Coach Randy Wittman returns to Timberwolves after recovering from back surgery

Wittman is expected to be in Washington on Tuesday night to lead 3-15 Minnesota.

.MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Minnesota Timberwolves coach Randy Wittman returned to practice following back surgery and is to work Tuesday night’s game against Washington.

He was on the team flight to Washington, Timberwolves spokesman Mike Cristaldi said Monday.

Wittman missed three games, with assistant coach Jerry Sichting going 1-2 in his place. That included a surprise victory Saturday over the Phoenix Suns. The Timberwolves have the NBA’s worst record at 3-15.

Game time change

NEW YORK (AP) – The game between the Washington Redskins and Minnesota Vikings on Dec. 23, a matchup with potential NFC playoff implications, will become the Sunday night game on NBC.

It replaces the originally scheduled Tampa Bay-San Francisco game, which moves to 4:05 p.m. EST on Fox.

That day’s game between the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots, which could match a 14-0 team with an 0-14 one, is moving from 1 to 4:15 p.m. on CBS.

Linemen have soft hands

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Minnesota coach Brad Childress was eager to call it an NFL first when he thought his defensive linemen had intercepted three passes.

One of those picks turned out to be a fumble recovery, so the Vikings had to settle for a comfortable win and a boost to their playoff hopes Sunday instead of a nutty record.

Kevin Williams returned his interception 18 yards for a touchdown on the game’s first play, and Pat Williams later picked off another pass as Minnesota’s defense dominated the first half of a 27-7 victory over the San Francisco 49ers, the Vikings’ fourth straight win.

Minnesota did it all without any real help from rookie sensation Adrian Peterson, who managed just 3 yards on 14 carries. The San Francisco defense mostly shut down the NFL’s best rushing team, but Chester Taylor made an 84-yard scoring run late in the first half for Minnesota’s final points while taking a 27-point halftime lead.