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Minnesota Timberwolves dedicate game ball to George Floyd’s family

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The Minnesota Timberwolves dedicated their game ball to George Floyd’s family after defeating the Sacramento Kings 134-120 on Tuesday night.

The win came hours after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the murder of Floyd in Minneapolis last May.

“I think for all of us, we all felt that this game was bigger than basketball,” Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns said after the game. “This was a moment that wasn’t meant for us, this was meant for our city and for George Floyd’s family. I think everyone in America right now is grieving with them and sending our prayers, blessings and love towards them.

“They need it for countless days. They’ve been reminded of the tragedy that has taken place in their family and never truly got a chance to grieve and recover in any sort of way. So I think for us we were just trying to do our part to let them know that we’re here with them, that this game of basketball is only just a little part of who we are. And this organization in us wanted to really show them that we’re going to be with them every step of the way we possibly can to help them in this process, in this grieving process … just to repair their lives as much as we possibly can.”

Towns acknowledged that he was nervous throughout the day because of the uncertainty over how the verdict would play out. He said he was worried for the safety of the community.

“I didn’t know what was going to happen,” Towns said. “I had sweated so much I had to take a shower because I didn’t know how it was going to go. My feelings towards it was, we’ve seen moments like this so much that go the opposite way, that even with how quick the verdict came in, you still have no idea where it’s going to go.

“I was worried. I was worried for our community. I was worried for if justice was going to be served. I was worried about all the family our team has, every player, and wondering if their safety was going to be guaranteed tonight and how they would feel. On our team, we’ve got guys who have kids, who are kids of color, wondering if we’re going to show them if the word accountability actually lives in the world we live in today.

Like many others, Towns was filled with a variety of emotions after the verdict was announced, saying it was “a bittersweet moment that justice was served, but it was served at the cost of a life.”

“It’s unfortunate that our city has been going through this so much, but I hope that today was a step towards reform and a step towards bringing this whole thing to an end for all the families involved,” Towns said. “Just because justice was served today for Mr. Floyd, doesn’t mean that we are going to be bringing him back home and that’s the most unfortunate part of all of this.

“It was a day where a step towards reform was made, but there’s a lot of work to do and there’s a lot of conversations that need to be had to make sure that this doesn’t happen again or at least try to save the next generations from having moments like this.”

Wolves guard D’Angelo Russell spoke with reporters after Tuesday night’s game and actually turned it into an open forum, asking reporters from the Twin Cities to share their reflections from the day. Russell, who noted he’s still just working in Minneapolis and continues to make his new team and city feel like home after being acquired by the Timberwolves last season, said he has been embraced by the community but wanted to get a feel for what local reporters thought.

Wolves swingman Josh Okogie echoed a point made by many others on Tuesday, saying that the Chauvin verdict wasn’t just about justice, it was about more accountability.

“More than everything for me, if justice was really, really, really served George Floyd would still be here today, but obviously we don’t have no control of that,” Okogie said. “But what we do have control of is the court case and what we decided to do with Derek Chauvin, I think the court made the right decisions, and … I hope this slows down the amount of shootings that are happening in the world right now.”

While Towns acknowledged a sense of “relief” after the verdict, he also felt hopeful that the state and community could start to move forward.

“It’s just a moment in time that we get to realize … when you grow up, your parents tell you what’s right and wrong, and they tell you that you know better,” Towns said. “They try to teach you accountability for your actions. They try to teach you that justice will always be served, the good will always win in the end. Recently, in life, especially for all of us of color and for me personally, sometimes the good people don’t win.

“It’s a tough fact that you gotta swallow. … It’s just a great moment for the word accountability gaining some actual meaning, gaining some actual value. Justice, while being bittersweet, also showed itself today. It’s bittersweet because it costed a life to see a moment like this. It’s one of those moments you worry that if reform’s not done, we’ll be having the same situation again, and that’s the most unfortunate, disheartening thing.”

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Washington Wizards’ Russell Westbrook has 21 boards, 24 assists vs. Pacers, securing triple-double average for 4th time in career

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WASHINGTON — Russell Westbrook became the only player with multiple 20-assist, 20-rebound games in NBA history — Wilt Chamberlain is the only other player with one — and the surging Washington Wizards moved closer to Indiana in the Eastern Conference playoff standings by beating the Pacers 154-141 on Monday night.

Westbrook had 14 points to go along with his career-high 21 rebounds and career-high-tying 24 assists, his league-leading 32nd triple-double of the season. He has 178 triple-doubles, three short of Oscar Robertson’s record, with seven games remaining for Washington.

Monday’s performance guarantees that Westbrook will average a triple-double in a season for the fourth time in his career; Robertson is the only other player to do this, and he did it once in 1961-62.

“Point guards don’t do what he does. He’s not normal, they’re not built that way,” said Wizards coach Scott Brooks. “There may be someone that probably shoots better. There might be someone that probably can do certain things better — but there’s nobody in the history of the game that can do what he does throughout the stat sheet.

“I used to always say he’s going to probably go down as the third-best point guard ever, but I think he’s passed one. He’s going to go down as probably the second-best, and (No. 1) is obviously Magic. He’s underappreciated. What he does, there are no point guards ever done it, nobody.”

Rui Hachimura scored 27 points and Bradley Beal had 26 as Washington scored a season-high 154 and moved within one-half game of Indiana for ninth place in the East. Teams that finish between seventh and 10th will enter the league’s new play-in tournament for the main playoff draw.

The Wizards earned the tiebreaker over the Pacers by winning the first two meetings. The teams meet one more time this season at Indiana on Saturday.

Washington finished the first half with a 20-8 run over the final 4:15 to take an 82-66 lead at the break. Westbrook had three of his 11 second-quarter assists during that stretch. It was Washington’s highest scoring first half of the season.

“Each night I try to figure out ways to be able to impact and pick up my team … it was one of those nights where certain things are rolling,” Westbrook said. “Guys are rolling, and my job is a bit of fun and as a point guard … you got to be able to make somebody around you better. And I feel like I take a lot of pride in the effort, the energy, and time, and watching film, and to be able to make others around me better. That’s that.”

Westbrook had 14 assists and 12 rebounds at the half while taking just three shots.

“He’s an MVP winner every night on the floor and off the floor, but if he was selfish he could shoot at a 20-20-20 game, but he was very comfortable only shooting three shots at halftime,” Brooks said. “Not a lot of star players in this league are comfortable only taking three shots at halftime.”

Westbrook’s layup with 10:23 left in the third clinched his triple-double. His 32 are the fourth most in any NBA season; he holds the record with 42.

ESPN Stats & Information and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Carmelo Anthony of Portland Trail Blazers moves into 10th place all time in NBA scoring

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On an and-1 3-pointer, the Portland Trail BlazersCarmelo Anthony moved into the top 10 all time in NBA scoring Monday night, passing Elvin Hayes.

With 11:09 left in the second quarter against the Hawks in Atlanta, Anthony isolated on the right wing and pulled up from 3, plus the foul. After his trademark move of hitting the side of his head with three fingers, Anthony raised both arms in the air as a quick acknowledgement of the accomplishment.

It was his third 3 of the first half, giving him 12 points. Anthony entered Monday’s game against the Hawks nine points behind Hayes’ career total of 27,313.

“I think after it’s done, whenever it happens, I think I’ll be more in awe of it,” Anthony told ESPN by phone last week. “This is something I never, ever thought about. When you’re young you look up at that list and you’re like, ‘Damn, so-and-so has that many points? I’ll never be able to do that.'” I’m more just in awe of it.”

Moses Malone is next up on the all-time list at 27,409, a reachable number this season if Anthony maintains his current scoring pace.

Anthony’s journey to the top 10 comes with context, with him away from the NBA for a season after being cut by the Houston Rockets after just 10 games early in the 2018-19 season. Anthony continued working out and signed with the Trail Blazers in November 2019, starting all 58 games last season. He agreed to a bench role this season with Portland and entered Monday averaging 13.6 points as a sixth man.

A 10-time All-Star, Anthony is in his 18th NBA season. He won the scoring title with the New York Knicks in 2012-13, averaging 28.7 points. Anthony spent 10 consecutive seasons in the top 10 in scoring and finished as a runner-up for the scoring title twice in that stretch.

Anthony’s point distribution is 13,970 in eight seasons with the Denver Nuggets, 10,186 in seven seasons with the Knicks, 1261 in one season with the Oklahoma City Thunder, 134 with the Rockets and 1740 (entering Monday) in two seasons with the Blazers.

This season, Anthony has moved past Tim Duncan, Dominique Wilkins, Oscar Robertson and Hakeem Olajuwon in scoring.

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Tornado warning forces Portland Trail Blazers to evacuate their Atlanta hotel rooms

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ATLANTA — The Portland Trail Blazers got a bit of a scare before their game against the Atlanta Hawks when a tornado warning forced them to evacuate their hotel rooms.

The warning was issued Monday morning, about seven hours after the Trail Blazers arrived at their hotel a couple of miles north of State Farm Arena in downtown Atlanta. The team had traveled in the early morning hours after a victory Sunday night at Boston.

Coach Terry Stotts said his players and staff were told to go to a lower-level parking garage, where they remained for about 30 minutes.

“I know tornadoes can do anything,” Stotts said. “You have to take the right precautions. The hotel staff was very organized and got everyone down there. We hung out there for about a half-hour, then we went back to our rooms.”

Severe storms moved across the South, spawning multiple tornadoes, damaging homes and uprooting trees from Mississippi to Kentucky. A tornado spotted in Atlanta forced thousands to seek shelter, and one man was killed west of the city when a falling tree brought down power lines onto his vehicle.

Asked if the severe weather disrupted any preparations for his team, Stotts said, “We didn’t get into our rooms until 3:30 in the morning. I’m sure there were some people sleeping and it disrupted their sleep. Hopefully they were able to make it up in the afternoon.”

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