But­ler re­turns, rips Tim­ber­wolves team­mates, ex­ecs

The Mercury News - - Sports - News ser­vice re­ports

Jimmy But­ler is back with the Min­nesota Tim­ber­wolves, and his first prac­tice of the sea­son had fire­works.

He caused them with his words and his play.

But­ler, who asked for a trade more than three weeks ago, prac­ticed with the Tim­ber­wolves for the first time this sea­son Wed­nes­day. ESPN re­ported that But­ler ver­bally chal­lenged play­ers, coaches and even gen­eral man­ager Scott Lay­den in the prac­tice, dur­ing which But­ler dom­i­nated the team’s scrim­mages even when go­ing up against stars like Karl-An­thony Towns and An­drew Wig­gins.

In an in­ter­view taped with ESPN af­ter prac­tice, But­ler said “a lot” of the net­work’s re­port was true and that the scene in prac­tice was him just show­ing pas­sion and be­ing “bru­tally hon­est.”

“All my emo­tion came out at one time,” But­ler said in the in­ter­view. “Was it the right way to do it? No. But I can’t con­trol that when I’m out there com­pet­ing. That’s my love of the game. That’s raw me. Me at my finest, me at my purest. That’s what you’re go­ing to get in­side the lines.”

The four-time NBA All-Star said he warned Coach Tom Thi­bodeau be­fore prac­tice that he would let his emo­tions out if he played, and that’s what happened.

“I haven’t played bas­ket­ball in so long,” But­ler said dur­ing the in­ter­view. “And I’m so pas­sion­ate and I love the game and I don’t do it for any other rea­son ex­cept for to com­pete and go up against the best to try to prove that I can hang.”

WIN­TER DEAD AT 96 >> Tex Win­ter, the in­no­va­tive “Tri­an­gle Of­fense” pioneer who as­sisted Phil Jack­son on 11 NBA cham­pi­onship teams with the Chicago Bulls and Los An­ge­les Lak­ers, has died. He was 96. Kansas State Univer­sity said Win­ter died Wed­nes­day in Man­hat­tan, Kan.

“Tex Win­ter was a bas­ket­ball leg­end and per­haps the finest fun­da­men­tal teacher in the his­tory of our game,” said Bulls Pres­i­dent John Pax­son, a for­mer player un­der Win­ter.

Win­ter pub­lished “The Triple-Post Of­fense” in 1962 and teamed with Jack­son to use the sys­tem to great suc­cess with Michael

Jor­dan and Kobe Bryant.

“I learned so much from Coach Win­ter. He was a pioneer and a true stu­dent of the game,” Jor­dan said in a state­ment emailed to the Chicago Tri­bune.

Mo­tor­sports

JOHN­SON, KNAUS TO SPLIT >> There will not be an eighth NASCAR ti­tle for Jim­mie John­son and Chad Knaus.

Hen­drick Mo­tor­sports will split the driver and crew chief — the long­est pair­ing in NASCAR — at the end of a dis­ap­point­ing sea­son. John­son has not won a race in 17 months and was knocked out of the play­offs in the first round. John­son and Knaus won their record­ty­ing sev­enth cham­pi­onship in 2016 but have slumped in the two years since.

“It’s no se­cret that Chad and Jim­mie have ex­pe­ri­enced their ups and downs over the years,” owner Rick Hen­drick said. “They’re fierce com­peti­tors, great friends and have im­mense re­spect for one an­other. They also fight like broth­ers. All three of us agree it’s fi­nally time for new chal­lenges and that a change will ben­e­fit them and the or­ga­ni­za­tion.”

John­son and Knaus were part­nered in 2002 when Knaus built the No. 48 team as part of a Hen­drick ex­pan­sion.

Col­lege bas­ket­ball

STAN­FORD WOMEN PICKED TO FIN­ISH SE­COND >> Stan­ford was picked to fin­ish se­cond in the Pac-12 and Cal fourth when the con­fer­ence an­nounced the re­sults of the pre­sea­son women’s bas­ket­ball coaches’ poll.

The Car­di­nal to­taled 107 points and one first-place vote. Ore­gon was the lead­ing vote get­ter, re­ceiv­ing 11 first-place votes and col­lect­ing 121 points. Ore­gon State was third (104 points), Cal fourth (82 points) and Ari­zona State (79 points) fifth while UCLA (74 points) closed out the top half of the poll in sixth.

Stan­ford re­turns 12 let­ter win­ners to a team that went 24-11 and ad­vanced to its 11th con­sec­u­tive Sweet 16 in 2017-18.

The Bears re­turn 11 play­ers and three starters from last sea­son’s squad that went 21-11, fin­ish­ing fifth in the Pac-12 and reach­ing the NCAA Tour­na­ment.

UFC

RE­PORT: JONES, GUSTAFS­SON TO FIGHT >> UFC has of­fi­cially booked Jon Jones ver­sus Alexan­der Gustafs­son for UFC 232 on Dec. 29 in Las Ve­gas, mul­ti­ple sources close to the or­ga­ni­za­tion told ESPN. The fight is slated to be for the UFC light heavy­weight ti­tle.

Ten­nis

FED­ERER AD­VANCES >> Roger Fed­erer had to over­come a se­cond-set stut­ter. Juan Martin del Potro and Alexan­der Zverev had to over­come ill­ness. All three still ad­vanced at the Shanghai Masters. Fed­erer beat Daniil Medvedev 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 in the se­cond round.

The third-seeded del Potro trailed in the first set and in the tiebreaker but re­bounded both times to beat Richard Gas­quet 7-5, 7-6 (7). The fourth-seeded Zverev was also strug­gling with a cold, but he beat Ni­coloz Basi­lashvili 7-5, 6-4.

Women’s soc­cer

PANAMA ELIM­I­NATES MEX­ICO >> Karla Ri­ley and Lineth Ce­deno scored to help Panama up­set Mex­ico 2-0 in their fi­nal group stage game at the CONCACAF Women’s World Cup qual­i­fy­ing tour­na­ment in Cary, N.C. The loss means that Mex­ico is elim­i­nated be­fore the knock­out round and won’t be a part of the field at next year’s World Cup.

The United States beat Trinidad and Tobago 7-0 and ad­vances to the semi­fi­nals Sun­day. Rose Lavelle and Alex Mor­gan scored two goals apiece.

Jimmy But­ler prac­ticed with Min­nesota for the first time this sea­son Wed­nes­day.

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