BOSTON – The Timberwolves played their previous eight games entering Wednesday without point guard Jeff Teague. They played the previous two without Teague and Derrick Rose. Then they took the floor Wednesday against Boston without Teague, Rose and Robert Covington.
All three were out because of ankle injuries. Teague entered Wednesday as questionable, an upgrade from the doubtful designation he had received in previous games, while Covington appeared on the injury report Tuesday night. The Wolves did catch a break when Celtics guard Kyrie Irving missed the game because of a left eye injury, but Boston still came away with a 115-102 victory.
Covington was injured late in the Wolves’ 123-114 loss to New Orleans when a Pelicans player fell into the lower part of his right leg in the fourth quarter. Covington was on the floor in pain for a few moments afterward and got up gimpy, but stayed in the game.
Covington was on the injury report because of a sore right ankle, but he said the play also injured his right knee — the same one that caused him to miss a game in Portland in early December.
Rose has been dealing with a right ankle sprain he suffered Friday against Atlanta. Teague has been out because of nagging left ankle inflammation.
The Wolves already have been struggling to keep afloat in the Western Conference playoff race. Now they will have to do so without three of their main contributors.
Tyus Jones started again for Teague and Rose and nearly supplied a double-double, finishing with 14 points and nine assists. Rookie Josh Okogie made his eighth start of the season to replace Covington, but only had three points in 24 minutes.
“I have to prepare in a way knowing that I have to make my open shots, do a little bit more than I’m asked to on a regular basis,” Okogie said. “I’m ready for that. That’s what I signed up for, and I feel like I have the ability to do that. Whether they’re out or not, I have to consistently prepare the same way, just knowing any given day my role may increase or stay the same.”
On the mike
Lynx All-Star Rebekkah Brunson joined the Fox Sports North telecast as an analyst for the first of six games, working with play-by-play broadcaster Dave Benz, analyst Jim Petersen and reporter Marney Gellner.
“I will say it’s information overload just trying to be prepared …” Brunson said before the game. “When I say information overload, it’s different ways I can quickly get information I might need. Different ways to approach the game. They’ve been giving me so much. They’re awesome at what they do, so it’s a blessing to have people like that guiding you.”
Brunson will next broadcast a game Jan. 18. She will also be a part of “Wolves Live” coverage for another four games.
The Wolves could use all the help they can get on offense because nobody in the league has a tougher schedule against opposing defenses than the Wolves do in January.
According to NBA.com, seven of the Wolves’ 14 games in January will come against teams in the top 10 in defensive rating. Boston was fourth in defensive rating entering the game. The Wolves are also set to play the team with the 11th-best defensive rating, Philadelphia, on Jan. 15.