SAN ANTONIO – At age 32, Timberwolves veteran forward Taj Gibson is 70 games into a season in which he is — by nearly five — averaging more minutes played per game than in any of his previous 10 NBA seasons.
With the playoffs fast approaching and the Wolves in the midst of qualifying for them for the first time since Gibson was in high-school, he said he feels no effects from playing 33.6 minutes a game.
"I'm good, I'm good," Gibson said. "I take care of my body. I'm athletic still. I lift every day. I'm not worried about the minutes."
Until this season, Gibson had never averaged more than the 28.7 minutes he played for coach Tom Thibodeau and the Chicago Bulls in a 2013-14 season when he played all 82 games and came off the bench in 74 of those.
"In Chicago, we were so deep, he didn't have to play as many," Thibodeau said of Gibson's minutes. "He finished games. He really was a starter in Chicago. So to me, if you're asking a starter to play 32, 33 minutes, that shouldn't be too much, no matter the age."
The Wolves' second-leading rebounder at 7.2 a game, Gibson went through a recent stretch where he had four rebounds three times and five the other and might have showed some fatigue in those four games when the Wolves went 1-3.
Then he produced an 11-point, 13-rebound double-double in a crucial home victory over Golden State and a 10/8 game in Tuesday's victory at Washington. He had eight points and four rebounds in 33 minutes Saturday night. Going into Saturday night, he was shooting 64.9 percent (61-for-94) from the field in his past 10 games.
When asked about Gibson's age and minutes played, Thibodeau said, "If he needs rest, we'll give him rest. But he's in great shape, and he has always been in great shape. When you watch the way he plays, it tells you a lot about who he is."
All season, Gibson probably has been the Wolves' most underrated player and most underappreciated summertime acquisition who will play on until he tires.
"Life is too short to be holding back," Gibson said. "I go out there and lay it on the line, just do what I got to do. When I come off the court, I don't want to have any regrets when I go home. I don't worry about minutes or how much I play."
Musselman and MarchMadness
Thibodeau intends to message congratulations to Nevada men's basketball coach Eric Musselman with whom he was a Wolves assistant coach in the 1990-91 season in their second year of existence.
Son of first Wolves coach Bill Musselman, he rallied his team to a victory over Texas in a first-round NCAA tournament game Friday.
"It was a great win for him and his program," Thibodeau said about Musselman, who has led Nevada to the NCAA tournament two of his three seasons there.
"He has done an unbelievable job there."
• Wolves veteran and Seattle's own Jamal Crawford plays mentor to younger NBA players from his home state, when they need it. He contacted second-year Spurs guard Dejounte Murray. He checked in when Murray rolled his ankle, but otherwise has let him roll through a successful season. "When things go well, I back off," Crawford said.
• Karl-Anthony Towns and Tyus Jones didn't seem sympathetic when an NCAA tournament No. 1 seed lost to a 16th seed for the first time in history, as Virginia did to Maryland-Baltimore County on Friday. "No, just because it's Virginia," Jones said about his Duke's ACC rival.