MINNEAPOLIS — Third-year point guard Tyus Jones made his first NBA start on Sunday for the Timberwolves in place of Jeff Teague, and he played a big role in Minnesota’s 119-108 victory against the Phoenix Suns.
The Washington Wizards are also learning how to play without their No. 1 point guard, with star John Wall expected to miss two weeks after receiving a platelet-rich plasma injection in his sore left knee.
Wall will miss Washington’s Tuesday road game against the Timberwolves, while Jones could be in line for his second start. Teague is day-to-day with a sore right Achilles tendon. Minnesota didn’t practice on Monday, so Teague’s status will be updated before the game.
“He was amazing today,” Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns said of Jones after Sunday’s game. “He did everything we needed, plus more, and it seems a lot of times when Tyus is on the court, a lot of great things happen.”
Jones had nine points, seven assists, seven steals and four rebounds without a turnover in a career-high 38:41 in a much-needed Minnesota win after the Timberwolves lost three of their previous four games.
Jones said of the difference between starting and coming off the bench, “Not too much. It depends on how much you look into it. You’re in the game quicker. Little different playing with the starters off the gate rather than a few a few minutes into it.”
Jones would be matched up with a fellow backup thrust into a starting spot. With Wall out, Tim Frazier started for Washington on Saturday in a 108-105 loss to the visiting Portland Trail Blazers. Frazier had 11 points and two assists in 28 minutes of action.
The Wizards (10-9) have lost four of their past five games, and the task gets tougher without Wall, who is second on the team with an average of 20.3 points per game and first with 9.2 assists per game. Wall is fourth in the NBA in assists, and Teague is seventh at 7.5 per game.
Bradley Beal leads the Wizards in scoring at 24.2 points per game.
One player Washington will turn to for more scoring is Otto Porter, who is third on the team with 16.0 points per game. He scored 24 points and grabbed 10 rebounds on Saturday.
“I think guys are ready to play bigger roles,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks told the Washington Post on Saturday. “It’s not going to be all on Otto, but I think Otto has the ability to play a bigger role.”
Porter came up big Saturday despite taking just two shots in the fourth quarter.
“We want him to be more vocal. We want him to demand the ball a little bit more, because he’s a bucket for us,” Beal told the Washington Post. “As much as we can, we definitely got to get him involved. He was big for us throughout the third quarter, pretty much carried the load. … Down the stretch, we definitely got to look at him more.”
Jones played a big role for Minnesota (12-8) on Sunday but isn’t relied on as a scorer. The Wolves have several scorers. All five starters, including Teague, are averaging double-digit points this season.
Towns led a balanced attack on Sunday with 32 points. Jimmy Butler scored 25, and Andrew Wiggins had 21 with a season-high four 3-pointers.
“It felt good, we all shared the ball, we all made the extra pass to get the man easy shots,” Wiggins said.
In his first season in Minnesota, Butler deferred to teammates at times at the beginning of the season but has added more scoring lately. Butler, who averaged 14.7 points in his first nine games, has averaged 20.2 in his past nine games.
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