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GAMEDAY LINKS: Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Box Score Los Angeles Lakers 37 31 17 26 111
Play by Play Minnesota Timberwolves 24 29 23 24 100
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Gasol's start sparks Lakers to victory over Wolves

By JON KRAWCZYNSKI


Posted Feb 02 2013 12:20AM

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Maybe Pau Gasol deserves to start after all.

Gasol had 22 points and 12 rebounds in his return to the starting lineup and Kobe Bryant nearly had a triple-double in leading the Los Angeles Lakers to a 111-100 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night.

Bryant had 17 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists and Steve Nash added 17 points and seven assists for the Lakers, who played without Dwight Howard due to a sore right shoulder. They have won four of their last five games and beat the Wolves for the 20th straight time, the longest active streak in the NBA.

Alexey Shved scored 18 points and Ricky Rubio had nine points and seven assists for the Timberwolves, who lost their sixth straight game. They trailed by 29 in the second quarter, but climbed within four in the fourth.

Stumbling into Target Center on an eight-game road losing streak, the Lakers found out at shootaround that they would be without Howard, who flew back to Los Angeles to get platelet-rich plasma therapy on his torn labrum. That put Gasol back in the starting lineup and the disgruntled four-time All-Star responded with 13 points in the first quarter.

With only four healthy guards - three of them point guards - Wolves coach Rick Adelman had few options to deal with Bryant. He started out with the 6-foot Luke Ridnour on him, and it was a colossal failure. Bryant backed Ridnour down in the post mercilessly, forcing double teams and then finding teammates for wide-open 3s.

The Lakers hit eight of their first 10 3-pointers and shot a staggering 71 percent in the first 15 minutes of the game. And when Bryant and Gasol went to the bench, it only got worse for Minnesota. Steve Blake and Jodie Meeks kept drilling 3s, ripping off a 17-1 run to put the Lakers up 61-32.

These were the Lakers of old. Deep, versatile, talented and relentless.

Then, all of a sudden, they turned into the Old Lakers, and Rubio pounced.

Sensing a letup in intensity, Rubio picked up the pace. Looking like the player he was before tearing the ACL in his left knee - at home against these Lakers on March 9 - Rubio threaded no-look passes to cutting teammates for layups and 3-pointers and crossed over Nash to get to the rim, the kind of move he just hasn't been able to pull off since returning in December. An 11-1 run near the end of the second quarter gave the Wolves a glimmer of hope, and a switch to a zone defense completely befuddled them.

After hitting 22 of their first 30 shots, the Lakers missed 19 of their next 24 attempts. A steal and layup by Ridnour made it 72-64 early in the third quarter, and suddenly the ghost of blown leads past started to hover over the Lakers.

Two days after giving up a 13-point lead with 10 minutes to play to Michael Beasley and the lowly Suns, the Wolves pulled to 94-90 with just under 6 minutes to play on a 3 by Shved. Gasol and Bryant both went without a field goal in the second and third quarters, but Bryant snapped an 0-for-6 skid with a putback, Gasol had a dunk and finished the three-point play, and the Lakers never looked back.

NOTES: Gasol's 3-pointer in the first quarter was his first since Dec. 28. ... The Lakers outrebounded the Wolves 57-40 and grabbed 17 offensive rebounds. ... Antawn Jamison had 18 points and seven rebounds off the bench for the Lakers. ... Derrick Williams finished with 15 points and nine boards for Minnesota. ... The Wolves went 8 for 18 on free throws.

Copyright 2013 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited


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Points Gasol, 22
Rebounds Bryant/Gasol, 12
Assists Bryant, 8
Blocks Gasol, 3
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POSTGAME QUOTES



Mike D'Antoni:

On almost blowing 29 point lead...
"We knew that they were going to make a run. We helped them out by not attacking the zone. I'm happy. We just have to get wins and that's one."

On zone defense...
"It caused us to think and we are just not great in that department."

On a hot start...
"It was going so well at first; you just kind of hold your breath."

On Pau Gasol...
"I thought he looked good. He moves the ball. It's a different look for us. I thought he has played well the whole time. I haven't remembered in the last six games where he has played bad. I think he is in a rhythm; I think he's good."

On treatments for Dwight Howard and having him for upcoming games...
"I have no idea. The way he travels, he can get there (Detroit) in time. Will he feel pain and be okay 'I don't know.'"




Antawn Jamison:

On Kobe being such a key player defensively...
"I think so, it just really puts the pressure on our opponents because at any given time someone can run three or four baskets off in a row. Instead of them just really keying in on him as an offensive player and really predicting what we are doing offensively, so I think that he being a facilitator and getting guys involved and knowing when to take shots and when to be the guy who is running the offense. It really puts our opponents in a difficult position."

On being way too talented to have an eight game road losing streak...
"We just have to build on this. We know that we haven't been playing out best basketball but we have of late. The game the other night it was tough but once we got on the plane from Phoenix the guys were focused on this game and we didn't the thing we had to do. You have to find a way to come out and win and for us we just can't have this up and down type of road trip. We have to find a way to put a string of victories together. I like what we did tonight offensively. We got guys involved; we made open shots. We had open shots and some of them didn't go in but defensively we just have to find a way to be consistent for 48 minutes."




Pau Gasol:

On shooting long shots inside of from underneath...
"I was just taking the shots that the defense was giving us. Just taking the easy plays. Knocked down a few in the first quarter and just played the game. Later on I got some looks closer to the basket and that was good. A little bit of everything. They started playing the zone and first it was taking the game as it came and I was knocking them down and very hot in the first half as a team. It just made sense. The second half we struggled a little bit more on our outside shot and finally we got into the paint and created penetration in the zone and we got some easy ones."

On the team's energy...
"I think we all came out with good energy. The guys were focused and locked in. We made good plays. We were unselfish with the ball and we have been doing that lately very well. Last game we weren't consistent enough and we didn't have enough energy at the end to finish a game. We made too many mistakes and they (Phoenix) capitalized. Tonight was a much more complete game and a good win for our team."




Rick Adelman:

Opening statement...
"It was just a tail of two halves. The first half we didn't come out with energy and they just made every shot. We went to the zone and we got more active. We communicated a little bit better and got it back to within four but just couldn't get over the hump, we were too far down."

On Lakers killing them on the boards...
"Beat us on the boards. It happens when you are in the zone but we have to do a better job there and we just missed a ton of free throws when we were trying to get back into it."

On Chris Johnson giving them a lift in the fourth...
"Yeah he came in and he was active. We thought especially in the zone because he is not going to get taken down low or anything and he can be active and challenge some shots around the basket and he did that. He did a nice job."

On being undersized...
"That's something we have to take a hard look at. We are just too undersized. It spreads you out. The other thing is they made every single shot. No matter who it was, whoever came into the game, Gasol hit two 17-footers. Everybody was knocking it down and that just feeds their confidence."

On the Lakers being able to replace Howard with Gasol...
"Gasol is a really good player. He is really long. What makes him so effective too is he is long, he is big and he is a great passer. He really knows how to play the game and that really helps him."

On Ricky trying to lift the team...
"Yeah, he pushed it. I had to be a little bit careful in the second half because he had played a lot of minutes in the first half and we have a game tomorrow too. So I just tried to see if someone else could give us a lift. One thing he has to do is he has to be aggressive and looking for his own shot too because they are backing off him and he has to look to take that little 15-footer. But that will come with time as he gets his feet underneath him."

On struggling on free throws...
"We shoot them all the time. Guys have to go out there and do it. Everybody took their shot at it. It wasn't just one guy. The whole group got to the line. The only one who made two was Chris. It's just something you have to be able to convert. We have struggled as a team in areas offensively. We had one stretch in the second half where we had cut it down and he had seven or eight straight possessions where nothing happened for us and we were getting stops. You have got to make stops but you can't get buried to a team like that as far down as we were. It's just snowballed on us."




JJ Barea:

"You have to give them a lot of credit. They were hitting everything and they were moving the ball and everybody that was playing was making shots. We started the game too slow and then they got a rhythm going and it was over. We've got to do a better job of coming out hard. They came in here and dictated the game and then they started moving the ball. If you let a good team like that get rhythm, then they are going to be great."

On the switch to a zone seemed to help...
"It helped us, it helped us completely. We did a good job in the zone and that helped us stay in it and we made a couple of runs but it was a little bit too much."

On did the zone hurt the team's ability to rebound...
"That's something you take but we definitely had to change something. I think it was a good move and it helped us out. It was a chance t get close but it's tough when you give up a 15 point lead in the 1st quarter."




Derrick Williams:

On does it help knowing the team fought back..
"Yeah, that's been the story of our team the whole year. We might be down but we're never going to quit, especially on a nationally televised game against the Lakers. Everybody was hyped to play and got after it but we just started a little bit too slow and turned it on a little bit too late."

"It's tough, we've had a lot of games this year where we are down four or five points and with a few minutes left and we just can't close that gap and can't take that lead at the end. It's tough on our guys, on all of us, we're playing so hard and cutting it down that low. We just can't capitalize. Hats off to them for staying poised out there and getting that win because I think both teams were struggling and they just edged us out at the end."

On how is it when a team doesn't miss shots to start the game...
"It's tough; I think were shooting somewhere close to 80%. You are not going to win any games when the opponent is shooting close to 80% for more than a quarter. We had a hand up on a lot of those shots, sometimes you have games like that where no matter what you do, close out, hand in their face, they are going to make it. Hats off to them in the 1st half but I think we played really well in the 2nd though."

On what helped the comeback...
"I think the zone threw them off a little bit. We were helping each other and talking on defense. I don't think we did a good job of that in the first half of communicating out there on the defensive end I think everybody had each other's back in the second half, especially in the third quarter. Like I keep saying, on a nationally televised game you don't want to embarrass yourself or the team. We did a great job in the second half of getting a hand up and contesting shooters."

On do you see a difference with Kobe's playmaking...
"It definitely is. It's different than watching on TV and in the game against him. He's just a deadly weapon and if you leave him a little space he's going to knock down a shot. If you get too close to him he's hitting people on backdoor passes and he's been playing great this season and especially the last few games with his passing ability and things like that, just getting everybody involved. It's tough with a guy like Kobe passing the ball out there. He can knock down a fifteen footer or three pointer so it's a pick your poison."

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LAKERS-TIMBERWOLVES PREVIEW

By CHRIS ALTRUDA

Posted Jan 31 2013 4:51PM

The start of their Grammys road trip provided anything but harmony for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Facing their first opportunity to bounce back from a loss since Kobe Bryant turned facilitator and with Dwight Howard injured again, the Lakers try to regroup Friday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

During its three-game homestand, all finally seemed right for Los Angeles (20-26) in a season plagued by inconsistency and a lack of chemistry despite its star power. The Lakers averaged 106.0 points and shot 52.8 percent while totaling 89 assists in those victories, and Bryant - third in the league with 28.1 points per game - had more assists (39) than shots (34) in that span.

Bryant seemed well on his way to another double-digit assist total Thursday at Phoenix, racking up nine over the first two-plus quarters in helping the Lakers grab the lead. However, he had none over the final 21 minutes and went 2 for 7 with two turnovers in the last 7:57 as Los Angeles squandered a 13-point lead in the final 10 minutes of a 92-86 defeat.

"Tonight was a big setback for us especially," said guard Steve Nash, who had 11 points in his return to Phoenix after being acquired by the Lakers in a sign-and-trade deal in the offseason. "We were in control of the game and couldn't close it out. That's disappointing."

One of the reasons the Lakers lost their eighth straight road game was Howard leaving with 6:57 remaining after aggravating a shoulder injury, something that may hinder him for the remainder of the season. He finished with nine points and 14 rebounds.

"It is my understanding that it is something that will hurt, then it will go away and he will be able to play," coach Mike D'Antoni said. Pau Gasol picked up some of the slack with 14 points and five rebounds off the bench.

Bryant's 48 assists are his most in any four-game span of his career, and him sharing the ball often provides the Lakers their best chance for a victory. They are 3-15 when Bryant records fewer than five assists and 5-20 when he attempts 22 or more shots. When he takes fewer than 20, Los Angeles is 14-4.

When facing the Timberwolves, Bryant and the Lakers have always found the proper balance for victories since a double-overtime loss March 6, 2007. Los Angeles has won 19 straight over Minnesota (17-25), the longest active streak for one team over another.

The Wolves have dropped five straight after a 96-90 defeat to the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday that spoiled the return of coach Rick Adelman, who missed 11 games to be with his wife as she dealt with seizures. Nikola Pekovic had 17 points and 12 rebounds but Minnesota was outscored 12-4 over the final four minutes.

"Teams are playing aggressive and they want to win," guard Ricky Rubio said. "We have to come back and don't step back and try to push them."

That lack of aggressiveness has been most apparent on defense. The Timberwolves have allowed an average of 51.0 percent shooting - 7.9 above their season average - and 101.4 points during their losing streak while being outscored in the paint by 9.6 per game.

Adelman is hoping Pekovic and Alexey Shved having a game under their belts after each missed the previous five will help. Shved had 12 points and three assists off the bench Thursday, while Pekovic posted his seventh double-double in 15 home games with 17 points and 12 rebounds.


Copyright 2012 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
Probable Starters .
  Lakers    
  #15 World Peace SF #47 Kirilenko  
  #6 ClarkPF #7 Williams  
  #12 Howard C #14 Pekovic  
  #24 Bryant SG #13 Ridnour  
  #10 Nash PG #9 Rubio  


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Lakers Steve Blake
(abdominal surgery) is probable.
Jordan Hill
(torn labrum, left hip/herniated disc) is out.
Dwight Howard
(torn labrum, right shoulder) is questionable.
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Jazz Chase Budinger
(lateral meniscus tear, left knee) is out.
Malcolm Lee
(right knee, right hip) is out.
Kevin Love
(right hand) is out.
Nikola Pekovic
(right thigh contusion) is day-to-day.
Brandon Roy
(right knee) is out.
Alexey Shved
(sprained left ankle) is day-to-day.
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02/01 - LAL @ MIN
02/28 - MIN @ LAL
03/27 - LAL @ MIN
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