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Timberwolves' Greg Monroe makes history as 541st NBA player to play this season

Timberwolves' Greg Monroe makes history as 541st NBA player to play this season
Veteran center Greg Monroe totaled 11 points, nine rebounds and six assists in a Minnesota  Timberwolves win over the Boston Celtics on Monday in Minneapolis. Photo by Lukas Barth-Tuttas/EPA-EFE

Dec. 28 (UPI) -- Center Greg Monroe helped the NBA set a record for the most players to play in a game in a single season when he checked in during the Minnesota Timberwolves' game against the Boston Celtics.

Monroe entered the game at the start of the second quarter of the Timberwolves' 108-103 victory Monday at Target Center in Minneapolis. He became the 541st NBA player to enter a game this season, setting a single-season record for the 30-team league.

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The previous record of 540 was set in 2017-18 and tied last season. Five additional players entered games after Monroe on Monday, pushing the total to 546 this season.

Monroe signed a 10-day contract early Monday with the Timberwolves, who are missing eight players due to the NBA's COVID-19 health and safety protocol.

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"I woke up at about 4 a.m., and my first flight was canceled," Monroe told reporters. "I left Washington, D.C., about 7 a.m., had to connect in Chicago, got here around 11, had COVID testing, got a chance to rest and came to the gym around 4."

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Monroe totaled 11 points, nine rebounds and six assists in the win. Guard Jaylen Nowell scored a game-high 29 points off the Timberwolves bench. Forward Jaylen Brown paced the Celtics with 26 points and 10 rebounds.

The Celtics played without All-Star Jayson Tatum, Enes Freedom, Bruno Fernando, Justin Jackson, C.J. Miles, Aaron Nesmith, Josh Richardson, Dennis Schroder and Grant William, who are all in the protocol.

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The Timberwolves lacked Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards and D'Angelo Russell, and additional players, for the same reason.

More than 200 people -- between NBA players and coaches -- have entered the league's protocol this season. More than 100 remain in the protocol.

The absences continue to lead teams to sign players in free agency and from minor league affiliates.

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The NBA sent a memo to teams Monday updating its protocol to allow players and coaches -- who are asymptomatic -- to clear quarantine after six days. The previous protocol required a 10-day quarantine. Players also can test out of quarantine with two negative test results 24 hours apart.

Last week, the NBA and National Basketball Players Association reached an agreement to allow shorthanded teams to sign extra replacement players amid the league's surge in COVID-19 cases.

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Nine NBA games were postponed over the last three weeks due to COVID-19-related issues. Sixteen NBA teams play Tuesday night for another round of regular-season matchups.

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