THE FACTS: The Los Angeles Lakers built a huge lead on the Minnesota Timberwolves and had just enough in the tank to hold off Minnesota at the end, winning by a 111-100 margin on Friday night. Starting in place of the injured Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol led the Lakers with 22 points and 12 rebounds and Kobe Bryant had another well-rounded game with 17 points, 12 rebounds, and eight assists.
In the opening quarter and a half, the Lakers (21-26) could do not wrong. They scored 37 in the first quarter and built a 29 point lead with 6:22 to play in the second quarter. But the Wolves (17-26) went on a 17-3 run to finish the first half and slowly whittled away at the Lakers' lead, closing the gap to as few as four points. But turnovers by Minnesota and key shots by Los Angeles down the stretch cut Minnesota's rally short. Alexey Shved led the Timberwolves with 18 points. His five 3-pointers are a career best. Derrick Williams (15 points and nine rebounds) and Ricky Rubio (nine points, seven assists) also contributed some of their most effective minutes of the year for Minnesota.
QUOTABLE: "We knew they were going to make a run. And we helped them out by not attacking their zone. I'm happy though. We just have to get wins and that was one."
-- Lakers' coach Mike D'Antoni
THE STAT: With both teams missing their strongest rebounders, the Lakers found a way to dominate the boards, outrebounding Minnesota 66-49. But the key stat was the Lakers' shooting in the first quarter and a half. At the time Los Angeles built a 29 point lead, they were shooting 70.6 percent from the floor and 81.1 percent from beyond the arc.
TURNING POINT: Minnesota kept chiseling away af the Lakers' lead, cutting it to four points with 5:55 to play. The Lakers responded by putting the ball in Bryant's hands, who found a cutting Gasol for a dunk-and-one. The next time down the floor, Kobe did the same thing, finding Antawn Jamison. The resulting nine point lead, combined with some made free throws in the final minutes, gave Los Angeles the victory.
QUOTABLE II: "They made every single shot. It didn't matter who it was. Whoever came into the game. Gasol hit two 17 footers -- everybody was knocking it down. And that just fed their confidence."
-- Minnesota coach Rick Adelman
HOT: Los Angeles seemingly could not miss from three early in the game. By the middle of the second quarter, the Lakers were 9-for-11 from beyond the arc.
NOT: After Steve Nash's 3 at 6:22 in the second (which gave the Lakers their 29 point lead), Los Angeles was 3-for-22 from 3-pointer. Wolves offset that stat a little with some ineptitude of their own, only hitting 44.4 percent of their free throws (8-for-18).
GOOD MOVE: In the third quarter, Adelman put his team in a zone defense. The Lakers did not adapt, going 3-for-19 from the floor in the quarter.
QUOTABLE III: "We shifted to a zone in the third and we communicated a little bit better and got it back to four. But we just couldn't get over the hump. We were too far down."
-- Rick Adelman
BAD MOVE: J. J. Barea venting some frustration after being taken out of the game in the second quarter with his team down 25 points. His outburst, laced with a few "colorful metaphors" and well-heard by surrounding fans, might draw him a fine from the league.
NOTABLE: The Los Angeles Lakers now have a 20 game winning streak against Minnesota, the longest active win streak in the NBA. But they have struggled lately, coming into this game with only five victories over their last 16 games. They were also only 5-16 on the road this season. Minnesota has struggled recently as well, having now lost 11 of their last 12.
UP NEXT: For the Wolves, Saturday vs. New Orleans, Monday vs. Portland, Wednesday vs. San Antonio. For the Lakers, Sunday @ Detriot, Tuesday @ Brooklyn, Thursday @ Boston.