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Pekovic's Return Spoiled by Parsons, Mavericks

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Nikola Pekovic returned to the court after missing 31 straight games due to a chronically sore right ankle, but the Wolves were still dreadful on Wednesday night, ultimately losing 98-75 to the Mavs.

Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Wolves scored a season-low 75 points on a season-low 34.8 percent shooting Wednesday night. While the list of repulsive games certainly runs deep, this one was right at the top. Chandler Parsons scored 19 of his game-high 22 points in the first 13 minutes and the game was essentially over at halftime (59-38).

"We couldn't shoot at all. We've gone two straight games where we haven't shot the ball well at all," Flip Saunders said. "I don't know if it's because we haven't been playing with the same energy that we were playing with five, six days ago. I know the guys have played a lot of minutes and had to do a lot of things, especially going through the losing streak. Just our energy level in our last two games is not at the energy level that we need to be."

Thaddeus Young posted his second double-double of the season, finishing with 14 points, 11 rebounds (five offensive) and six assists. Nikola Pekovic also returned to the lineup for the first time since Nov. 15, scoring 14 points and grabbing four rebounds in 23 minutes off the bench. But that wasn't nearly enough to combat the lack of energy by the Wolves, as Saunders reiterated throughout the postgame press conference.

"I was disappointed in our overall energy," he said. "I know this is their fifth game in eight days. It's almost like a road game to play four in a row and then play one at home. But I thought we'd come home, playing a good team and just be more energetic. When you don't make shots, it sucks the energy out of you. When you make shots you get a tendency to get a little more rejuvenated. We didn't execute great. We didn't cut hard, we didn't set hard enough screens, so those are the things that we have to clean up."

With all things considered it wasn't surprising to see the Wolves get manhandled by the Mavericks, who own the third best offensive rating in the NBA (112.7 points per 100 possessions) and currently sit fourth in the ruthless Western Conference. There's not much else to say, other than it's nice to see Pekovic playing again.

Notes:

  • After the game I asked Saunders if the plan was to bring to Pekovic off the bench moving forward. "I don't know, we'll see what happens... yeah, more than likely," Saunders responded. "There's really no limit, I just didn't want to take a chance on playing him too much his first time out."
  • Former Wolves point guard J.J. Barea scored seven points and dished out 10 assists for the Mavericks. File this under: another classic troll game by a former player (but truthfully, J.J. fits nicely on the Mavs).
  • Andrew Wiggins started 1-6, but was able to finish 7-17 from the floor and scored a team-high 18 points.
  • Before the game, Saunders shed some light on Rubio's ankle injury (via Timberwolves PR):
"He's got even worse than a high-ankle sprain where actually [tore] some of the muscles and ligaments in his foot [and] that's giving him some problems in his toes. A couple weeks ago he came to me and he wanted to go 24/7 on his workouts. He wanted one person to stay with him. As I told him, he's his own worst enemy. There are people that question how much he wants to get back and anyone that's been around the team knows that there's no one that works harder than him. We've had him see two specialists over the last few weeks and they've all come up with the same thing. He's got pain on the side of his ankle. He's got sort of a bone bruise there. Their concern is that they didn't want him to be full go yet because that could turn into a stress fracture if we don't monitor that. Him not playing right now - I want to clear the air - has nothing to do with him not wanting to play or not working to try to play. He's doing everything he can. We as an organization have been the ones that have tried to hold him back."
  • There's still no firm timetable for Rubio's return and this helps explain why. Nevertheless, he looked pretty good shooting 3-pointers for approximately 20 minutes before the team came out for pre-game warm-ups. Sure, they were all set shots and he wasn't doing any significant cutting, but he seemed to have good lift and looked comfortable moving around throughout his shooting session with Mike Penberthy. AND HE WAS SWISHING EVERYTHING.

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