Injury-plagued Wolves try to hold things together
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A different Minnesota Timberwolves player seems to go down with an injury every night these days, and the losses that were once spiritedly competitive are growing more and more decisive.
Leading scorer and rebounder Nikola Pekovic has joined All-Star Kevin Love on the sideline, coach Rick Adelman isn't expected to rejoin the team anytime soon and the Wolves are mired in a five-game losing streak, leaving team president David Kahn and star point guard Ricky Rubio to offer words of encouragement to try to hold things together.
Pekovic will miss the next seven to 10 days with a badly bruised right quadriceps, joining Love (broken hand), Alexey Shved (ankle), Chase Budinger (knee), Brandon Roy (knee), Josh Howard (knee) and Malcolm Lee (hip) on the list of limping Wolves. Pekovic and Shved were both injured Thursday night against the Los Angeles Clippers and acting head coach Terry Porter only had seven healthy players for practice on Friday.
The team is scrambling to get enough healthy bodies to compete. The Wolves received an injury exception from the league that will allow them to add up to two more players to the roster, moves Kahn said he expected could happen as soon as Saturday. French forward Mickael Gelebale is expected to finalize a 10-day contract by Saturday if the Wolves can gain clearance from FIBA in time, and they could bring in another player on a 10-day deal from the D-League or elsewhere to supplement a banged-up roster that is running out of gas.
"We've had a very difficult run of bad luck," Kahn said Friday. "However, as I said to the players today, there is still in that circle of players that are available, a lot of talent. And I imagine all of them, at some point of their career, have been on teams less talented that have won games. So I don't think this is a time for us to feel sorry for ourselves. Or to panic, or begin to do anything but simply play better, smarter, more together and try to win some games."
The Timberwolves (16-20) are three games out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. But Kahn pointed out that they are only one game back in the loss column because they've played fewer games and tried to resist depictions that the Timberwolves season is swirling down the drain.
"I walk back in the training room some days and it's like watching an early episode of 'M-A-S-H,'" Kahn said. "They're soldiering through it, but it's hard. But we can't let that define what is occurring right now."