Two injured Wolves starters -- Pekovic, Kirilenko -- return

  • Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD
  • Updated: March 18, 2013 - 6:16 PM
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The Wolves' Nikola Pekovic

Photo: Bruce Bisping, Star Tribune

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After playing the month of March with just nine healthy players, the Timberwolves got reinforcements Sunday when center Nikola Pekovic and forward Andrei Kirilenko returned.

Pekovic had missed eight games with an abdominal strain, Kirilenko nine games with a left calf strain. Both started against New Orleans.

Before the game, Wolves coach Rick Adelman joked about the problem of having too many healthy players. “We’ll see what those guys can do,” he said. “They’ve worked out on their own. But we really haven’t seen them play any 5-on-5 or anything.”

They played plenty. Pekovic got 24 minutes and had 13 points and six rebounds. Kirilenko had eight points and five rebounds in 25 minutes.

The Wolves’ injury problems have been the story all season. Kevin Love (broken bones in his hand) didn’t play until Nov. 21 and was reinjured in early January and hasn’t played since. Ricky Rubio didn’t return from knee surgery until Dec. 15.

Pekovic has missed 17 games, Kirilenko 18. Chase Budinger has been out since hurting his knee Nov. 10.

So Adelman has had a hard time knowing what kind of team he has or what changes will be needed.

“Well, we need to shoot the ball, I know that for sure,” Adelman joked. “But, it is difficult. … You have to be smart enough to look at not only this year, how we can finish this season, but where we are going forward.”

Etc.

• Forward Lou Amundson, released by the Wolves on Feb. 8, was back at Target Center on Sunday as a Hornet. He was released when the Wolves signed Mickael Gelabale and Chris Johnson. “No hard feelings,” he said. “But, obviously, I wish I’d gotten more of a chance.”

• The Wolves gave their players green warmup shirts in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. Johnson went one better by wearing the brightest green shoes imaginable during a pregame shooting session.

• Adelman joking on the return of Budinger: “We don’t want to get too enthusiastic here. We’re going to spread [players returning] out.”

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