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Pekovic powers Wolves over slumping Hawks, 108-103

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Pekovic powers Wolves over slumping Hawks, 108-103

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Nikola Pekovic had 25 points and a career-high 18 rebounds, Andrei Kirilenko added 21 points and the Minnesota Timberwolves beat the Atlanta Hawks 108-103 on Tuesday night.

Derrick Williams scored 17 points and Alexey Shved had 15 for the Timberwolves, who were missing coach Rick Adelman due to personal reasons. Terry Porter filled in and led the Wolves to their first victory over Atlanta since 2006, snapping an 11-game skid.

Josh Smith had 21 points and 13 rebounds and Al Horford had 19 points and 11 boards for the Hawks, who have lost three straight and four of their last five. They lost for the first time this year when Smith and Horford each get a double-double.

Minnesota point guard Ricky Rubio had eight assists and four points in 18 minutes in his first game back after missing the previous four with back spasms.

Lou Williams finished with 21 points and eight assists for the Hawks, who had a chance to tie the game in the closing seconds. But Dante Cunningham stole the inbounds pass and Luke Ridnour knocked down two free throws to seal the win.

The Timberwolves led by 14 to start the fourth quarter, with the Hawks showing few signs of getting back into the game. But Lou Williams scored seven quick points and Horford backed Derrick Williams down for a short jumper to trim the deficit to four with six minutes to play.

Kirilenko hit two 3s for a 100-89 lead with 4:15 remaining, but Kyle Korver hit two 3s and Lou Williams scored on a driving layup during a 12-2 surge that brought Atlanta within one. Korver finished with 15 points.

Pekovic was given a basket on a goaltending violation by Smith and Cunningham hit a 21-foot jumper with 15.9 seconds left to hold off the Hawks.

The Wolves have been the worst 3-point shooting team in the league virtually all season, but they hit 8 of 15 against the Hawks to get a big win before a four-game road trip.

While the Heat and Knicks grabbed all the headlines in the first two months of the season, the Hawks quietly put together a solid start that kept them right on their heels. They won 19 of their first 28 games, beating the likes of Oklahoma City, Indiana (twice), the Clippers and Memphis along the way to legitimize their standing as a contender in the East. But they lost at Detroit and home against Boston in a back-to-back last weekend, scoring just nine points in the third quarter against the Celtics.

Coach Larry Drew said he thought his team panicked for the first time all season, then watched it struggle to keep up with Minnesota's crisp ball movement and Derrick Williams' shot-making in the first half. The second-year forward has never been in Adelman's good graces, and his playing time has been sporadic, with the veteran coach favoring the more consistent Cunningham.

With Kevin Love out with a broken hand, Williams scored 18 points in the fourth quarter of a loss to Portland on Saturday night, then hit three of four 3-pointers in the first half to help the Wolves take a 17-point lead.

NOTES: Porter interviewed for an assistant position on Drew's staff when he was hired in Atlanta. How'd that go? ``I didn't get it,'' Porter said with a chuckle. ... The Timberwolves played host to 16-year-old Cody Metz as part of the Make-A-Wish program. Metz is a devoted fan who has suffered from numerous complications following surgery on a brain tumor five years ago. Metz watched the game from a suite and planned to accompany the team on a road trip to Oklahoma City. ``This definitely gives me something to look forward to,'' Metz said. ``I'm really excited.''

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Alarming appearance shows Colt McCoy on crutches nearly four months after injury (VIDEO)

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USA Today

Alarming appearance shows Colt McCoy on crutches nearly four months after injury (VIDEO)

Colt McCoy broke his leg in December, and a few weeks later was seen in the Redskins locker room moving around without crutches. 

In fact, shortly after his injury, Washington head coach Jay Gruden said that McCoy might have played had the Redskins made the playoffs. 

So it comes at a peculiar moment when McCoy was shown on Sunday moving around with the help of a pair of crutches. 

With Alex Smith expected to miss at least the 2019 season after suffering his own broken leg last fall, some expected McCoy to get a chance at the Redskins top QB spot this fall. 

Then, the team moved to get Case Keenum from Denver in February, which clouded McCoy’s chances. Washington’s top brass explained Keenum and McCoy would battle it out for the QB1 position. 

Now, however, naturally the question comes if the ‘Skins had to acquire Keenum because there was a setback with McCoy’s recovery or another injury popped up. 

Right now, there’s no answer. 

Soon there will be. 

Jay Gruden will talk with the media on Tuesday morning during the NFL League Meetings in Phoenix. While there are plenty of topics to discuss with the Redskins head coach, now McCoy will be high on the list. 

For fans worried by McCoy’s crutches, keep in mind many NFL players get procedures done in the offseason to clean up old injuries or scar tissue. 

It’s March and the Redskins won’t play a game until September. That’s plenty of time. 

Depending on the severity of McCoy’s situation, there could be questions about his availability for offseason workouts or training sessions. 

Another quarterback seems likely to join the Redskins this offseason regardless of McCoy’s availability. 

The team must add a passer on an affordable rookie deal, as neither Keenum or McCoy is under contract beyond this year. Alex Smith is, but it’s not even close to a given he can return by 2020, despite carrying more than $20 million in salary next year. 

Stay tuned. NBC Sports Washington will be on the ground in Phoenix and working to clarify the McCoy situation. 

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Capitals turn experimental as Stanley Cup playoffs approach

Capitals turn experimental as Stanley Cup playoffs approach

WASHINGTON – The Capitals are sick and they are tired and they are injured and they are experimenting.

That’s the takeaway with six games left to go in the regular season after a 3-1 win against the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday at Capital One Arena. Todd Reirden mixed his defensive pairs routinely and did the same in the third period with his forward lines, which led to a goal for Jakub Vrana.

Washington extended its lead in the Metropolitan Division to three points over the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins. But they have been forced to look at different options thanks to an injury to defenseman Michal Kempny and illness spreading through the forward ranks at a bad time.

And so that’s how John Carlson started the game on the right side of the top pairing as usual, but was soon on the left side of the ice, with Nick Jensen moving up to replace Christian Djoos. At various times, Brooks Orpik played with Jensen and Djoos on the third pair. Kempny is out indefinitely, so Reirden doesn’t have much time to configure his ideal pairings. And trying to win a division title while doing so is problematic. 

“I feel perfectly comfortable playing with any of our D,” said Jensen, who was acquired just before the NHL trade deadline in late February. “I think they're all capable of playing great defense, and I think they're all really great D and we tend to all be on the same page a lot of the time. When we're switching up D-pairings there, it might be a little bit of an adjustment period, but we'll get used to it as it goes down the line as we keep playing with each other.”

They’d rather have Kempny, of course. Washington had turned the tide on shot attempts during the 10 games after Jensen was acquired and the lineup was stable. It was a good sign heading into the Stanley Cup playoffs. Unfortunately, Kempny is out indefinitely and no one is sure if or when he will return.    

“We're looking for the right combinations that work for us that can set us up for future success,” Reirden said. “Just some guys that aren't 100-percent in terms of lets say sickness wise that are low on energy so you have to manage those minutes as well. So there's a lot of things in play that cause for that type of mix and match stuff both with up front and on our blue line.” 

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