Just like almost everybody else, Timberwolves forward Adreian Payne had to look up the definition when doctors diagnosed the spots on his skin and the blood blisters in his mouth as a condition called thrombocytopenia.
Until he noticed those more than a month ago, he'd never heard of a platelets deficiency that causes internal bleeding, bruising and slow clotting after injury. Neither he nor his doctors could pinpoint what caused it.
"Yeah, I didn't even know what it was, just read up on it like you guys did and try to go from there," Payne told reporters before Wednesday's home game against the Los Angeles Clippers.
His therapy: "Just medication and time."
Payne missed 13 games before he declared himself "feeling good, healthy," and "happy to be with the team" on Wednesday.
"It was hard, especially not being able to play basketball, be around the guys," said Payne, who has played sporadically this season. "I've never been out like that before. It was kind of scary in the sense if I got into an accident or hit and there was internal bleeding, they couldn't have done anything about it because my platelets were so low."
He calls himself now "full go," but can't be sure how much conditioning he lost in the past month.
"I don't know," he said. "I haven't played."
The Wolves signed veteran guard Lance Stephenson to a second 10-day contract, nearly a month after he sustained a Grade 2 ankle sprain in a game against Cleveland on his first 10-day deal.
His re-signing was merely a formality once he was deemed healed. Wolves coach Tom Thibdoeau found Stephenson playing time after point guards Kris Dunn and Tyus Jones played well in his absence by simply playing all three together in a small lineup. Stephenson played the entire second quarter, but just four minutes in the second half because Thibodeau thought he tired.
"To be thrown in there without really practicing was a good sign," Thibodeau said. "We got a good lift from him."
Former Wolves great Kevin Garnett accompanied Doc Rivers and the Clippers to Target Center for Wednesday's game. KG's former coach in Boston signed him as a part-time consultant to work with the team's big men.
"He has been absolutely fantastic," Rivers said. "He's just so good. Obviously, he has the knowledge and the skills, but he has a great way of teaching. He's a natural at it."
Two of a kind
Future Hall of Famer Paul Pierce visited Target Center on Wednesday for the last time before he retires at season's end.
Boston selected Pierce 10th overall out of Kansas in the 1998 draft. A relatively unknown German prospect named Dirk Nowitzki was chosen the pick before. Sixth on the NBA's career scoring list, Nowitzki scored his 30,000th NBA point on Tuesday. Pierce is 16th with 26,364 points.
"That's a heck of a draft, and it says a lot about them, too," Thibodeau said. "To take care of themselves the way they did, to continue to add to their games throughout their careers … both have had remarkable careers."