Pregame: Barea, Pekovic To Start As Wolves Continue To Adapt

Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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It’s been seemingly one injury after another over the past month for the Minnesota Timberwolves, a stretch so devastating that coach Rick Adelman often isn’t sure who will and won’t be available until just prior to that night’s game.

The latest in line was guard Luke Ridnour, who sprained his right ankle on Monday in Sacramento and is currently listed as out indefinitely. He joined forward Michael Beasley and guard Ricky Rubio on tonight’s inactive list against the Golden State Warriors at Target Center.

But the good news or Minnesota is fellow point guard JJ Barea has been cleared to play and is scheduled to start tonight. Barea, who has missed the last six games with a right thigh contusion, didn’t make the team’s recent road trip to Portland and Sacramento over the weekend but said before the game tonight he’s feeling good enough to play.

Center Nikola Pekovic, who returned on Monday after missing seven straight games with bone spurs on his right ankle, will also start tonight for the Wolves.

Barea said he’s not 100 percent, but he said even without Ridnour’s injury he was ready to come back. His last game he played was March 23 against the Thunder, when he collected his the first triple-double of his career (25 points, 14 assists, 10 rebounds).

“I was moving pretty good; I’m still feeling it but I’m all right,” Barea said. “Ever day I was working out harder. It’s still a bit (swollen), but the big part of it is gone.”

The Wolves have made adjustments on the fly this season, moving Ridnour from shooting guard back to point guard after Rubio’s injury and inserting rookie Malcolm Lee into the backup point guard role with Barea out.

Lee is averaging 18.5 minutes per night and 5.0 points per game in his last two contests. He’s played in each of the last six games and eight of the last 10.

“You’ve just got to be ready when any opportunity presents itself,” Lee said. “I’ve got to be ready to go tonight.”

Adelman said he’ll monitor both Barea and Pekovic tonight and decide how many minutes they’ll play.

Adelman said how much Pekovic plays will depend on how his ankle feels and how his conditioning is holding up after missing time.

“We’ll really watch him,” Adelman said.

Lee said it’s been tough seeing the team suffer so many injuries throughout the last month, but it’s a testament that everyone needs to be ready at any given time to step up.

He said he had couldn’t believe it when Ridnour went down in Sacramento.

“It’s like the last thing that can happen, another injury,” Lee said. “But that’s the nature of the beast. People have to step up.”

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