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Irving returns to carry Celtics past Timberwolves 117-109

Irving returns to carry Celtics past Timberwolves 117-109

Irving returns to carry Celtics past Timberwolves 117-109
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Jim Mone
Boston Celtics's Kyrie Irving, left, assumes a low profile as Minnesota Timberwolves' Taj Gibson defends in the first half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, March 8, 2018, in St. Paul, Minn. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Irving returns to carry Celtics past Timberwolves 117-109

The presence of Kyrie Irving this season has made the Boston Celtics more of a dynamic team with the ball.

They've become quite the force on the other end of the court, too, as the Minnesota Timberwolves again found out.

Irving returned from a one-game absence to help Boston fend off Minnesota, finishing with 23 points, seven rebounds and eight assists in a 117-109 victory over the Timberwolves on Thursday night that clinched a spot in the playoffs for the Celtics.

"That's one of the goals," Irving said. "Just glad we got it out of the way pretty early."

Al Horford added 20 points, eight rebounds, six assists and tough defense on Karl-Anthony Towns for the Celtics, who stayed two games behind Toronto in the Eastern Conference race with their sixth win in seven games. They have three more losses than the Raptors.

Marcus Morris added 17 points for the Celtics, whose good vibes were tempered a bit by the hard landing Jaylen Brown took on his back after a dunk late in the third quarter. He was able to walk off on his own with 14 points, evaluated for concussion-like symptoms and taken to a hospital for precautionary testing.

"I was terrified. I mean, I know what that fall is like," said backup Marcus Smart. "I've done it in high school, the same way. For him to get up, that's a strong kid."

Strength was the name of this game for the Celtics, who overcame a career-high 30 points by Nemanja Bjelica on 11-for-16 shooting, including 6 for 9 from 3-point range. Bjelica's first 20-10 game in the NBA was ultimately wasted in the season-high third straight loss for the Timberwolves, who are still trying to find their way without injured All-Star Jimmy Butler. They trailed by as many as 18 points soon after halftime, too much to overcome some second-half surges behind Bjelica and 18 points from Taj Gibson on 8-for-10 shooting.

"We have to understand how hard and physical you have to play," Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau said. "I think that's the difference right now between us being a really good team and being a good team."

The Wolves were within five at 88-83 in the fourth quarter, but every other time they were on the verge of cutting the margin to two possessions Irving and the Celtics had an answer on the other end.

Towns finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds, and Jamal Crawford pitched in 15 points. But Andrew Wiggins went 1 for 8 from 3-point range and 6 for 21 from the floor for a too-quiet 13 points. He had four turnovers.

"They were the aggressor," Wiggins said. "They were the harder-playing team."


The Celtics posted a 35-point first period for the second straight game, as they did to fuel their 105-89 win over Chicago on Monday. Morris helped them pull away with four jumpers in the final 3½ minutes of the frame, one from behind the arc.

The Timberwolves had 11 first-half turnovers the Celtics turned into 18 points. Towns didn't score for the Timberwolves for the first 15:22, until a 17-footer from the corner fell through the net, but Morris quickly answered with another 3-pointer. Smart put together a three-point play soon after and, less than a minute later, converted a one-handed dunk in one violent motion off a rebound to give the Celtics a 51-37 advantage that triggered a timeout by an angry Thibodeau.

"He gets to his launch pad, he can get up there with the best of them," Irving said.

Morris and Smart helped the Boston bench outscore Minnesota's 42-20.


Butler's absence has come at a most difficult time, with the Wolves in the throes of an unrelenting stretch of games. They lost at Portland and Utah on back-to-back nights last week, and they've got, gulp, Golden State coming to Target Center on Sunday. The following weekend, the night after a trip to San Antonio, they host Houston. The last game against the Rockets on Feb. 23 was when Butler hurt the meniscus in his right knee.

"We've just got to play harder and just trust each other," said Jeff Teague, who had 13 points and eight assists. "I don't think we trusted each other tonight."


Derrick Rose signed with the Timberwolves earlier in the day , giving Thibodeau another experienced former player in the fold in the form of the 2011 NBA MVP on the roster. He was on the active list, but did not play.


Celtics: Morris hit double-digits in points for the seventh time in the last 10 games. ... Irving has scored 20 or more points in 45 of 59 games.

Timberwolves: Wiggins had his streak of five straight 20-point games end. ... Crawford went 1 for 6 from 3-point range and is 1 for 14 over the last three games.


Celtics: Host Indiana on Sunday night. They lost 97-91 to the Pacers at home last month.

Timberwolves: Host the Warriors on Sunday, the only visit to Minnesota by the defending champions on the schedule for this season.


For more AP NBA coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball

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  • Ending weeks of negotiations between Congress and the White House, GOP leaders on Wednesday night released a $1.3 trillion funding plan for the federal government, an agreement that will result in over $100 billion in new spending in 2018, causing heartburn – and opposition – among more conservative Republicans in the House. Almost six months behind schedule on their budget work, lawmakers produced a mammoth bill, which weighs in at 2,232 pages, the product of extended talks that almost went awry at the last minute. The bill was highlighted by the inclusion of a number of non-spending provisions, like two measurse championed in the aftermath of the February school shooting in Parkland, Florida, which would get more information into the background check system for gun buyers, and to help schools better recognize possible problems with violence. Each party had a laundry list of items that they trumpeted in a flurry of news releases sent to reporters – for Republicans, that often included more money for the Pentagon, while Democrats focused on more money for domestic programs. BREAKING: Budget bargainers clinch $1.3 trillion deal bearing big defense, domestic boosts, no protections for Dreamer immigrants. — AP Politics (@AP_Politics) March 22, 2018 In all, almost 4,000 pages of bill text and supporting materials were released to lawmakers – almost impossible for anyone to read before the votes, which are expected on Thursday. But we did some speed reading – and here is some of what we found: 1. The Omnibus features more spending from budget deal. Following through on a bipartisan budget agreement from earlier this year, this funding measure adds more money to the Pentagon – raising the overall military budget to $700 billion this year, and $716 billion in 2019. This year’s hike was $61 billion: “This is the biggest year-to-year increase in defense funding in 15 years,” GOP leaders said in their argument to Republican lawmakers. More money is also added for domestic programs, but that did not match the defense increase, but it was still one reason why Democrats signed on to the agreement. The total for discretionary funding is $1.3 trillion, more than any single year of the Obama Administration. This critical funding bill fulfills our pledge to rebuild the nation’s military. It also addresses many of our national priorities, such as school safety, infrastructure, and fighting the opioid epidemic. — Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) March 22, 2018 2. More conservative Republicans not pleased. Even before the details were out on the Omnibus, it wasn’t hard to tell what members of the House Freedom Caucus were going to do on this bill – vote against it – even with the big increase in defense funding. “That is not in anyway close to what the election was about, close to what we campaigned on,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH). “We all campaigned on changing the status quo,” said Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH). “I think all of us agree we’re spending too much,” he added. But that was a minority view within the party, as GOP leaders focused more on the big increase in military funding. – Record spending levels – No wall/border security – Obamacare intact – Funds Planned Parenthood – Sanctuary Cities funded – Barely 24 hours to read a 2,300 page bill This Omnibus is so far from what the forgotten men and women of America voted for. I will oppose it. — Mark Meadows (@RepMarkMeadows) March 22, 2018 3. President Trump backs it with some reservations. After evidently wavering on the details during the day on Wednesday, the President took to Twitter a few hours later to trumpet some of the details in the agreement, and to knock Democrats for what’s not in the Omnibus – as there is no agreement dealing with younger illegal immigrant children, known as the “Dreamers.” “Democrats refused to take care of DACA,” the President said. “Would have been so easy, but they just didn’t care.” Got $1.6 Billion to start Wall on Southern Border, rest will be forthcoming. Most importantly, got $700 Billion to rebuild our Military, $716 Billion next year…most ever. Had to waste money on Dem giveaways in order to take care of military pay increase and new equipment. — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 22, 2018 4. Trump could have had much more for border wall. While the President professed himself satisfied with $1.6 billion in money for border security, Democrats reminded him that they had offered $25 billion for the wall, in exchange for provisions allowing the “Dreamers” to stay in the U.S., and for many to get on a 12-year pathway to citizenship. But for a variety of reasons, the President did not want to accept that kind of an agreement with Congress, as both parties blamed the other for the lack of a deal. As for that $1.6 billion, the bill limits where it can be used: 5. NASA sees a budget boost. With the spending spigot open in this bill, there are very few mentions of cuts in the documents handed out by Republicans, as agencies like NASA instead saw their budgets boosted. NASA – which has drawn strong words of praise from President Trump since he took office – saw its budget go above $20 billion for the first time ever, jumping just over $1 billion. That will be good news to lawmakers in Florida – and many other states – which have a piece of NASA’s research and operations. 6. Omnibus includes funds for a new Hurricane Hunter plane. After a round of devastating hurricane strikes in 2017, this spending plan will direct $121 million to buy a “suitable replacement” for a Gulfstream IV Hurricane Hunter plane, which will insure that enough planes are ready for a busy storm season. For example, in late September and early October of 2017, one of those planes had three separate mechanical problems – but when it was grounded, there was no backup plane. That’s long been a concern for Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), and he noted the provision last night after the bill was released. Just learned that funding for another Hurricane Hunter jet is in the $1.3 trillion spending bill Congress will vote on this week. I've been relentless on this because 20 million Floridians are in the potential path of a hurricane & data from this aircraft saves lives & property. — Bill Nelson (@SenBillNelson) March 22, 2018 7. A big change for the Internal Revenue Service. After years of seeing budget reductions, the IRS was a budget winner in this Omnibus spending agreement, as the agency’s budget will go up almost $200 million to $11.43 billion. There will be $320 million specifically dedicated to implementation of the new tax cut law, which was approved late in 2017, in order to change all the forms, schedules, and internal systems to reflect those changes in tax year 2018. $350 million will be directed to improve IRS customer service, which has been suffering more and more telephone delays in recent years. It was a bit of a switch for the GOP to be bragging about how much money they were spending at the IRS, instead of vowing to find new ways to cut the budget at the tax agency. 8. Trump wanted to end transportation grants. Congress tripled them. One piece of President Trump’s budget plan for 2019, was a proposal to eliminate “TIGER” grants for infrastructure. But instead of getting rid of that $500 million program, Congress increased it by $1 billion, tripling the size of those popular transportation grants. Mr. Trump’s first budget also tried to get rid of the TIGER program, but when you look at the budget, you realize quickly that grant programs are popular in both parties, because they funnel money to the folks back home. 9. The ban on funding for a group that no longer exists. Once again, this year’s funding bills from Congress include a provision to make sure no federal dollars go to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform, known as ACORN – even though ACORN has disbanded – that happened eight years ago, in 2010. But Republicans have wanted to make sure that any group which looks anything like ACORN, or might turn out to be a progressive grass roots group which acts like ACORN, doesn’t get any federal funding in the future. The new congressional spending bill once again bans funds for ACORN, an organization that once helped poor people but no longer exists. cc @zachdcarter pic.twitter.com/YJVQzOb4Fv — Arthur Delaney (@ArthurDelaneyHP) March 22, 2018 10. Death payment for a late lawmaker. Earlier this week came the sad news that Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) had died, after the 88 year old veteran lawmaker had fallen at her home. When members die while in office, it is customary for the Congress to approve a full year’s salary for that member’s spouse or estate. It’s officially known on a budget line as “Payment to Widows and Heirs of Deceased Members of Congress.” Looking through the fine print – it’s actually characterized as “mandatory” spending – and not discretionary. The House will vote first on the plan – most likely on Thursday. The Senate is expected to follow suit soon after. Lawmakers are then expected to leave town for a two week Easter break.
  • Tulsa police were called to the Rest Inn and Suites near Admiral and Memorial Tuesday night around 10:30. A man from Nebraska, with warrants for manufacturing automatic weapons, was inside and refusing to come out. The S.W.A.T team was concerned about any possible weapons inside, so they closed a part of Admiral for several hours to keep drivers away. Investigators believe the suspect, 49-year-old Rush Hembree, held a pregnant girlfriend hostage. Police say he did some damage to hotel walls trying to escape. Hembree came out of the room around 3:30pm.
  • After weeks of negotiations, Congress unveiled a $1.3 trillion funding measure for the federal government on Wednesday night, adding billions in new spending for both the Pentagon and domestic spending programs, adding in a pair of bills dealing with school safety and gun violence, but including no deals on some politically difficult issues like the future of illegal immigrant “Dreamers.” The 2,232 pages of bill text were quietly posted by GOP leaders after yet another day of closed door negotiations, which included a trip down to the White House by House Speaker Paul Ryan. “No bill of this size is perfect,” Ryan said in a written statement, as he touted the extra money in the plan for the U.S. military. “But this legislation addresses important priorities and makes us stronger at home and abroad,” Ryan added. BREAKING: Budget bargainers clinch $1.3 trillion deal bearing big defense, domestic boosts, no protections for Dreamer immigrants. — AP Politics (@AP_Politics) March 22, 2018 Among the items included in the Omnibus funding bill: + The bipartisan “Fix NICS” bill, which would press states and federal agencies to funnel more information into the instant background check system for gun buyers. + The “STOP School Violence Act,” which would send grant money to local governments to help schools better recognize possible violent threats in schools and their communities. + A series of corrections to the recent tax cut law. Even before the text of the bill was unveiled, a number of Republicans were not pleased, arguing the GOP has done little to merit the support of voters back home, saying it will mean more spending and a bigger government. “That is not in any way close to what the election was about,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), who argued the President should veto the bill. Also causing some irritation was the fact that the bill was negotiated with little input from most lawmakers, and sprung on them just hours before the House and Senate were due to head out of town on a two week Easter break. We should have been on the House floor all year, in front of @cspan cameras, debating and amending spending bills. Instead, nearly all of Congress is waiting to see what omnibus bill emerges from the smoke filled room. Post offices are getting named… at least there’s that. — Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) March 20, 2018 It’s a good thing we have Republican control of Congress or the Democrats might bust the budget caps, fund planned parenthood and Obamacare, and sneak gun control without due process into an Omni…wait, what? — Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) March 21, 2018 “There is not a single member of Congress who can physically read it, unless they are a speed reader,” said Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC). One of the many provisions in the bill included a $174,000 payment to the estate of the late Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), who died earlier this week. Those type of payments are typical when a lawmaker dies while in office. GOP leaders hope to vote on the Omnibus in the House on Thursday, as lawmakers are ready to go home for a two-week break for Easter.
  • Sure. Take that quiz about which hair-metal band is your spirit animal. Share a few snaps of your toddler at the beach and watch the likes pile up. Comment on that pointed political opinion from the classmate you haven’t seen since the Reagan administration. Just remember that your familiar, comforting online neighborhood — the people you care about most and those you only kinda like — exists entirely on a corporate planet that’s endlessly ravenous to know more about you and yours. On a day when our virtual friends wrung their virtual hands about whether to leave Facebook, a thoroughly 21st-century conundrum was hammered home: When your community is a big business, and when a company’s biggest business is your community, things can get very messy. You saw that all day Tuesday as users watched the saga of Cambridge Analytica unfold and contemplated whether the chance that they had been manipulated again — that their data might have been used to influence an election — was, finally, reason enough to bid Facebook goodbye. Not an easy choice. After all, how would Mom see photos of the kids?
  • The suspected Austin serial bomber who apparently killed himself early Wednesday as authorities closed in on him was Pflugerville resident Mark A. Conditt, local and federal law enforcement sources told the American-Statesman and KVUE. >> Read more trending news As the sun rose, neighbors of the 23-year-old, who was home-schooled growing up and went to Austin Community College, struggled to wrap their minds around the news that he was the suspected bomber. “I know this is a cliché but I just can’t imagine that,” said one neighbor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity and whose children grew up playing with Conditt on Pfluger Street. The neighbor described Conditt as a nice kid from a great family. Police have said that Conditt, who was home-schooled growing up, was 24, although some public records indicate he was 23. Conditt received a degree from Austin Community College’s Northridge Campus and had worked at Crux Semiconductor in Austin as a “purchasing Agent/buyer/shipping and receiving,” according to a profile on a job recruiting website. He previously worked as a computer repair technician. >> Related: Photos: Austin police investigate explosions There are very few public social media posts under his name. His mother, Danene Conditt, posted a picture of him in February 2013 to mark his completing a high school-level education. “I officially graduated Mark from High School on Friday. 1 down, 3 to go. He has 30 hrs of college credit too, but he’s thinking of taking some time to figure out what he wants to do….maybe a mission trip. Thanks to everyone for your support over the years.” >> See complete coverage of the Austin bombings from the Austin American-Statesman He and his father, Pat Conditt, purchased a Pflugerville property last year that is now valued at about $69,000. The neighbor said Mark Conditt had been living in that house, which he built with his father’s help. Police said Wednesday morning that they believe Mark Conditt created all of the explosive devices used in the recent bombings himself. They are not sure how he spent his last 24 hours and cautioned Austinites to remain vigilant in case he placed bombs that have yet to go off.