PHOENIX – Three weeks after he hoped to be back, Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic remains out because of bursitis in his right ankle that caused him to miss his 13th consecutive game Tuesday.
Injured teammate Kevin Martin (thumb) remained out, too, while the Wolves played the third game on a five-game Western road trip in pursuit of the Western Conference’s eighth and final playoff spot, beating the Suns 110-101.
Wolves coaches and training staff worked out Pekovic hard at Arizona State on Monday — an off-day for the rest of the team — and he tested the ankle before Tuesday’s game and wasn’t ready to play yet.
He left a Jan. 27 game at Chicago after only six minutes, and the next day the team announced he would be miss the next seven to 10 days, after which his bursitis would be re-evaluated.
“It’s just tough, going through all this stuff, trying to make it better,” Pekovic said. “I try to work really hard and I can’t really play. All of a sudden, you feel pain and sometimes you don’t feel pain. Sometimes I don’t know what’s really right or what’s not. It was supposed to be like seven to 10 days and it has been like four weeks. It’s one of those things that is really frustrating. I really want to play.”
Pekovic had double-double games in points and rebounds in three of the past four times he played the Suns.
The Wolves also continue to play without backup center Ronny Turiaf, who last week suffered a knee bone bruise expected to sideline him at least three weeks. They list both centers as out indefinitely.
“I still can’t really promise anything,” Pekovic said Tuesday morning when he still hoped he would play that night. “I wish I could tell you 100 percent, but I don’t know.”
Martin visited a hand specialist in Los Angeles on Monday to get a second opinion on his thumb, hoping he would get cleared for a speedier return that will allow him to play on this five-game trip.
Martin declined an interview request Tuesday, but a team spokesman said the healing is progressing well. He didn’t play Tuesday and his status for Saturday’s game at Sacramento is uncertain.
Bumped and bruised
Wolves star Kevin Love had his left elbow wrapped in ice after Tuesday’s morning shootaround. He banged it and thumped his back and butt again when he fell hard early in Sunday’s loss at Portland. Those kinds of fall recently have left coach Rick Adelman reluctant to play Love too much inside at center with Pekovic and Turiaf out.
“I just jumped up and acted like everything’s fine,” Love said. “I just played through it.”
Love and President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders had dinner in Phoenix together Monday, but Love said it was just one of their regular lunches or dinners together and not a big summit meeting dealing with his future with the franchise.
“I didn’t storm out anywhere or say anything,” Love said. “We just had dinner.”
• Forward Dante Cunningham started in the frontcourt again with Pekovic and Turiaf out, scoring 12 points in 34 minutes.
• Phoenix veteran guard Leandro Barbosa missed his third consecutive game because of a sprained big toe.
• Suns star guard Eric Bledsoe hasn’t played since Jan. 2 but is back scrimmaging 3-on-3 after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery. He has missed the first two games against the Wolves this season. The teams completed their three-game season series March 23 at Target Center.
• Funny how things go: When then-Wolves boss Kevin McHale decided there wasn’t a place for Suns swingman Gerald Green in Minnesota long ago, one of the deals he considered was Dallas’ offer of a little-used, second-year point guard named J.J. Barea. But because the team already had smallish Sebastian Telfair, he opted for Houston’s offer of a second-round pick, Kirk Snyder and cash. Green, acquired in the 2007-08 season, played only 29 games in four months for the Wolves before he was traded away.
• The Wolves now have a rare three-day break on the road before they play again Saturday at Sacramento. They are expected to practice Thursday and Friday in Phoenix before flying to Sacramento.