Nikola Pekovic posts another double-double

February, 8, 2012

Nikola Pekovic got another start for the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday evening and racked up another big double-dub with 23 points and 10 boards, while knocking down nine of his 12 shot attempts and all five of his free throws. He even rounded out his stat line with three steals and two blocks. Based on what he's done the past couple of weeks, the hustle stats are a bit of an anomaly, but the double-dubs are coming in bunches. He has three in his past four games and missed the fourth by a single rebound.

The question now is: How long can he maintain this pace? He benefited Tuesday night from Kevin Love serving the first of a two-game suspension for using Luis Scola's face as a treadmill on Saturday. He also has started five of the Wolves' past seven games because Darko Milicic has been out for myriad reasons (illness, bruised quad/knee and most recently a sprained ankle sustained in Monday's practice). Nonetheless, the 6-foot-11, 290-pound Pekovic has taken advantage of the opportunity and has thoroughly outperformed Milicic. For instance, Milicic has scored in double figures five times this season, something Pekovic has done seven times in his past eight games. Milicic has 83 boards this season, while Pekovic has 72 boards during that eight-game stretch.

So long as Pekovic continues his strong play, it's hard to believe coach Rick Adelman will go back to the always unreliable Milicic as his starting center. So be sure Pekovic isn't still on your waiver wire if you need a big.

Looking back

• There were signs of life from Stephen Jackson on Tuesday evening. He played 30 minutes off the bench, the most game action he's seen since slipping into coach Scott Skiles' doghouse in late January. He ended up with 12 points, two boards, four dimes and two 3s. The production isn't half as important as the fact Skiles gave him a full load of work and had him on the floor at the end of the game, though they took a loss. I still expect S-Jax to get back into rhythm for the Bucks, so hopefully this is a sign of things to come.

• The Oklahoma City Thunder's Daequan Cook continued his hot hand from beyond the arc Tuesday, as he knocked down five of his six 3-point tries on the way to 17 points. His scoring has been inconsistent, and he doesn't offer much else beyond 3-point production, but if you need a short-term fix in 3s, Cook can help. He has 22 treys in his past nine games, only the past five of which he started.

Anthony Parker missed his fourth straight game due to back spasms, Daniel Gibson had a setback in his recovery from a neck infection and missed his fifth straight contest and Mychel Thompson (who started at shooting guard Saturday) was waived. This all paved the way for Alonzo Gee to start at the 2 for the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night. He responded with 17 points, a 3-pointer, an assist and two swipes. It was his fifth straight game in double figures, and he has 17 steals in his past eight games. He should keep scoring and pilfering while Gibson and Parker are out.

Looking ahead

Jarrett Jack tested his sore knee in practice Tuesday and is expected to be a game-time call for this evening's tilt with the Chicago Bulls. Even though Greivis Vasquez has been en fuego in Jack's absence, Jack should step back into his starting point guard role. It's possible they could end up in a time-share of sorts, but since both are really combo guards, I expect us to see plenty of both at the point and off-guard spots going forward. Marco Belinelli is most likely to take the biggest fantasy hit.

Chauncey Billups is officially done for the season after tearing his Achilles tendon Monday. It's not clear whether Randy Foye or Mo Williams will replace Billups in the starting lineup when the Los Angeles Clippers face the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night. Regardless, both will see a bump in minutes. Williams was already performing well in a reserve role, so even a little boost in production will make him a solid option going forward. Foye is the wild card. For brief stretches in the past, he's shown some fantasy potential, but he's never been able to maintain it. In his last season with the Timberwolves, he even averaged 16.3 points, 4.3 dimes and 1.6 3s. The trouble is that he won't get anywhere near 14 shots per game like he did that season and has trouble topping 40 percent shooting. Stranger things have happened, but I'm not expecting a lot out of Foye.



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