Gobert, Wolves get past punch; big man still has back injury

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Rudy Gobert rejoined the Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday after a team-imposed suspension for their first play-in game, but lingering back trouble has compromised his status for the second one.

Gobert was dismissed from the arena Sunday after throwing a punch at teammate Kyle Anderson in an argument in the huddle during a timeout in the second quarter of Minnesota’s final regular-season game. The Wolves kept him home as punishment when they traveled to Los Angeles and lost 108-102 in overtime to the Lakers on Tuesday after blowing a 15-point lead.

Speaking to reporters Thursday for the first time since the public fight, Gobert said he probably wouldn’t have been healthy enough to play the Lakers anyway. He’s aiming to return Friday when the Wolves host Oklahoma City in their last chance to make the playoffs, but there’s no guarantee.

“Still pretty sore, still not moving like I would like to be able to move, but small progress every day,” said Gobert, the three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year award winner.

The Wolves said the air had long been cleared before Gobert rejoined them on the floor Thursday.

“We both apologized to each other and you move on. That’s life,” Gobert said. “It’s different when you have millions of people all watching videos and have an opinion on things that happened, but that we can’t control. What we can control is the respect that we have for each other and our relationship.”


AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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