As Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns was debating playing Saturday night, he said, he had some tough talks with his father and girlfriend about whether he should take the floor when his injured left wrist isn't fully healed. He said both of them told him no.
But as the game neared Towns changed his mind.
"I just put my jersey on and said it's time to go play," Towns said. "Obviously it wasn't the best decision for my personal health at all."
On Sunday a different decision was made. The Wolves and Towns made the decision he would sit out the second end of a back-to-back against the Spurs. The Wolves did get a boost to their lineup even as Towns sat out again. Josh Okogie made his return after missing six games because of a left hamstring strain.
Towns played through pain and with a brace on his wrist Saturday night. But he wanted to gut through the game, no matter how much the wrist caused him to wince. Towns made it through and played well in the Wolves' overtime loss, but on Sunday he rested.
The Wolves said there was no re-injury — Towns' absence was instead a part of their plan to manage the injury while he attempted to play through it.
"We want to make sure we're being smart about it for him and us in the short and long term," Saunders said.
Towns said he was told the injury could cost him six to eight weeks of time, but he made it back on the floor in two. Watching the Wolves lose six straight without him contributed to the speed of his return.
"It wasn't acceptable," Towns said. "I tried to rush as hard as I could to get back and be here with this team. Even if it required playing with one hand, wearing a cast, I was going to do what I gotta do to play."
That meant constant rehab, with Towns displaying on his social media some of the machines to which his wrist was attached while sitting at home.
"The last two weeks have just been constant rehab every single moment," Towns said. "As soon as I wake up I'm rehabbing until I sleep."
Saunders deferred to medical experts a question about whether Towns was vulnerable to reinjury by attempting to play through the pain. He did say the Wolves tried to accommodate Towns in their game plan by getting him the ball in spots that might require less stress on his left wrist.
Saunders said the plan for Towns' availability is a "fluid" one, and the Wolves have two off days before their next game, against Memphis on Wednesday.
A teaching moment
Wolves rookie Anthony Edwards had a learning experience Saturday when he committed a turnover while appearing indecisive on the Wolves' final offensive possession of overtime. With the Wolves down by three points, Edwards drove to the hoop and appeared to have an easy dunk with about nine seconds remaining. Instead, Edwards tried to pass back out for a three-pointer after hearing the bench yelling for one and turned it over.
"I was going to dunk the ball and they were like, 'three, three, three,' so I thought, 'Let me find somebody,'" he said.
Edwards mentioned Saunders told the bench not to do that because a two would have been acceptable, and the Wolves could have then fouled, called a timeout, advanced the ball and gotten one more possession.