In loss to Kings, Ridnour is latest Wolves player to go down

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 3, 2012 - 9:07 AM

The Wolves lost their starting point guard to a sprained ankle late in game.

SACRAMENTO, CALIF. — Here's a bit of advice if your favorite basketball team's season takes a fateful turn with one mounting injury after another:

Never, ever ask if it can get any worse because it just did for the Timberwolves in their 116-108 loss to the Kings Monday night at Power Balance Pavilion.

Just when the Wolves got Nikola Pekovic back from an injury list that already includes Ricky Rubio, J.J. Barea and Michael Beasley, starting point guard Luke Ridnour went down in pain late in the third quarter clutching a right ankle he sprained after he landed on another player's foot.

Ridnour didn't play again and probably won't be available for Wednesday's home game against Golden State at the very least.

Ridnour's injury leaves coach Rick Adelman with just one healthy point guard: Malcolm Lee, a second-round pick rookie who played the entire fourth quarter.

"It's something we didn't need," Adelman said. "But I think we had some guys play the second half. Our team is committed. We're not going to quit on the season. That's what I told them. I don't care what happens with the playoffs. We're not going to quit on the season, and it's up to the people we have right now."

Without Ridnour, the Wolves relied on Lee on a night when the Wolves already asked aging, retiring and little-used Brad Miller to summon one last little bit of magic out of a Sacramento spring night.

The Wolves trailed by just 87-86 after three quarters, then watched the Kings score the fourth quarter's first 11 points while the Wolves' athletic training staff tended to Ridnour in the locker room.

None of Adelman's sentimentality nor Pekovic's unexpectedly productive return after nearly two weeks away could save the Wolves on Monday, particularly after Ridnour was lost for the evening.

The Wolves are five games under .500 (25-30) for the first time this season and 4 1/2 games out of the West's eighth and final playoff spot.

Suddenly, their aim doesn't seem to be the franchise's first playoff berth since 2004, but rather just finishing the season strong enough to get the team's first victory in April since 2009, for starters.

"Everybody seems to be hurt right now," forward Kevin Love said after his 23-point, 7-rebound night. "We just want to keep fighting. It's tough for us right now. We can still win games. Maybe not make the playoffs, but we can still make it a good season for us."

The Wolves now have lost three consecutive games, six of their last eight and are 4-11 since Rubio went down clutching his knee in pain because of a torn ACL against the Lakers on March 9.

They've also allowed 100 or more points in six of their past eight games since they sustained a slew of injuries that includes Rubio's season-ending one, Barea's bruised thigh and Beasley's sprained, swollen big toe.

Pekovic came back Monday in a limited role off the bench after sitting for eight of the past nine games because of bone spurs on his right ankle.

He delivered 17 points in 19 minutes on a night when Adelman sounded reluctant before the game to play him because Pekovic hadn't even run on a basketball court for nearly two weeks until he did some huffing and puffing before Sunday's game at Portland.

Uncertain how much or how well Pekovic could play, Adelman went both strategic and a bit sentimental and chose to start Miller for the first time this season on his last playing visit to the arena where he, Vlade Divac, Chris Webber and Mike Bibby got one-team town Sacramento all atwitter by contending in the Western Conference nearly a decade ago.

Adelman didn't want Love matched up against Kings center DeMarcus Cousins, so he started Miller at center and Love at power forward. Miller responded by creating just a bit of magic, scoring 11 points in the game's first eight minutes while taking, and making, three three-point shots.

"If he told me he was going to hit three threes, I would have done this a long time ago," Adelman said.

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