CHARLOTTE – Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic played with pain in his right ankle for the past seven games, ever since he returned after missing essentially the month of February because of bursitis.
He did, that is, until Friday night, when the pain became too much.
Pekovic left a 105-93 loss to the Bobcats a little more than two minutes into the second half and didn’t return.
“It’s hurting me all the time,” he said. “Today felt a little more sore than usual. I can play under a certain amount of pain, but at one point it just felt like I can’t move, I can’t do anything. Running up and down, everything was a problem. I try second half, see how it’s going to be. But it’s just bad. I couldn’t do it anymore.”
With Pekovic out, Wolves coach Rick Adelman called upon rookie Gorgui Dieng to defend Bobcats star and former Wolves center Al Jefferson with predictably mixed results. Jefferson finished with 25 points and 16 rebounds, and 13 points and 11 rebounds of those came after Pekovic left.
Pekovic frowned when asked how concerned he is about an ankle that also needed surgery to remove bone spurs in May 2012.
“I am concerned because pain never go away totally,” he said. “All these games I played with pain, I just don’t know. Hopefully tomorrow will be better, but I really don’t know. I am concerned, of course. I kept playing. Tonight it was just too much. I felt my body reacting too bad.”
Glad to be in Charlotte
Former Wolves guard Luke Ridnour played 14 minutes off the bench in his first game against his old mates since the Bobcats acquired him and his expiring contract from the woeful Bucks at the trade deadline.
“I was glad to get out of Milwaukee,” said Ridnour, who played three seasons for the Wolves before he was traded to the Bucks last July. “It’s a good situation here. I’ve only played five, six games here so I’m trying to get used to it. It’s a good city and I’ve been in the playoffs before and just to be back in the hunt where every game is big, it’s just a lot different feeling. . ... This has been fun.”
What might have been
Wolves star Kevin Love and the Bobcats’ Jefferson played two seasons together before the Wolves traded him to Utah, presumably because the two were too much of a liability together defensively.
Offensively, though, the two would have been a terror because of Jefferson’s inside game and Love’s outside one, although Love isn’t sure he’d be the player he is if he and Jefferson were still a couple.
“Him leaving really opened up a lot for me,” Love said. “It’s an opportunity league. I was able to play my way into the starting lineup and play my way into where I am now. If Al had stayed, I’m not sure if I’d be where I am today. It would have been nice to see what we could have done together. The what-if thing. Who knows?
“I would love to have seen the maturation and growth of my game mixed with his. But it just didn’t happen that way.”
• Kevin Martin needs one more three-pointer to reach 1,000 for his career after he made three Friday.
• Wolves guard A.J. Price did not travel to Charlotte after he underwent an appendectomy Sunday. He and injured Ronny Turiaf were the two Wolves made inactive Friday.