Towns returns for Timberwolves after missing 51 games

Minnesota Timberwolves' Karl-Anthony Towns celebrates his three-point basket during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers Friday, Nov. 12, 2021, in Los Angeles. (Jae C. Hong/AP Photo)

MINNEAPOLIS — Karl-Anthony Towns is set to return Wednesday night for the Minnesota Timberwolves after missing 51 games with a right calf strain.

Towns, the three-time All-Star, has been out since Nov. 28. Towns was averaging 20.8 points, 8.2 rebounds and 5.3 assists in 21 games before the injury.

“Expectations are that he just kind of settles into the flow of the game, not try to do too much at this point in time,” Minnesota coach Chris Finch said before the Timberwolves hosted the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night. “Most importantly, knock the rust off. Certainly want him to be himself but not at the expense of what we’re trying to do out there. And I think that’s pretty easy ask for him.”

Finch said Towns will have limitations but didn’t offer specifics.

Anthony Edwards will miss his third straight game with a right ankle sprain, and backup point guard Jordan McLaughlin won’t play due to illness.

The experiment of mixing Towns and newcomer Rudy Gobert had some rough patches early in the season. Towns also returns to a team that has traded his good friend D’Angelo Russell and added Mike Conley at the trade deadline.

Minnesota (36-37) starts the day ninth in the Western Conference, a half-game behind Dallas.

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.