Injury bug sidelines Pekovic again, out at least 7-10 days

In each of his first three NBA seasons, Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic sat out at least 17 games due to injury. He hasn't yet missed a game this season, though he's expected to be out 7-10 days with bursitis in his right ankle.

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MINNEAPOLIS — Just when the nagging injuries that have plagued Nikola Pekovic’s career seemed to subside, the Timberwolves center learned Tuesday he’ll miss some time once again.

An MRI performed by TRIA Orthopedics in Bloomington, Minn., revealed the 6-foot-11, 285-pound big man has bursitis in his right ankle. He’ll be held out of all basketball activities for 7-10 days then be re-evaluated.

Pekovic left Monday’s win at Chicago just six minutes in with soreness in his right Achilles tendon and didn’t return. More durable thanks to a new in-season workout regimen that focuses on maintaining muscle, he has yet to miss one of the Timberwolves’  44 outings this season — the longest healthy stretch of his career.

But that’s about to change, conjuring memories of season’s past for Minnesota’s starting center.

In each of his first three NBA campaigns, the Montenegrin sat out at least 17 games. The wear and tear of playing an old-school, physical style in the post wore on Pekovic — calf soreness, muscle strains, etc.

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But that didn’t stop the Timberwolves from signing the plus-50-percent career shooter to a five-year, $60 million extension this past offseason. The deal includes incentives for games played, and both Pekovic and his franchise had been pleased with his relative health before this week’s setback.

The team is currently imploring Western Conference coaches to vote for Pekovic as an All-Star Game reserve. His numbers would seem to merit it: he ranks second among NBA centers with 18 points per game and leads the league in second-chance points and points in the paint.

But now, inflammation of the bursa sac — which contains lubricating fluid that helps decrease friction between bones, muscles and tendons — in his right ankle will keep him out of at least the Timberwolves’ next three games. Coach Rick Adelman said the Achilles had been bothering Pekovic throughout the squad’s four-game road trip that concluded Tuesday in Chicago.

According to a team-issued timeline, the soonest Pekovic could return would be next Tuesday at home against the Lakers. Minnesota (22-22) hosts New Orleans on Wednesday and Memphis on Friday before traveling to Atlanta for a Saturday matchup.

Minnesota (22-22) hosts New Orleans on Wednesday and Memphis on Friday before traveling to Atlanta for a Saturday matchup.

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