The Boston Celtics earned another home win over a playoff team this week, but it didn't come easy on Friday night. Karl-Anthony Towns had 25 points and 23 rebounds, but the Minnesota Timberwolves fell to the Celtics, 91-84, at the TD Garden. In what was a back and forth affair for most of the night, the Celtics pulled away a bit in the second half, where Marcus Smart scored 16 of his 18 points. Kyrie Irving finished with 16 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists, while Terry Rozier put up 14 points in the win. The Celtics can thank their bench for the victory as well, as they outscored the T'Wolves' bench, 42-20. Aaron Baynes had a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds and Jaylen Brown added 11 for the Celtics, who have won five in a row and six of seven overall. Minnesota dropped back-to-back games for the first time since November, as Jimmy Butler had just 14 points, Jamal Crawford finished with just 13, and Andrew Wiggins with 10, all unable to support Towns' efforts. The lead changed 14 times before Boston pulled away, as they just barely out-shot the Timberwolves, 40 percent to 36 percent. It may not have been the prettiest win, but it was still their East-leading 32nd, as they will be back at it in Brooklyn against the Nets on Saturday. The Timberwolves will look to bounce back on Saturday when they host the New Orleans Pelicans.
Raiders to Bring in Jon Gruden as Head Coach
The Oakland Raiders went with the expected move to replace Jack Del Rio as head coach, and probably the best possible move for their organization. The team announced on Friday that they will introduce Jon Gruden as their new head coach during a press conference this upcoming Tuesday. Gruden will receive a 10-year deal that will come close to $100 million, as he returns to the team that he coached from 1998-2001. He also coached with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but has been an ESPN analyst since losing the Bucs' job after the 2008 season. The Raiders fired Del Rio after the regular season finale last Sunday, as rumors said that they would pursue Gruden by offering him ownership of the team, which the new head coach quickly declined. A 10-year deal for a head coach is a rarity in the NFL, as Gruden joins Jimmy Johnson in 1989 and Tom Landry in 1964 as the only coaches with 10-year deals, both of those came from the Dallas Cowboys. This is the 12th time a coach has had two stints with the same team, as the 16-year gap is largest of those 12 instances. With the team moving to Las Vegas and coming off an impressive season that was cut short by an injury to quarterback Derek Carr, this could turn out to be the Raiders' best move in franchise history.
Golden Knights Edge Blackhawks to Stay Hot
The Las Vegas Golden Knights have continued with their unprecedented success for an expansion team in their inaugural season all the way to the top spot in the Pacific Division. They got a goal and two assists from Reilly Smith in a 5-4 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday night. The win was their ninth in the past 10 games overall, as they improved to 13-1-1 in their previous 15 contests. Jonathan Marchessault and William Karlsson each added a goal and an assist, while Cody Eakin also scored in the Knights' first trip to Chicago. Malcolm Subban made 28 saves, while Smith's 11th goal of the season with 11:53 left in the third proved to be the game-winner. The Blackhawks were in their first home game since a 2-3-1 road trip and got 38 saves from Jeff Glass in the loss. Vinnie Hinostroza had a goal and two assists, while Patrick Sharp also scored in their first home game since December 17th. They did score three unanswered goals to go from a 3-1 deficit to a 4-3 lead, which the last-place team could not hang on to. The Golden Knights will return home Sunday night to host the New York Rangers, while the Blackhawks will stay home to host the Edmonton Oilers that same day.