CLEVELAND - Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic's life became a lot easier -- and his night much more productive -- Monday night when his team made shots from all over, particularly from three-point range.
On Sunday in Memphis, Pekovic took five shots, and just one in the second half, and scored eight points in a lopsided loss when he wasn't a factor all night.
In Monday's 100-92 victory over Cleveland, he returned to his double-double ways with a 16-point, 10-rebound night in which he got 14 shots from the field.
"The one thing that hurts him is when we shoot the ball poorly, they're going to pack it in on us," coach Rick Adelman said, referring to opposing defenses that collapse on Pekovic. "We've shot the ball poorly and it limits his touches."
The Wolves didn't shoot poorly at least for one night Monday. They shot 52 percent and went 8-for-14 on three-pointers.
"For me, it's easier when we make some open shots," Pekovic said. "I get a little more room to operate. I'm still missing some shots, but that's just part of the game."
J.J. Barea played nearly 15 minutes off the bench Monday on that sprained foot that caused him to miss Sunday's game.
His return gave Adelman more opportunity to play that three-guard lineup he often prefers, including down the stretch when he relied upon Ricky Rubio, Alexey Shved and Luke Ridnour together.
It's kind of hard to play three guards at one time when there's no one to back up any of them. Barea played just 95 seconds in the fourth quarter and afterward dressed in silence in a joyous Wolves locker room. He declined an interview request.
"We really needed him out there, just to give us a breather here and there," Adelman said. "When he's on the floor, he's a threat. I just didn't think he was moving at all, in the second half especially."
Back together again
The last time these two teams met in early December, both star point guards -- Rubio and Cleveland's Kyrie Irving -- were out injured.
Irving is back from an injured finger and has played his way to the All-Star Game for the first time in just his second NBA season. Rubio still is on the recovery road back from March knee surgery.
"He's getting there, he's definitely getting there," Irving said. "You can't expect Ricky to start playing like Ricky right away. We know how great of a point guard he is. I have the utmost respect for him, and he's getting it back."
New kid in town
Recently signed Mickael Gelabale made his third consecutive start for the Wolves at small forward in place of Andrei Kirilenko, who is out until after the All-Star break because of a strained quad. Gelabale made three three-pointers and scored 11 points Monday despite some early foul trouble.
"He has played pretty well," Adelman said. "It's going to take him some time -- and us some time -- to get used to everything. It's tough to throw a guy in there who just comes out of nowhere, and now we're playing him starter's minutes."