The Minnesota Timberwolves are looking to snap an NBA-high 16-game losing streak vs. the Lakers (TWolves also have a 16-game losing streak vs. Portland). They're also looking to beat both Los Angeles teams for the first time since the 2004-05 season! No matter tonight's result the Minnesota Timberwolves have strung back-to-back winning months for the first time since in almost seven years! This February they've gone 8-6, which was after they went 10-8 in January, the last time was March/April of 2005!
The Timberwolves' last win over the Lakers came on March 6th, 2007 and the last time they've won at the Staples Center versus the Lakers was December 5, 2005. Over these 16 consecutive losses, the Lakers have outscored Minnesota by an average of 107.4-95.5.
During this 16-game skid, Kobe Bryant has averaged 27.2ppg, but the TWolves may get lucky, as Kobe may not be able to play. If you haven't heard already, he broke his nose on a hard foul from Dwayne Wade, however that's not the problem. The problem is he also has a concussion and because of the NBA's Concussion Policy, Bryant may be forced to sit. According to that policy, to play, a player must: 1.) be symptom-free, 2.) make it through increasing stages of exertion, & 3.) be cleared by NBA neurologist. According to the most recent update via ESPN, Kobe will be a game-time decision. If Kobe is unable to play, Brown is considering Devin Ebanks, Jason Kapono or Steve Blake.
While it would be great if Kobe can't play, the TWolves have a big injury problem of their own to deal with. Kevin Love suffered what the TWolves injury staff is calling a rib contusion. He got X-rays today that showed everything was fine, but Love said there's a lot of bruising and inflammation. He fully expects to play, the problem is how limited he'll be. He went down with the injury on a shove from behind from Randy Foye last night vs. the Clippers. He returned to the bench in the fourth quarter, wearing a padded shirt under his jersey, but didn't have to come back into the game as Derrick Williams and Michael Beasley dominated the Clippers in the fourth quarter for the win. Expect Love to play & start--likely wearing the padded shirt, as well, definitely keep an eye on him though. With the Lakers' big bodies (Pau & Bynum), Love may look to play more of a faceup game and stick with mid-range and three-point shots tonight (has been getting more involved in the paint this season, though).
In the last meeting between these two back in late-January, the Timberwolves were actually down by 18 at one point, though they battled back in the final minutes of the game, took the lead, but ultimately lost 106-101 at the Target Center.
The Lakers shot 51% in that game (40-79), while the TWolves shot just 39% (40-104) from the field. However, Minnesota did out-rebound the Lakers 52-41, they beat them in fast break points 16-0, the TWolves' bench outscored L.A.'s 42-15 and the Wolves controlled the paint; 56-42. Minnesota also had a season-low 4 team turnovers as well as a season-low in points of turnovers, allowing just 4!
In that game the TWolves got 33pts & 13rebs from Love, 18pts & 12rebs from Beas (off the bench) and it was just Pek's second start of the season as he played only 20 minutes but had 12pts & 9rebs. Speaking of Pek, in the post-game Andrew Bynum said something to the effect of: "Thank God, they took out Pekovic when they did!" Expect a good battle between these two tonight!
For the Lakers, Kobe lead the way with 35pts & 14rebs, Pau added 28pts & 6rebs, while Bynum also had 21pts & 7rebs. Ultimately if the TWolves can stop one of the Lakers' "Big Three" they have a good chance of winning this one. Stats don't lie: Kobe: 28.4ppg, 4.9apg, 1.3spg; Pau: 17.0ppg, 10.6rpg, 1.2bpg; Bynum: 16.3ppg, 12.8rpg, 2.0bpg (these are season averages).
This will be the second meeting of four total this season, the Wolves will face them again at the Target Center on March 9th and again on March 16th--back at the Target Center.
The TWolves will be looking to move to 19-17 on the year as well as 9-7 on the road. While the Lakers looked to push their record to 21-14 and 15-2 at home.
MISC. NOTES: Last night vs. the Clippers, Minnesota won it's 5th game of the season when trailing after three quarters. In the past two seasons, with Rambis at the helm, the Wolves went 6-116 in the same situation.......Ricky Rubio hasn't recorded a double-digit assist game since Feb. 7th vs. the Kings (when he had 14), he had 13 double-digit assist games in the Wolves' first 25 games......Over the past two games the TWolves have hit 21 of 44 shots from three (48%), over their previous 15 games they shot just 27%....
That's all for now, tipoff is set for 9:30pmCT from Staples Center in Los Angeles, enjoy the game and check back for a full gameday recap following the final horn. Thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!