It has been since March 2007 since the Wolves have registered a win against the Lakers. Tonight, the result was never really in question, especially after the Wolves lost Nikola Pekovic to an abdominal strain after just nine minutes into the first quarter. The Wolves will get one more chance this season to snap that (now) 21-game losing streak to L.A. on 3/27 in Minnesota.
With Pekovic, the Wolves established themselves down low early as Pek scored 8 points & grabbed 3 boards in those 9 minutes before retreating to the locker room for the remainder of the night. After Pek went down, the Wolves were left with no 'back to the basket' presence. As such the only way they were going to score was on mid-range or three-point jumpshots or guys like DWill, Luke, Ricky or J.J. driving to the rim for easy layups.
The Wolves put on one of their better shooting performances of the season: 46% from the field & 33% from deep. You know it's been a rough season when 46% & 33% are good shooting numbers!
With no Pekovic and thus no counter for DH in the post, the Wolves played a 2-3 zone for the majority of the night. Thus exposing a big weakness on the perimeter which led to a lot of open & easy threes. Kobe, Jodie Meeks, Jamison, Blake, Nash, & MWP all got in on the action.
With the Wolves exchanging twos for threes on a number of possessions as well as plenty of empty TWolves trips, the Lakers quickly jumped out to a double-digit lead, which they held for the majority of the night.
With no Love, AK or Pekovic. The Wolves were without 60% of their starting lineup in this one. Love should be back in another couple weeks, while we're still waiting on AK & Pek. It seems like they both could be out for a week or two! I'm not even surprised anymore. I just hope we'll get to see Ricky, AK, Love & Pek on the floor together this season.
Let's take a look at tonight's top performers...
Barea played just 25 minutes but was very effective hitting his shots. His season-high is 21 points as he was just one off of that tonight. Tonight was one of those good Barea games where you want him on the floor. He did an excellent job of slashing to the rim, hitting threes and finding his teammates for easy buckets.
Luke Ridnour was even more impressive. He put on quite the shooting display. He hit a couple corner threes, a floater or two and a handful of mid-range jumpers. He was simply on tonight. Luke may be one of the NBA's deadliest mid-range shooters, he showed why yet again tonight.
Ricky Rubio fell just two rebounds shy of his first career triple-double and at the rate he's going it seems as though it's only a matter of time before he registers that first trip-doub. He is still struggling securing the rock and had another 4 turnovers tonight, but he did a solid job shooting the ball, going 5-for-11 from the field.
Kobe was simply unstoppable in this one. In their last meeting, he was still in his facilitator phase, tonight was 'vintage Kobe'. He scored 11 points in each of the first three quarters and thanks to the blowout, he hardly played in the fourth and finished with 33 on the night. I don't doubt these Lakers will make the playoffs as Kobe is going to will them into the postseason. I don't think they have what it takes to be a real threat to make it out of the first round this season--especially if they go up against the #1 Spurs or #2 Thunder (assuming they're and 8th or 7th seed--the best they'll probably be able to do).
MISC. PLAYER STATS: Barea's 8 made field goals is a new season-high (the previous being 7). Luke Ridnour set a new season-high and tied a career-high (for the third time) with his 3 blocks. Ricky tied three season-highs in this one: 1 three-pointer made (4th time this season), 3 three-pointers attempted (3rd time this season) and 3 offensive rebounds (4th time this season). Alexey Shved tied a season-high with his 2 steals--this was Shved's 13th two-steal game of the season. Chris Johnson's 1 steal ties a season-high (his 4th one-steal game this season).
KEY TEAM STATS: Because the Wolves were without Pekovic, they had to sit back in a 2-3 zone. As a result, the Lakers hit three after three and finished with a 50% clip on the night. Without Pek, the Lakers dominated on the glass with a +14 advantage and in the paint with a +10. With AK out the Wolves had just five players come off the bench. Despite J.J. leading the team with 20 points, the Lakers bench (led by Jamison & Meeks) outscored the Minny bench by a +18.
MISC. TEAM STATS: Minnesota's 6 offensive rebounds ties their second-lowest total of the season for the 3rd time in 2012-13. The Lakers tied season-highs in three-pointers made (16) and three-pointers attempted (32) for a Wolves opponent, while also putting up the second-most points for a MIN opponent in 2012-13: 116.
The Wolves will be back in action on Saturday night at the Rose Garden to take on the Portland Trailblazers. Stay tuned for that gameday preview, until then thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!