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Timberwolves' Jones nearing return from ankle sprain

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Tyus Jones (1) is helped off the court after being injured during a game against the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center on Jan. 15.. Bill Streicher / USA TODAY Sports

MINNEAPOLIS -- The light appears to quickly be approaching at the end of the injury tunnel for Tyus Jones. The point guard admitted it has been frustrating dealing with a sprained left ankle suffered nearly a month ago in Philadelphia.

Finally, his return is nearing. Jones participated in practice Sunday, Feb. 10, though he didn’t partake in the contact portion.

“It feels good. Feels good,” Jones said of the ankle. “Not all the way back yet, but ankle is feeling pretty good. We’re getting there, getting closer. Just taking it day-by-day, really. Seeing how it responds each day, how it feels in the morning and then go from there.”

It seems like a longshot that Jones will return for the final game pre-all star break Wednesday, when Minnesota takes on Houston. But Jones figures to be at or near 100 percent when Minnesota resumes action on Feb. 22.

“It’ll come at that perfect time,” he said. “A chance for me to work on my conditioning, wind, and then it’s another however many days to help strengthen my ankle and kind of get everything back right.”

Jones said the strength and stability of the ankle is the final hurdle to clear prior to his return. He wants to make sure it’s strong enough to handle the pounding sure to come over the final 25 games of the season.

Jones noted he has been a little frustrated by the recovery process. While he avoided a dreaded high ankle sprain, it’s still taking time to heal.

“Just trying to be smart with it, at the same time trying to push yourself,” Jones said. “It has been frustrating wanting to get out there, help your teammates out, help the team out. Yeah, trying to stay positive through it all.”

The timing of Jones’ injury was less than ideal. It came around the same time Jeff Teague and Derrick Rose went down. With their top three floor generals shelved, interim coach Ryan Saunders has largely relied on Jerryd Bayless and Isaiah Canaan to run the show.

While both have performed admirably, Minnesota has struggled. The Wolves entered Monday’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers on a four-game losing streak.

“Yeah, itching to get back out there and help the guys out, especially with us losing a few games in a row here,” Jones said. “That makes you want to get back out there even more and try and help, so it’s frustrating.”

Jones’ injury likely cost him a major opportunity. He certainly would’ve been the Wolves’ starting point guard in recent games had he been healthy.

“When we’re losing I think that makes everyone who is sitting out more antsy to come back and try to help in any way that they can. It’s tough, it’s tough,” Jones said. “Not necessarily looking for the opportunities. Ryan has been giving me plenty of opportunities since he took over. I’m fine with that. Just wanting to get out there and help the team is kinda the main thing that’s been hard for me.”

All playing opportunities are important for Jones as the 22-year-old guard enters restricted free agency this offseason. Still, Jones isn’t trying to let that affect his mindset.[related_articles location="left" show_article_date="false" article_type="automatic-primary-tag"]

“Just because that’s never been who I’ve been. That’s never been the kind of player or person I’ve been,” he said. “I’ve always been about the team, always been about trying to help the team in any way that I can. But at the same time, you’re always going to worry about yourself, put your health first.

"I’m just trying to keep things in perspective, trying to finish the season out strong. I know obviously it’s a contract year for me, but I’ve been trying not to think about that and just play my game and help the team win. That’s what I’ve done my first three years in the league and going to continue to do now. I feel like it’s paid off for me approaching it that way. It’s tough not think of it like that, but at the same time I’m just trying to keep things how I’ve been doing them.”

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