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Sports briefs for May 3, 2013

By Wire Service Reports, Special to the BDN

Saunders returns to Timberwolves as head coach

Flip Saunders returned to the struggling Minnesota Timberwolves as head coach on Friday, eight years after he was sacked from the same job.

Saunders, who has also been head coach with the National Basketball Association’s Detroit Pistons and Washington Wizards, was appointed on a five-year deal in place of David Kahn, who was fired on Thursday.

“I’ve made a lot of great decisions in my life, and a lot of things in business that have worked well,” Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor told reporters before introducing Saunders, who has been given a minority ownership stake in the franchise.

“Occasionally I’ve made a wrong decision and perhaps supporting Flip leaving our organization as coach is one of those things I’ve done wrong.

“But in the meantime, Flip has gone out and stayed in the NBA, coached for some other teams … I just think that he can bring that as part of his overall philosophy back to our organization and make it a better organization.”

Minnesota finished the 2012-13 season fourth-last in the 15-team Western Conference after posting a 31-51 record.

They have not reached the playoffs since the 2003-04 season when they lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.

Bulls’ Deng back in emergency room

Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng tweeted that the viral flu that forced him to miss Game 6 against the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday got worse on Friday, causing him to make another trip to the emergency room, ESPNChicago.com reported.

It remains uncertain whether he will play in Saturday’s Game 7 against the Nets.

“It really upsets me that everyone thinks I would miss a game bc of the flu. I’ve played a lot of games w the flu in my career,” Deng tweeted Friday afternoon, according to ESPNChicago.com.

Deng also tweeted that he was taken to the emergency room Wednesday, and his symptoms indicated he might have meningitis, which required a spinal tap.

Ravens hire Steve Spagnuolo for defense

Steve Spagnuolo, who was fired as the New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator in January, was hired by the Baltimore Ravens as a senior defensive assistant, the team announced Friday.

Spagnuolo spent three seasons as the St. Louis Rams head coach, where he was 10-38, before he was dismissed by the Rams and hired by the Saints prior to the 2012 season.

The Saints set an NFL record for most yards allowed in a season in 2012.

Spagnuolo has always worked with a 4-3 defense, while the Ravens employ a 3-4 alignment.

Kobe Bryant in court battle with mother over memorabilia

LOS ANGELES — Kobe Bryant is in a court battle with his mother because she is trying to auction off his old Los Angeles Lakers and high school memorabilia.

Pamela Bryant was given $450,000 up front by a New Jersey auction house to surrender mementos from Kobe’s days at Lower Merion High and in his early seasons with the Lakers. She planned to use the advance to help purchase a Nevada home.

Kobe Bryant has moved to block the auction.

Mother and son allegedly talked about the items five years ago, according to lawyers for Goldin Auctions.

“Kobe Bryant indicated to Pamela Bryant that the items belonged to her and that he had no interest in them,” the lawyers wrote in court documents, adding that Pamela was spending $1,500 a month to store the items.

There are about 900 items totaling more than $1.5 million in value, according to the auction house, including two championship rings that Bryant gave his parents after the Lakers won the 2000 title, a signed basketball from that team, his 1996 Pennsylvania high school championship ring and sweat suits he wore at Lower Merion.

Cardinals Washington arrested for assault

Arizona Cardinals linebacker Daryl Washington was arrested on two aggravated assault charges Friday, according to multiple reports.

Washington had been under investigation stemming from a domestic violence incident this week.

The alleged victim, Washington’s ex-girlfriend, showed “clear indications” of being attacked and claimed that Washington choked her, according a Phoenix Police Department report.

Washington met with authorities about the incident on Thursday.

“This is a legal matter and I am limited in what I can say other than that my lawyer and I will continue to cooperate with investigators and welcome the opportunity for all the facts to be presented,” Washington said in a statement. “I regret that the situation has brought this kind of attention to my family and my team. I look forward to resolving it as soon as possible.”

NCAA allows teams to start practice in September

Midnight Madness is coming earlier starting this year.

The NCAA announced that men’s basketball teams can start practice two weeks earlier than in the past.

Teams can begin practicing six weeks before their first regular season game, two weeks earlier than they were previously allowed.

The decision, which takes effect this fall, was finalized by the NCAA Division I Board of Directors on Thursday. The measure had been tabled for a full year before finally approving it.

Another proposal that eliminated requiring the first practice to begin no earlier than 5 p.m. was also adopted.

The rule change brings the men’s practice start date closer to women’s teams.

With teams able to start practice as early as late September, the new rule creates more flexibility for teams to spread out their maximum allowable number of 30 preseason practices days.

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