Wolves center Pekovic getting comfortable

  • Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 29, 2012 - 4:01 PM

During his first start of the season, the European center was able to rein in the Spurs' Tim Duncan.


Wolves backup center Nikola Pekovic (right) against Dwight Howard.

Photo: David Joles, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Saturday's practice was over, and Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic was about to go review film of Friday's victory over San Antonio with an assistant coach. Here's guessing that was a fun session.

But first, he was asked to explain the relative renaissance he has shown of late, both in backup and starting roles.

"I feel comfortable," he said.

Can it be that simple? Can a guy go from a fellow brought over from Europe who, at times, looked like he was lost in America last season to the guy who was giving Tim Duncan all he could handle Friday?

Here's to comfort.

With Darko Milicic out sick Friday, Pekovic got his first start of the season against the Spurs. By the time the game ended, he had his second career double-double (14 points, 10 rebounds).

Those 14 points included a stretch in the third quarter when he scored three hoops in a row, assisted on a Luke Ridnour basket, then scored on a dunk off a Ricky Rubio pass. One of those baskets came low in the post, a whirling (multi-step?) dervish of a move that had the crowd howling.

All that is good, but that's not what Pekovic remembers most about the game.

"It's the defense," Pekovic said. "I was trying to do a good job. We have a lot of players who can score."

Adelman loves how Pekovic keeps things simple. He knows what he's good at -- rebounding, staying low in the post on offense, providing a physical presence in the post on defense and setting screens -- and he does it.

"He knows his strengths, and he plays to them," Adelman said. "He doesn't try to do anything else. We can count on that."

Friday his defense on Duncan was impressive. His screens -- often knocking Tony Parker off the play -- were effective enough that Spurs coach Gregg Popovic spent much of the game complaining they were illegal. When you get into the head of a coach of that stature, you're doing something.

But more on that defense. Clearly Duncan was off. With Pekovic covering him much of the game, do you know how off Duncan was? His 2-for-12 shooting performance was the third worst of his 15-year career in games with 10 or more shot attempts.

Pekovic got six of the Wolves' 10 offensive rebounds and helped the Wolves limit the Spurs to two offensive boards -- the lowest ever by a Wolves opponent.

And all that because he's comfortable?

"I played in Europe, so when I came here, I needed time to adjust," he said. "It's especially tough for big guys."

It has been difficult for Pekovic to learn how to play without constant foul trouble. Friday Pekovic got five fouls, but he played more than 33 minutes. He also had two assists and a steal.

"Awesome, awesome, awesome," Kevin Love said about Pekovic after the game. "He doesn't know anything but to go hard. We're happy to have the Eastern Bloc on our side."

They'll need it Sunday against the Lakers, whose big lineup -- especially inside with 7-footers Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol -- will test the Wolves. Milicic was sick again Saturday and missed practice. He is questionable for the Lakers game.

"They are very big," Adelman said. "That's probably going to be the biggest thing, how we defend their inside area. We faced it before, in the Utah game, same situation. But these guys are even bigger."

If Milicic can't play, Adelman said Brad Miller could see his first action of the season. No matter what, Pekovic will be relied on again.

In consecutive victories, Pekovic has scored 27 points with 17 rebounds, 11 on the offensive end.

"He was really solid," Adelman said of Pekovic's performance against the Spurs. "He just played Duncan smart. In the second half, Duncan got more aggressive and Pek got some fouls. ... But we know he's going to set screens on offense. We know he will post up. We know he'll be a handful on the offensive boards. I think he surprised those guys with his aggressively going to the boards."

  • related content

  • Jerry Zgoda's Sunday Insider: A free-agency frenzy?

    Sunday January 29, 2012

    Only five players from the 2008 draft class are signed to long-term contracts, leaving a bevy of free agents.

  • Preview: Wolves vs. Lakers

    Saturday January 28, 2012

    Preview: The Wolves have won two consecutive games and six of nine and are once again one victory away from reaching the .500 mark. The Lakers had lost five of...

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Arrieta 2 FINAL
Cincinnati - WP: D. Axelrod 7
NY Yankees - LP: S. Kelley 2 FINAL
Detroit - WP: P. Coke 3
Colorado - LP: J. Lyles 1 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: Y. Petit 4
Tampa Bay - LP: K. Yates 4 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: A. Miller 5
Atlanta - WP: M. Minor 6 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: J. Niese 1
Cleveland 3 Top 9th Inning
Chicago WSox 2
Minnesota 5 Bottom 8th Inning
Kansas City 5
Texas 2 Top 9th Inning
Houston 4
Oakland 0 Bottom 3rd Inning
LA Angels 3
Atlanta 24 FINAL
Jacksonville 14
Detroit 23 FINAL
Buffalo 0
Indianapolis 7 FINAL
Cincinnati 35
Kansas City 14 FINAL
Green Bay 34
Philadelphia 37
St. Louis 13 FINAL
Miami 14
Carolina 10 FINAL
Pittsburgh 0
New England 13 FINAL
NY Giants 16
Washington 24 FINAL
Tampa Bay 10
Baltimore 22 FINAL
New Orleans 13
Chicago 13 FINAL
Cleveland 33
Denver 27 FINAL
Dallas 3
Minnesota 19 FINAL
Tennessee 3
San Francisco 40 FINAL
Houston 13
Arizona 3 2nd Qtr 4:48
San Diego 9
Seattle 7 2nd Qtr 9:47
Oakland 28
(21) Texas A&M 52 FINAL
(9) So Carolina 28
Wake Forest 10 FINAL
ULM 17
Boise State 6 4th Qtr 5:20
(18) Ole Miss 28
Tulane 21 4th Qtr 8:31
Tulsa 20
Rutgers 14 2nd Qtr 10:09
Washington St 3
Weber State 0 1st Qtr 4:51
(19) Arizona State 3
Temple 0 1st Qtr 7:51
Vanderbilt 0
BYU 8/29/14 6:00 PM
(6) Jacksonville St 8/29/14 6:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Bowling Green 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Colorado State 8/29/14 8:00 PM
UNLV 8/29/14 9:30 PM
Penn State 8/30/14 7:30 AM
Troy 8/30/14 11:00 AM
(7) UCLA 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Western Mich 8/30/14 11:00 AM
(5) Ohio State 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Appalachian St 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Ga Southern 8/30/14 11:30 AM
NC State
Boston College 8/30/14 2:00 PM
West Virginia 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(2) Alabama
Rice 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
(10) South Dakota St 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(24) Missouri
Fla Atlantic 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(22) Nebraska
California 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Marshall 8/30/14 2:30 PM
UC Davis 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(11) Stanford
Arkansas 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(6) Auburn
(16) Clemson 8/30/14 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 8/30/14 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 8/30/14 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 8/30/14 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 8/30/14 6:00 PM
Stephen F Austin 8/30/14 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 8/30/14 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 8/30/14 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 8/30/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 8/30/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8/30/14 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 8/30/14 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 8/30/14 9:30 PM
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Ottawa 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: How many games will the Timberwolves win this season?

Weekly Question