MINNEAPOLIS – Nikola Pekovic couldn’t help but laugh.
To suggest he might be the recipient of an alley-oop pass would be ridiculous, even though the Timberwolves guards have gotten accustomed to lobbing them up there for his fill-in, Chris Johnson, in recent days. Nikola Pekovic doesn’t jump like that. His bulk is not springy, not in the least. Rocks like Pek don’t dunk like that; rocks dunk simply by reaching up and shoving.
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“No,” Pekovic said, laughing, at the suggestion he might adopt some pieces of Johnson’s game. “That’s not my game. No.”
And then he laughed some more and raised an eyebrow. He knows better, and really, so do the Timberwolves. They may have brought in Johnson to add a big man during Pekovic’s injury, but now that the lumbering Montenegrin is back, they’re looking at Johnson as more of a complement than a replacement.
Rick Adelman first brought up the notion of playing Pekovic and Johnson, who signed his second 10-day deal on Tuesday, at that day’s practice. At shootaround Wednesday, Pekovic discussed the possibility of playing with the newcomer, and he seemed to be looking forward to the chance.
“I think that will work good,” Pekovic said. “He’s more like a four guy. He’s more like trying to take some shots, and lobs, and everything. He can help a lot in the rebounding game.”
“We don’t got so much of this lob games … besides AK or Derrick, but now with Chris we’ve got some more of that.”
It sounds like we may see some stretches of Johnson and Pekovic on the floor together in Wednesday’s game against the Clippers, but for now, it’ll be an experiment. In theory it sounds good, adding some size and perhaps shifting the focus away from Pekovic, but it remains to be seen if that will translate into games, and J.J. Barea urged caution in anointing them the team’s next four-five combination.
“Somebody’s got to pop, though,” Barea said. “We can’t have them both rolling to the rim.”
No CP3: Star point guard Chris Paul will be out for the Clippers on Wednesday with the bruised right kneecap that’s been plaguing him for more than two weeks. After Wednesday, he’ll have missed five straight games and eight of his last 10. Paul did make the trip, though, and was present on the sideline during the team’s morning shootaround.
With Paul in the lineup, the Clippers have a 29-10 record this season and are averaging 101.5 points and 24.0 assists per game. Without him, they’re 4-3, scoring an average of 98.1 points and logging an average of 21.4 assists. His absence has also affected the team in terms of fast-break points; with him, it averages 17.5, without him, 12.4.
Griffin’s dunking: Here’s a somewhat frightening stat for you: On the season, Blake Griffin has 113 dunks, the most of any player in the NBA. That’s also more than three teams so far this season: the Suns (108 total dunks), Spurs (100) and Mavericks (96). (Griffin has played in 46 games, while the Suns and Mavericks have played 45, the Spurs 47.)
Where in the world is Kevin Love? After Love’s Jan. 15 surgery in New York, Timberwolves president of basketball operations David Kahn said that the power forward would remain in the city for about 10 days to have his progress monitored by doctors. Kahn also cautioned that the time frame was a loose one, and he wasn’t sure how long Love would need to remain in the Big Apple. Wednesday, 15 days after the surgery, that’s where he remains.