Thirteen days after he sustained a sprained MCL, Timberwolves point guard Jeff Teague practiced with the team Tuesday and could return to play as soon as Wednesday’s game against Northwest Division rival Oklahoma City.
“Each day, he has done more and more,” Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau said. “We’ll see how he feels [Wednesday] and we’ll go from there.”
The Wolves upgraded Teague from out to questionable in their injury report.
Teague has missed seven games since Denver’s Will Barton fell on his leg late in the fourth quarter of the Wolves’ 128-125 overtime victory on Dec. 27, causing a mild Grade 1 sprain of the knee ligament.
He has shot and moved around in recent days wearing a brace on his leg.
“It’s heavy,” Teague said.
Without him, backup Tyus Jones has started those seven games and the Wolves have gone 4-3. Jones played 28 minutes and had eight assists in Monday’s 127-99 blowout of Cleveland and provided the night’s most memorable play when he stole the ball and beat LeBron James to the rim for a fierce slam dunk.
“Obviously, Jeff is a great player and with him coming back, we’re all excited and happy for him and happy for the team,” Jones said. “I’ll continue to play my part and do my role whatever Coach is asking of me and just do it to the best of my ability.”
No harm, but flagrant
Upon further review, neither Thibodeau nor Wolves forward Andrew Wiggins considered Cleveland guard Isaiah Thomas’ chop to Wiggins’ chin/neck an intent to injure Monday. After a video review, referees determined Thomas’ steal attempt was a flagrant foul type 2 and ejected him from the game midway through the third quarter.
“I don’t think so,” Thibodeau said. “[Thomas is] just coming back [from a hip injury]. I don’t think he’s a dirty player. He said he goes for steals and he does. It looked awkward. I don’t think it was from my observation and I know Andrew felt that way, too.”
Wiggins said he felt fine Tuesday.
“I’m cool, I’m good,” he said. “I was going fast, I got hit pretty hard. It’s part of the game. He didn’t mean to do it. He apologized. … It’s all good, though.”
Thomas said after the game that he didn’t expect to be ejected.
“I was surprised,” he said. “I went for the ball. But I know that anything around the head, especially, that looks bad will probably [get a player] thrown out. So I just made sure that he was good and made sure he knew I had no intention to hurt him …
“I’ve got numerous steals like that, going up like that. It just so happened I hit him in the throat and I apologized right away because I knew. I didn’t mean to hit him like that. I’m just glad that he is all right.”
Zach comes back
Former Wolves guard Zach LaVine will play his first game since February knee surgery in Chicago’s game Saturday against Detroit, the Bulls announced Tuesday. The Wolves dealt LaVine in a five-player, draft-night deal last summer for Jimmy Butler.
“It’s great,” Thibodeau said. “He’s worked extremely hard. Occasionally, I get a text from him. I guess I’ll text him. I’m happy for him. He’s a great guy. He’s a terrific player and anytime you go through the length of rehab like that, it’s not easy. I think he’s handled that very well.”
• Television ratings for Wolves games on Fox Sports North through 40 games are 66 percent higher than this time last season, according to the network. The current ratings are on pace to be the highest since the 2011-12 season, Ricky Rubio’s rookie season. Monday’s game was the third-highest rated this season.
• Wolves big man Gorgui Dieng, a national champion at Louisville, rooted for Alabama in Monday’s college football national championship game against Georgia because, well, he likes winners. “I don’t like losing, so they’re a good team,” he said. “That was a good game. They’re a good team.”
• Thibodeau when asked if he can yell at LaVine via text message: “I guess I could try, right?” A tip: USE ALL CAPS!