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NBA Basketball

Wizards' Wall nears return, but not against Timberwolves

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Wizards won't have point guard John Wall when they host the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday night. They do at least know he is getting closer to returning.

Wall, recovering from left knee surgery, took part in a pre-practice workout with Wizards starters on Monday, according to The Washington Post. It was Wall's first session with teammates since his Jan. 31 surgery.

"He looked good. A little winded, but that was expected," coach Scott Brooks told the Post about the workout, which lasted 30-35 minutes. "This was just the next step to get him on the court, some five-on-zero stuff, to get him on the court with other players.

"Not sure how many more days will this be before he goes to contact, it's definitely progressing in that direction. Just taking it day by day now."

After Tuesday, Washington (38-29 and fifth in the Eastern Conference) has games Wednesday and Saturday this week, though Wall is not expected to play.

The Wizards, 5-5 in their last 10 games, are coming off a 129-102 loss Sunday at Miami. The Heat pulled away with a 43-28 third quarter. Playing the second of back-to-backs, the Wizards surrendered 76 points in the paint, their highest total of the season.

"We didn't give any resistance," Brooks told the Post. "They were just putting their heads down and attacking us, and we had no protection at the rim. They outplayed us. There is no way around it."

Reserve Jodie Meeks led Washington with 23 points and Bradley Beal finished with 14.

The Timberwolves played Sunday as well and their experience was at the other end of the spectrum.

Karl-Anthony Towns had 31 points and 16 rebounds as the Timberwolves snapped a season-high three-game losing streak with a 109-103 win over the Golden State Warriors, who were without star Stephen Curry.

Andrew Wiggins added 23 points for the Timberwolves, who are looking to snap a 13-year playoff drought.

Towns and Wiggins combined to score 54 points on 22-of-40 shooting as the Timberwolves continue their playoff quest without All-Star guard Jimmy Butler, who is recovering from knee surgery.

"This is a great opportunity for everyone on the team, certainly for those two," Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. "Whenever a guy like Jimmy goes out, it's an opportunity to get experience in different situations.

"We have good veterans on the team, but this is a good opportunity for them to step up and lead. We don't want leadership to fall on any one person and that includes when Jimmy is here."

The Timberwolves have three days off after Tuesday's game, but then it is three games in four days -- a road game at San Antonio and home games against Houston and the Los Angeles Clippers.

"This is big for us," Wiggins told the Star-Tribune of Sunday's win. "This is one of the best teams in the league, if not the best. If we can play well against them and win, we can do it against anybody."

The Wizards won the teams' first meeting of the season, 92-89 in Minneapolis in late November. Washington, minus Wall, got 22 points from Otto Porter Jr. and 16 from Kelly Oubre Jr. Towns led six Bucks in double figures with 20 points.

Updated March 12, 2018

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