Parise scores both goals as USA survives against Swiss 2-0.

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VANCOUVER—Team USA escaped a hard-fought battle against the underrated Swiss winning 2-0 to move on to the semifinals. Ryan Miller records the first shutout for the Americans since 2002, when Mike Richter whitewashed the Germans, 5-0. Miller remained at the top of his game, but much credit needs to be given to the defensive effort in front of him. There are no official statistics when it comes to shot blocking in this tournament, but it would be a fair bet to say the Americans are among the leaders if not the top team. Today alone, Team USA players blocked at least 25 shots. They’re playing desperate hockey in their end. Late in the third period, Erik Johnson completely dropped to the ice to stop a shot by Martin Pluss in the low slot. Miller didn’t even have to move. It isn’t often you see that kind of play so close to the netminder.The Zach Parise-Paul Stastny-Jamie Langenbrunner line continues to outperform the rest of the team. The chemistry Parise and Langenbrunner displaed almost maked Stastny, an outstanding center in his own right, look like he’s simply along for the ride. Stastny did seem to get more involved in the play as the game went on. That is sure to only continue as the tournament progresses.Consistency is still an issue for the Americans, who can’t seem to put together a full 60 minutes. Lucky for them, they have not lapsed so much that it leads to a deficit on the scoreboard.The Americans’ third line of the Blackhawks Patrick Kane, Ryan Kesler and Dustin Brown struggled to find the scoresheet yet again, but it wasn’t for the lack of trying. The trio combined for 12 shots, but failed to get anything past goaltender Jonas Hiller. Either this line will turn out as a bust, or finally break through in the semifinals.The Americans almots broke a 0-0 tie at the second period buzzer,but the puck did not cross the goal line before the buzzer,keeping the game scoreless heading into the third period. The ice was broken when Brian Rafalski fired a shot from the high slot. The puck hit Hiller in the chest, Parise reached around the goaltender from the right side and taped it in. Give credit to Jamie Langenbrunner on that play. He battled a Swiss defenseman right in front, leaving Parise untouched on the play.Parise iced it with :11 left when he scored into an empty net.

NOTES—The US faces Finland in the semi finals.The Fins blanked the Czechs 2-0…..Looking Ahead: Team USA will face either the Czech Republic or Finland in the semifinals. The Americans are 0-2 all-time against the Czechs. Team USA is 6-2-3 against the Finns. Both losses have come in the medal round, the most recent being in 2006 when Finland ousted the U.S. in the quarterfinals en route to a silver medal.

Zach Parise just manages to get the puck past Jonas Hiller's pad to break the scoreless tie. (AP)  
Zach Parise just manages to get the puck past Jonas Hiller’s pad to break the scoreless tie. (AP)

Canada crushes Germany 8-2, faces Russia next in elimination qtr final game

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VANCOUVER—The dream quarterfinal.It doesn’t quite have the same ring, but the Canadians and Russians will find out who is better in a win-or-go home quarterfinal-round game Wednesday at Canada Hockey Place. Canada did its part to set up the matchup with an 8-2 qualifying-round win over Germany on Tuesday.It may be three rounds earlier than anyone expected or even wanted, but now we all get to have some fun. It’s Sidney Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin on the international stage.Hockey superpower vs. hockey superpower.The rivalry between Ovechkin and Crosby actually started the last time they played each other on the international stage. That came in the 2005 gold-medal game at the World Juniors, when Crosby had an assist in Canada’s 6-1 victory in Grand Forks, N.D. Crosby and Ovechkin have become hockey’s most talked about superstars — and their rivalry has blossomed. It peaked in last year’s playoffs, when they had dueling hat tricks in Game 2 and Crosby’s Pittsburgh Penguins eliminated Ovi and the Washington Capitals in the Eastern Conference semifinals in seven games.The intensity should be ratcheted up even more Wednesday night with Olympic elimination on the line.Crosby and Canada knew the matchup with Ovechkin and Russia was looming — but as promised, they did not overlook Germany. The Canadians dominated the first period, but led only 1-0 on a goal by Joe Thornton. However, they struck three times within the first 8:50 of the second to go up 4-0.Shea Weber got them started when his blistering slap shot actually ripped through the net. Play continued because the officials had no idea it was a goal, but once the clock stopped with 16:50 to play it went to review and the replay showed he did, in fact, shoot the puck through the net. The clock had to wind back to 17:28.Jarome Iginla scored a power-play goal a little over a minute later to give Canada a comfortable 3-0 lead. The Canadians were forced to kill a pair of penalties after Iginla’s goal — but they did, and 16 seconds after the second one expired Iginla scored again. He coasted into the right circle and Eric Staal, who had a monster game, gave him a perfect pass in shooting position. Calgary’s captain rifled the puck over Thomas Greiss’ glove to make it 4-0.Crosby had a chance to make it 5-0 with a penalty shot, but Greiss got his catching glove on his backhanded attempt and knocked the puck away. Rick Nash was the one who got tripped up on his way to the net to draw the penalty shot.Germany got a wraparound goal from Marcel Goc late in the period, but Crosby scored just 1:10 into the third on a redirect of Staal’s centering pass to restore Canada’s four-goal lead.It was the third goal of the game from the Staal-Crosby-Iginla line, which coach Mike Babcock put together for this game.Mike Richards got his first goal of the tournament with 13:19 left in the third period to extend the lead to 6-1. Brenden Morrow and the Blackhawks Jonathan Toews had the assists. Scott Niedermayer scored on a breakaway with 8:38 to play to make it 7-1, and Nash beat Greiss with a wrister from the right circle at 16:28.Germany, playing a neutral zone trap, didn’t get its first shot on goal until more than 11 minutes had passed in the first period. Roberto Luongo, who got the start for Canada after Babcock sat Martin Brodeur, allowed a goal by Manuel Klinge with 62 seconds left but finished with 21 saves.The Hawks Duncan Keith had two assists on the night.

Illini pick up key road win at Michigan

ANN ARBOR—Demetri McCamey scored 14 points and Mike Davis added 13 points and 12 rebounds as Illinois beat Michigan 51-44 Tuesday night.The Fighting Illini (18-10, 10-5 Big Ten) were coming off a 2-2 stretch in which they had played four straight Top 20 teams, and had an easier time with the struggling Wolverines. Michigan (13-14, 6-9) got 15 points from Manny Harris, but still fell back below .500 a season after ending an 11-year NCAA tournament drought.Illinois led 26-18 at the half, holding Michigan to 20 percent shooting, but went into an offensive slump of its own at the start of the second half. The Fighting Illini missed their first nine shots of the half, allowing Michigan to take a 27-26 lead with 15 minutes to play.Illinois, though, responded with a 15-6 run and held on to win.

Wizards snap Bulls 4 game winning streak


WASHINGTON—Since Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler were traded, the leading scorer for the Washington Wizards is none other than Andray Blatche.Yes, the same guy who was suspended for a game last month for complaining he didn’t have enough plays drawn up for him. The 23-year-old Blatche is now what passes for a grizzled veteran — and go-to guy — on the Wizards.Blatche scored 25 points and had 11 rebounds to lead the Wizards to a 101-95 victory over the Bulls on Monday night.Blatche, averaging 25 points in the four games since Jamison and Butler were traded, helped Washington to its first three-game home winning streak since April 4-12, 2008. He also made all nine of his free throws.Not long ago, the idea of Blatche as a team leader would have been a joke in the Wizards’ locker room. Jamison and Butler often ragged on him, telling him not to clown around, to take the game more seriously. Washington coach Flip Saunders criticized his play publicly, and now, he’s challenging him.Blatche’s contributions were needed because Washington played most of the game without Josh Howard. Howard collided with Flip Murray with 4:23 to play in the first quarter. Howard was helped off the court and suffered a strained left knee. He’ll be reevaluated Tuesday.Howard has joined with Blatche to provide lost of offensive spark since the trades. Washington is 3-1 since.The Wizards coach was hoping for a more aggressive approach from Blatche, and during the third quarter, he saw it as he was cut on the right eyebrow, drawing blood.Early in the third quarter, the Wizards scored 14 straight to take a 62-58 lead, holding the Bulls scoreless for 6 minutes, 10 seconds. Blatche, Al Thornton and James Singleton each scored four points in the run.Derrick Rose scored 22 points to lead the Bulls, whose four-game winning streak was snapped.Blatche had nine points in the third quarter when Washington outscored the Bulls 31-16 as the Bulls missed 15 of their 21 shots. Washington led 77-72 after three.The Wizards increased their lead to 93-80 after Blatche hit two free throws with 5:25 to play.Rose led a late rally that cut Washington’s lead to 96-95 with 1:55 left. He scored nine points in the run, including a three-point play that featured a beautiful scoop shot. Flip Murray added 16 for the Bulls.Thornton and Randy Foye hit late jumpers to give the Wizards a 100-95 lead with 1:01 to play. Thornton had 17 points, Foye had 16 and nine assists, and Singleton had a season-high 12 rebounds.

NOTES—Joakim Noah played 12 minutes and scored six points. He played seven minutes in Saturday’s game after missing eight games with a plantar fasciitis injury to his left foot…..Lindsey Hunter , who hasn’t played since Jan. 11, wasn’t with the team due to personal reasons…..The Bulls committed 14 turnovers. On Saturday, they set a franchise record with just four turnovers for the entire game…..The Wizards have yet to buy out the contract of C Zydrunas Ilgauskas . If he’s bought out, the NBA will not stop a potential reunion between Ilgauskas and the Cleveland Cavaliers…..The Bulls host the Indiana Pacers Wednesday evening at the United Center.


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***The US win over Canada in Vancouver Sunday night was the first by an American Men’s Hockey team over Canada in the Olympics since 1960 at Squaw Valley,California when the Red White and Blue won it’s first Gold Medal. The US also of course did it in Lake Placid in 1980. But that was so much different then than now. The US was made up of all amatures(and defeated some “Pros” from places like the Soviet Union. Now with Pros(NHL Players)it’s not quite the same. It’s commercialized.

***As Blackhawk fans watched Patrick Kane play for team USA against his teammates Jonathan Toews,Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith of team Canada, the first thoughts have to be that nobody gets hurt. These four along with Marian Hossa and Tomas Kopecky of Slovakia are important to the Hawks Stanley Cup run when the regular season resumes.

***The Bulls take a modest four game winning streak into Washington Monday night. Newcomers Hakeem Warrick and Flip Murray did well in wins over Minnesota and Philadelphia over the weekend. With Tyrus Thomas and John Salmons gone in salary dumping deals,one much now hope the Bulls don’t get caught up in another washout when the free agent derby starts this summer.There are still too many bad memories of the free agent flop of ten years ago when Jerry Krause had to SETTLE for Ron Mercer. Signing him was completely pointless,other than to avoid signing anyone. Actually,nobody would have been better.Mercer was a waste of time and money.

***Now that Ryan Theriot lost his arbitration came with the Cubs, let’s see if any hard feeling follow. Theriot says that will not happen,but only time will tell. Theriot was the first Cub since Mark Grace in 1993 to even GO through arbitration.

***The White Sox opened camp in Glendale Sunday,and Ozzie Guillen confirmed that Mark Buehlre will start opening day against Cleveland. And why not! Buehrle can break his deadlock with legendary Billy Pierce as both have started on opening day 7 times. #8 for Buehrle will be a franchise first.

***So Johnny Damon is going to the Detroit Tigers after all! Supposedly Damon’s Wife wanted no part of playing in Detroit. The word was that she was “wearing the pants” in that family. Guess not! $$$$$ win out.


US gets first Olympic win over Canada in 50 years.

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — The Americans didn’t believe in miracles. They just believed.And they pulled off the biggest Olympic hockey upset since the Miracle on Ice, stunning Canada 5-3 on Sunday to advance to the quarterfinals of an already mixed-up tournament.Brian Rafalski scored two goals, Ryan Miller held off a flurry of shots and the Americans quieted a raucous, pro-Canada crowd that came to cheer its dream team, only to see it upstaged by a bunch of unproven kids.One day short of the 30th anniversary of the country’s greatest hockey victory — the unfathomable win over the Soviet Union in Lake Placid — these underrated Americans were faster, more disciplined and more determined than Canada’s collection of All-Stars.Canada outshot the United States 45-23 yet couldn’t badly dent Miller, the goalie the Americans felt could best stand up to all of Canada’s might. He did just that, making 42 saves in the victory of a lifetime.When Ryan Kesler scored in the final minute, the few U.S. fans who managed to get seats proudly waved their American flags, all their red, white and blue suddenly visible.Depending on the later Finland-Sweden game that concluded hockey’s Super Sunday in Vancouver, the United States could go into Wednesday’s quarterfinals not only as a group winner but as the top-seeded team, something almost no one predicted when the tournament began.Canada, the gold-medal favorite, was expected to coast into the medal round. But now, after nearly losing to Switzerland and being outplayed on home ice by the Americans, it must win a play-in game Tuesday to reach the quarterfinals.The Canadians still could win a gold medal, but now face a much tougher road that would include an additional game and a more difficult quarterfinal-round opponent.Chris Drury, a former Little League World Series star, and Jamie Langenbrunner scored to put the U.S. up 4-2 and hold off a relentless late surge by Canada that included Sidney Crosby’s power play goal with 3:09 remaining.Miller made an exceptional save on Rick Nash’s shot from the slot with two minutes left to preserve it, and Kesler put it away by swiping in an empty-net goal with one hand with 45 seconds remaining.Rafalski, Langenbrunner and Drury are three of the older, steadying hands on one of the youngest U.S. Olympic teams in history, one that averages five years younger per man than the 2006 team that didn’t medal in Turin.The U.S., supposedly a tier below the Canadians, Russians and Swedes, got exactly the start it wanted. Rafalski’s slap shot from the right point 41 seconds into the game deflected off Crosby’s stick and past Brodeur, the best goalie of his generation but not the better goalie in the game.Staal tied it by deflecting Brent Seabrook’s shot from the right circle at 8:53 — one of 19 that Canada took to America’s six in an up-tempo first period.Just when it appeared Canada would blunt America’s early momentum, Rafalski scored 22 seconds after Staal’s goal following a rare misplay by Brodeur. The goalie threw the puck up the middle of the ice into traffic, Rafalski swooped in and snapped off a shot that a screened Brodeur apparently didn’t see.It was Rafalski’s fourth goal on only six shots in three games, or as many as the defenseman has all season with the Detroit Red Wings.The Canadians spent most of the opening 10 minutes of the second period in the U.S. zone, getting a tying goal from Dany Heatley — his fourth in three games — but Miller gave up no others.The U.S., 3-0 with three wins in regulation, got the lead back when Drury made it 3-2 with 16:46 gone in the second. Drury took a shot from the far edge of the right circle and, after David Backes and Bobby Ryan missed followups, he skated in and finally got the puck past a prone Brodeur.Minutes before, Brodeur — the NHL career victories and shutouts leader — took a shot off his facemask, causing him to remove it and examine it for damage.Now, his team will be doing the same thing.While it was only a preliminary-round game, tickets were scalped for four digits, and fans wearing Canada’s distinctive red maple-leaf jerseys lined up for hours waiting to be admitted.Hockey is more than a way of life in Canada. It is part of the nation’s very fabric, and the country’s 33 million residents embrace their team with a passion — and agonize with it, too. Early estimates were that half the country was watching, and this performance won’t do much to calm the nation’s nerves.The Americans took a page out of 1960 by wearing uniforms nearly identical to those of the gold-medal winning team at Squaw Valley.U.S. team officials ringed the team’s dressing room with motivational messages, like “Be Brilliant in the Basics” as a reminder that Olympic Games are won with team play, good goaltending and attention to detail, not necessarily by the team with the biggest names. They got all the above.And the Miracle on Ice team? There’s links to this team: Ryan Suter, who had two assists, is the son of 1980 defenseman Bob Suter. And defenseman Brooks Orpik, steady throughout, is named for Herb Brooks, the 1980 coach.

Brian Rafalski (left) notches two goals and an assist in the win.

Cats lose again, Shurna hurts ankle

MADISON, Wis. — With some shaky free throw shooting down the stretch, Jon Leuer showed that he still isn’t all the way back from a broken wrist that caused him to miss a big chunk of the Big Ten season.But his critical blocked shot in the closing seconds of Sunday’s narrow victory over Northwestern shows how important the big man can be for No. 14 Wisconsin.With the Badgers leading by three, Leuer jumped to block a layup attempt by the Wildcats’ Michael Thompson with 11 seconds remaining. Jason Bohannon and Trevon Hughes each sank a pair of free throws from there, allowing Wisconsin to escape with a 70-63 win.Bohannon scored 17 points to lead the Badgers (20-7, 10-5 Big Ten), who were coming off a loss at Minnesota and had lost two of their last three games coming into Sunday.John Shurna scored 26 for the Wildcats (17-10, 6-9), who narrowly missed a chance at an impressive road win and have lost three of their last four.Trailing by double digits for most of the second half, Northwestern went on an 10-0 run to cut Wisconsin’s lead to 57-54 with 6:42 left as Wisconsin went scoreless for nearly five minutes.Bohannon eventually broke through with a 3-pointer, but the Badgers suddenly found themselves in a close game.The Wildcats eventually cut the lead to one on a driving layup by Thompson with 3:06 left.Wisconsin’s Jordan Taylor hit a pair of free throws, and Northwestern was called for a foul on the rebound on the other end. But Leuer missed two free throws, and Shurna hit two on the other end to cut the lead back to one with 2:11 remaining.A Northwestern foul then sent Leuer back to the line with 1:12 left, and he hit one of two.Shurna missed a jumper on the other end and Leuer got the rebound. Hughes missed a 3-point try, but Shurna was called for a foul and Tim Jarmusz hit one of two free throws.Leuer then elevated to block Thompson’s shot, and the Badgers hit their free throws to seal the game. Leuer played 22 minutes in his second game back after missing nine games because of a broken wrist, scoring 11 points with four rebounds and three blocks. Leuer had four points in 26 minutes in his return from injury, a loss at Minnesota on Thursday.Despite struggling to stop Wisconsin’s hot shooting from the field early on, Northwestern stuck close for most of the first half. But the Badgers pulled away with a 12-2 run in the final 4 minutes of the half, including a driving layup and a 3-pointer by Bohannon, and Wisconsin led 43-29 at halftime.The Badgers shot 15 of 20 from the field in the first half, including 5 of 9 from 3-point range.Bohannon has scored 15 points or more in six straight games — including his 30-point effort in a victory over Indiana on Feb. 13.Shurna had a boot on his left foot after the game, and said he rolled his ankle landing on a teammate’s foot in the second half.

Bulls win 4th straight, use big 2nd qtr against Sixers

Taj Gibson tied a career high with 20 points and had 13 rebounds, and the Chicago Bulls used a big first-half run to beat the Philadelphia 76ers 122-90 on Saturday night for their fourth straight victory.And this one was quite impressive. He hit 9 of 14 shots and fed off newcomer Hakim Warrick in another eye-opening performance from a rookie whose emergence made the departed Tyrus Thomas expendable.Derrick Rose scored 17 points to help the Bulls set a season high for points. So did Kirk Hinrich, who also buried three 3-pointers to give him 773 in his career and break a tie with Ben Gordon for the club record.Newcomer Hakim Warrick had a highlight reel dunk over Thaddeus Young that “got me going” and finished with 15 points. Brad Miller scored eight of his 15 during a 23-1 run to close the second half, turning a three-point deficit into a 58-39 lead and sending the Bulls to their sixth win in seven games. The Bulls set a team record for fewest turnovers with four while dishing out 26 assists.Andre Iguodala led Philadelphia with 23 points. Young scored 17 points, but the Sixers went 8:14 without a field goal during a drought that spanned the second and third quarters in their most lopsided loss this season while falling for the third time in four games.They were leading 38-35 after Iguodala hit two free throws with 5:19 left in the first half.Miller put back his own miss and led the charge as the Bulls scored 21 straight before Young hit 1 of 2 free throws with 35 seconds left.

Illini fall short in second half against Boilers

WEST LAFAYETTE—Robbie Hummel, JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore stepped aside for Keaton Grant late against Illinois on Saturday. The senior guard scored 10 of his season-high 15 points in the final 6:06 to help fourth-ranked Purdue beat the Fighting Illini 75-65 for their ninth straight win.It was the second straight game in which Grant has scored a season high, following his 13-point effort at No. 9 Ohio State. He struggled at times this season, even losing his starting job, but he was ready when called upon. Hummel had 22 points and 12 rebounds and Moore added 18 points. Johnson shot just 1 of 10 after averaging 21 points over his previous four games, so Grant’s production was timely.The win moved Purdue (23-3, 11-3) into a tie with No. 11 Michigan State for the Big Ten Conference lead.Demitri McCamey of Illinois scored six points, and his 16 assists tied for the fourth-most in Big Ten history.McCamey had 28 points and nine assists in the previous meeting, an 84-78 win for Purdue in Champaign. McCamey’s effort was overshadowed because Grant got hot and made 3 of 4 3-pointers in the second half. McCamey said Grant’s effort was somewhat unexpected.Mike Davis had 16 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks and Brandon Paul added 13 points for the Fighting Illini (17-10, 9-5).Purdue closed the game on a 14-5 run to sweep the season series. The Boilermakers outscored the Fighting Illini 24-3 from the free-throw line.Illinois led 46-42 in the second half before Grant and Moore hit consecutive 3-pointers from the left corner on assists from Lewis Jackson to give the Boilermakers a 48-46 lead. A turnaround in the lane by Moore pushed the lead to four.Illinois rallied, and a dunk by Davis on McCamey’s 14th assist gave the Fighting Illini a 56-54 lead.Purdue pushed back, and a floater in the lane by Moore gave the Boilermakers a 61-56 lead with just under five minutes to play.Illinois made one last surge, and a jumper by Mike Tisdale cut Purdue’s lead to 61-60. Grant capped a 7-0 run with a 3-pointer that gave the Boilermakers a 68-60 lead with 1:30 to play.Illinois made five of its first eight shots to take an 11-4 lead. Paul drained a 30-footer as the shot clock expired to give Illinois a 27-25 lead, and D.J. Richardson made a 3-pointer a few minutes later to make it 32-27.Purdue’s John Hart made a 3-pointer to trim Illinois’ lead to 32-30, then Hummel made two free throws to tie the score.McCamey found Paul in the left corner for a 3-pointer with three seconds left in the half to give Illinois a 35-32 lead. It was McCamey’s 11th assist of the first half, tying his career high for an entire game before the break.

Newcomers help Bulls get past T-Wolves

MINNEAPOLIS — The big story for the Bulls this week has been the salary cap space they cleared for this summer’s free-agent frenzy.The new guys they got played their debut like more than mere footnotes, though.Kirk Hinrich had 20 points and helped the Bulls stay balanced after a couple of rotation-altering trades, outlasting Minnesota 100-94 on Friday night after a bunch of missed layups and free throws by the Timberwolves.Hakim Warrick and Flip Murray each had a hand in the game-changing run to start the fourth quarter, eager to prove their value beyond those faceless, precious expiring contracts the NBA has become so obsessed over.Derrick Rose scored 19 points and Luol Deng pitched in 18 points for the Bulls, who rallied from an eight-point second-quarter deficit and clutched a 79-78 lead after Ramon Sessions finished a fast break for Minnesota with a dunk.But Hinrich, Warrick and Murray helped the Bulls take it from there, while the bricks and bad body language began to pile up for the Wolves. The Bulls went up 91-80 on a pair of free throws by Rose with 6:32 left.Corey Brewer led the way with 19 points for Minnesota, but even he had trouble, missing four of his five foul shots. The Wolves went 6 for 18 from the floor in the fourth quarter and missed eight of 13 free throws in the final 12 minutes.The Bulls still have the fifth seed for the Eastern Conference playoffs in sight, with wins in five of their last six games to climb into sixth place. Since beating Minnesota at home on Jan. 9, they’re 14-6 — 9-4 on the road including this rematch.Insisting they’re still focused on making the playoffs and not distracted by the dream of luring Dwyane Wade to his hometown, the Bulls are in a favorable stretch of the schedule for this transition to the new players. Seven of their first eight games out of the All-Star break are against losing teams.Joakim Noah’s energy and rebounding were still missing for the Bulls, and Warrick and Murray replaced Tyrus Thomas and John Salmons, their third-leading scorer, as the first men off the bench.Salmons was traded to Milwaukee in the deal that brought Warrick and Thomas went to Charlotte earlier this week.Murray had eight points in 19 minutes and Warrick shot 5 for 13 and finished with 10 points and nine rebounds in 31 minutes, with both of them pushing through the mistakes coach Vinny Del Negro predicted before the game.The Wolves, wearing their original 1989 blue road jerseys with white trim and green numbers, have at least shown some life in most of their home games, unlike so many of their woeful efforts on the road in this rebuilding year. They shot 53.3 percent in the first half, and Rambis lamented the loss after praising their help defense and ball movement on offense, two nuances of the game that have been often missing.After a season-high four-game winning streak earlier this month, the Wolves have sputtered after the All-Star break.

NOTES—Noah, who has missed seven straight games with the painful plantar fasciitis irritation in his left foot, is feeling a little better but unlikely to play Saturday against the Sixers, Del Negro said. “We want to be smart about it,” Del Negro said. … This was only the second win for the Bulls at Minnesota in the last 12 meetings at Target Center.