Timberwolves starting point guard Jeff Teague played for the first time since Dec. 27 on Wednesday and wore a knee brace to protect his healing Grade 1 MCL sprain.
“I can pretty much do everything, I just have a big brace on it,” said Teague, none too thrilled about the prospect. “But it’s something you have to do.”
Teague missed seven games after Denver’s Will Barton fell on his leg late in the fourth quarter of an overtime victory two weeks ago. He played 26 minutes against Oklahoma City, finishing with eight points and three assists.
Backup Tyus Jones started in Teague’s absence and helped guide the Wolves to a 4-3 mark with his passing and active hands defensively. That included resounding victories Saturday over New Orleans and Monday over Cleveland. Jones played 19 minutes Wednesday.
Teague missed four games in November because of a sore Achilles’ tendon and started and played 34 minutes his first game back against Oklahoma City on Dec. 1.
He had a similar Grade 1 MCL sprain before Atlanta selected him in the 2009 draft, but that was another place and time.
“This is a lot different,” Teague said. “I have never missed as many games in a row. It’s an injury I’m not used to. It happened nine years ago, so I’m just trying to get comfortable again, really.”
When asked if he expects Teague to play the same kind of minutes he did his last time back from injury, coach Tom Thibodeau said: “We’ll just see where he is. He has done a good job with conditioning. He has done quite a bit. We’ll see how it unfolds.”
The NBA fined Cleveland’s Isaiah Thomas $20,000 for his flagrant foul 2 chop to Andrew Wiggins’ chin/throat Monday. He was ejected midway through the third quarter. Neither Wiggins nor Thibodeau said he thought Thomas’ blow was intentional. “I don’t think it was from my observation,” Thibodeau said, “and I know Andrew felt that way, too.”
Now that his make-good contract has been guaranteed for the rest of the season, second-year swingman Marcus Georges-Hunt took 10 young basketball fans from the Boys and Girls Club to the Mall of America’s Nickelodeon Universe on Tuesday evening for some fun. He apparently had some.
“I may go back just by myself,” he said.
Teammate Jimmy Butler showed up to lend his support, too.
“Just giving back,” Georges-Hunt said. “I reached a big accomplishment for myself, and I want to tell kids who one day might want to do what I’m doing that everybody’s journey is different. I explain to them you don’t always have to get drafted to play in the league. You find other ways to do things. You work hard and give it all you got, you can accomplish whatever you put your mind to.”
Then or now?
Jones deemed Monday’s fierce dunk ahead of a closing LeBron James better than the one he had last week in Brooklyn.
But was it better than the one in high school when he leapt over a defender and dunked?
“The one in high school, the guy was in front of me,” Jones said. “This one, it was LeBron, so … the other guy wasn’t Le-Bron. He tried to take a charge, so I went over him. I’ll take both of them.”
• Lynx star Lindsay Whalen joined the Wolves TV broadcast for the third of eight games she’ll work this season. She also will work upcoming women’s college games for ESPN and Big Ten Network.
• Butler got in on the joke at Wednesday’s shootaround when he called Jones “Tyler,” like James mistakenly did Monday. “That’s my new name now,” Jones said, smiling.
• Thunder defensive specialist Andre Roberson missed his sixth consecutive game because of patellar tendinitis.
• Thibodeau said rookie center Justin Patton’s next step in Iowa is increased minutes and improved conditioning. He said Patton’s situation will be reconsidered after the four-day G League Showcase ends on Saturday in Toronto.