MINNEAPOLIS — Nikola Vucevic and Nikola Pekovic share more in common than a first name.
They hail from Montenegro and have played together on the country’s national team.
They even hung out a bit this afternoon.
But they will put their friendship on a temporary hiatus a few hours from now, when Vucevic’s Orlando Magic faces Pekovic’s Minnesota Timberwolves at the Target Center.
“We talk really often,” said Vucevic, who prefers to shorten his name to "Nik" in the U.S.
“We talk about everything. As a player, he’s a very strong dude. He’s basically one of the strongest big guys in the NBA, and he uses his body great. He knows what his strengths are and he uses that. It’s very tough to guard him.”
Pekovic is a good scorer and is one of the NBA’s most physical players — so much so that Dwight Howard once likened facing him to a mixed martial arts fight.
Magic officials are curious to see how their new 22-year-old big man fares, especially on defense.
“He is more face-up, trying to shoot outside,” Pekovic, 26, told Minnesota-based reporters after the T-Wolves finished their shootaround.
“I am more inside. He is doing a good job. When he came to the league, we were talking a lot. In Philadelphia, he didn’t get a chance to play much. Now in Orlando he’s doing a great job.”
Josh Robbins covers the Orlando Magic and the NBA for the Orlando Sentinel. You can reach him via e-mail at email@example.com and connect with him on Facebook at facebook.com/JoshuaBRobbins. Follow him on Twitter at @JoshuaBRobbins.