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Whicker: UCLA’s Tyger Campbell broadens his game as Bruins stifle Colorado

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Whicker: UCLA’s Tyger Campbell broadens his game as Bruins stifle Colorado

LOS ANGELES — The immediate goal for UCLA is to put last Tuesday’s nightmare a little bit deeper into the rear-view in each game.

Tyger Campbell was invisible against Gonzaga, as were several Bruins in that ballyhooed 20-point loss. He was present and up front in Wednesday night’s Pac-12 opener.

Campbell was content to include everyone else in the offense as UCLA barged to a 16-point halftime lead over Colorado. When the Buffaloes came back, Campbell reined them in, with 13 points and no turnovers in the second half of the fifth-ranked Bruins’ 73-61 win, a game they led by only four points with 9:35 left.

Campbell got three baskets in the next four minutes and the Bruins led by 12 again. Despite the best efforts of Colorado’s Jabari Walker, whose dad Samaki once played for the Lakers, UCLA handled the rest of it and improved to 7-1.

For the game, Campbell had 21 points, seven assists and one turnover. Coach Mick Cronin thought that was nearly as impressive as Myles Johnson’s 12 points, 10 rebounds and 14 deflections in the middle.

Like Johnson, Campbell has been in the coach’s crosshairs.

“For us to be the type of team we want to be in March, that’s the way he has to play,” Cronin said.

“I accepted he was a young player the first couple of years, trying to develop him to what he can be. Their strategy tonight was to force him to shoot, but I like the fact that he didn’t even hesitate. I’ve seen that guy in practice.”

“It wasn’t about me being super-aggressive or anything,” Campbell said. “When I’m out there, I’m just looking at the defense. Tonight my teammates got me the ball and I was able to knock them down.

“But I like to take the big shots. I think every player does. I believe in myself and I know the coaches believe in me.”

Campbell also got some counseling from Russell Westbrook, the Lakers’ All-Star who donated the money for the Bruins’ practice court in the Ostin Center. He was honored at Pauley Pavilion on Wednesday.

“To me, it’s just great that he comes here and sees us play,” Campbell said. “We remember the days when he was here. He’s such a great player. The legacy he left, with all the Final Fours … he just told me to keep shooting.”

It was an efficient night for the Bruins, who took 12 Colorado turnovers and turned them into 23 points. They suffered only nine turnovers themselves, and Campbell (4 for 7) and Johnny Juzang combined for 5-for-10 shooting from the 3-point line.

Colorado missed 10 of its first 12 shots but rallied to shoot 42.1 percent, and Walker put together 22 points and 11 rebounds.

Cronin wasn’t satisfied with UCLA’s second-half defense, but then Jaime Jaquez Jr. played only 7:14 and sat out the second half. He banged his head on the court, and assistant coach Michael Lewis told Cronin that Jaquez “doesn’t look 100 percent” after warmups at halftime.

UCLA is still missing Cody Riley in the post, and Cronin is hoping his return, plus a higher comfort level for Team USA member and freshman Peyton Watson, will accelerate the Bruins. To that end, he experimented with five bench players together for a short period in the first half.

“I think that helped us wear them down in the second half, but I still think Johnny and Tyger played too many minutes,” Cronin said. Juzang had 35 minutes, Campbell 33.

The 6:30 p.m. start held the crowd to 7,941, although UCLA’s frenzied win against Villanova last month was supposed to make every home game an occasion.

Writing this win off as a routine errand wouldn’t be wise. Colorado has won twice in Pauley since 2018 and beat the Bruins, 70-61, in Boulder last year.

“The margin for error is limited against UCLA,” Colorado coach Tad Boyle said. “Even when they lose somebody like Jaquez they keep coming at you.”

UCLA’s theme now is to reject satisfaction. Johnson was a defensive specialist at Rutgers and Campbell was a distributing point guard, but Cronin is trying to push them past their definitions.

The Bruins don’t believe in looking back, either, but then they already know what’s there.

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Wilmington deadly train strike: MBTA says ‘human error’ is behind ‘heartbreaking accident’

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Wilmington deadly train strike: MBTA says ‘human error’ is behind ‘heartbreaking accident’

Police investigating the fatal collision of a Commuter Rail train into a vehicle last Friday say that “human error” is behind the horrific wreck that occurred in Wilmington.

The victim of the devastating crash was Roberta Sausville, 68, of Wilmington, according to the Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office.

Investigators say that Sausville was driving alone on Middlesex Avenue in Wilmington at around 5:51 p.m. when an inbound Haverhill Line train struck the driver’s side of her vehicle near the North Wilmington MBTA station. Sausville was pronounced dead at the scene.

The investigation remains active, but “human error is the primary focus of investigators from MBTA Transit Police, State Police and the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office,” MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak said in a statement.

Less than an hour before the accident, a signal maintainer for Keolis — the Commuter Rail operator — was performing regularly scheduled testing and preventative maintenance of the railroad crossing’s safety system.

“Following the testing, our preliminary finding is that the safety system was not returned to its normal operating mode,” Poftak said. “This failure resulted in the crossing gates not coming down in a timely manner as the train approached Middlesex Avenue.

“Investigators have not found any defects nor any other problems with the various elements that comprise the infrastructure of the railroad crossing system,” he added.

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Minnesota COVID-19 patients face a lottery for monoclonal treatment that works against omicron

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Minnesota COVID-19 patients face a lottery for monoclonal treatment that works against omicron

Minnesotans who get a serious case of COVID-19 may face long odds of getting one of the life-saving treatments that can fight off the omicron variant because they are in such short supply.

State health officials had steadily increased the availability of monoclonal antibodies — a type of antibody infusion — to help high-risk patients avoid severe COVID-19 infections. Unfortunately, now only one monoclonal antibody formula, Sotrovimab, works against omicron.

“That is in very low supply nationally and in Minnesota,” Jan Malcolm, health commissioner, recently told members of the Minnesota House health committee.

The state has moved to a random selection process to decide who gets what monoclonal antibodies the state has on hand. This week it got just under 600 doses of Sotrovimab, a slight increase from the week before.

The state received larger allocations of the two new antiviral pills — Molnupiravir and Paxlovid — getting about 12,000 total doses of those newly approved pills since they became available in December.

The random selection process the state uses is a weighted system that identifies patients who would most benefit from monoclonal treatments. When treatments are scarce, patients who receive the medicines are picked through a lottery.

In some instances, the process could give consideration to front-line health workers who were sickened while caring for COVID patients. Many Minnesota health systems, but not all, follow the state’s guidance for distributing scarce treatments.

The guidelines do not take into account whether someone has been vaccinated.

The state stopped using race as a factor in that weighted system for allocating monoclonal treatments Jan. 12 after America First Legal threatened a lawsuit against the Minnesota Department of Health alleging racial and ethnic discrimination.

“These racist policies decide questions of life and death based on skin color and must be rescinded immediately,” Stephen Miller, the group’s president and a former adviser to President Trump, said in a statement. “No right is safe if the government can award or deny medical care based on race. End this horrid injustice.”

America First Legal filed a lawsuit Jan. 16 against the New York State Department of Health for a similar policy.

Throughout the pandemic, Minnesota Department of Health data has shown Black, Native American, Hispanic, Asian and multiracial residents have had higher rates of COVID-19 hospitalization and death than white residents.

When asked about the rationale for removing race as a factor, despite it being part of federal guidance, a state Department of Health spokesman said in an emailed statement:

“The State of Minnesota is committed to serving all Minnesotans equitably in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ensuring that communities that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 have the support and resources they need is critical and we are constantly reviewing our policies in order to meet that goal.”

Minnesota continues to experience record high caseloads of COVID-19 driven by the highly contagious omicron variant. The state is reporting, on average, more than 11,000 new infections each day and test-positivity is at 27 percent.

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Nikola Jokic, Nuggets avoid fourth-quarter disaster, end homestand 4-2

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Nikola Jokic, Nuggets avoid fourth-quarter disaster, end homestand 4-2

The Nuggets don’t know easy. It’s just not in their nature.

Denver avoided what would’ve been an ugly double-digit, fourth-quarter collapse Sunday and hung on to beat the Pistons, 117-111. Up 16 points to start the fourth quarter, Detroit chiseled away at the lead, tying it twice in the final two minutes.

Former Nugget Trey Lyles added to the drama with eight of his 18 in the fourth quarter, but the Pistons were rebuffed by Nikola Jokic, who scored six consecutive points late to ice the game.

Jokic finished with 34 points, nine rebounds and eight assists, snapping his four-game triple-double streak. Not that it mattered to Jokic.

The Nuggets, now 24-21, will get the Pistons again Tuesday in Detroit to start their daunting six-game road trip. They ended their six-game homestand with a 4-2 record.

DeMarcus Cousins was relatively underwhelming in his Nuggets debut, finishing with just two points and six rebounds in 12 minutes. But he was part of a strong bench showing, which saw the Nuggets outscore Detroit’s reserves 41-37.

In addition, the Nuggets hung 60 points in the paint to help combat 18 points each from Detroit’s Isaiah Stewart and Cade Cunningham.

Each time the Nuggets looked like they’d create separation, they’d turn it over or fail to capitalize on an open 3-pointer. Finally, with 4:50 left in the third quarter, Jokic found Bryn Forbes lingering outside the 3-point line, and he drained the look. Two minutes later, reserve Davon Reed knocked in a 3, and shortly thereafter, so did Facu Campazzo.

As Campazzo trotted back on defense, he looked to the sky with relief. Zeke Nnaji canned a triple before the quarter was over, and the Nuggets’ second unit had engineered a 92-76 lead heading into the final quarter.

Playing some with Jokic and some with the reserves, Forbes looked more comfortable than he did in his debut.

“When you make a trade, in and of itself, that takes some time because you’re bringing in a new person, a new personality to a locker room, to a culture,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said.

His prior experience with well-respected organizations like Milwaukee and San Antonio helped ease the transition.

Entering Sunday, Malone had a healthy fear of the rebuilding Pistons for one specific reason.

“As I told our players, when you’re a team like Detroit, they have nothing to lose,” Malone said pre-game.

He said human nature becomes a factor, and teams inevitably let their guard down against lottery-bound teams.

“… These games scare the hell out of me,” he said.

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