DENVER (AP) — Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star shooting guard Jimmy Butler is available to play in a pivotal matchup against Denver after missing 16 games with a right knee injury.

He wasn't listed in the starting lineup Thursday night against the Nuggets, who are right on the Timberwolves' heels in the playoff chase.

Butler recently told reporters he was "this close" to a return, but was considered doubtful for the game.

Butler has been out since suffering a knee injury on Feb. 23 at Houston. He had surgery two days later to repair the meniscus and has steadily been working his way back.

The Wolves are 8-8 since Butler was sidelined. He's averaging 22.2 points, 5.4 rebounds and 5.0 assists.

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