From the Timberwolves' perspective, no time is a good time for Karl-Anthony Towns to get injured.
But from a scheduling perspective, the timing of his injury wasn't especially great for the Wolves.
After they defeated Utah on Saturday, the Wolves got to face the Lakers and Clippers, two of the best teams in the NBA, with no practice time to figure out how to they will make do in this stretch without Towns.
Friday begins a more forgiving stretch of the schedule, as the Wizards (0-5) and Nuggets (1-3) are on the docket for the next three games.
The Wolves also have a little more time to prepare, and were able to get a full practice in Thursday.
After Tuesday's loss, Ricky Rubio injected a dose of truth serum with his comments that the Wolves were playing "selfish" basketball at times and had to learn how to handle even a little bit of success, such as when they started that game with a 16-7 lead.
"I do think it's natural when you lose a player who is a star-caliber player like Karl, guys, the intentions are usually right where guys just want to help the team and feel like they need to pick up the slack," coach Ryan Saunders said Thursday. "Sometimes if you don't fully understand the system yet or you're still getting to know your teammates, sometimes that can look like it's selfish basketball."
That means forcing up shots with little or no ball movement, hoisting shots out of rhythm and having a lack of communication on defense. All of that showed up after the promising start Tuesday night.
But Saunders emphasized that the perceived selfish basketball wasn't a product of ill will.
"The guys were in a good place," Saunders said. "The Karl injury was a little bit surprising in a way. I think the players — they have the right intentions. Now it's just about making sure we execute in the right way. We've got time to do that."
With Towns out, D'Angelo Russell becomes the focal point of the offense, and that's not lost on opposing defenses, who can now game plan more specifically to Russell with Towns out. Saunders tried to alleviate some of the pressure on Russell.
"It's on all of us," Saunders said. "He is an unbelievable talent and he wants what's best for this group and we saw his ability to close games against Utah — he's got that in him. … It's not just [on] a D'Angelo Russell, it's all of us. When I say all of us, not just the players. It's everybody. Coaches, trainers, everyone. We all need to do more when someone is down."
But that can also lead to players pressing. For instance, Jarrett Culver went 0-for-10 and didn't score against the Clippers.
"My teammates pick me up well, and the coaching staff, they've got a great belief in me, so it's my job to have that mental spot to just keep moving forward," Culver said. "And that's the great thing about the NBA, you have a great night or a bad night, you get to play a couple of days later and keep going."
The same goes for the Wolves as a whole. The Lakers and Clippers are in the rearview mirror for now. But that doesn't mean moving on without Towns will get any easier.
"It takes time, for sure, because he's a big part of what we do," Culver said.