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Love, Roy lead Wolves over Haifa 114-81

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Love, Roy lead Wolves over Haifa 114-81

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) With six new faces on the roster and a couple of injuries early in the preseason, Minnesota Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman hasn't had much of a chance to get some cohesion going in a group that figures to enter the regular season with playoff expectations.

He has two weeks left to do it, and the work started in earnest on Tuesday night.

Kevin Love had 24 points and eight rebounds and Brandon Roy chipped in 19 points in Minnesota's 114-81 victory over Maccabi Haifa.

Andrei Kirilenko had 13 points, seven rebounds and five assists after sitting out the previous game with a sore hamstring. Love also missed the previous game with a sore right elbow, but showed no ill effects on Tuesday.

With a healthy Love and Kirilenko, Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman wanted to start looking at combinations that will be used extensively early in the season. The Timberwolves have six new players who figure to play major minutes this season, and Adelman gave them plenty of playing time on Tuesday night.

The talent disparity turned the game into a glorified practice for the Wolves, which is just what they needed. Love, Kirilenko, Roy and Nikola Pekovic all played at least 25 minutes, with starting point guard Luke Ridnour playing 21 while he works his way back from a back injury that limited his ability to practice in training camp.

``They haven't played together at all. That's why I played them the first three quarters,'' Adelman said. ``In the second half, they were much better. Andrei makes a big difference defensively when he's on the floor. He's a good passer. We just have to get used to playing with each other.''

Pat Calathes had 17 points and 10 rebounds and Paul Stoll scored 17 for Haifa, a visiting team from Israel that came to the United States for two exhibitions. The Greens lost to Golden State on Thursday night.

The Timberwolves shot 42 free throws to Haifa's 10.

Kirilenko's presence was immediate, infusing the starting group with deft passing and defensive tenacity that the Wolves will sorely need with Ricky Rubio expected miss at least the first six weeks while recovering from surgery to repair a torn ACL in his left knee.

``I think we're getting better game by game,'' Kirilenko said. ``I think we still struggle with our offense. But for the most part we're getting better. It's a process.''

Dante Cunningham scored 11 points and JJ Barea added 11 point and seven assists off the bench for the Wolves, who made so many moves in the offseason to create a deeper team that might be able to weather the early portion of the season without Rubio.

The key will be Roy, who is coming back after missing last season with chronic knee problems. He had a procedure this summer to try to relieve the bone-on-bone pain and signed with the Timberwolves in September after feeling much better in workouts.

The former All-Star still winces when he's knocked to the floor, but he's been nothing but efficient and smooth offensively in the early going for the Wolves. Roy was 4 for 8 from the field, including 2 for 2 on 3s, hit nine of his 10 free throws and grabbed four boards as well in 25 minutes.

``You want to get those minutes together,'' said Roy, whose Wolves led by just three points at halftime. ``At halftime I think we were all a little frustrated. But that's why it's the preseason, there's a chance to work through some of that. We've got three more games to get everybody healthy and get not just our first group, but our second group some minutes together.''

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Follow Jon Krawczynski on Twitter:http://twitter.com/APKrawczynski

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Wizards' assistant Sidney Lowe leaves to join Dwane Casey's staff with Detroit Pistons

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Associated Press

Wizards' assistant Sidney Lowe leaves to join Dwane Casey's staff with Detroit Pistons

The Washington Wizards have an opening on their coaching staff, as assistant Sidney Lowe has left the team to join the Detroit Pistons.

Lowe, according to ESPN, will be the top assistant on new Pistons coach Dwane Casey's staff. 

Lowe spent two seasons under head coach Scott Brooks in Washington. A D.C. native, Lowe starred at DeMatha High School before playing at NC State and then in the NBA.

Lowe was the head coach at his alma mater for five years from 2006 through 2011, but has otherwise been an NBA lifer. He served as head coach of the Timberwolves in 1993-94 and head coach of the Grizzlies from 2000 to 2002.

The Wizards have several coaching hires to make now. They have a new G-League team set to take the court in the fall and will need to hire a staff sometime this summer. 

With Lowe gone, they could choose to promote from within or go outside the organization.

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Nationals look to halt red hot Tampa Bay Rays in 2-game series at Tropicana Field

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USA TODAY Sports

Nationals look to halt red hot Tampa Bay Rays in 2-game series at Tropicana Field

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Rays, routinely using relievers as starters to deal with a rash of injuries, are pitching their way to victories.

The Rays (37-40) go into a two-game interleague series against the Washington Nationals with the momentum of a three-game sweep of the American League East-leading Yankees. New York hadn't lost three games in a row at any point all season, but the Rays pulled it off, capped with a 7-6 win in 12 innings on Sunday at Tropicana Field.

"That's the best team in the league right now, them and the Astros ... I think coming home from that we had confidence and it all carried over into that series," said Rays rookie first baseman Jake Bauers, who won the game in the 12th inning.

Since beginning their experimental use of relievers as "openers" to start games, the Rays have a 3.07 ERA, and entering Sunday's game, that edged the Yankees for the best ERA in baseball since May 19. They've won five of seven games to again challenge .500, and Sunday's walkoff home run by Bauers was their second this season, after totaling one in three seasons from 2015 to 2017.

The Nationals (41-35) had gone 3-9 in their last 12 games before Sunday night's rain-delayed game against the Phillies, dropping into third place in the National League East. They'll send out Gio Gonzalez (6-4, 3.08 ERA), who has no wins in his last four starts and his ERA has risen from a sterling 2.10 to 3.08.

Gonzalez lasted only four innings in his last outing, giving up five hits and two runs against the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday. For his career against the Rays, he's 2-2 with a 5.54 ERA, though he's only faced Tampa Bay once since 2012. That was a rough 2015 start at Tropicana Field, lasting 3 1/3 innings and giving up five earned runs on eight hits, walking more batters than he struck out. For his career at Tropicana, he has an 11.25 ERA.

The Rays will have an actual starter on the mound in Blake Snell (9-4, 2.48), who is in line for an All-Star appearance after the first three months of his season. He has just one loss in his last seven starts, and while he has never faced the Nationals, he has generally fared well in interleague play, going 3-2 with a 2.33 ERA in eight career starts.

Tampa Bay, hoping to build on its current momentum, has a tough week ahead, with two games against Washington, then another four against Houston to close out the homestand.

Washington goes from St. Petersburg to a weekend four-game series at the Philadelphia Phillies before returning home for a week.

The Rays got a head start with a Sunday afternoon game and the Nationals saw their prime-time game delayed by rain, keeping them on the field beyond midnight and still needing to fly to Florida for the two-game stopover.

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