Timberwolves veteran point guard Jeff Teague’s 42 minutes played in Monday night’s damaging home loss to Memphis wasn’t such a rare event, it just seemed that way.
Fellow starters Taj Gibson and Andrew Wiggins played 43 minutes each and Karl-Anthony Towns 39 in a game when the Wolves shot 3-for-17 and were outscored 23-11 in the fourth quarter by a Memphis team that lost a game by 61 points to Charlotte last week and had won once since late January.
On a team for which coach Tom Thibodeau sometimes plays his starters 40 minutes or more, Teague said fatigue might have been a factor — but not an excuse — for the season’s worst loss.
“That might be like my third time in my life playing like 40 minutes,” Teague said before Wednesday’s 126-114 victory over Atlanta. “It’s a little different. A little banged up, I banged knees with someone. It’s part of the game. You’ve got to adjust.”
Teague’s math is slightly off: He has played 40 or more minutes 47 times in his NBA career.
“I think some guys ran out of gas,” Teague said. “I’m not going to lie. I was a little tired, but that’s not an excuse. If you’re on the floor, you have to be able to help our team win.”
Asked if he expects more of the same, Teague said, “I’m not sure. I think we have guys who are capable of playing and contributing to this team and making big plays, so hopefully they’ll get an opportunity.”
Thibodeau praised both Teague and Gibson for recognizing the physical nature of Monday’s game and adjusting appropriately.
“They weren’t whining about not getting the calls,” Thibodeau said. “They knew how they wanted to handle that and respond.”
Waiting for Jimmy
All-Star guard Jimmy Butler ran, shot and jumped at Wednesday’s shoot around, but he hasn’t yet been cleared for contact practice. Thibodeau calls that the next step building toward Butler’s return.
That could be in time for the regular season’s final two games, both at Target Center: against Memphis on April 9 and against Denver on April 11.
“Jimmy is Jimmy,” Teague said. “Something with that dude’s DNA, man. I think anybody else would have been done for the season, but he’s that kind of guy out there working. Hopefully, he can make a return.”
Between 40 and 50 friends and family members attended Wednesday for the only visit of Roseville’s own Mike Muscala with the Hawks this season. Muscala had just enough time to stop by his country home south of the Twin Cities, where he spends part of the offseason. He missed 22 games early this season because of an ankle injury that wouldn’t heal.
“When he’s healthy, he’s such a smart player,” Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer said. “He understands how we play. Once he got back healthy, he has been the same old Muskie, which is really effective for us on both ends.”
Muscala then went out and scored a career-high 24 points.
• The swelling in Derrick Rose’s sprained ankle is down and the veteran Wolves guard is closer to playing but not close enough. He missed his third consecutive game Wednesday night after injuring that ankle last week against the Los Angeles Clippers.
• Wolves veteran backup center Cole Aldrich missed his second consecutive game because he was home ill.
• Two seasons removed from playing for the team that drafted and NBA raised him, Teague said playing the Hawks now is no different than any other game. “It’s kind of old now, it’s over with,” he said. “Last year was special. Now it’s over.”