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Towns, Townes: NCAA tournament a stage for ex-prep teammates

If Karl-Anthony Towns somehow had stayed at Kentucky for his entire eligibility, he’d still be there, just finishing his senior season.



Thursday’s Chicago-Loyola/Nevada NCAA tournament game served as another reminder of that.

Loyola senior Marques Townes – Towns’ high-school teammate at St. Joe’s in New Jersey -- made the three-point shot that put away former Timberwolves assistant coach Eric Musselman’s Nevada team and sent the Chicago school on to the Elite Eight for the first time since 1963.

“I talk to him all the time, I’m really happy for him,” Towns said at the Wolves’ morning shootaround in Madison Square Garden this morning. “It has been a journey for him to get to this point, to get with a team like this. Everybody is seeing what he did now, but they don’t know what he had to go through to get to that point…It’s going to be great to see his career progress, watching him make a run in this NCAA tournament.”

Two members of that St. Joe’s team – Towns and guard Wade Baldwin – were selected in the NBA draft’s first round, with Towns going No. 1 overall to the Wolves in 2015, of course. (His Kentucky team that season advanced to the Final Four before being upset by Wisconsin.)

Now a third has made a name for himself.

“I’m extremely happy for him,” Towns said.

Other stuff from shoot before tonight’s 6:30 p.m. Central time tip against the Knicks:

  • Guard Derrick Rose did not travel with the team to New York because of that sprained ankle sustained Tuesday against the Clippers. Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau continues to call Rose “day to day,” but said it’s very unlikely Rose would join the team for Saturday’s game at Philadelphia as well.
  • On Sunday, injured All Star Jimmy Butler called this week’s rehabilitation crucial to his recovery from knee surgery. Thibodeau won’t put a timeline on Butler’s return, but Butler said Sunday he intends to be back playing before the regular season ends April 11. “Just moving along, going step by step,” Thibodeau said. “That’s the most important thing for him. He’ll know when he’s ready to go. When he’s ready, he’s ready.”

Clippers tonight chasing Wolves for final playoff spot

In third place in the West not that long ago, the Timberwolves tonight at Target Center play a Los Angeles Clippers chasing them for the conference's eighth and final playoff spot.

Both the Clippers and Nuggets trail the Wolves by two games for that last spot.

Must win?

"I always laugh at that must-win thing," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said at his team's Target Center shootaround this morning. "Fans on your side say you `must win,' and fans on the other side say they must win. Well, someone's going to be wrong. I think the mentality is you must play well. You must play the way you play and don’t try to do anything else. You've got to do it well, control your environment. If you do that, you may control theirs."

Tonight's game is the last in an eight-game stretch where the Wolves played at Portland, Utah, Washington and San Antonio and faced Boston, Golden State, Houston and now the Clippers at home.

They're 2-5 in those first seven games and now a game behind fifth-place San Antonio and a half game behind Utah and New Orleans.

They're also 4-5 since All-Star guard Jimmy Butler went down injured clutching his knee in a Feb. 23 game at Houston and underwent surgery on his partially torn knee meniscus cartilage two days later.

Butler told reporters before Sunday's loss to the Rockets that he's aiming to return before the playoffs start, but doesn't know exactly when.

"With Jimmy, I just want him to concentrate on the rehab, like he has to use that as a goal for himself to come back," Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau said. "We have to be ready to battle without him. That’s what this is all about right now. The guys who are out there, we have to get it done. We have more than enough to win with and we just have to find a way to get it done."

Final, 3/24 1 2 3 4 F
Minnesota 42-32 24 28 19 37 108
Philadelphia 42-30 32 27 39 22 120

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