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Around The League

Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star Jimmy Butler active but does not play vs. Denver Nuggets

From NBA Twitter and media reports

Apr 5, 2018 10:04 PM ET

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jimmy Butler was available to play Thursday night in a key matchup against Denver after missing 16 games with a right knee injury.

However, Butler did not play against the Nuggets, who held off the Timberwolves 100-96 and pulled into tie with the Minnesota for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters on Thursday that Butler is close to a return.

“It’s been good,” Thibodeau said. "Step by step. Each day he’s done a little more. The contact was good ... He’s real close. Whether it’s today or tomorrow ... he’s real close.”

Perhaps Butler will make his return to the lineup on Friday against the Lakers after missing the last month because of a meniscus injury in his knee. The Wolves are 8-9 since Butler was injured Feb. 23.

The Wolves close the regular season with two home games: Monday vs. Memphis and a possible elimination game Wednesday vs. Denver.

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