MINNEAPOLIS -- A day after Jimmy Butler suffered a devastating knee injury, the mood at the Target Center was anything but somber.
"He was talking so much trash on the plane you really didn't think he was hurt," Minnesota teammate Taj Gibson said before the game. "He came in today making jokes, being his normal self. So I think he's fine mentally."
Butler was at the arena, using crutches to get around. He didn't speak to reporters, but did greet a Make-A-Wish visitor before the contest.
Butler was diagnosed with a meniscus injury in his right knee. He suffered the injury during a game Friday in Houston. The Timberwolves didn't suggest a timeline for his return, but an ESPN report said Butler would have surgery soon and could possibly return in 4-6 weeks, in time for the playoffs.
"The bright side is it isn't an ACL, so that's a good thing," Gibson said.
Heading into Saturday's action, Minnesota was tied for third in the West with San Antonio, so the Wolves should be in decent shape to make the playoffs. The Timberwolves have gone 2-4 previously this season in games Butler missed.
"You're faced with different challenges all the time, and that's the beauty of this league," Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau said before the game. "A guy like Jimmy, you don't replace him individually. We have to do that collectively."
Thibs not thinking Rose redux:
If a star player suffers a knee injury and Tom Thibodeau is coaching the team, thoughts quickly turn to Derrick Rose.
The Bulls felt their chance to contend for a championship ended when Rose suffered a torn ACL in the 2012 playoff opener. He missed a full season, returned to play in 10 games, then suffered a season-ending meniscus tear.
"It's hard to say. I think every injury is different," Thibodeau said when asked to compare Jimmy Butler's situation to Rose. "I don't want to speak prematurely in terms of I want to allow us to have the proper amount of time to gather the information, so then we can go forward after we have all the information."
As expected, Bulls veterans Robin Lopez and Justin Holiday were inactive for the second straight game. Paul Zipser sat out with left foot pain. He left Thursday's game against Philadelphia in the first half. ... The Timberwolves were forced to spend Friday night in Houston due to plane issues. … Zach LaVine, who tore the ACL in his left knee last season, was asked to imagine what Jimmy Butler was going through. "It's scary,'' he said. "You know you hurt yourself. But you don't know how bad. You think you're good, especially if you're a tough-minded person."