Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic played with pain in his right ankle for the past seven games, ever since he returned after missing essentially the month of February because of bursitis.

He did, that is, until Friday night, when the pain became too much.

Pekovic left a 105-93 loss to the Bobcats a little more than two minutes into the second half and didn’t return.

“It’s hurting me all the time,” he said. “Today felt a little more sore than usual. I can play under a certain amount of pain, but at one point it just felt like I can’t move, I can’t do anything. Running up and down, everything was a problem. I try second half, see how it’s going to be. But it’s just bad. I couldn’t do it anymore.”

With Pekovic out, Wolves coach Rick Adelman called upon rookie Gorgui Dieng to defend Bobcats star and former Wolves center Al Jefferson with predictably mixed results. Jefferson finished with 25 points and 16 rebounds, and 13 points and 11 rebounds of those came after Pekovic left.

Pekovic frowned when asked how concerned he is about an ankle that also needed surgery to remove bone spurs in May 2012.