MEMPHIS – The Timberwolves didn't know if they were going to have neither, one or both of their top two point guards for their game against Memphis.
It turned out to be neither.
Both Jeff Teague and Shabazz Napier missed the game, with Teague not even making the trip because of an illness and Napier out because of a strained right hamstring. It meant the Wolves had to do some shuffling at the top of the lineup and at the back end to provide some depth at the position.
Rookie Jarrett Culver, who has ball-handling capabilities, earned his first career start because of the injury and illness, with coach Ryan Saunders saying the Wolves used a point-guard-by-committee approach to try and compensate for Teague's and Napier's absences.
Culver finished with a team-high seven assists and scored 15 points.
"One of the things I like with this group is our wings being able to play interchangeable positions," Saunders said. "[They can] handle the ball some and then you've got a big who you can initiate offense through Karl [-Anthony Towns]."
Andrew Wiggins also spent some time handling the ball and matched his season-high with six assists.
"You simplify some things," Saunders said. "He's [Wiggins] always liked being in pick and rolls. We like having him and Karl work together."
The Wolves also made some additions for depth, calling up Jordan McLaughlin and Jaylen Nowell from their G-League affiliate in Iowa. Both got the call after practice to board a plane and fly to Memphis (via Atlanta). Nowell was napping after practice when he got the call from Iowa coach Sam Newman-Beck.
"I was still kind of half asleep …" said Nowell, the Wolves' second-round pick in the last draft. "Everybody is texting me congratulations and all that and it was something that I definitely wasn't prepared for at that time, but I had to make sure I had to get on the plane, make sure I got here and just get up to speed with everything."
The good news for Nowell and McLaughlin is that Iowa runs the same systems with the same terminology that the Wolves do.
"The same defense and offensive schemes. So it's a great transition," McLaughlin said. "It's not like I'm learning a whole bunch of new stuff on the fly. It's stuff I've been practicing and learning since summer league to training camp to being in Iowa to here now."
McLaughlin, who played 21 minutes, 44 seconds and scored five points, said his sister attends college about an hour from Memphis and was planning to be at the game. Nowell was flying solo.
"When you're on that plane you have time to get nervous when you're sitting there thinking for a couple hours," said Nowell, who played just one minute. "Other than that, you get here and get on the court, it's all about just playing basketball."
Jordan Bell (right shoulder sprain) was available but didn't play.