The Minnesota Timberwolves' struggles continue as they've now dropped their sixth straight game, 11 of their last 12 games and this is now the 20th straight loss to the Los Angeles Lakers (dating back to March '07).
The Wolves fell behind by 29 points at one point during the game as it seemed we were on our way to a humiliating blowout loss.
The TWolves continue to show fight, though and were actually able to cut the lead down to just two possessions (four points) in the fourth quarter, but couldn't come all the way back for an incredible comeback.
The Lakers set the net on fire in the first quarter as they hit 68.2% of their shots (15-for-22_ and nailed 5 three pointers (of 7--71.4%). They also beat the Wolves by a +9 on the glass (4-13). It wasn't as though the Wolves were terrible on O, though. Minnesota shot 50% from the field (11-for-22) and 2-of-2 from deep (both by Shved). Pau Gasol scored 13 of his 22 points, Kobe added 7 of his 17 and Nash & MWP added 5 apiece as part of a 37-point Lakers first quarter. The Wolves got 6 points from both Pekovic & Shved, while AK & D-Will both added 4 as part of a 24-point Wolves first.
The Wolves played the second quarter a bit closer in the second quarter, as the Lakers outscored them by just 2 points (31-29) and took a 15-point lead into halftime. The Lakers got off to a hot start in that second quarter as they tallied that 29-point lead, but the TWolves came roaring back to cut it to 15 just before the break. The Lakers made another 5 threes in the second quarter as they went 5-for-12, not surprisingly they're near 70% shooting didn't keep up as they ended the half shooting 56.2% (27-48) from the field. Ricky Rubio scored 7 of his 9 points, both Pek & Barea added 6 apiece. The Lakers got 9 points (of 13) from Earl Clark, 7 (of 10) from Steve Blake and 6 (of 8) from Jodie Meeks.
The Timberwolves continued to fight their way back in the third quarter. It was thanks to a 2-3 zone defense that Adelman employed for the majority of the second half. The Wolves outscored L.A. 23-17 in the third to cut the lead to 9 points after three quarters. Kirilenko led the Wolves with 8 of his 12 in the third and D-Will added 6 of his 15, while Jamison had 6 of his 18 and Nash added 5 of his 17. The Lakers shot just 3-of-19 from the field (16%), 1-for-5 (20%) from deep and 10-of-12 (83%) from the line.
The Wolves hot second half continued early in the fourth quarter when they were able to cut the lead to just four points, midway through the final quarter. Unfortunately they couldn't pull ahead and just didn't have enough in the final minutes. The Wolves had a number of 'empty possessions' late in the fourth as Minnesota lost, yet again, 100-111. Chris Johnson played the majority of the fourth quarter and finished with 8 of his 8 points and Shved added another 6pts to finish with 18. Pau Gasol & Antawn Jamison both added 9 points apiece for the Lakers as they closed out the Wolves for their 20th-straight W (vs. MIN) dating back to March 2007.
Alexey Shved finished with 18pts, 4reb, 6ast and went 5-for-11 from deep in 27 minutes off the bench. Shved hit a number of big shots and played some decent defense on Kobe Bryant as he's looked better offensively since his 5 games off with that ankle sprain. Derrick Williams added 15pts, 9reb, 1stl and 1blk; Nikola Pekovic ended with 14pts, 9reb, 1stl and 1blk. Pek had a good start to this one using his physicality matched up against Gasol. Pau did send a number of his shots back during the game as his length did bother Pek. J.J. Barea added 14pts, 1reb and 3ast though he did have a number of bad possessions as he turned the ball over with some very ugly passes (he ended with 4tos & 4fls on the night). Lastly, Chris Johnson finally got some PT under head coach Rick Adelman. Johnson played 11 minutes (all mostly in the fourth quarter). Chris finished with 8pts on 3-of-4 shooting as well as 5reb, 2ast and 1stl. The best part about CJ's play? Greg Stiemsma didn't play at all tonight and if Johnson continues to play like this, he'll easily take that backup center job from him.
The Lakers were without their star center (Howard), so Pau Gasol (who had been relegated to the bench) started in his place. Pau made the most of it, he finished with 22pts, 12reb, 2ast and 3blks in 37 minutes. He's certainly no Dwight Howard defensively, but he did a good job in the paint sending a number of shots back and altering plenty others. Antawn Jamison added 18pts, 7reb, 1ast and 2stls. Jamison saw a slight uptick in minutes (28 off the bench) with Howard out, making him the first big man off the bench. Kobe Bryant finished just 2 assists shy of a triple-double: 17pts, 12reb and 8ast. I was surprised that he continued in his facilitator role late in the fourth when the Wolves were threatening to come all the way back in this one. Clearly it worked, though. Steve Nash added 17pts, 7reb, 7ast and 2blks as well as 3-of-3 from deep. He's become a bit more of a shooting guard with Bryant's playmaking emergence and tonight he certainly excelled in that role. Earl Clark continues to start at power forward and tonight he showed he's worthy of being a starter as he added 13pts, 10reb, 1ast, 1stl and 1blk. He did struggle shooting from the field (6-of-15), but made some solid plays on both ends that led to the win.
MISC. STATS: Luke Ridnour's 1 block ties a season-high (the 9th time this season)......Ricky Rubio tied season-highs with 4 field goals made and 9 field goals attempted, he also set a new season-high with 4 defensive rebounds......Alexey Shved set new season/career-highs with 5 three pointers made and 11 three-pointers attempted........Chris Johnson tied a season-high with his 1 steal and tied a career-high with his 2 assists......
Despite a near 70% start from the floor, the Lakers finished 42.4% (39-for-92) from the field, 37.5% from deep (12-for-32) and 84% from the line (84%). The Wolves left 10 points at the line (8-for-18) and were out-rebounded by a +17 (40-57). When you look at the team stats, shooting 44.4% from the line and that big rebounding disparity are big keys to this Wolves loss.
MISC. STATS: The Wolves tied their second-best mark of the season with their 10 made threes.......Minnesota tied a their second-worst mark of the season with their 8 made free throws and also set a new season-low by shooting 44.4% from the line.......The Lakers' 32 three-point attempts and 57 rebounds are new season-highs for a Wolves opponent, their 40 defensive rebounds ties the best mark of the season and L.A.'s 17 offensive rebounds tie the second-best mark for a Minny opponent this season......The Lakers' 14 personal fouls are a season-low for a Wolves opponent........
The Wolves are now 17-26 on the season, they'll be right back in action tomorrow night vs. the New Orleans Hornets at the Target Center. That one is set to tip at 7pmCT, we'll have a preview up on this site tomorrow afternoon. Until then, thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!