Sports Briefs

NHL: Eric Staal’s 3 goals lead Wild over St. Louis 8-3

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Eric Staal had three goals and two assists to combine with linemates Mikael Granlund and Jason Zucker for 14 points and propel surging Minnesota over St. Louis 8-3. The Blues lost their seventh straight. Staal notched his 14th career hat trick, his first in more than five years. By scoring 13 times in 13 games in February, Staal raised his season total to 33 goals to move into the top five in the NHL. Granlund had two goals and two assists and Zucker added a goal and four assists for the Wild, who have won five in a row overall and are 19-2-5 in their last 26 home games. The Wild’s eight goals matched their franchise record.

NBA: Clippers come from behind, nip Nuggets 122-120

DENVER (AP) — Lou Williams scored 25 points and Boban Marjanovic added a season-high 18 as the Clippers overcame a 19-point deficit in the third quarter to beat the Nuggets 122-120. Austin Rivers added 17 points and Montrezl Harrell had 15 for the Clippers, whose bench outscored Denver’s reserves 54-4 in the second half. Gary Harris had 23 points to lead the Nuggets, who lost consecutive games at home for the first time this season. Paul Millsap had nine points and seven rebounds in 23:26 minutes of play in his return from a left wrist injury that had sidelined him for the last three months. Leading by six at the half, the Nuggets stretched their lead to 19 points on a layup by Harris but the Clippers fought back to within seven points going into the fourth quarter, outscoring the Nuggets 18-6 over the last 4 1-2 minutes of the third.

Lillard leads Blazers to 4th straight win 116-99 over Kings

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Damian Lillard had 26 points and 12 assists, and the Trail Blazers won their fourth straight with a victory over the Kings 116-99. Jusuf Nurkic added 17 points and nine rebounds for Portland, which sits in fifth place in the Western Conference — a game back of San Antonio — after winning five of its last six games. The current four-game winning streak matched the team’s longest of the season. With just 18 wins, Sacramento is in second-to-last place in the West, above only the Phoenix Suns. The Kings have lost four straight and six of their last seven. The Kings were playing the second of a back-to-back, after losing to Minnesota 118-100 on Monday night. Randolph sat out that game but returned against the Blazers. Randolph played six seasons in Portland.

NCCA to test drive new rules during NIT tourney

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Next month's NIT games will use experimental rules that include an extended 3-point line, a wider free-throw lane and 10-minute quarters instead of 20-minute halves. The NCAA announced the changes Tuesday. The 3-point arc will move to roughly 22 feet, which is used by FIBA for international competition. The lane will expand from 12 feet to the NBA's 16 feet. Also, the shot clock will reset to 20 seconds after offensive rebounds instead of the full 30 seconds. The NCAA says in its release that officials will review whether widened lanes "reduce physicality and create more driving opportunities," as well as the impact of the rule changes on "the pace and flow of the game." The NIT begins March 13 and ends March 29 in New York's Madison Square Garden.