ATLANTA – Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau called for starting point guard Jeff Teague to finish Saturday’s game, but Teague never did, for a reason you might not expect.
Midway through the fourth quarter, Teague told his coach to leave reserve Tyus Jones on the floor because Jones and Jamal Crawford had helped rebuild a double-digit lead over Brooklyn.
“I just felt like were about to go on a run for some reason,” Teague said. “In the playoffs, you’re going to need someone to come off the bench and give a great spark. It could be Tyus. We know Jamal has the ability to give a great spark. You’ve just got to build a little trust with them, you know what I mean?
“Give them the opportunity and see what they can do. If they do well, it’s good for everybody.”
So Jones finished the game while Teague — nursing a sore ankle and wrist — watched.
“That’s the thing,” Thibodeau said. “You’re seeing a lot of guys now sacrificing for the team, putting the team first. In order to win, that’s what you have to do … That’s what I love about both Jeff and Tyus: They’re team-first guys all the way.”
Teague played to the end Monday and finished 1-for-12 for two points.
He has had shooting games of 2-for-11, 6-for-17, 3-for-11 and 0-for-4 as well in January after he returned from a sprained knee ligament. He said he has played the past two games with a sore wrist he hurt Thursday at Golden State.
“It’s just one of them nights,” Teague said. “I think this month I had two of those nights, probably two of the worst shooting games I’ve had in my career.”
You can go home
The Wolves celebrated a sort of homecoming three ways Monday at Atlanta.
Teague returned to the place where he played his first seven NBA seasons. Marcus Georges-Hunt came home to where he was raised and attended Georgia Tech. Crawford came back to the team for which he played two seasons.
“It’s always a lot of fun,” Teague said. “I get to see friends and people I’ve known for years. It’s a little different here now.”
Roseville’s Mike Muscala is back after he missed 22 games for the Hawks in November and December because of an ankle injury.
“He knows everything we do so well,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “I’m happy to see him playing and playing well.”
The Wolves seriously considered taking Wake Forest’s John Collins with the 16th pick in last summer’s draft. The Hawks took him 19th instead after the Wolves chose Justin Patton with the pick from the Jimmy Butler trade. Collins has been impressive. “We liked him a lot,” Thibodeau said. “This draft class has been terrific.”
• Crawford on Monday’s reported blockbuster that sends former Clippers teammate Blake Griffin to Detroit for Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, Boban Marjanovic, a first-round draft pick and two other players: “Shocking.”