As the Timberwolves prepare to play their first game since the All-Star break, there was no change to their injury report related to Karl-Anthony Towns, who remains out because of a right calf injury he suffered Nov. 28.

The question is how much longer will he be out, and while coach Chris Finch said Towns is in the "final stages" of ramping up to play again, there is still no definitive timeline for when Towns might return.

"He's itching to play," Finch said after practice Thursday. "I don't think that it's a question of anything like going off path right now. I think it's just literally just going through the final stages of what that looks like.

"I don't know how long it's going to be, but talking to him, I definitely sense more so than any other conversation I've had with him up until this point that he's chomping at the bit to get back and ready to help this team when that time comes."

That time has to come sooner than later, because the end of the season is fast approaching, with the Wolves set for 21 games between now and the regular-season finale April 9. With each game Towns misses, it's one less opportunity for he and the Wolves to acclimate playing him alongside Rudy Gobert, and for him to learn how to operate with a new point guard in Mike Conley.

The Wolves currently sit in eighth in the Western Conference standings, just 1 ½ games ahead of the No. 12 seed and two games behind the No. 4 seed. Each game can produce a dramatic swing in the standings, but the Wolves are not rushing Towns back.

"For sure it's getting short. But I couldn't put a marker on when [his return] is," Finch said. "I just know mentally he's there. You'll have to ask him this, but I don't get a sense that he's at a place where he feels like he's held back by anything unnecessarily. I think he feels like he's just finishing off the process."

Until then, the Wolves will trudge onward without Towns, and when they were last seen on the basketball court, they were doing what they sometimes tend to do — lose focus and relinquish a large lead against a sub-.500 team, this time the Wizards. Another such team visits Target Center on Friday in Charlotte.

Conley spoke after the Wizards game of trying to find ways he can help control the Wolves when things start to go haywire in games like Friday.

"After the last game, I literally texted Coach, and I'm like, 'We're gonna change this and this, and we need to fix this,' just from my observation for the first couple games," Conley said.

Conley mentioned the Wolves needed to play smarter when other teams are making a run against them. How those moments might not be the times to try risky cross-court passes that lead to turnovers and easy layups for the opposition.

"We're not going to make every shot … So when we don't make shots, what can we run?" Conley said. "How can we get to the free-throw line and not turn it over. Those things that we're all capable of doing individually. Guys can get better at decision-making. Guys can get better at giving guys the ball and getting back in urgency on defense late in games."

Finch said Conley picked up quickly on the Wolves' tendency to play "full-throttle" at all times, and playing a little more carefully on offense might be in order while ramping up the intensity on the defensive end.

"We have a green light with a lot of guys, but all season long we've struggled with shot selection and turnovers once we've built leads. I think that's something he's picked up on quickly and something that through these 21 games we really have to get better at."

Whether Towns is on the floor with them or not.