ATLANTA – It must be law: The Timberwolves get one player back from injury and another one goes out.
And so it went during Sunday’s 112-100 loss at Atlanta, where reserve forward Robbie Hummel broke his shooting hand just three games after center Nikola Pekovic returned from a 31-game absence.
The Wolves termed Hummel’s injury a nondisplaced fracture of the fourth metacarpal in his shooting hand. He said he expects to miss four to six weeks after he hit it during a collision at third quarter’s end.
“I don’t even know. I have to look at the play because it happened so fast,” Hummel said. “It just felt weird right away. I knew it wasn’t right.”
Hummel had started the past four games before Sunday night and appeared to be finding his place in coach Flip Saunders’ rotations.
“It’s really disappointing,” Hummel said. “It’s tough to get in a rhythm, and I felt I have been the last couple weeks. It’s frustrating, but there are worse things that could happen. I’ve been through it before [he tore his ACL twice within a year at Purdue] so it’s just a bump in the road. Compared to the ACLs, this is nothing.”
A big experiment
Saunders experimented with a big lineup Sunday, starting centers Pekovic and Gorgui Dieng beside each other and moving Thaddeus Young over to small forward away from Dieng’s power-forward spot.
Pekovic played 36 minutes in his first start after coming off the bench for two games. Young had 26 points, seven assists, six rebounds and played 42-plus minutes in what he called his first such extended small-forward stretch in years.
“We haven’t even practiced it, we haven’t had time,” Saunders said. “At times, it was good. At times, it wasn’t. We’ll experiment with it.”
Still some pain for Pek
Pekovic’s 36 minutes played Sunday were by 13 the most he has played since his return, but …
“I still have some pain, but it’s acceptable,” he said. “If it stays like this, I probably can play. I don’t know when last time I played without pain was, probably a year.”
Martin moves ahead
Wolves veteran guard Kevin Martin didn’t wear a compression brace on his surgically repaired wrist on Sunday for the first time since he had fluid drained from it Thursday. Martin planned to play Wednesday against Dallas but awoke that morning and found it significantly swollen. He said he expects to return to shooting Monday in Oklahoma City but doesn’t know how much this setback will delay his return.
Like father, like …
Former NBA star Glenn Robinson sat behind the Wolves’ bench Sunday and watched his son, rookie Glenn Robinson III, play an NBA game in person for the first time.
Glenn Robinson lives in Atlanta. Glenn Robinson III was raised by his mother in Indiana.
“He doesn’t come to all my games, so it is kind of special,” said Glenn Robinson III, who played five second-half minutes.
• Rookie Zach LaVine played just seven minutes. “Zach had a wake-up call,” Saunders said. “He wasn’t ready for the [the Hawks’ defensive] pressure.”
• Point guard Ricky Rubio (sprained ankle) and Shabazz Muhammad (outer oblique strain) remained out Sunday. Saunders said he’s hopeful Rubio and Martin will return within the next week.
• Saunders headed for the locker room in the second quarter thinking he had been ejected after receiving two technical fouls. His assistant coaches summoned him back. “I don’t think [the officials] were aware I had gotten one,” he said. “[Referee] Tony Brothers was very nice to me today.”
• Saunders on the Hawks, now 30-2 in their past 32 games: “Until you’re there and play against them, you don’t understand it. It took us almost a half to understand how good they really are. They’re the best combination offensive and defensive team we’ve played.”