Four days after emerging from a very scary car accident with only minor injuries, Karl-Anthony Towns returned to action for the Timberwolves on Monday night.
Towns, who passed through the league’s concussion protocol, said he didn’t get a concussion but had concussion-like symptoms. And he started another consecutive game streak after having his 303-game streak halted after a semi truck rear-ended the car he and assistant strength and conditioning coach Kurt Joseph were in Thursday.
All in all, his return is a best-case scenario.
“I would say I had a 5 percent chance of making it out alive,” Towns said Monday morning, before recording 34 points and 21 rebounds in a 112-115 victory over Sacramento that night. “I hit the 5 percent mark. And then, I’d say 4 percent was to be seriously injured, and 1 percent was to be minorly injured. And I came out in the 1 percent. So it’s not bad.”
Joseph, who also survived the crash relatively unscathed, was driving with Towns as a passenger Thursday. They were on the way to the airport for the flight to New York for Friday’s game against the Knicks. They were on Interstate 35W near the 38th Street overpass.
According to Towns, the car in front of them slowed down for another accident farther down the road, forcing them to a rather abrupt stop. Towns said he was talking to Joseph about the car ahead of them, but Joseph was noticing the semi closing in from behind. Towns estimated the truck was coming at them between 35 and 45 miles per hour.
“The next thing you know we got hit,” Towns said. “It happened so quick, so I’m just glad everyone is safe. Everyone is alive. Obviously it could have been a lot worse.”
Towns refused medical care at the scene, and refused an ambulance ride to the hospital. Instead, he got himself to medical care.
“They said, ‘Hey you know you’ve got to really take it easy,’ ” he said. “I just said, ‘Yeah, great, doc. Appreciate you.’ And as soon as I left I called the Wolves and said, ‘Yo, what’s the latest flight I can get out?’ So I found a way to be there for my teammates. Regardless of what was going to happen I wanted to be there for my teammates. I’m not a guy to stay back and watch them work. I want to be there in person. … I actually planned on playing in New York, so that was the plan. Obviously, you have to take my health into more consideration.”
Perhaps more difficult was letting his family know what had happened. Anticipating their reaction, Towns chose to text his mother and father. He called his sister. But, he said, she thought he was joking and hung up on him.
Ultimately, word got through. Smiling, Towns reported that his sister’s first question was whether he would miss the New York game.
Towns teased teammate Taj Gibson, who drove past the scene of the accident on his way to the airport.
“I still make jokes to Taj every day about he saw me in this crazy car wreck and just kept driving,” Towns said. “He didn’t want to get a fine or something.”
But seriously: Placed into the protocol was, Towns said, the right move. Even if having to watch consecutive games from the bench, in street clothes, was strange. Asked if he felt the need to get help regarding any possible emotional trauma, Towns said no.
“It was pretty gnarly,” he said of the crash. “I ain’t gonna lie. But like I said, I’m just blessed. … In all honesty I should not have made it out like I did. But I’m glad I did.”
• Banged up much of the season, guard Jeff Teague (left knee soreness) did not play Monday.
• Dario Saric was sporting an impressive black eye Monday, the result of taking a Brook Lopez elbow in the face Saturday night.