Sure, the Minnesota Timberwolves didn't have Kevin Love, but the play of Rubio, D-Will & Pek MORE than made up for it, but in the end it wasn't enough for the Wolves who fell to the Lakers for an 18th consecutive time.
Minnesota held the advantage through halftime. After one quarter it was Minnesota 33-21 and by halftime they were still up 58-49. In that first half they got 17pts from D-Will (12 in the first quarter), 15 from Pek (10 in the first quarter), 11 from Beasley & 9 from Rubio as this all-around effort definitely boded well for Minny.
The second half was more Laker than Wolf. The Lakers backcourt took control in the third quarter as L.A. outscored Minnesota 20-29 behind 14 (of his 34) from Kobe & 9 (all of his points) from Fisher, tying the game at 78. The final quarter was more the same. Despite 8pts apiece from both Pekovic & Ridnour the Lakers outscored the TWolves 24-27 behind 8 from Kobe & 10 (of his 26) from Bynum.
It was an incredible game, especially because the Wolves were without their franchise player: Kevin Love! The only 'bad' thing you could/should take away from this one? Ricky Rubio's injury. With just seconds to play, Kobe Bryant plowed over Rubio (Ricky got called for the block and Bryant hit some key FT's late to seal the win), but it appeared (from the replays) that Bryant's knee bashed into Rubio's shin. Ricky had to be helped off the court and after the final horn--had to be helped to the locker room. As of 10pmCT, 3/9, all the training staff was saying was that Ricky had a left knee injury and would be re-evaluated tomorrow--no X-rays were taken tonight (stay tuned to HOWL for an update, tomorrow).
The TWolves were without Love due to back spasms as well as J.J. Barea who is nursing a sprained ankle. There's no word on whether Rubio will be able to play tomorrow vs. the Hornets, nor Kevin Love, though J.J. stated before tonight's game that he would be out for the weekend, but would hopefully/likely return to action next week. If Rubio is unable to play tomorrow, that will likely open up time for rookie Malcolm Lee (recently recalled from the D-League and has yet to make his NBA debut) could play and we could see a starting lineup of: Ridnour, Johnson, Webster or Beasley, Love or Williams & Pekovic.
Let's take a look at some stats from some of tonight's key players from each team...
There was no shortage of Minnesota Timberwolves players that stepped up. D-Will had his first career double-double, as he started in place of Kevin Love at power forward. Nikola's return was fun to watch as he notched another double-double and tied a career/season-high of 13rebs, the battle between Pek & Bynum was certainly fun to watch!
The Lakers' "Big Three" was key in this win. Kobe was Kobe and Andrew Bynum had a GREAT night, shooting a high percentage, grabbing rebounds and scoring aplenty! Gasol had a solid game with a double-double, though 12pts is somewhat low. That may have been due to the trade rumors that circulated Twitter all afternoon that he had been traded. Clearly would've been great for the Wolves if he had been!
Let's take a look at some team stats from tonight's game...
Kevin Love was sorely missed on the boards as the Wolves were out-rebounded by a +11. The Wolves were also outdone in the paint by a +14 thanks to the efforts of L.A.'s Bynum & Gasol. The Lakers were turnover-happy as they racked up 17 (7 in the first quarter alone).
Minnesota will play host to the New Orleans Hornets tomorrow night. A full gameday preview of that one can be found on this site tomorrow afternoon.
Thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!