OKLAHOMA CITY – Jeff Teague was playing hurt for over a month on an injured left ankle that finally caused him to sit out the past three games. Teague is expected out for perhaps more than a week.
As much as the Timberwolves would like Teague healthy, they had Derrick Rose slide into the starting lineup amid a career-resurgent season. It seemed like no big deal — the Wolves could get by without Teague for a little while because of Rose.
But now Rose is on the mend after he tried to play through his own injured left ankle, an injury that forced him out the second half of Friday’s 124-98 loss to the Spurs.
“I think I did a bad job listening to my body and managing my body,” Rose said after the game.
Rose only participated in the walkthrough portion of Saturday’s practice and is questionable for Sunday night’s game against Oklahoma City, which means the Wolves could be without both point guards as they try to rebound from losing six of their past seven games.
Fans caught a glimpse of what that might look like in the second half Friday. It came as no surprise that Tyus Jones got the minutes with the regular starters in the third quarter.
To start the fourth, coach Tom Thibodeau turned to Jerryd Bayless, acquired in the Jimmy Butler trade with Philadelphia. It was a long road back for Bayless, who suffered a knee injury in training camp with the 76ers and last played in regular-season game Feb. 9. Only recently did he become active after completing the rehab on his knee. Bayless said it “stinks” that Rose’s injury was what prompted his playing time, but he added: “I felt great.”
“I know what I’m still capable of,” said Bayless, who finished with seven points on 3-for-7 shooting and three assists in 12 minutes. “I just need opportunity. For that first step just to be able to get out there, I’m happy about that, really happy.”
As Bayless ended his postgame comments, Robert Covington chimed in from across the room: “That’s a true professional right there.”
Covington saw up close how Bayless handled himself when he wasn’t playing late last season, and how Bayless worked hard to rehabilitate his knee and get back into playing shape.
“He came in, still did his job, even though he wasn’t playing, he still was battling,” Covington said. “In Philly, they used to have a low-minute group and he used to come in and treat it as real competition. That’s his demeanor. He worked every day and was a true professional.”
The Wolves are in a precarious spot entering Sunday’s game. Their 2-13 road record is worst in the Western Conference, and five of their next six games are on the road.
“It’s not physical. It all comes down to the mental aspect,” forward Taj Gibson said. “You’re on the road a lot and things aren’t going your way, it’s all a mental block. … We got to be resilient. We can’t worry about things we could’ve done. We have to worry about the future.”
A future that might be without both Teague and Rose. “You’re going to feel that, and we did,” Thibodeau said. “But we have more than enough to win with what we have.”