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Towns returns for Timberwolves as they chase top spot in West

Minnesota Timberwolves Karl-Anthony Towns - The Canadian Press

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Karl-Anthony Towns returned for the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night after missing 18 games with a lateral meniscus tear in his left knee.

The All-Star forward had been sidelined since March 4. He had surgery to repair the injury on March 12.

Towns started Friday's game against Atlanta.

“He looks great,” coach Chris Finch said. “He’s looked really good all throughout. Now it’s just time to get him up to speed physically in a game.”

Minnesota entered Friday trailing Western Conference-leading Denver by one game and tied with Oklahoma City. Each of those teams has two games remaining.

Towns is averaging 22.1 points, 8.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Minnesota went 12-6 in his absence and will begin the playoffs on April 20 or 21.

Finch said there would be no significant limits on Towns' minutes.

“He needs to let the game come to him and just kind of fit into the rhythm of the team,” Finch said. “He’s done a good job in the conversations I’ve had with him recently picking up the nuances and the things the team’s doing well right now and understanding how to fit into it.”