Despite banged knee, LeBron plays on against Wolves

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Miami's LeBron James made an easy first quarter layup past the defense of Minnesota's Derrick Williams

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Miami superstar LeBron James reported for work Monday night with both legs still attached, so of course he played against the Timberwolves at Target Center.

James landed wrong on his knee during Sunday afternoon’s comeback victory at New York and went down in obvious pain. Despite the scare, he stayed in the game and played on anyway.

“His leg would have to fall off or something for him to miss a game,” teammate Chris Bosh said.

James warmed up before Monday’s game intending to play and he did so on a night when the Wolves once again played without injured starters Kevin Love, Nikola Pekovic and Andrei Kirilenko.

Kirilenko missed his third consecutive game because of a strained calf, while Pekovic missed his second game because of an abdominal strain sustained in Thursday’s loss to the Lakers in Los Angeles.

Both continued to experience soreness, and their absence could stretch into this week.

Pekovic underwent an MRI on Monday that showed no structural damage.

“So that’s good,” Pekovic said.

Wolves coach Rick Adelman again started Mickael Gelabale in Kirilenko’s place and Greg Stiemsma for Pekovic, but he seemed willing to put a “Help Wanted” plank out.

“Anybody want a 10-hour contract?” he asked reporters before the game.

Flip the owner?

Wolves owner Glen Taylor said new groups have shown interest in buying the team. Included is one in which former Wolves coach Flip Saunders is involved. Taylor and Saunders met recently in Mankato, Minn., Taylor’s home base.

Taylor also said there is one interested buyer who proceeds the new groups who must decide whether he wants to proceed.

“Because of all that, I just haven’t really pushed it that hard,” Taylor said.

Pep talk sounds familiar

If you think every night seems the same in this lost Wolves season, you’re not alone.

Adelman was asked before Monday’s game how he keeps his team’s collective spirit alive in a stretch where it had lost 20 of its last 24 games.

“It’s a big concern,” he said. “No matter how good your guys are or how good they’re coached, you can only say the same thing over and over and over again.

“You keep having injuries. You keep getting beat down. It’s hard. But we just keep telling them, ‘There’s nothing we can do about it. The season’s not stopping. The games are going to keep coming.’ ”

Reunited

Monday’s game brought Adelman back together with Heat veteran forward Shane Battier, whom Adelman coached when both were in Houston.

Battier isn’t one of the Heat’s “Big Three,” but he’s still one more reason Miami just keeps winning.

“He’s going to do all the little things you need,” Adelman said.

“He’ll get on the floor. He’s going to take a charge. He’s going to make shots. Just don’t have him put it on the floor and try to make a play.”

Etc.

• Wolves rookie Alexey Shved shot 18.5 percent in his four games entering Monday night. “He’s a young player and he’s letting things affect him,” Adelman said. “He’s got to learn in this league that you’re going to get beat down and you’re going to have to respond. That’s how you get better.”

• The Timberwolves on Monday launched their “Get Closer” season-ticket campaign featuring separate television spots with Rubio, Kirilenko, Pekovic and Stiemsma.

• A Malcolm Lee sighting: The injured Wolves guard returned to Target Center on Monday, walking the halls on crutches after he had separate January surgeries on his knee and hip.

• Newly acquired Lynx center Janel McCarville attended the game and signed autographs at halftime.

• Love arranged a postgame meeting between Pekovic and Hollywood actor Zach Galifianakis Thursday night in Los Angeles. Big Pek is a big fan of the film “The Hangover,” in which Galifianakis co-starred, and Love somehow got both their heads together in the same photograph. “He’s really funny,” Pekovic said.

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