Monday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Wolves center Karl-Anthony Towns missed his 14th game.
On this time it might have had less to do with his knee and more to do with his immune system.
He wasn’t at the morning shootaround, and he missed the game, because he had flulike symptoms.
“He’s got a bug,’’ Wolves coach Ryan Saunders said. “He’s very close. But he’s not in the facility because he’s got a bug.’’
When asked if a return this week was reasonable, Saunders said yes.
It has been an interesting monthlong recovery for Towns, who hurt his left knee Dec. 13 in a game against the Clippers in which he scored 39 points with 12 rebounds. Basically from the start the Wolves described his injury as a day-to-day situation, consistently listing him as questionable.
“It’s one of those things were we value our players’ health,’’ Saunders said. “And we want him to be 100 percent when he comes back.’’
That said, Saunders also indicated that Towns’ knee may not have responded to treatment as planned.
“What might look, early on, as a couple games, he didn’t really respond early,’’ Saunders said. “We want these guys, when they’re out there, when they’re on the court, to be fully healthy. Because [Towns] is a big part of our future, and we know that. I think we all understand that.’’
When Towns does come back, the person whose minutes will be most affected likely will be Gorgui Dieng.
But, in the last month, Dieng has proven himself capable of adapting to the Wolves’ new style of offense. Always an OK corner three shooter, he has shown he can hit threes from above the break, too.
Heading into Monday’s game, in the 13 games replacing Towns as the starting center, Dieng has averaged 13.4 points and 9.1 rebounds, scoring in double figures 11 times and shooting 47.2 percent overall and 45.6 percent on three-pointers.
For the season, Dieng is shooting 35-for-90 on three-pointers. Of those, 24 have come above the break on 64 attempts, or 37.5 %.
Compare that to last season, when he was dependable from the corners, but just a 16.7 % three-point shooter above the break.
Don’t be surprised by this. Dieng isn’t.
“I just started playing, that’s what it is,’’ he said. “I wasn’t playing the last two, three years, didn’t get minutes. I think every time I play I produce. And that’s what it is. I work on my game every year.’’
Dieng said he did work hard on his outside shot in the last offseason. But what he has done recently has everything to do with confidence — which Dieng does not appear to lack — and rhythm.
“If you play you have better rhythm,’’ he said. “But in the NBA you have to be confident. If you don’t have confidence you won’t be anything in this league.’’