PHILADELPHIA — The Timberwolves were without Malik Beasley (left hamstring soreness), Ricky Rubio (back spasms), D'Angelo Russell (left knee) and lost Jaylen Nowell to an apparent right ankle injury in the first half in their 122-113 loss to the 76ers on Sunday.
In part because of all the players the Wolves were missing, coach Chris Finch played three starters, — Anthony Edwards, Jordan McLaughlin and Karl-Anthony Towns — more than 40 minutes.
Towns played 44 of those minutes on his way to 39 points and 14 rebounds. To hear Finch explain it after the game was to hear shades of Tom Thibodeau.
"Trying to win the game. Whatever it would take," Finch said.
Finch followed that with a more in-depth explanation.
"[Sunday] is an off-day for us. We can manage their workload going forward. We checked in with the guys. They knew we were trying to get them rest. The game in the fourth quarter had kind of slowed down, used all their timeouts and you know, obviously we were down several people tonight, which affected our ability to go to certain rotations and when you got a guy like [Towns] having the game like he did, I just didn't feel comfortable taking him off the floor."
Towns didn't seem to mind afterward.
"Wanted it. Wanted the win," Towns said. "Like I told you before, I'll do whatever it takes to have the chance to win and do whatever. If it required playing 44 minutes tonight I was going to do it. Just performed. Go out there, no excuses. We're all feeling the effects of a back to back, especially against a rugged physical team like Memphis, but there's no excuses. We got to get the job done."
On the other hand Edwards, who had 27 points in 41 minutes, was feeling the effects. Edwards said earlier in the season back to backs were tough for him. That didn't change overnight.
"I'm dead. I'm ready to go home," Edwards said.
The same went for McLaughlin, who had 12 points and nine assists in 42 minutes.
"I jumped in the cold tub after both games," McLaughlin said. "I was telling everybody I haven't played 40 since probably back at my USC days. For it to be on a back to back, it was tough too. I was just trying to fight my way through it and fight for the guys as much as possible out there."
This is the second time Finch has played Towns more than 40 minutes, and Towns has played 38 minutes or more in three of the last four games. Edwards played his most minutes of the season.
Finch has shown he is willing to stick with his best players for those kind of minute loads if he deems it necessary and will find other ways to get them rest. But if they're able to play, they might play a lot.