Pekovic Leaves Clippers Game With Sore Right Ankle
Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic left Monday’s 114-104 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers with a sore right ankle in the first quarter and did not return. He played just seven minutes in the ballgame, finishing with zero points and one rebound while shooting 0-for-3 from the field.
It’s been a tough second half of the season for Pekovic, who was diagnosed with bursitis in his right ankle after exiting the Wolves’ game against the Chicago Bulls on Jan. 27 after playing just six minutes. He’d miss the next 13 games while he rehabbed his ankle, then returned for seven games before missing the next six between March 16 and March 26.
Prior to leaving Monday’s game against the Clippers, Pekovic returned and started the Wolves’ 143-107 win over the Lakers on Friday and the 114-99 loss to the Nets on Sunday. He played 22 and 27 minutes, respectively, but said he felt lingering pain that was too much to play through on Monday.
“I was talking to [Wolves head athletic trainer] Gregg [Farnam] in the locker room before hand. I said I forgot what it’s like to play without pain—for the last month I’m dealing with it,” Pekovic said. “Today was just, against the Lakers it was kind of OK. Then last night, I was dealing with some kind of pain, and then today I was sore all day. I just thought I’m going to try. I wanted to help the guys, but I just couldn’t. It was not possible.”
Pekovic has played in 54 games this season and is averaging a career-best 17.4 points per game to go along with 8.4 rebounds and a 54.0 percent field goal percentage. He started 44 straight games through the first half of the season, but over the past 29 games he’s battled this ankle injury that has hindered his ability to stay on the court and his production when he is in.
He said the same portion of the ankle feels the same pain, and it’s frustrating. He’ll rest it for a few days and it will feel better, and then it will resurface. The primary concern is when he’s running, and it also affects his moves in the paint.
“I have things in the same spots so it’s kind of tough to deal with,” Pekovic said. “I’m trying to play. It’s just tough. Sometimes it’s just tough.”
Pekovic was asked last night after the game if he thought it best to rest the ankle for the final nine games of the season. He said that’s not his call—he’s going to play if he can. The most difficult part about the process over the past month has been being unable to help the team.
“I don’t know how I feel about it,” Pekovic said. “It’s not on me to deal about that. I just don’t know. It’s been a tough year for me.”
One thing that has been encouraging during this tough stretch for Pekovic is that rookie Gorgui Dieng has not only gotten playing time, but he's made the most of his opportunity. He recorded five double-doubles in March and stayed out of foul trouble in the process. He added 14 points in relief of Pekovic during Monday's game against the Clippers on 4-of-4 shooting.
If Pekovic misses time moving forward, expect Dieng to continue filling his role in the starting lineup.