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GAMEDAY LINKS: Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Box Score Minnesota Timberwolves 22 25 28 19 94
Play by Play Los Angeles Lakers 28 29 34 25 116
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Timberwolves vs. Lakers
Postgame: Kobe Bryant
Postgame: Dwight Howard
Postgame: Steve Nash
Postgame: Mike D'Antoni
Dunk of the Night
Rubio Shakes Bryant
Kobe's Beautiful Pass
Nash to Jamison
Steal Leads to Slam
Hoop and Harm
Throwin' It Down
Nash to Kobe
Block Party
Kobe's Big Slam

Kobe scores 33 in Lakers' latest win over Wolves

By GREG BEACHAM


Posted Mar 01 2013 2:21AM

LOS ANGELES (AP) Starting with Kobe Bryant's soaring dunk over Nikola Pekovic on their second possession, the Los Angeles Lakers jumped to a big lead against a woeful opponent and never fumbled it away while moving to the brink of a .500 record.

After the Lakers' tumultuous season, such simple achievements qualify as serious progress toward a playoff spot.

Bryant scored 33 points and Antawn Jamison added 17 in the Lakers' 21st consecutive victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves, 116-94 on Thursday night.

The Lakers (29-30) have won 12 of 17 and five of seven while moving within two games of Houston for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference with their longest stretch of solid play this year. They're getting steady leadership from Bryant, who has reasserted himself as a scorer after working as a setup man for several weeks.

"I've been in attack mode since the break. It's go time," Bryant said. "We're getting a little closer, and we're starting to get in more of a striking distance where you start watching (the playoff race)."

Bryant and Jodie Meeks each hit four of Los Angeles' 16 3-pointers, and Meeks finished with 16 points. Bryant had 22 points in a strong first half for the Lakers, focused on scoring while the Timberwolves overcompensated defensively for the low-post absence of Andrei Kirilenko, who has a strained right calf, and Pekovic, who left early with an abdominal strain.

Frequently guarded by Los Angeles native Derrick Williams, Bryant catalyzed a solid all-around game by the Lakers, who finally appeared to become a cohesive team in February. Bryant and Steve Nash sat out the fourth quarter for the Lakers, who will have a chance to get back to .500 for the first time since Dec. 28 when they host Atlanta on Sunday night.

"We've had enough time together where we've turned a corner and we're making improvement instead of continually taking steps back," said Nash, who had 10 points and seven assists. "I think that improvement has been a long time coming, but it's only the beginning. We really need to continue to improve."

J.J. Barea scored 20 points and Luke Ridnour added 19 for the short-handed Timberwolves, who have lost four straight and 20 of 24. Ricky Rubio had 13 points, 13 assists and eight rebounds, but thanks to its latest injury woes, Minnesota never threated to get its first road win over the Lakers since Dec. 2, 2005.

"It's been horrendous. I've never seen anything like this," Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman said. "And it's not just getting injuries, but when the guys do start trickling back, they haven't played together, so we've got no rhythm as a team. We're just trying to fit people in. It's been really frustrating, but I give our guys credit. They're still trying to fight through it. After a while, it gets really old, but the schedule doesn't stop. You've got to keep playing."

Los Angeles' mastery of Minnesota is the NBA's longest active winning streak in any matchup. The Lakers never trailed the undermanned Wolves in the latest meeting, cruising to their 13th straight home win over Minnesota.

The Lakers haven't lost to Minnesota since March 6, 2007.

Starting with Bryant's poster-worthy slam over Pekovic, the fifth-leading scorer in NBA history played the entire half with particular fire. Los Angeles' veteran legs appeared rejuvenated by two days off, and the Lakers took a 10-point halftime lead on nearly 53 percent shooting with eight 3-pointers.

"Man, it's tough. I don't think anybody in here has ever lost like this before," Williams said. "I mean, we've had only nine or 10 players all season, and it takes a toll on you every single night - especially against the Lakers, who have a couple of guys that come off the bench who could start on a lot of teams in the NBA."

Barea kept Minnesota close with 13 points on a series of strong drives to the hoop, but the Wolves' lack of inside depth was obvious. Rubio also responded well to his benching late in Tuesday's overtime loss at Phoenix.

NOTES: Los Angeles finished one 3-pointer shy of tying its franchise record for a regulation game, most recently matched Nov. 30 against Denver. ... Kevin Love attended the game, but the former UCLA star hasn't played since Jan. 3 due to a broken bone in his right hand. ... Zach Galifianakis, Will Arnett, Adam Carolla, Emmanuelle Chriqui and Los Angeles Galaxy players Robbie Keane and Mike Magee watched from courtside.

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 Bryant, 33
Rebounds Howard, 13
Assists Rubio (MIN), 13
Steals Clark, 3
Blocks Howard, 4
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POSTGAME QUOTES



Mike D'Antoni:

significance of play tonight:
“I think our defense is getting a little bit better. We understand what we’re trying to do. We had some parts good ball game and some other parts not so good. We just need to keep evening that out. That’s the key going forward and keeping everyone involved. We did our job and we’re getting better. This is our home court and now we just need to get to the game against Atlanta and see what we can do.”

On Dwight Howard:
“He makes a big difference on defense. I wish we could get him the ball a little bit better. We don’t do a very good job of getting him the ball. He changes the game. Sometimes you don’t see it as much as somebody dunking or shooting threes but he changes the game up.”

On Antawn Jamison moving without the ball:
“He is just a very smart basketball player. He understands spacing, he understands when to cut. He is playing really well. He had bits and pieces earlier and I think with [Steve] Nash and Steve Blake back he can show his whole thing and he is playing great. He understands [the timing] exactly. He’s the type of basketball player that I love. I think the way he plays is easy to play with because you know what he’s doing. He cuts in at the right time. He slips picks and does a lot of things that makes a smart basketball player on the floor.”

On bench improvement because of [Steve] Blake:
“I think that’s helped. I’ve also settled down with these guys and given them roles to play. Before, we were trying to find who could do it and who couldn’t. I didn’t know everybody and how they would fit. With Steve Nash coming back and Steve Blake, it helps these guys. Jodie’s defense is really good. I know he made shots in the second half and didn’t make any in the first half but his defense is getting a lot better.”




Steve Blake:

On the team’s recent play:
“We’re just playing with a really good rhythm. Our spacing has been really well. Antawn [Jamison] is so good at getting those pick-and-rolls and then finding the open spot and Jodie’s [Meeks] a great jump-shooter. Our pieces fit well together.”

On his play tonight and what he does to take some of the pressure of Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash:
“Just to make plays and try to find the gaps and the open lanes for passes and then when my shot’s there take it and knock it down.”

On the team’s momentum:
“We’re building off of each other. Everyone’s getting better and getting comfortable with each other with every game that goes by. We got to continue to play hard and play together, but it starts on the defensive end and I think we’ve been doing a good job of that.”




Kobe Bryant:

On why the team looks so of late:
“You know we were playing well going into the All-Star break but we laid a couple eggs against Boston and the Clippers, but for the most part we’ve been playing pretty well.”

On his play tonight and what the All-Star break did for him:
“Just rest, I got a chance to just get off my legs a bit. Just doing a lot just trying to eat the right things and do the right things to maintain my body.”

On his recent play and if he’s working towards the MVP award:
“I’m just trying to get into the playoffs. I play for one thing and one thing only and that’s winning championships. So maybe if we had started off the season a little bit better and if our record was a little bit better, maybe.”




Jodie Meeks:

On tonight’s win:
“We just played as a team. We knew we had to get this game it’s at home, protect the home court and we want to get to .500 and make this playoff run. We know it’s not going to be easy, but we’re looking forward to the challenge.”

On what the team learned from the Denver game:
“It was a tough game for us coming off a back-to-back and it got away from us in the second half, but I thought the team play hard. You have games like that so we knew coming in tonight it was an important game and we met the challenge tonight.”

On the team’s recent play:
“We’ve been playing great defense lately I think we know that’s what it takes to win. Kobe’s [Bryant] installed and Dwight’s [Howard] installed in us that we got to help more on the weak side and offensively we’re just playing free-mindedly just shoot when you’re open and if you’re not just pass to your open teammates.”




Steve Nash:

On tonight’s win:
“We’re getting better for sure. I still feel like we can improve. I really feel like we’re a long ways off of what we could be but we’re getting better and we’ve won I think in a required clip and we’re putting ourselves in a position where we actually could climb into the playoffs.”

On what changed to make this team better:
“Time. We need time together. We’ve had enough time together were we’ve kind of turned a corner and we’re making improvement instead of continually taking steps back and I think that improvement’s been a long time coming but it’s only the beginning. We really need to continue to improve.”

On the biggest difference between the team’s play now versus the team’s play one month ago:
“We’ve had time together. We have a little bit more of an understanding at both ends of the floor, there’s that familiarity at least in part that I think allows us to be a little more efficient.”




Antawn Jamison:

On what tonight’s win means given Minnesota’s injuries:
“You got to take it as progress. Coach said it before, this is a team that even though they’re depleted, they play hard and we’ve seen that with both games. Each quarter we should be up by 5 be up, be up by 10 by halftime and at the end of the game we should be up by 20 so we did a good job as far as executing things we need to do on offense. Defensively just being sound and not letting the game get away from us.”

On the play of the bench:
“We’re playing with the ultimate confidence. We’re relying on each other. We know what our roles are. Myself, [Steve] Blake and Jodie [Meeks] and Earl [Clark], whoever’s out there to really sum it all up we have pretty good chemistry now, and that’s been the one thing that’s really hindered us throughout the season as far as trying to get that chemistry and trying to get a group of guys that really complement each other, and now you’re starting to see that we can do that.”




Dwight Howard:

On the defense and the game:
“We were talking. We were very active. We understood what we needed to get accomplished tonight, especially defensively, and we did that.”

“We didn’t turn over the ball as much so that is the big key right there. Denver is tough to play at home. They are 21-3, so they are tough to play at home. But, we wanted to come back and make a better effort and tonight I think that is what we did.




Rick Adelman:

Opening statement:
“We just didn’t have enough tonight. They shot the ball really well, and Kobe [Bryant] pretty much dominated the game.”

On the trouble guarding Kobe Bryant:
“We tried different things, but they really shot it well from the outside. They made a lot of threes and we had to pick our poison. He really got on a roll. We were trying to stay in his vision, but he made some long threes. He got it going, and we were just battling uphill the whole game.”

On Ricky Rubio’s play tonight:
“Our biggest concern is what we’re doing as a team. He played well and he found people, but we don’t have any margin for error. We have to have everybody playing well for us, not only him. Our three guards, Luke [Ridnour], Ricky [Rubio}, and JJ [Barea] played good, but we just didn’t have enough tonight.”

On the numerous injuries this season:
“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, and we’re just trying to fit people in. It’s just been horrendous. I’ve never seen anything like it because it’s not just one; it’s two or three guys. It’s been really frustrating, but give our guys credit they’re still trying to fight through it, but after a while it gets really old. The schedule doesn’t stop, we have to keep playing.”

On Chris Johnson guarding Dwight Howard tonight:
“We had to go to a zone when he was in there against [Dwight] Howard. We tried to help and surround him, but that opened the shooting for them. It’s like damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”




Ricky Rubio:

On the injuries:
“It’s tough. There’s nothing we can do, we have to get through this, and we have to play the players we are. Sometimes it tough, you know, [Nikola] Pekovic was having a great game, 6 points early in the game, and he goes down. But we just have to get through this.”

On the season:
“Yeah it’s been a tough season but we have to learn. We can’t give up, we just have to fight every game and learn from this experience. I think every day, every game is an opportunity for us to grow as a team. We’re trying to build something here.”

On his personal growth:
“This season I was trying to get back healthy after my injury last season and I feel pretty good. Now I want to get up another level in my game, try to control more of the tempo of the game. I’m having a lot of turnovers lately and I want to improve that. I want to improve my shot and I’m trying to improve controlling the tempo of the game. I want to try and improve everything.”




Derrick Williams:

On the game:
“It’s tough. I don’t think anybody in here ever lost like this before. It’s tough when we only have nine, ten players all season and it takes a toll on you every single night. Especially against the Lakers, a couple of guys that come off the bench can start on a lot of teams in the NBA. It’s just tough, every single night.”

On defensive matchups:
“You just have to do what you have to do, no questions asked. Coach tells you what to do, you just got to do it. I was guarding Kobe [Bryant], Luke [Ridnour] was guarding Earl Clark and Ron Artest [Metta World Peace] pretty much all game. With the lineups that we have and the people that we have, you got to do things like that and it’s going to be tough on all of us.”




JJ Barea:

On Ricky Rubio’s ability:
“He’s great. He makes everybody better. He’s a competitor, he plays hard every minute he’s out there and he has the vision. He can pass the ball like the best of them.”

On coming into the game with injuries:
“You know it’s tough. We came in with injuries and [Nikola] Pekovic started the game good and then he got hurt so it’s tough. But you got to give the Lakers credit, they did a good job of knocking down shots and everybody played good for them.”

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TIMBERWOLVES-LAKERS PREVIEW

By JORDAN GARRETSON

Posted Feb 27 2013 5:31PM

Mired in a disappointing season, the Los Angeles Lakers have been resurgent of late. But they've still showed they have a thin margin for error, particularly with turnovers and free-throw shooting.

That margin may be a little wider than usual Thursday night when they try to extend their run of 20 straight wins over the struggling Minnesota Timberwolves - the longest active streak in the NBA.

The Lakers are 28-30, but their recent 11-5 stretch has been a step in the right direction for a team whose season would be a total disappointment without a playoff appearance.

However, two areas continue to plague them. Los Angeles' 15.3 turnovers per game rank near the bottom of the league, while its 69.0 percentage from the free-throw line is last.

Both issues reared their heads in a 119-108 loss at Denver on Monday. The Lakers committed 12 of their 15 turnovers before halftime, leading to a 13-point deficit, and hit just 14 of 31 free throws.

Dwight Howard, shooting a career-worst 48.5 percent from the line, was 3 of 14.

"We missed 17 free throws and you get beat by 11, you can do the math. And it doesn't add up," coach Mike D'Antoni told the NBA's official website. "You can't go 14 for 31 from the line and turn it over on the road and expect to win."

Kobe Bryant was assessed a technical foul on his way to the locker room at halftime, though it was rescinded Tuesday. Still, Bryant's 13 technicals lead the league, and three more will result in an automatic one-game suspension.

"I'm not concerned," said Bryant, averaging 27.0 points over his last nine games against Minnesota.

The Timberwolves (20-34) have looked lost for most of the season and continue to nosedive in the standings as they struggle with injuries.

Kevin Love, Chase Budinger and Brandon Roy are already out, and Minnesota could be without Andrei Kirilenko yet again.

Kirilenko limped off in the first quarter of Tuesday's 84-83 overtime loss at Phoenix after he strained his left calf. Kirilenko, who has played in the last four games after missing the previous five with a strained right quadriceps, is listed as questionable for Thursday.

Minnesota buried itself with another poor shooting performance against the Suns, hitting only 34.4 percent for its 13th sub-40.0 percent shooting game. The Timberwolves have been particularly bad from 3-point range, shooting an NBA-worst 30.0 percent.

"You've got to make plays in this league and we're going to have to learn how to make those plays," said coach Rick Adelman, whose team has lost three straight and 19 of 23. "It's as simple as that."

Bryant had 17 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists in a 111-100 win at Minnesota on Feb. 1 as the Lakers claimed a 57-40 rebounding edge.

The Timberwolves' last win in the series - and only one in the last 24 meetings - was 117-107 in double overtime at home March 6, 2007.


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 Pau Gasol
(strained plantar fascia, right foot) is out
Jordan Hill
(torn labrum, left hip/herniated disc) is out.
Dwight Howard
(torn labrum, right shoulder) is probable.
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Jazz J.J. Barea
(left mid-foot sprain) is probable.
Chase Budinger
(lateral meniscus tear, left knee) is out.
Andrei Kirilenko
(strained left calf) is questionable.
Malcolm Lee
(right knee, right hip) is out.
Kevin Love
(right hand) is out.
Brandon Roy
(right knee) is out.
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02/01 - LAL 111 @ MIN 100
02/28 - MIN @ LAL
03/27 - LAL @ MIN
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