MINNESOTA SPORTS ROUNDUP: Wolves beat Memphis at home; play Miami next
MINNEAPOLIS -- Kevin Love compiled a triple-double with 24 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists to lead the Timberwolves to a 102-88 win against the Grizzlies at the Target Center. Kevin Martin added 21 points for Minnesota, which got back to .500 at 37-and-37. Marc Gasol posted 18 points, seven rebounds and four assists in the loss. Mike Conely shot 3-of-15 from the field and Zach Randolph missed 7-of-8 shots in the team's third loss in four games. Memphis still holds the eighth seed in the Western Conference. However, the Grizz are tied with seventh-place Dallas and ninth place Phoenix.
LeBron James recorded 17 points and eight assists as the Heat blasted the Bucks 96-77 at AmericanAirlines Arena. Chris Bosh added 15 points and Mario Chalmers chipped in with 14 as 11 different Miami players scored at least two points. The Heat have won four in-a-row and continue to lead Indiana by percentage points for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. Ramon Sessions scored a game-high 19 points for Milwaukee, which has lost 11 of its last 12. Jeff Adrien posted 14 points and seven boards in the setback. T-Wolves are at Miami tomorrow night.
Leury Garcia scored on a wild pitch by Sam Deduno in the bottom of the 11th inning as the White Sox outlasted the Twins 7-6 at U.S. Cellular Field. Alexi Ramirez went 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI, while Adam Dunn connected on his first round-tripper of the season. Ronald Belisario picked up his first win in a White Sox uniform. Glen Perkins blew the save in the ninth and Deduno took the eventual loss for Minnesota. Trevor Plouffe went 3-for-5 with three RBI for the Twins, who will try to avoid the three-game sweep on Thursday.
The National Invitation Tournament champion will be crowned tonight. Southern Methodist takes on Minnesota in the title game at Madison Square Garden. It's a battle of number-one seeds. The Mustangs beat Clemson 65-59 in Tuesday's semifinals, while the Golden Gophers advanced with a 67-64 overtime win against Florida State. SMU Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown is trying to add an NIT title to a resume that already has him as the only coach in history to win both an NCAA and NBA championship.
Tonight the Wild finish up a grueling four game road trip with a stop at the United Center in Chicago to face the Blackhawks. The Wild started the trip by losing in St. Louis but responded with a pair of wins in both Phoenix and Monday night in Los Angeles. Mikael Granlund and Darcy Kuemper are both unavailable for tonight's series finale between the two clubs. Ilya Bryzgalov should get his third straight start. He's 4-0-2 since joining the Wild last month at the trade deadline.
Wild goaltender Josh Harding joined his Wild teammates for the first time in a full practice yesterday in Chicago. He hasn't played since December 31st as he's been dealing with complications from multiple sclerosis. It was his first practice since January 19th. Harding went 18-7-3 in 29 games in the first half of the Wild season and still leads the NHL with a 1.65 goals against average and a .933 save percentage. Wednesday was considered Harding's first step in his journey back to the line up. This season the Wild have used Harding, Niklas Backstrom, Darcy Kuemper, Ilya Bryzgalov and Johan Gustafsson in game action. John Curry was just called up from Des Moines. He'll back up Bryzgalov tonight against the Blackhawks. Harding's timetable for a return to the line up remains up in the air.
Wild forward Mikael Granlund and goaltender Darcy Kuemper have been ruled out for Thursday's game in Chicago. Both are dealing with upper-body injuries. Granund was hurt at the end of the second period in Monday's win in Los Angeles and did not return to the game. Forward Nino Niderreiter was also injured in that game but he's expected to be in the line up tonight. In Granlund's absence, former Gopher Erik Haula will slide into the second line center position while recent call up Jake Dowell will center the fourth line. Defenseman Keith Ballard is getting closer to a return but isn't expected in the line up tonight.
Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews will miss the remainder of the regular season but will return for the playoffs, head coach Joel Quenneville said Wednesday. Toews was forced to leave Sunday's loss in Pittsburgh with an upper-body injury he suffered when Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik checked him into the boards. Toews ranks third on the team in goals (28)and points(68). The Blackhawks have six games remaining and sit third in the Central Division with 99 points, three behind their likely first-round opponent, the Colorado Avalanche.
Minnesota Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher today announced the National Hockey League (NHL) club has recalled goalie John Curry and forward Jake Dowell from the Iowa Wild of the American Hockey League. Curry, 30 (2/27/84), is 7-9-2 with a 2.62 goals-against average (GAA) and a .920 save percentage (SV%) in 19 games with Iowa this season. The 5-foot-11, 185-pound netminder has also posted a 10-2-0 record, 2.66 GAA and .917 SV% in 13 games with the Orlando Solar Bears in the ECHL this season. He is 2-2-0 with a 3.79 GAA and a .867 SV% in four NHL games with the Pittsburgh Penguins (2008-10). Curry last appeared in an NHL game on Jan. 16, 2010 at Vancouver. The native of Shorewood, Minn., was signed by Minnesota to a two-way NHL contract on Feb. 17 and wears jersey No. 30 for the Wild. Dowell, 29 (3/4/85), owns 17 points (6-11=17) and 56 penalty minutes (PIM) in 54 games with Iowa this season. The 6-foot, 200-pound native of Eau Claire, Wis., skated in two games with Minnesota last season and has tallied 33 points (11-22=33) and 133 PIM in 156 career NHL games with Chicago, Dallas and Minnesota. He wears sweater No. 18 with the Wild.
Jonathan Quick had to make just 17 saves for his sixth shutout of the season and 31st of his career, as the Kings clinched a playoff berth with a 4-0 win over the Coyotes at the STAPLES Center. Jeff Carter, Anze Kopitar and Tanner Pearson tallied a goal and an assist each for the Kings, who have won seven of their last eight. Drew Doughty also lit the lamp in the victory. Thomas Greiss allowed all four goals on 32 shots for Phoenix, which remains tied with Dallas for the eighth-seed in the West with 85 points but the Stars have two games in hand. Both the Coyotes and Stars trail the Wild by four points as Minnesota looks to get back to the postseason for the second season in a row.
Storied rivals and former WCHA foes North Dakota and Minnesota square off in the NCAA Frozen Four next week. The winner will advance to the national championship game two nights later and will face the winner of the Union and Boston College semifinal. Fourth-seeded North Dakota is 25-13-and-3 on the season. Top-seeded Minnesota is 27-6-and-6 overall.