Notebook: Lakers 116, Timberwolves 94



Posted Mar 1, 2013 2:13 AM

Dan Arritt, for NBA.com

THE FACTS: The Timberwolves limped into Staples Center on Thursday night, hoping to find enough healthy bodies to take the floor against the Lakers, much less be competitive against a team that's fighting for its playoff existence. The Lakers didn't show any sympathy against Minnesota, however, burying one 3-pointer after another in the 116-94 victory at Staples Center. To make matters worse, the Timberwolves lost another key play to injury.

THE STAT: The Lakers shot 16-for-32 from 3-point range, one short of the franchise record tied earlier this season. They also won their 21st consecutive game against Minnesota, which is the longest active winning streak by an NBA team against another. It's also the fifth-longest streak against a single opponent in NBA history.

QUOTABLE: "We just didn't have enough tonight. They shot the ball really well and Kobe [Bryant] pretty much dominated the game."
-- Minnesota coach Rick Adelman

TURNING POINT: The Timberwolves hung around for most of the first half until Bryant scored the final seven points for the Lakers to give them a 57-47 halftime lead. Minnesota might a slight push to get within seven midway through the third quarter but Bryant sank another 3 to push the lead back to 10 and the Timberwolves never got any closer than eight.

HOT: Bryant scored 33 points to lead the Lakers, the 24th time this season he has reached the 30-point plateau. That ties him with Kevin Durant of the Thunder for the most 30-point games in the NBA this season. Steve Blake had his best game of the season for L.A., scoring a season-high 13 points off the bench and also contributing a season-high seven rebounds and six assists. J.J. Barea had the hot hand for the Timberwolves, scoring a team-high 20 points, one off his season high.

QUOTABLE II: "I'm just trying to get in the playoffs. I play for one thing and one thing only and that's winning championships."
-- Kobe Bryant

NOT: After learning that starting forward Andrei Kirilenko could be sidelined a while with a strained left calf, starting center Nikola Pekovic went to the locker room in the first half with an abdominal strain and did not return. The Timberwolves were already without leading scorer and rebounder Kevin Love (hand surgery), as well as Chase Budinger (left knee), Malcolm Lee (right knee and hip) and Brandon Roy (right knee).

QUOTABLE III: "I've never seen anything like this. It's not just getting injuries, because when guys do start trickling back, they've never played together. We have no rhythm as a team."
-- Rick Adelman

GOOD MOVE: With a lack of height inside, the Timberwolves were forced to collapse on Lakers center Dwight Howard. That opened things up on the perimeter for Lakers point guard Steve Nash, who scored seven of his 10 points in the opening quarter. Blake then got into the act, prompting Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni to reward him for his strong early play by keeping him on the floor when Nash returned, moving Bryant to small forward and Metta World Peace to power forward.

BAD MOVE: If the Lakers are going to make a run at qualifying for the playoffs, they need Howard to be healthy. He has already missed a handful of games this season with a torn labrum in his right shoulder, an injury that probably won't begin to heal until the offseason. Still, D'Antoni had Howard on the floor leading by 22 points with just under six minutes remaining. D'Antoni finally subbed Howard out with 5:03 remaining. Howard finished with 11 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks.

NOTABLE: The Lakers moved within two games of Houston for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West. ... Bryant had two steals to become the 15th NBA player with at least 18,000 for his career. ... Bryant is 8-for-14 from 3-point range in the last three games after shooting 9-for-49 in his previous 18. ... Dante Cunningham started in place of Kirilenko and finished with five points and three rebounds in 33 minutes.

UP NEXT: For the Lakers, Sunday vs. Atlanta, Tuesday @ Oklahoma City, Wednesday @ New Orleans. For the Timberwolves, Saturday @ Portland, Monday vs. Miami, Wednesday vs. Washington.