The Timberwolves did their work early and found themselves up big over a very shorthanded Lakers squad. Minnesota had 38 points in the first quarter led by Martin with 14 & Love with 11. Last week when the Wolves faced the Grizzlies (on January 31) they scored just 37 points through the first two quarters. There's little doubt that the Lakers D doesn't compare to Memphis'.
In that second quarter the Wolves built the lead up to 25 at one point and seemed well on their way to an easy victory. By halftime the Lakers cut the lead to 16 after the first half thanks in large part to the play of Manny Harris. Harris is currently on a 10-day contract with the Lakers, but watching him play, I have a strong feeling he could get a 'rest-of-the-season' deal. Harris scored 13 of his 19 points in the second quarter.
Throughout the second half it was largely the play of Los Angeles' second unit that allowed them to stay in the game. The Lakers' reserves scored 72 of L.A.'s 99 points!
With a lot of L.A.'s key players going down with injuries, it's clear that they need that kind of production from their reserves. The Lakers are currently without their two best players: Kobe Bryant (knee), Pau Gasol (groin) and they had two of their most talented reserves get injured in this game. Jodie Meeks played just one minute before going down with a right ankle sprain, he didn't return. Jordan Hill played only 4 minutes off the bench, but word came at halftime that he had suffered a head injury and wouldn't return. In addition to that, Steve Blake (who just returned from a month-long absence with an elbow injury) ruptured an eardrum in the first half, but continued to play anyway! You can't exactly feel bad for the Lakers after the season the Wolves had to endure last year.
Despite the Lakers being shorthanded, they just wouldn't go away down the stretch. As a result the starters had to remain on the court late into the fourth quarter in this one. That usually wouldn't be such a big deal, but the Wolves have to travel to Oklahoma City tonight to take on Kevin Durant and the Thunder tomorrow night.
Love played 41 minutes in this one and he certainly took some serious punishment in that fourth quarter. Not once but twice he hit the floor hard and struggled to get back up. The worst came as he went in for a layup late in the fourth and was met by Robert Sacre in mid-air. Love hit the floor square on his tailbone and then proceeded to bash his head on the floor, too. That was certainly the scariest because he immediately grabbed his tailbone and laid motionless on the floor. He was helped to his feet and out of a TWolves timeout he returned to the floor to shoot his free throws and remained in the game for those final few minutes. I think it goes without saying that he'll be sore tomorrow, but considering how tough Love is, I fully expect him to play tomorrow in OKC.
Dante Cunningham had 5 points on the night, but he also hit a career mark with his 2000th point.
Ricky Rubio finished with double-digit assist numbers and he now has exactly 400 assists on the season.
Gorgui Dieng played 8 minutes off the bench, but he played very well. He was aggressive on both ends, but unfortunately that came to an abrupt end after he took a Wes Johnson elbow to the temple in the second quarter. He didn't return to the game and as of right now he's been diagnosed with a face contusion (bruise). Going up against a fairly big OKC front line tomorrow night, it would be nice to have him available to play. In those 8 minutes, Dieng tied a season/career-high with 2 steals.
J.J. Barea played fairly well and was aggressive attacking the rim. He went attempted and made 5 free throws, both are new season-highs.
Martin tied a season-high with 32 points, he went 13-26 from the field which are new season-highs in makes and attempts. His four assists also ties a season-high (for the 7th time this season). Martin's 13 made field goals was just one shy of tying his career-high (14) (his career-high in attempts is 29).
The Timberwolves did a lot of their damage outside of the paint and a big part of that has to do with the continued absence of Nikola Pekovic. The Wolves scored just 34 points in the paint which is second to their second-low of 28 (12/7 vs. Miami).
The Timberwolves are back at .500 and they'll have another chance to get back over that mark tomorrow night. It'll most certainly be a HUGE challenge considering how well Kevin Durant has been playing as of late. That one tips from OKC at 7pmCST, enjoy!