Pekovic has chance to be All-Star reserve

Published 1:55 am Tuesday, January 28, 2014

MINNEAPOLIS — The idea of Nikola Pekovic making the Western Conference All-Star team is music to the Minnesota Timberwolves’ ears.

The Wolves have started a campaign to get their big center into his first All-Star game. The Wolves sent out a vinyl album featuring the “Bruise Brothers,” which is the nickname for their physical duo of Pekovic and Kevin Love. Fans voted Love a starter for the West last week, thanks in large part to a strong push from the team’s public relations department to get out the vote.

Now the Wolves will find out if they can be as influential with conference coaches. The coaches vote on the reserves for the game, which will be played in New Orleans on Feb. 16. After signing a five-year, $60 million contract this summer, Pekovic is averaging a career-high 18.4 points and 9.3 rebounds this season. He’s been even better over the last six weeks, averaging 20.8 points and 9.8 boards while topping 30 points in a game three times.

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The album cover features an artist’s rendering of Pekovic and Love dressed as the famed Blues Brothers and labeled “All-Star Edition.” Some of the songs on Pekovic’s side of the album include “It was only a Pek” and “I’m Still Learning English.” One track is written in Serbian and loosely translated to read “Meat Is the Best.”

The package sent to coaches also includes a poster with many of Pekovic’s accomplishments — he leads the league in second-chance points and points in the paint — and touts he and Love as one of the NBA’s “best duets.” It also includes a letter from Wolves President Flip Saunders.

“The fans of the NBA have already spoken and voted Kevin Love into the game as a starter,” Saunders wrote. “What is happening without much fanfare, though, is the emergence of Nikola Pekovic as one of the top centers in the NBA.”

When Love made a late surge in the voting and surprisingly passed Houston center Dwight Howard to earn a starting nod, it may have made Pekovic’s prospects a little tougher. The West is loaded with talent this season, and big men like Howard, DeAndre Jordan from the Clippers, DeMarcus Cousins of the Kings and Anthony Davis of New Orleans all figure to garner interest as well.

“I would love to bring Pek with me,” Love said last week after he was voted a starter. “And if he doesn’t make the game maybe he can be my bodyguard down there.”