Tyus Jones was sore Monday, and that’s a good thing.
That’s what happens when you play a career-high 39 minutes in your first NBA start.
“It comes with it,” Jones said. “So I’ll take it.”
Jones figures to continue to get the minutes while Jeff Teague heals; he got his second straight start Tuesday against Washington at Target Center.
More and more, it appears Jones is gaining Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau’s confidence, though Thibodeau was clear Jones needs to continue to work on his individual defense.
But here are two reasons why Thibodeau isn’t surprised by Jones’ career-best game Sunday, when he had nine points, seven assists, seven steals and four rebounds: his anticipation and his steep learning curve.
“The way he sees things is his greatest strength,” Thibodeau said. “He can anticipate. He reads plays well.”
That anticipation is probably the big reason for the seven steals. And the learning curve?
“He made a mistake challenging a shot early,” Thibodeau said of Sunday’s game, in which Jones blocked two shots. “After that, he challenged shots probably the best he has done. That’s what you love about him: He rarely makes the same mistake twice.”
That said, Thibodeau wants to see better individual defense from his backup point guard.
“Containing the ball, challenging shots,” Thibodeau said. “He had two blocks, which is a good sign. But we got hurt, too. You have to contain the ball. That’s the biggest thing in the NBA, with pick-and-roll defense. Body position, not allowing the ball to go wherever they want it to go. We have to get it under control. When he does that he’s very effective. When he doesn’t, we have problems.”
Jones had 12 points, seven assists, four rebounds and a steal in 40 minutes Tuesday.
Teague, Bjelica out
Both Nemanja Bjelica and Teague took at least a limited part in the morning’s shootaround for the Wolves, but neither was ready to play against the Wizards.
Both players missed their third straight game. Teague has a sore right Achilles tendon, which he injured late in the Wolves’ victory over Orlando on Wednesday.
The Wolves are calling Bjelica’s injury a left mid-foot sprain, but he described it more as a left ankle sprain when talking with the media Tuesday morning.
Of the two, Thibodeau said Teague probably is closer to returning.
“When they’re ready, they’re ready,” Thibodeau said. “Each day they’ve gotten a little better.”
Bjelica said he first injured his left ankle/foot in the Wolves’ victory over San Antonio at Target Center on Nov. 14. He played in the next four games before the pain knocked him out; he only played eight minutes vs. Orlando in his last appearance.
“I got a small bone bruise on my ankle,” he said. “I will try to warm up tonight and see how I feel.”
Bjelica said he was never concerned, even though the injury is to the same foot/ankle he had surgery on last season.
“Different spot,” he said. “I just sprained my ankle. It’s nothing serious.”
Teague, meanwhile, has found not being able to play frustrating. He has averaged better than 76 games a season over the past five seasons, including a full 82 last season.
Teague said he was hurt late in the Orlando game when he drove to the basket, then fed Taj Gibson for a basket.
“My foot just kind of got jammed between Elfrid Payton’s and [Nikola] Vucevic’s feet,” Teague said. “I just didn’t feel right when I got up.”
• Through 20 games, the most efficient Wolves lineup in terms of net rating is Bjelica, Teague, Andrew Wiggins, Jimmy Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns, who have a plus-36.5 net rating.