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On the Wolves

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Paul, Griffin out for Clippers vs. Wolves tonight

The Wolves finish a three-game trip that started winless in Texas and ends tonight in Los Angeles to play the Clippers, who are missing All-Stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.

Paul underwent surgery on a torn thumb tendon Wednesday after his thumb got caught in Russell Westbrook's jersey during Monday's home victory over Oklahoma City.

Griffin hasn't played since before Christmas after he underwent arthoscopic knee surgery and is nearing a return, but it won't be tonight.

Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau talked with his pal, Clippers coach Doc Rivers, after Paul was deemed out for the next six to eight weeks.

"He has been through it before and he has done a great job," Thibodeau said. "He has dealt with it a lot. It's unfortunate, but they've got plenty. I look at the injuries he has already dealt with and in some ways it has helped to develop their bench and other guys who have stepped into roles and they're playing really well."

One other item:

The NBA tonight announced All-Star Game starters as determined by fans and for the first time players and media as well and as you'd expect, Karl-Anthony Towns, Zach LaVine and Andrew Wiggins all receive votes from their fellow players.

But so did six other Wolves, including Tyus Jones, Nemanja Bjelica, Gorgui Dieng, now-waived John Lucas III and Adreian Payne.

Payne let out a high-pitched giggle when asked about getting an All Star starter's vote, vowed he didn't vote for himself and offered a pair of shoes to whoever did.

Ricky Rubio didn't get a vote from the players, but Cole Aldrich got three, although he admitted when pressed by teammate Brandon Rush that he voted for himself.

He said he just wanted to know who the "other two idiots" were who voted for him.

Towns finished tied for 10th in Western Conference frontcourt voting by players.

The starters?

Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo, Chicago's Jimmy Butler, Toronto's DeMar DeRozan and Cleveland LeBron James and Kyrie Irving for the East.

Golden State's Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, Houston's James Harden, New Orleans' Anthony Davis and San Antonio's Kawhi Leonard.

The game will be next month in New Orleans.

On Thibodeau's birthday, LaVine promises his 'best defense' as a gift

Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau turned 59 today. Offered congrats after this morning’s shootaround by a group of media,  he laughed. “If you were really my friends you wouldn’t mention that,’’ he said.

So, did he – or will he – celebrate the milestone? “No, no, no,’’ he said. “You get to this point, you don’t celebrate, you hope they just keep going.’’

OK. Well, his young team offered these ideas on presents for their coach:

Gorgui Dieng: “If we win tonight we’re going to have to have the rookie sing ‘’Happy Birthday’’ to him,’’ Dieng said, referring to rookie guard Kris Dunn.

Karl-Anthony Towns: “Don’t lose.’’

But Zach LaVine was the funniest: "I feel if I play some defense he’ll have the best birthday ever. So I’ll try to go out and play the best defense of the year.’’

OK, on to more serious stuff:

--After missing practice yesterday, Dieng said he’s feeling good and ready to go. “Yesterday was a tough day for me,’’ said Dieng, who was the team’s best player in Sunday’s loss in Dallas. “I rested, drank a lot of water, took some medicine. I feel good.’’

--Sunday Thibodeau described the team’s effort in the loss in Dallas as “lethargic.’’

Now, in this up-and-down season, there have been problems to work through. But lack of energy hasn’t often been the issue.

It was enough of a surprise that Thibodeau talked to the team about it. “This is a very good work group,’’ he said. “A very good practice group. And, for the most part, there have been very few games that have been like that. So, that was the thing. Every once in a while you may have a flat game. But there were things we could have done that could have gotten us going.’’

It appears the team listened. According to Thibodeau, the team had a “terrific’’ practice Monday and a very spirited morning workout today.

“I hope that translates [in the game],’’ Thibodeau said. “The big thing is to continue to improve. We didn’t play well on either end in Dallas. I want to bounce back tonight. This will be a good test for us. ‘’

--One group definitely looking to bounce back is the bench, which struggled mightily Sunday. “It was a struggle,’’ said Shabazz Muhammad. “They came out with more of an edge than we did. Tonight we can’t have that.’’

--It’s never easy playing the Spurs. But it’s especially hard when San Antonio is coming off a loss. The Spurs lost to Phoenix in Mexico City Saturday. The Spurs, in fact, have lost two of their last three games.

TV Listings

Local Schedule

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  • Gophers men's hockey at Wisconsin

    7 pm on FSN, 1500-AM

  • Ohio State at Gophers women's hockey

    7:07 pm

  • Gophers women's basketball at Iowa

    2 pm

  • Ohio State at Gophers women's hockey

    2:07 pm

  • Wisconsin at Gophers men's basketball

    3:30 pm on BTN, 1500-AM

  • Gophers men's hockey at Wisconsin

    5 pm on FSN, 1500-AM

  • Anaheim at Wild

    8 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

  • Denver at Timberwolves

    6 pm on FSN, 830-AM

  • Nashville at Wild

    7 pm on FSN PLUS, 100.3-FM

  • Wild at Dallas

    7:30 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

  • Timberwolves at Phoenix

    8 pm on FSN PLUS, 830-AM

  • Gophers men's basketball at Ohio State

    6 pm on BTN, 1500-AM

  • Indiana at Timberwolves

    7 pm on FSN, 830-AM

  • St. Louis at Wild

    7 pm on NBCSN, 100.3-FM

  • Ohio State at Gophers women's basketball

    7 pm on 1500-AM

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