Field Level Media
NEW ORLEANS -- Julius Randle had 33 points and 11 rebounds as the host New Orleans Pelicans overcame the absence of Anthony Davis to defeat the Minnesota Timberwolves 123-114 on Monday night, Dec. 31. Davis was a last-minute scratch because of illness, but Randle and the Pelicans' 3-point shooting made up for the loss of the All-Star forward. The Pelicans made 14 of 25 3-pointers and the Timberwolves, who had won the previous five meetings with New Orleans, made 9 of 28.
ST. PAUL -- Phil Kessel had a goal and two assists, and Sidney Crosby added a goal and an assist Monday, Dec. 31, as the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins won their sixth straight game, 3-2 over the slumping Minnesota Wild. Kessel has three goals and 10 points in the past four games. Crosby, playing in his 900th career game, had his fourth straight multiple-point game and has 16 points over his past nine games. Riley Sheahan scored what stood as the winner for Pittsburgh, making it 3-1 in the second period. Goaltender Casey DeSmith made 31 saves for the Penguins.
With a fully guaranteed, $86 million contract, Kirk Cousins will shoulder plenty of blame for the Minnesota Vikings' failure to make the playoffs, and much of it will be justified. Sunday's feeble loss at home to the Chicago Bears dropped Cousins to 4-25 in his career against teams with winning records, and his stat line (20 of 33 for just 132 yards, one TD) was far from inspiring. He misfired on a few deep attempts, failed to spot open receivers and had a would-be pick-six dropped by Prince Amukamara.
EAGAN, Minn. -- Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer will return as head coach next season. NFL Network reported Monday, Dec. 31, that Zimmer met with team officials and was informed the Vikings plan to retain him for 2019. Zimmer led the Vikings to the NFC championship game in 2017, but Minnesota was bounced from the playoffs by the Philadelphia Eagles, who went on to win the Super Bowl.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Andrew Luck threw for 285 yards and three touchdowns Sunday night as the Indianapolis Colts claimed the AFC's final playoff spot with a 33-17 win over the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium in Nashville. Luck, who completed 24 of 35 passes, finished the regular season with 38 touchdown passes, the most for a player who missed the previous season. He also enabled Indianapolis (10-6) to cap a comeback from a 1-5 start and earn a trip to AFC South champion Houston for a wild-card round game on Saturday.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Trevor Lawrence completed 27 of 39 passes for 327 yards and three touchdowns, and No. 2 Clemson rolled to a 30-3 win over No. 3 Notre Dame on Saturday evening, Dec. 29, in the College Football Playoff semifinal at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic in Arlington, Texas. Clemson (14-0) advanced to the Jan. 7 national title game, where it will meet the winner of No. 1 Alabama and No. 4 Oklahoma, who were scheduled to play in another CFP semifinal game later Saturday.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Kevin Huerter's 3-pointer in overtime sealed the Atlanta Hawks' 123-120 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday, Dec. 28, in Minneapolis. Huerter's hoop gave Atlanta a 4-point lead with 43.9 seconds to go. The Timberwolves had a chance after Karl-Anthony Towns made two free throws, as Huerter subsequently missed his attempt for another 3-pointer with 15.5 seconds left.
CHICAGO — Patrick Kane scored three goals and Brandon Saad had two to lead the Chicago Blackhawks to a 5-2 victory against the visiting Minnesota Wild on Thursday night. Erik Gustafsson, Dylan Strome and Jonathan Toews each had two assists for the Blackhawks, who won for the fourth time in their past five games. Goaltender Collin Delia, making his second appearance of the season and the fourth of his NHL career, stopped 46 shots. Zach Parise and Eric Staal scored for the Wild, whose season-high losing streak was extended to five games.
DETROIT — The Vikings survived a slow start Sunday, Dec. 23, in Kevin Stefanski’s second game since replacing the fired John DeFillippo as offensive coordinator. The Vikings didn’t get a first down until there was 3:59 left in the first half but scored two quick touchdowns to take a 14-9 halftime lead and swing momentum in a 27-9 victory over the Detroit Lions at Ford Field.
SEATTLE — Russell Wilson passed for three touchdowns and Chris Carson rushed for two as the Seattle Seahawks clinched an NFC wild-card berth with a 38-31 victory against the visiting Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday night, Dec. 23.