The Minnesota Timberwolves will be short-handed again Friday night when they visit the Indiana Pacers in the second half of a home-and-home sequence.
Indiana used a dominant performance by Domantas Sabonis to capture the first half of the back-to-back 104-99 at Minnesota on Wednesday night.
The Timberwolves had hoped to get Karl-Anthony Towns back from a 14-game absence to help deal with the taller Pacers, but the All-Star center suffered an illness just when his left knee had healed to the point where he was likely to play.
Sabonis took advantage, scoring mostly from the interior en route to a season-high-tying 29 points to go with 13 rebounds.
Sabonis had been questionable for the game because of a sore left knee that had forced him to sit out one game and hampered him in a 3-for-12, 10-point outing in the Pacers’ previous game against the Philadelphia 76ers.
“You feel a bit sore, but you try to wash it away when you’re on the court,” Sabonis told reporters about giving himself a thumbs-up before the game. “You try to just play.”
Minnesota finds itself in the same situation with Towns as two nights earlier. He has been cleared to play, but now must feel up to it after battling an illness this week.
Towns likely would enjoy returning at Indiana, the site of a 42-point, 17-rebound explosion last season. The illness, plus the fact that the Timberwolves return home to face the Toronto Raptors on Saturday, make that questionable.
Several other Timberwolves, including star forward Andrew Wiggins, have been under the weather of late as well.
“We’re into analytics, but I don’t have the analytics on that,” Minnesota head coach Ryan Saunders joked with the media of his team’s health epidemic before Wednesday’s loss. “You remind everybody to wash your hands.”
The Timberwolves washed their hands of point guard Jeff Teague on Wednesday, agreeing to send him and Treveon Graham to the Atlanta Hawks for Allen Crabbe.
Crabbe, who averaged 13.2 points a game with the Brooklyn Nets in 2017-18, didn’t find his niche on the young Hawks squad, averaging just 5.1 points in 28 games this season.
He is unlikely to join the team for Friday’s game, leaving the Timberwolves another two men down.
The Timberwolves might have a high-profile spot for Crabbe with rumors that forward Robert Covington likely will be moved before the Feb. 6 trade deadline.
Covington had 14 points in Wednesday’s loss to the Pacers and has scored in double figures in seven straight games, hitting four 3-pointers on five of those occasions.
Sabonis wasn’t the only difference-maker in the win over the Timberwolves. Malcolm Brogdon, also coming off an illness, added 21 points on Wednesday.
En route to their third straight win, the Pacers outshot the Timberwolves 51.8 percent to 43.2 percent.
Rookie Jarrett Culver led Minnesota with 17 points, but the story of the night was Wiggins, who went scoreless in the second half of the tightly contested affair.
He finished with 10 points on 4-for-13 shooting.
The Timberwolves, who catch no break in having to deal with Toronto and the Denver Nuggets in the next three days, have lost three in a row.
–Field Level Media