The virtual derby is part of a trend of fishing tournaments shifting toward a new format known as immediate release, or catch-photo-release. It began about a decade ago, but grew more popular during the COVID-19 pandemic, as organizers tried to find ways to host pandemic-safe events, Minnesota Public Radio News reported.
The approach is gaining advocates, who say fish that are caught and quickly released are less likely to die afterward. And the virtual nature can ease crowding on heavily fished lakes and open up tournaments to a wider group of anglers.
It’s an alternative to the traditional catch-hold-release tournament, in which anglers would race to shore with their catch and crowd around a weigh-in station to see how it stacked up against competitors.
There were photos and bragging rights before the fish was finally returned to the water, but not in the same location where it was caught.
“It’s no surprise that what we call delayed mortality was happening from the lack of oxygen,” said Vern Wagner, an avid bass angler who co-founded a conservation nonprofit called Anglers for Habitat.
Wagner helped develop best practices for fishing tournaments in the state, including keeping fish in plenty of fresh, oxygenated water during the weigh-in process.
“That really cut down on mortality, but it’s still redistributed the fish,” he said. “And you still are going to have some mortality associated with holding them in a live well, putting them in a bag, weighing them on a scale.”
Then, about 10 years ago, smartphones entered the scene, and with them, the catch-photo-release tournament.
Instead of taking their fish to shore, anglers in these contests download an app on their phones. They lay the fish on a measuring stick, take a photo, and submit it using the app.
Then they release the fish right back into the water. The whole process typically takes less than a minute.
“There’s no question that from an individual fish level, that’s a better outcome, and it certainly has a higher likelihood of surviving,” said Jon Hansen, fisheries program consultant with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Hansen said catch-photo-release tournaments reduce the stress on the fish and improve their chances of survival.
“The reality is at the end of the day, some of these fish are in live wells for hours at a time,” he said. “Even with the best fish-handling procedures and fanciest live wells and really well-run weigh-ins, there’s going to be some fish that die.”
In 2017, the Minnesota DNR issued 36 permits for catch-photo-release contests — less than 10 percent of the total number of fishing tournaments that year, Hansen said. Last year during COVID-19, that number grew to 56 — about 20 percent, he said.
Despite the fact that many pandemic restrictions are beginning to lift, the trend doesn’t seem to be slowing. About a quarter of permits the DNR has issued this year so far have been for catch-photo-release tournaments, Hansen said.
And one of the state’s largest fishing contests — the Brainerd Jaycees Ice Fishing Extravaganza, which typically draws more than 10,000 anglers to Gull Lake every winter — was virtual, with participants able to fish on any frozen Minnesota lake.
One of the apps commonly used in tournaments, including this year’s Governor’s Opener, is FishDonkey.
Darren Amundson, co-founder of the Minnesota-based company, said many people ask whether cheating is possible when anglers record the size of their fish themselves. But he said the app has built-in anti-cheating software that makes it tough to be dishonest.
“We know the date and time stamp,” he said. ” We know the location, but we don’t ever share the location with anyone.”
Amundson said having anglers measure the length of the fish actually cuts down on cheating that’s been a problem in past tournaments, such as anglers putting weights in a fish’s mouth to make it heavier. FishDonkey also requires every angler to submit a video of the fish being released.
Amundson said catch-photo-release tournaments offer other advantages, such as not being limited to a few hours on a certain lake.
“We get a lot of people who are shore fishermen who don’t even have boats,” he said. “They fish from their own docks, or they fish just on their local lakes that they know. And so they can enjoy it at their own time, in their own location.”
One of the first groups to seize on the new model were student fishing leagues, whose young anglers are usually tech-savvy, but don’t always have big boats with live wells or weighing equipment.
Jimmy Bell is president of the Student Angler Tournament Trail, a volunteer nonprofit that works to increase fishing opportunities for youth. The group organized about a dozen events last year, all catch-photo-release.
Bell said the format is a good fit for student anglers, who grew up and are comfortable with using cell phones and computers.
“Technology isn’t exciting to the kids anymore,” he said. “What we find is new and exciting to the students is getting outdoors.”
Bell said he thinks eventually, all Minnesota fishing tournaments will involve anglers documenting their fish’s size and letting it go. He thinks that would be a good thing.
But not all tournaments have made the switch. Peter Perovich, president of Minnesota BASS Nation, said his organization currently doesn’t hold any catch-photo-release bass fishing contests, although some of its 36 member clubs do.
Perovich said the organization’s members are conservation-minded and conscious of hooking mortality, which he said is relatively low. With youth fishing contests, there’s a teaching moment during the weigh-in process that is lost with catch-photo-release, he said.
“With a virtual tournament, I think we’re missing another aspect of education here with these kids, and learning how to handle these fish and wildlife, the proper way to make sure that they aren’t damaged or hurt,” he said.
And Perovich laments the loss of a camaraderie around the weigh-in station that doesn’t exist in a virtual tournament. With an app-based tournament, fishing becomes a more singular sport, he said.
“Everybody just kind of does their thing,” he said. “They send it in on their app, they take their boat out of the water, they go home.”
The DNR supports the move toward catch-record-release tournaments. Hansen said the agency may offer incentives, such as reduced permit fees, to encourage the shift.

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Minnesota Sports

Vikings sign TE Shane Zylstra from Minnesota State

EAGAN, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota Vikings have signed tight end Shane Zylstra out of the NCAA Division II program at Minnesota State that produced two-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Adam Thielen.
The Vikings announced Friday the addition of Zylstra, who went undrafted in 2020 after finishing as the career leader for the Mavericks with career receptions, receiving yards and touchdown catches. With 81 receptions in 2019, Zylstra broke the school record that was shared by Thielen (2012) and Chad Ellman (1996). Zylstra is the younger brother of Carolina Panthers wide receiver Brandon Zylstra, who spent the 2018 season with the Vikings.
The Vikings signed Thielen in 2013 after he was invited to their rookie minicamp as a tryout player.
The Vikings signed 11 undrafted rookies earlier this week, including East Carolina wide receiver Blake Proehl, the son of 17-year NFL veteran Ricky Proehl. The Vikings also signed three specialists to increase competition at spots that were problematic last season: San Diego State long snapper Turner Bernard, Memphis kicker Riley Patterson and LSU punter Zach Von Rosenberg.
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Minnesota Sports

Twins put Buxton on 10-day IL with hip strain

DETROIT (AP) — Outfielder Byron Buxton was put on the 10-day injured list by the Minnesota Twins with a strained right hip.
The Twins also announced before Friday’s game at Detroit that they have selected the contract of outfielder Trevor Larnach from Triple-A St. Paul.
The injury interrupts a stellar start for the 27-year-old Buxton, who is hitting .370 with nine home runs and five stolen bases. Buxton has played over 100 games just once in his big league career.
Larnach could make his big league debut. To make room for him on the 40-man roster, the Twins designated left-hander Brandon Waddell for assignment.
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Minnesota Sports

Heat move back into 6th in East, top Timberwolves 121-112

By TIM REYNOLDS AP Basketball Writer
MIAMI (AP) — The plan that Miami coach Erik Spoelstra had entering Friday was to play Tyler Herro in limited shifts, mindful that he was just coming back after a six-game absence.
Herro had other ideas.
Herro came off the bench to score 27 points in 29 minutes, Jimmy Butler added 25 and the Heat beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 121-112 on Friday night to move a game clear of Boston in the race for the No. 6 spot in the Eastern Conference.
“The best laid-out plans are getting tossed to the side at this time of year,” Spoelstra said. “He’s got young legs. You can see that he had fresh legs.”
Goran Dragic added 23 points for Miami, which — thanks largely to Herro and Dragic — held a 57-19 edge in bench points. Herro, who had been out with right foot soreness, was 10 of 13 from the field and 6 of 8 from 3-point range for Miami (36-31).
“It’s playoff time,” Herro said.
The win, combined with a loss at Chicago by Boston (35-32), allowed the Heat to pass the Celtics in the standings. Miami opens a two-game series in Boston on Sunday, the teams battling to avoid having to be part of the play-in tournament that awaits the teams finishing between No. 7 and No. 10 in each conference.
Karl-Anthony Towns scored 14 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter for Minnesota, which had won five consecutive meetings against Miami. Anthony Edwards scored 25 points and D’Angelo Russell added 17 before getting ejected in the third quarter.
“No matter what the standings say, no matter how many games are left, we’re out here trying to build something great,” Towns said.
Butler also had eight rebounds, six assists and five steals for Miami. Bam Adebayo scored 15 for the Heat.
Minnesota was up by as many as 11 in the first quarter, then lost the lead in the second — and its cool in the third.
The Timberwolves — upset with calls and non-calls — were hit with four technical fouls in the third quarter, the first on coach Chris Finch just 72 seconds after halftime, then simultaneous ones on Ricky Rubio and Russell with 5:27 left in the period. Russell got another and was ejected 52 seconds later.
“It was very frustrating out there for everybody, certainly in a white uniform,” Finch said. “We tried to play through it the best we could. Obviously, we lost our cool a little bit, and understandably so.”
Miami got that early deficit down to four by the end of the first, then outscored Minnesota 61-46 in the middle two quarters. It was only a seven-point Heat lead with 2:14 left, but back-to-back 3’s by Dragic and another one from Herro in a 59-second span sealed things for Miami.
“I’m not worried about the points,” Dragic said. “I want to be back in the playoffs. That’s the most important thing.”
TIP-INS
Timberwolves: Alex Rodriguez, the former MLB slugger who, along with e-commerce mogul Marc Lore, signed a letter of intent last month to buy the Timberwolves and keep them in Minnesota, was sitting courtside. … Rubio finished with 16 points.
Heat: It was the 14th time this season that Miami got into a double-digit deficit in the first quarter, with the Wolves going up by 11 in the opening period Friday. The Heat are now 7-7 in those games. … Miami fouled a 3-point shooter on three different occasions, including one that Towns turned into a four-point play. … Victor Oladipo (right knee soreness) remains sidelined. He hasn’t played since April 8, or 15 games ago.
HELPING JIMMY
Butler took all four free throws awarded after Minnesota technicals, making three. The last time a Heat player had more technical free throws in a game was March 16, 2014, when Ray Allen was 5-for-5 against Houston. Butler and Towns got matching technicals in the final minute as well, with no free throws awarded.
MORALE BOOSTER
Before getting on the plane Thursday for the final trip of the season, the Timberwolves were all given floppy hats — always good in Florida — and veteran Ed Davis was gifted Finch’s suite for the two-night Miami stay.
“We want these guys to finish strong,” Finch said. “They’re playing pretty well on the floor, they’re doing a lot of things we’re asking them to. We want them to also enjoy being part of this organization, enjoying each other and any way we can break it up, make it a little bit more lighthearted, we like to try to do that.”
UP NEXT
Timberwolves: Visit Orlando on Sunday, the next-to-last road game of Minnesota’s season.
Heat: Visit Boston on Sunday, the start of a two-game, three-day trip against the Celtics.
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Minnesota Sports

Kaprizov scores in OT as Wild beat Ducks 4-3

By BRIAN HALL Associated Press
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Kirill Kaprizov scored 17 seconds into overtime to send the Minnesota Wild to a 4-3 win against the Anaheim Ducks on Friday night.
Kaprizov, the rookie sensation with 27 goals this season, snapped a quick shot that was stopped by Anaheim goalie John Gibson, but drove the net and found the puck on a rebound and easily scored with Gibson unable to recover.
“He’s a special player,” said teammate Joel Eriksson Ek, who was on the ice as Kaprizov scored. “Every time he gets the puck, you can feel it in the arena. It’s amazing the things he does. He’s just creating all the time, and it doesn’t really matter who’s close to him. He can create a lot and he’s been really good for us.”
Eriksson Ek, Victor Rask and Nico Sturm also scored for Minnesota, which has won three of its past four games and has points in five straight. The Wild started the day one point behind Colorado for second in the West Division. The Avalanche played at Los Angeles later Friday.
Kaapo Kahkonen made 22 saves for Minnesota.
“Yeah there’s a lull, I think,” Wild coach Dean Evason said of Friday’s game after a series of hard-fought games against likely playoff teams. “We’ve been playing some pretty intense hockey, great. I think it’s natural, but I also think we should have been able to recognize it and gear it up and again. We praised our group. Tonight, we didn’t respond properly. Tomorrow, we need to.”
Max Comtois, Adam Henrique and Derek Grant scored for Anaheim. Gibson stopped 32 shots.
The teams finish their season series on Saturday in Minnesota.
“I think we’ve turned through the adversity into a very resilient group,” Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said. “I think our minds have been calloused by all the difficult circumstances and the season that we had. … I know next season is a long way off, but how we respond down the stretch here was going to be very, very important moving into next year. Our effort has been very, very good down the stretch.”
Kaprizov, perhaps the frontrunner for the league’s top rookie honor, has had a flair for the dramatic all season. The 24-year-old Russian has two overtime goals and three game-winning goals this season.
He has 11 goals in his last 13 games and started the day tied for first in the NHL in goals since April 17.
“Every night he seems to do something different and finds a way to make an impact on the game,” Wild defenseman Ryan Suter said. “It just shows what kind of player he really is. He’s on fire and we have to keep him going.”
SITTING STARS
Zach Parise was a healthy scratch by Minnesota for the second time this season. Parise has been playing in a bottom two-line role for much of the season. He is one shy of his 200th goal as a member of the Wild.
Meanwhile, Ryan Getzlaf was out of the lineup for Anaheim, the second time he’s been scratched this season without an injury. Eakins said it was a “maintenance day” for Getzlaf, who has five goals and 12 assists this season, and will likely see his 13-season streak of leading the team in assists end this year.
INJURY NOTES
Henrique had a goal and assist in his return after missing six games while in the COVID-19 protocol. Ducks defenseman Josh Manson returned to the lineup after missing seven games with an upper-body injury.
Kevin Fiala was back in Minnesota’s lineup after missing one game with a lower-body injury.
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