In scratching out the victory, the Timberwolves kept themselves on track for their first playoff berth in 14 years. They will have a play-in game for the postseason with the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night at Target Center, thanks to the Nuggets' knocking off the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday.
Thibodeau, who spoke before the Nuggets game was over, said he didn't care how the playoff spot was clinched -- just that they got the job done.
"I don't care. I just want to clinch it." Thibodeau said. "If it's tonight, Wednesday, whenever it is, just get it done. We talked about finishing. That's been our theme. Whether it's practice, film session, a closeout, a drive, a quarter -- just finish. Whatever way we have to get there, let's get there."
The good news for the Timberwolves is they found a way to win Monday's game after losing to the Grizzlies at home just two weeks ago. The bad news is they still looked uneven against a tanking Grizzlies team playing without Marc Gasol (rest) and a slew of other regular contributors.
The issues for the Timberwolves remain the same as they have been all season. They came out lifeless against a Grizzlies team filled with players who might not even be in the league next season, trailing by as many as 10 points in the first half. Derrick Rose gave Tom Thibodeau's team a boost in the second quarter, scoring nine of his 13 points and injecting energy into his lethargic team.
"My job is to cheer on the guys, bring urgency and bring energy to the game," Rose said. "And that's what I tried to do tonight. Try to play without thinking, try to go out there and just react and just let my game speak for itself, and it's coming along good."
Karl-Anthony Towns finished with 24 points and 18 rebounds while Jeff Teague added 24 points, 8 assists and 4 rebounds. Jimmy Butler, playing in his second game since returning from a meniscus injury, scored 15 points in 23 minutes.
Butler, who remains on a minutes restriction, still looks like he is shaking off rust after being out more than a month. It will be interesting to see how many minutes Thibodeau plays Butler for Wednesday night's must-win showdown against the Nuggets to get into the playoffs.
Teague hits triple through contact
Jeff Teague elevates for a 3-pointer and hits the shot from the top of the arc despite getting fouled.
Thibodeau said after the game that he did not believe Butler looked winded and he could have put him back in the game if it had been close.
Timberwolves power forward Taj Gibson left the game in the first half and did not return. After it was over, the veteran big man was hopeful that he would be all right for Wednesday's game against the Nuggets but admitted that he couldn't move his neck from left to right at the moment. He said he initially hurt his neck in Friday's win over the Los Angeles Lakers and has been getting treatment the past few days.
Aside from the defensive issues that have plagued his team all season, what has to be very concerning for Thibodeau is the continued ineffectiveness of Andrew Wiggins. Wiggins scored just seven points on Monday, going 3-for-12 from the field. The Timberwolves simply need more from the 23-year-old swingman whom the team gave a max extension before the season began, especially with the season potentially hanging in the balance Wednesday.
For his part, Butler didn't seem concerned about whatever might happen in the other games on Monday. He knows that the Timberwolves can handle their situation by beating the Nuggets on Wednesday night.
All eyes north, we guess.— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) April 10, 2018
"What am I checking my phone for?" Butler said. "To see if a lady friend texted me? I'm not going to check my phone. I'm [going to] go eat. We're in control of our own destiny. We got a game on Wednesday anyways. No matter what, we're going in there to win."