Secret is out: Pekovic does own a jump shot

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 13, 2013 - 12:52 AM

The big guy showed he can step outside his comfort zone.

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Nikola Pekovic (14) drives against Cleveland's Andrew Bynum.

Photo: Mark Duncan, Associated Press

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– Contrary to reports elsewhere, the world did not end on Dec. 21, 2012.

But you might swear it’s coming soon if you’d seen big Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic make not one, but two shots from distance in Wednesday’s 106-99 comeback victory over Philadelphia.

“The Mayans might have been wrong,” teammate Kevin Love said afterward. “Who knows what’s next?”

The planet did seem to turn just a bit cockeyed Wednesday after Pekovic received a first-quarter pass from Ricky Rubio away from the basket. He held the ball for a moment, looked back to Rubio and then down underneath toward Love only to see Philadelphia center Spencer Hawes drifting away from him toward Love.

Left all alone and with no better options, Pekovic launched a 17-foot shot from the free-throw line elbow that hit only net.

In the fourth quarter, he did the same, only on a shorter shot near the baseline in the midst of a decisive 10-0 run that punctuated the Wolves’ comeback from a 19-point, first-quarter deficit.

Pekovic scored six of those 10 points on his way to a 20-point, 10-rebound night. The other four points came on a layup and a put-back tip-in, just like most of his points are scored: within four feet of the basket.

But those two from distance Wednesday almost looked like jump shots, didn’t they?

“Oh yeah,” Pekovic said. “You saw that?”

So just where did they come from?

“That?” Pekovic replied. “It come from me, of course. I’m working on that almost every day.”

Wolves teammates and coaches will attest: They indeed have seen Pekovic take — and make — such shots in practice.

“He hit like a 17-footer, that was pretty cool to see,” said Wolves rookie Robbie Hummel, who was on the floor for almost all of a fourth quarter in which the Wolves won a game they once seemed determined to lose. “He’s pretty skilled. You don’t see it very often, but he can do that. I’ve seen him make that in practice plenty of times.”

Then Hummel in the next minute revised himself.

“I’ve seen him make that a couple of times,” Hummel said. “I know he can do it.”

Late last season, Wolves coach Rick Adelman discussed how Pekovic must expand his game beyond all those layups and put-backs that so appeal to his physical nature, if only to spread the floor better for his teammates and lessen the pounding he takes nightly.

Adelman was asked about the subject again after Wednesday’s game.

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  • Nikola Pekovic: Buried a couple of shots outside his normal range in Wednesday night’s victory over the 76ers.

  • Nikola Pekovic’s normal domain is around the basket.

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