Practice Report | March 10, 2014
Wolves center Nikola Pekovic is on a 20-minute count right now and has been since returning to the court five games ago in Sacramento after missing 13 with bursitis in his right ankle. The thing is, he’s not sticking to the minute restrictions.
Not by a long shot.
The fewest minutes Pekovic has played since returning was 24 against Denver on March 3. He’s played 28, 24, 26, 29 and 33, respectively, highlighted by eclipsing the 30-minute mark against the Raptors on Sunday night. The thing is, he’s moving fine and he’s able to finish strong up to the moment he leaves the game for good. And production-wise, he’s averaging 17.4 points and 8.8 rebounds since returning from that lengthy layoff.
Coach Rick Adelman said after practice he didn’t think Pekovic was showing signs of being sore, even though he did need to keep him in the game longer than expected on Sunday. But Adelman said he did hold Pekovic out of practice today just to be safe.
The Wolves needed Pek’s production (17 points, 11 rebounds—including five on the offensive end) coupled with Kevin Love’s big night (26 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists) to stay in the game. In the end, the Raptors were too much to handle—particularly because of their 3-point shooting. But Pekovic went above and beyond what the Wolves expected to get from him minutes-wise.
“I saved him today—that’s just, I asked [trainer] Gregg [Farnam] what do we do with about five minutes to go here? And Pek said he was feeling fine, so you know, we just went with it. But today he seems to be in good shape. We just got caught in a situation where they had those two big guys out there and I was just trying to stay in the game and win the game.”
Bounce Back, Barea
The team’s sixth man, J.J. Barea, has struggled a bit as of late. In his last three games, Barea is a combined 5-for-25 from the field and has just 14 total points. Head coach Rick Adelman expects Barea to snap out of the funk, something he’s done before, but he also doesn’t think it’s all Barea. The bench’s lack of production has had an impact on the feisty guard.
“I'm on a bad slump. Shooting, that comes and goes," Barea said. "That's not big with me; I'm gonna keep shooting, and it's gonna come back. But second unit-wise, I hate it when I come in and we can't help our team. They make a 10-0 run on us, they just make every shot, and we can't make one, and we out of rhythm. Stuff like that is what bothers me. That's something, we just got to get out of it. But we've just got to keep working. The shooting don't matter. I just come work today and work on it. It's gonna come back at some point.”
Adelman is trying to tone down the frustration a bit from his team and said that of course when a player like Barea struggles, some fumes are bound to ignite. But with just 20 games remaining on the schedule, it’s important for the players not to hang their heads and take it one game at a time.
“Yeah, there is (frustration). And you know, one thing we can’t allow to happen even if we’re losing some of these games, you’ve gotta keep playing,” Adelman said. “Your season’s on the line and we want to finish the season off on a positive note whether we get a chance to be in the playoffs or not. I think that’s what these guys need to understand.”
Shabazz Muhammad briefly addressed it: “I don’t pay attention to that. We have a really good group of guys. Being a rookie, and you know how rookies are, how they can be treated. Everybody’s been taking care of me and all the rookies. I feel like we have a really good team, and I don’t know what was said but I know we have a really good team, and that matters a lot in the locker room.”