It was a very frustrated Nikola Pekovic who watched Monday’s game between the Timberwolves and Los Angeles Clippers from the bench, his right foot/ankle too sore to let him play.
But the big question is: Is this looking like a repeat of last season?
A year ago, his foot hurting, Pekovic missed 28 of the final 38 games. Monday’s game marked the 32nd game he has missed because of injury this season.
Frustrated? “A lot, a lot, a lot,” he said. “It’s been a long, long, long, long time. I’ve almost been a year dealing with this.”
Coach Flip Saunders didn’t want to talk about how much time Pekovic could miss this time. He said the big center would be rested with the hope he could play Wednesday. “We’ll do what we do,” Saunders said. “He’ll rest some. … That’s all we can do.”
Saunders suggested the long All-Star break — which resulted in a very busy post-break schedule — might have contributed. But so, too, might the minutes. Pekovic averaged about 34 minutes in a five-game stretch before the injury flared up again; Saturday against Memphis he played a few seconds in the second half before sitting down for good.
Pekovic and Saunders agreed that, should Pekovic return, a strict minutes limit will have to be enforced. After the season Pekovic said he would explore new options for treatment for the inflamed bursa sack that is causing the pain.
One thing is for sure: Pekovic is getting tired of dealing with it.
“It’s kind of tough, mentally, to have to go through all this,” he said. “You want to play, but it doesn’t let you. It’s been tough dealing with this every day.”
The Clippers game gave both Kevin Garnett and Clippers coach Doc Rivers a chance to wax poetic about their time together in Boston.
Each seems to think he got the better of the deal.
Garnett said Rivers had a huge impact on his career. “Teaching us — all the guys I joined in Boston — the true meaning of teamwork, teammates, having some self pride, playing for the next guy,” Garnett said. “Great time in my life.”
Said Rivers: “In Boston he changed our culture. He literally changed our culture.”
The Wolves, of course, hope he will have a similar impact here. “I’m sure they probably thought it was fake, that no one can be this intense, no one can be this professional,” River said of the Wolves’ young players. “No one can be this bought into their team. [But] I think playing with him, they’re all going to learn that.”
Rivers said he had hoped to get Garnett back with him in Los Angeles. “I would have loved for him to come to the Clippers and go for another [title],” he told reporters shortly after Garnett was traded to the Wolves. “But even me, who’s competitive as hell, has to say that Kevin Garnett ended up in the perfect spot. This is awesome.”
Gone in 180 seconds
The 1,000 tickets Garnett bought for fans to the game were gone in about 3 minutes Monday morning.
“It’s just a way of showing my appreciation,” Garnett said. “I’m always looking to be innovative, try things from an original standpoint. I’m excited to be back here. And, although I can’t thank everybody, in appreciation I liked to show some type of gesture. And this is the way I chose to show it.”
• Kevin Martin missed Monday’s game because of the flu.
• Garnett, when asked about his ejection from Saturday’s game: “That’s over with. I’m not speaking on that.”