KAT hit in face, scores 37 to lead Wolves past Wiz 116-111

Karl-Anthony Towns recovered from a shot to the mouth that left him down on the court and finished with a season-high 37 points and 10 rebounds, leading the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 116-111 victory over the Washington Wizards on Tuesday night.

For those wondering about the trends, well, they are myriad. Arrieta averaged 94.6 mph on his fastball when he was arguably the best player in all of fantasy. In 2016, that fastball slipped to an average of 93.7 mph. Last season it was at 92.1. That is a very big deal. Let us not blindly presume he is heading the way of fallen Seattle Mariners king Felix Hernandez, but being purely objective, when a pitcher sees such a stark decrease in velocity that quickly, it tends to be worth worrying about for either statistical or health purposes.

Unfortunately, there is more. Arrieta permitted 26 home runs over 64 starts in 2015-16. Last season, Arrieta permitted 23 blasts in 168 1/3 innings, as his hard-contact rate spiked, left-handed hitters had far less trouble with his stuff and/or deception, and his ground ball rate continued its predictive descent along with it. Arrieta’s FIP was 4.16, which is below average and likely more reflective of how he pitched, rather than his ERA. Now, we can all live with an ERA even in that somewhat bloated range, in theory, if it comes with a decent WHIP and strikeouts and wins and … this just is not as sure a thing anymore.

Butler entered free agency in a weird spot following his mysterious Super Bowl benching, and the buzz in Indy was that he wouldn’t find the deal of his dreams in free agency. I could see him taking a one-year deal for $9 million or so plus incentives, then hitting the market again in a year, perhaps under better circumstances. — Graziano

His résumé makes him one of the top two wideouts on the market, but he’s coming off a season lost to a Week 1 torn ACL. Robinson could find himself following the 2017 Alshon Jeffery model. Remember, Jeffery couldn’t get the long-term deal he wanted on the market, so he signed with the Eagles for one year and $9 million plus incentives that could push the deal to $14 million. He got his extension from Philly late in the season, and obviously things worked out well there for everyone. — Graziano

Davis has another year of arbitration eligibility left on his deal. Oakland has a lot of under-25 big leaguers, or others close to that, to replace him in the lineup and avoid that expense. For a contender looking for some middle-of-the-order pop, Davis would be attractive, and the cost in prospects likely wouldn’t be prohibitive.

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Jets are building toward a title with a young core, while Capitals try to keep Stanley Cup window open

Which teams have the best shot at locking up a playoff spot? Who’s earning a better shot at the No. 1 overall pick? Here are the latest projections for both, along with critical matchups to watch today and more. Read ?

Chris Peters, NHL prospects writer: That’s a good answer, Emily. But, for me, it’s the Chicago Blackhawks. The grave-dancing over their horrendous season and fall from elite status — the franchise is enduring its worst season of the Jonathan Toews/Patrick Kane era, which began in 2007-08 — has been rampant among fans outside of Chicago. The Blackhawks’ success is relatively recent and, compared with Duke’s scale of success, somewhat short-lived. But Chicago’s run has still been a pretty solid one, given that it came during the salary-cap era.

Chicago went from feel-good story of a franchise rising from the ashes — years of mismanagement and a tenuous relationship between the team’s owner and fans — to an oversaturation that left opposing fans nauseated.

Bucks: Middleton has reached double figures in 61 of 67 games this season and reached at least 20 points in 34 games. … Shot 56 percent for the first half, including 53 percent from 3-point range. . The Bucks had 33 assists on 47 made field goals.

Grizzlies: Hit nine of their first 10 shots. … Have lost seven straight at home. … Brooks entered the game averaging 21.3 points in the previous four games. … Used its 27th starting lineup of the season. … The 18-game losing streak is the longest during the Memphis era of the franchise. The Grizzlies moved from Vancouver in 2001.

Jennings said he expected to play 10, maybe 12 minutes. Instead, foul trouble had him on the floor for just under 24 minutes in his return. I was a little tired, he said. I kept telling (Bledsoe), `Don’t foul. Stop fouling. I’m tired.’ My nerves was running and everything like that. But it was good.

Memphis interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff on the 18-game losing streak: As professionals, our job is to show up every day and give our best effort. I don’t think they need to be reminded of that. Through and through, they haven’t laid down yet, and I don’t expect them to.

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Rockets’ James Harden sits out win vs. Mavericks with left knee soreness

Houston Rockets superstar guard James Harden sat out of his team’s 105-82 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday due to left knee soreness.

Coach Mike D’Antoni said that Harden, who is leading the NBA in scoring with 31.1 points per game and ranks third in assists (8.8 per game), will play in Monday’s home game against the San Antonio Spurs.

We don’t have the luxury of just taking nights off, he said. We’re not where we want to be. We’re not that good yet. So we have to go out there and approach every single game, no matter who we’re playing, like it’s a playoff game. We’re 15 games away, so it’s time to take it serious.

Harden scored 16 of his 28 points in the third quarter to allow the Rockets to build a huge lead and sail to a 109-93 victory Monday night.

The NBA’s leading scorer took a little while to get going a night after sitting out against Dallas with a sore left knee and had just 12 points at halftime.

Despite his slow start, the Rockets had a comfortable lead in the third and were still up by 13 after a basket by San Antonio’s Dejounte Murray with about eight minutes left in the quarter. It was then that Harden took over, scoring the next eight points to start a 16-4 run that extended the lead to 82-57 with about 3 1/2 minutes left in the third and had coach Gregg Popovich calling for a timeout.

The Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Lakers and Rockets teams with D’Antoni on the sideline had a combined 6-20 record in playoff games against the Spurs. Then again, with all due respect to the Steve Nash-run Suns, none of those teams were nearly as dominant as these Rockets, who have won 19 of the past 20 games and are a ridiculous 35-2 when James Harden, Chris Paul and Clint Capela all play.

And these Spurs — even with LaMarcus Aldridge (sore knee) and Manu Ginobili (rest), who both sat out against the Rockets — look nothing like the perennial contenders who have made the playoffs each of the previous 20 seasons, the third-longest postseason streak in NBA history. In fact, the Spurs find themselves on the outside looking in at the playoff picture this late in the season for the first time since Tim Duncan was drafted in 1997, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

It was a very solid game. He looked big to me tonight, Arizona coach Rick Tocchet said. A very solid play. It looked like when they shot nothing was going to go in.

Kuemper had 24 saves in the Coyotes’ 2-1 win at Vancouver on Wednesday in his Arizona debut.

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When LeBron James’ name was called when the Cleveland Cavaliers’ starting lineup was introduced, Los Angeles Lakers fans greeted the superstar with a warm applause.

While this wasn’t anything close to erecting billboards around the Los Angeles area trying to lure James as one longtime Lakers season-ticket holder did last week, the Staples Center crowd clearly wanted James to know that they’d love to see him here again next season and preferably in a purple and gold No. 23 jersey.

Patrik Laine, 19, has never played in the NHL postseason. Sure, they’ve both appeared in the same number of championship games, which is none. But the Jets are clearly a team building toward a title with a young core, while the Capitals are using an industrial-strength tire jack to keep their Stanley Cup window open.

Taylor Hall and Brad Marchand are among the guys who have significantly stepped up their game this season, from establishing themselves as impact players to morphing from stars into supernovas. Plus, the NHL has a China problem — and more Jersey Fouls.

An autopsy report released Tuesday by the El Paso County Coroner said that 53-year-old Jim Johannson’s death was natural and caused by heart disease.

According to USA Hockey, Johannson died in his sleep on Jan. 21 at his home in Colorado Springs.

Johannson worked for USA Hockey for decades; at the time of his death, he was general manager of the U.S. Olympic men’s hockey team. USA Hockey officials have said Johannson relished the chance to put together the men’s team that competed in South Korea.

Goran Dragic scored 23 points for the Heat, who were without two key players in starting center Hassan Whiteside and sixth man Dwyane Wade.

The Blazers closed the first quarter on a 14-4 run to take a 34-25 lead, capped by a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from rookie Zach Collins that was accompanied with some guard-like dribbling.

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Lakers’ Josh Hart out 4-6 weeks after undergoing hand surgery

Los Angeles Lakers rookie Josh Hart is expected to miss four to six weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a fractured fourth metacarpal in his left hand on Friday, according to the team.

Hart, who suffered the injury on Wednesday in practice, had the surgery performed by Dr. Steven S. Shin. According to the team’s timetable, Hart could potentially return as early as March 30 against Milwaukee.

At that point the Lakers would have eight games remaining in the season. Head coach Luke Walton said on Thursday that if Hart returns with “a couple of weeks left [in the season] then yeah we’ll get him back on the court.”

Wiggins added 21 points for the Timberwolves. Towns has had a double-double in a league-high 55 games this season.

Timberwolves: The Timberwolves waived forward Shabazz Muhammad before the game. “He wasn’t playing as much as he would have liked and we told him we’d try to do the right thing for him,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. Muhammad averaged 3.8 points and 1.4 rebounds in 32 games this season. … The Timberwolves arrived in Portland early and Thibodeau was able to attend Portland’s 116-99 victory over Sacramento on Tuesday.

Portis had 15 in the second half and Chicago used a 16-4 run in the final five minutes to end a five-game losing streak.

The game featured two of the worst teams in the league, both entering with 10-game losing streaks and looking more at their draft position than any long-lost hope of the postseason. The Suns victory gave them 19 wins, one more than Memphis, but Phoenix has two more losses in the race to the bottom. Some statistics were reflective of both teams’ troubles. Memphis committed 20 turnovers Cheap Jerseys Wholesale China and shot 38 percent for the game, while the Suns had 16 miscues and connected on 46 percent.

The Grizzlies are not only losing, but really not getting Cheap Kids Football Jerseys close. They have lost their last four by an average of 17 points.

“We haven’t really been on track all season,” Harrison said. “We’ve got to continue to play better.”

Portis leads late rally, Bulls beat Mavs 108-100

Bobby Portis and the Chicago Bulls finally broke through with a late burst that made the difference.

There obviously aren’t a lot of fade options on a four-game slate, but I’m not willing to pay top dollar for a rookie who figures to see plenty of LeBron James. Sure, Simmons is impressive and I love his long-term outlook, but “The King” will be looking to send a message to a city that is shamelessly recruiting him. I fear that could mean a long night for Simmons.

In two games against Cleveland, Simmons has totaled just 24 points, 12 assists (11 turnovers), and 14 rebounds — numbers that simply aren’t appealing at his current price point. Furthermore, the Cavaliers are in the midst of a five-game homestand and have off-days on both sides of this game, making this a good spot for a rested James to impose his will. If you’re “trusting the process” tonight, Joel Embiid is far-and-away the best member of the 76ers to roster in this spot.

Simmons has played very well of late. He’s seemingly gotten through his rookie wall, and his good play is reflected with near-max level pricing in DFS. However, he is coming off three straight solid, but by no means monster outings. He also has had two performances of relative insignifigance in his meetings against the Cavaliers this season. I simply do not expect him to live up to his price tag on Thursday.

So … what gives with the shortfall? Where is the ding in Antetokounmpo’s numerical portfolio? What’s keeping him from fulfilling his top-two ADP?

Becoming a top-three player requires a special brand of statistical domination. A player might be able to crack 18-19 Player Rater points with one mediocre-to-bad category. LeBron is a substandard free throw shooter (73.8 FT% on 6.0 attempts per game). James Harden hits a boatload of 3s but pays a small price in his field goal percentage (44.9 FG% on 20.6 attempts).

“I feel like I will get out of it, man,” Ball said at the time. “It is still early in the season. We have a long season to go, just keep working.”

Since the start of December, Ball has shot 43 percent from the field and 38 percent from the 3 line, despite not playing for a six-game stint and then a 15-game stretch due to injuries to his shoulder and knee, respectively. He also sat out one game — against the Sacramento Baseball Jerseys For Sale Kings on Saturday — as the team held him out of his first back-to-back since returning Cheap NFL Jerseys Nike from his sprained MCL injury.