HOUSTON – The Timberwolves took forward Kevin Garnett out of the starting lineup Wednesday on the second night of back-to-back games and inserted Nikola Pekovic, who, like Garnett, isn’t playing both games in such situations.
Hey, sounds like they’ve got themselves a system …
“For now,” Pekovic said.
Pekovic started at center against physical Dwight Howard and Karl-Anthony Towns moved to power forward while Garnett rested after playing nine minutes Tuesday against Oklahoma City at Target Center. Pekovic maintained his 15-minute playing limit Wednesday, and for now still won’t play games on consecutive nights.
“No idea, no idea honestly,” Pekovic said when asked how long that arrangement will last. “I’m just trying to get myself available as much as I can do. That’s all I can do.”
Pekovic said his body has been sore after each of his first three games back — as he expected — following a 10-month layoff that included April surgery on his Achilles’ tendon. Asked if his legs or lungs have felt that layoff most, he said he still feels some pain in that ankle and heel but calls it manageable.
“It’s more the leg,” he said, stressing the singular. “I still go through everything, whatever we do. It’s just good to be out there again, at least feeling part of the team. It’s a good feeling.”
Four years is an eternity in the NBA, or so it seems for Rockets interim head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, who left a Timberwolves assistant coach’s job and followed former boss Kevin McHale to Houston in 2011. He now barely recognizes the team he left, other than head athletic trainer Gregg Farnam and equipment manager Clayton Wilson.
“I think Pek might be the only guy left from when I was there,” said Bickerstaff, who took over when McHale was fired in November.
• The Rockets played without guard Patrick Beverley, but got Ty Lawson back after he served a three-game NBA suspension. Beverley took a personal leave of absence to be with his ill grandmother, and 38-year-old veteran Jason Terry started at point guard.
• Rockets guard Corey Brewer left Minnesota for the second time 13 months ago, but you can’t take the Minnesota out of him. He still cheered for the Vikings from afar during Sunday’s heartbreaking NFL playoff loss to Seattle. “I’m a Titans fan, but I kind of adopted the Vikings from being there four, five years,” said Brewer, who’s from Tennessee. “They’re my second team. I was cheering for them the whole game.”
• Wolves interim coach Sam Mitchell on how long Pekovic might be limited from back-to-back games: “I’m not going to waste my time worrying about it. It’ll be a while, I imagine. You just play around it, coach around it the best you can.”