Right now, the Minnesota Timberwolves are in the midst of the tight Western Conference Playoffs race. They were a respectable 2-2 this week, including a crucial win over the Los Angeles Clippers. Unfortunately, it was in that game that Derrick Rose suffered a sprained ankle. On a positive note, a Jimmy Butler injury update was released.
Rose sprained his right ankle in the Timberwolves’ game on Tuesday against the Clippers. He did not return to the game. Before sustaining the injury, he had nine points and one assist in seven minutes of play.
While it doesn’t seem to be anything serious, Rose’s injury is something to keep an eye on, especially since he has had problems staying healthy in the past.
Jimmy Butler injury update
Jimmy Butler addressed the media on Sunday for the first time since he suffered a meniscus tear on Feb. 23. As expected, the first question was if Butler would return before the postseason.
“Oh yeah, oh yeah, I plan on doing it,” Butler said, per Kyle Ratke of NBA.com. “I can’t give you the exact date, but I want to come back and I want to help. I want to play.”
“I’m not one to sit out if I can play,” Butler continued. “I want to compete, I want to show that I’m one of the better players to do this, I’m here for a reason, I want to help my team win, all that good stuff. But I can’t come back early cause something worse might happen.”
Jimmy Butler talked w/ the media before tonight's #twolves game — says he's feeling good, rehab is going well and wants to be back as soon as possible. Here's what #JimmyBuckets had to say in his own words: pic.twitter.com/3aL2y4os8f— Ryan Shaver (@RShaverSports) March 18, 2018
Butler is clearly excited to return to the court. The All-Star even wore his jersey under his shirt during the Wolves’ game against the Houston Rockets.
There's only one @JimmyButler (Exhibit Infinity): Butler sat on the Wolves' bench last night for the first time since his recent injury and word is he wore a distinctly Jimmy item under his blazer and t-shirt … his game jersey— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) March 19, 2018
To the Games
San Antonio Spurs
On Saturday, the Timberwolves faced the San Antonio Spurs in the AT&T Center. For the first 5 ½ minutes, the game went well for the Wolves. They went seven of eight from the field while holding the Spurs to just 17 percent shooting.
The Spurs took a timeout and put in Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. Under the two veteran guards, they went on a 16-4 run. LaMarcus Aldridge, who missed his first five shots, began to heat up. Time after time, he dominated Karl-Anthony Towns on both ends of the floor. Aldridge finished the game with 39 points, 10 rebounds, and two blocks.
LAMARCUS ALDRIDGE IS TAKING OVER! pic.twitter.com/N51eDmdFMU— NBA TV (@NBATV) March 18, 2018
The Timberwolves were unable to mount any kind of comeback,and lost 117-101. They have not won a game in San Antonio’s AT&T Center since 2013.
The Spurs played extremely effective defense against the Wolves, forcing 16 turnovers. San Antonio only gave up five turnovers themselves, despite logging 32 assists.
On the second night of their home back-to-back, the Wolves hosted the Houston Rockets. Before coming to Minnesota, the first seed Rockets had won 21 of their previous 22 games. For the first five minutes after tip-off, the Wolves kept the game close. However, the Rockets quickly gained momentum and by the halftime, the game appeared as good as over. Houston only turned the ball over three times and buried 11 3-pointers, while Minnesota struggled to find any kind of rhythm.
The game wasn’t over yet. Minnesota staged their last stand in the fourth quarter behind unlikely heroes Gorgui Dieng and Rose. Dieng sparked the comeback by getting into a scuffle with Gerald Green, leading to Green’s ejection.
Gerald Green and Gorgui Dieng getting into it👀pic.twitter.com/hAyJcV1dr7— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) March 19, 2018
The crowd at Target Center rose to their feet, and the building filled with chants of “Gor-gui! Gor-gui!” Rose followed up with back-to-back layups. The newest Timberwolve got hot when it counted, and had eight points in the fourth quarter alone.
Derrick Rose scores 14 points Vs Houston Rockets pic.twitter.com/UuCeK8FC6E— A Wolf Among Wolves (@AWAWBlog) March 19, 2018
Though the efforts of Rose and Dieng brought the Wolves within five, the Rockets refused to allow them to get any closer. In the end, the Timberwolves lost 129-120.
Los Angeles Clippers
The Timberwolves played at the Target Center again on Tuesday in a critical match-up against the Clippers. Both teams are in the tight Western Conference playoffs race and were desperate to come out of the game with a win. Through the entire first half, the Clippers and Wolves traded baskets back and forth. However, the Clippers struggled in the second half, and the Wolves went on to win 123-109.
A key to the Wolves’ win was Andrew Wiggins’ strong performance. When Butler was injured, many hoped that Wiggins would step up in his place. However, Tuesday was the first night he really provided the kind of tenacity that made Butler so crucial to the Wolves’ success.
Andrew Wiggins chasing Austin Rivers all over the court, Wolves fans appreciating the effort pic.twitter.com/AUDKRqO4kd— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) March 21, 2018
Wiggins had 27 points, three rebounds, and a steal against the Clippers. He also had a career-high three blocks.
Wiggins’ hustle plays not only got the ball for the Timberwolves, they changed the momentum of the game.
New York Knicks
The Timberwolves traveled to Madison Square Garden on Friday to face the Knicks. The game started well for the Wolves, who built an early lead in the first quarter. They lead by ten for much of the first half. In the third quarter, however, the Knicks went on a third-quarter scoring run, led by Tim Hardaway Jr., to take the lead by one. The Wolves and Knicks alternated scoring runs throughout the remainder of the third quarter. As the fourth began, however, the Knicks could find no answer for the Wolves’ 10-0 run. Despite Tim Hardaway Jr.’s career-high 39 points, the Wolves put it away 108-104.
For the second game in a row, Wiggins appeared to channel his “inner Jimmy Butler.” The 23-year-old helped secure the game with a series of hustle plays and tenacious defense. He had a career-high 11 rebounds along with two steals during the contest.
With his three made 3-point shots tonight, Jamal Crawford passed up Paul Pierce for fifth all-time in made three’s.
With this win, the Timberwolves clinched a winning record for the season. It is the first time in franchise history that the Wolves have had a winning record without Kevin Garnett on their roster.
At the time of this writing, the Timberwolves are in the seventh seed in the Western Conference. They will travel to face the Philadelphia 76ers at 5 p.m. CT. On Monday, they will host the Memphis Grizzlies at 7 p.m. CT. The Atlanta Hawks will visit on Wednesday for a game at 7 p.m. CT. Finally, the Timberwolves will travel to Dallas to face the Mavericks at 7:30 p.m. CT on Friday.