GAMEDAY LINKS: Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Box Score Los Angeles Lakers 18 22 25 25 90
Play by Play Minnesota Timberwolves 21 24 16 18 79


Lakers overpower Timberwolves for 5th straight win

By JON KRAWCZYNSKI

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and the Los Angeles Lakers' towering front line overwhelmed Kevin Love on the boards in a 90-79 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday night.

Gasol had 17 rebounds and 12 points, Bynum had 14 points and seven boards and the Lakers scored 28 second-chance points to overcome a poor shooting night and win their fifth straight game.

Wes Johnson had 20 points and eight rebounds for the Timberwolves, who led for much of the first three quarters before the Lakers asserted themselves.

Love had 13 points and 11 rebounds, his 47th straight double-double. The last time he did not have one was against the Lakers on Nov. 19. But he was just 2 for 10 from the floor and barely kept the longest double-double streak since 1980 alive.

Kobe Bryant scored 24 points, but made just 8 of 18 shots in an ugly offensive game for both teams.

The Lakers shot 37.5 percent and the Wolves just 40 percent for the game. The Lakers' 53-39 advantage on the boards against the best rebounding team in the league was the difference.

Bryant missed nine of his first 13 shots, but delivered just enough of a surge in the third quarter to turn the Wolves away. After a quiet four points on 2-for-8 shooting in the first half, Bryant scored 12 on 5-for-7 shooting in the third quarter as the Lakers erased a five-point deficit.

The Timberwolves, one of the worst defensive teams in the league, delivered one of their best performances on that end of the floor all season. The rookie Johnson harassed Bryant all night, making him work for every open shot, and the Wolves held the Lakers to 22 percent shooting in the first quarter.

The Lakers were awful at the outset, missing 10 of their first 12 shots and shooting 5 for 22 in the first quarter.

But they kept the deficit to single digits for the entire first half thanks to incredible play on the offensive glass. Thirteen of their 28 first-half rebounds were offensive and they scored 22 second-chance points.

Bynum was big early with 10 points and four rebounds, using his bulk to push around the Timberwolves frontcourt. But he went to the bench with foul trouble early in the second quarter, and the Wolves played some of the best defense they have all season to lead 45-40 at the break.

Lamar Odom added 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Lakers.

NOTES: The Timberwolves announced in the fourth quarter that they reached a buyout with Eddy Curry, who was acquired in a trade with the Knicks last week. ... Rambis has been a confidante of Jackson for years, and he was asked before the game if he thought this season really was it for Jackson, who says he is retiring. "It is," Rambis said, "for next year." ... Timberwolves swingman Martell Webster missed the game with a back injury that has lingered most of the season. He has missed 33 games this season because of the injury.


Copyright 2011 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




34 Second half points scored by the Wolves, as the Lakers continued their run of excellent second half defense. Minny managed 16 points in the third quarter and 18 in the fourth after scoring 45 in the first half.

25 Bench points for the Lakers, led by Lamar Odom's 12 points and eight from Shannon Brown. Odom added 11 rebounds for his double-double.

17 Rebounds for Pau Gasol, three short of his season high of 20. He added 12 points despite uncharacteristically struggling from the field (3-of-10). It was the 15th time this season Gasol's had at least 15 rebounds.

14 Consecutive wins for the Lakers over the Wolves.

7 Combined first half points for Lakers starts Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. Bryant, however, scored 12 points in the third quarter alone to help turn the game around for L.A. and finished with 24.

3 Rebounds shy of a third straight double-double for Andrew Bynum, who looked good throughout in scoring 14 points with seven boards, two blocks and two assists.




View More Photos


Points Bryant 24, 8-18 FG
Rebounds Gasol 17, 5 OFF 12 DEF
Assists Bryant 3
Steals Artest 3
Blocks Bynum 2


POSTGAME QUOTES


Lakers Coach Phil Jackson

"We did what it took. We weren't shooting the ball very well so we had to get second shots and offensive rebounds and we're capable of doing that. They wouldn't let us get the ball inside. They had us where we had to take some outside shots today and they weren't hitting."

On their second half defense:
"I think it's adjustments at halftime that you come in and you make the adjustments. You talk about what you were doing wrong in the first half. We had too many turnovers in the first half that contributed to their points."

On stopping Kevin Love:
"A lot of Kevin's points come off of screen-roll attempts, guys stepping back off of him and he gets open shots, or trailing the play, coming down and having a wide open shot. We tried to be there with him, if even it required a switch to stay with him, a guard switched onto him and tried to keep him from those open shots."

On being concerned with the team's early shooting woes:
"You're always worried that guys aren't going to make shots. We felt like we did an adequate job preparing for this game shooting in this arena yesterday, but we just didn't have the touch. Everybody was a little bit long, a little bit short. But the offensive rebounding is what carried us."






Lakers Center Andrew Bynum

"We had a blazing start. One of our best this season."

"I think we did play down to the competition. We weren't being very aggressive to start with, and that's not our nature."

On the team's offensive rebounding:
"Offensive rebounds, yeah, you've got to get opportunities. I think we've been shooting high 40s, so there aren't many to be had, but tonight was the exception."




Lakers Forward Lamar Odom

On playing with Kevin Love at the World Championships:
"The goal was to win, and when everybody's on the same page things just come together, great camaraderie and make friends that we'll have for a lifetime. We get the job done and everybody sacrificed to do what they needed to do to bring home the gold."

On Love:
"That's a guy that can put up big numbers on any given day. Tonight it just went our way as a team."





Lakers Guard Kobe Bryant

On having Bynum and Gasol to clean up their misses:
"That's why we've been able to win back-to-back championships, because we are a great team. Pieces complement each other very well. That's the key, that's the trick. Management has done a great job."

On the Wolves development:
"I think so. It's coming. It's a team that still has young pieces. You don't want to look back years from now and say, 'Wow, they had Wesley Johnson, they had Kevin Love, they had Beasley, all on the same team.' Then you look up and they're playing for someone else. That's your crew and you've got to keep it together and they've got to grow together."





Timberwolves Coach Kurt Rambis

"We needed a better effort keeping them off of the offensive boards.  In the second half we held them to a reasonable number but the 20 something they got in the first half was a real killer for us.  We could have built ourselves a nice little lead.  I thought our guys played hard, they played well.  We just got stuck towards the end."

"When they have that type of size and that type of length it can't be individual's responsibility, it has to be a collective effort.  I think our guys have to have a mindset that the smalls have to come back and rebound because our bigs are having to defend in penetration and defending on post ups coming to help they are releasing their main man so somebody else has to come in and help out.  We did a much better job of that in the 2nd half."

"I think Wes (Johnson) is growing as a defensive player.  It is disheartening for our guys who do a really good job on defense, they are scrambling, they are helping, they are doing everything, then how many times did it seem like (15 times in the second half) that they take a very difficult shot and then they make them.  That kind of keeps momentum on their side instead of our getting stops.  I thought Wes did a really good job on Kobe (Bryant).  He is getting help from his teammates but Wes's length and athleticism is going to pay dividends for his defense in the future."

"He (Wesley Johnson) did some really good things offensively and he did some really quick things offensively.  We are working with him on just slowing the game down and having his shot be more rhythmic.  Sometimes his shot is too fast and he doesn't get a high quality look with it.  Overall, I think he is growing and developing as a ball player."





Timberwolves Guard Wes Johnson

I was out there just having fun although we came up short, just coming out there and trying to slow them down as much as possible but that length and that size really got to especially in the 2nd chance pts.

Did Kobe say anything to you during the game?
He just told the ref to call fouls, that's the main thing he kept saying but other than that he just kept looking down at my shoes and saying that I should be wearing his. Other than that it was really just small talk.

Were you trying to frustrate Kobe?
Trying to, that was my main objective, to make him frustrated so I could laugh at him later. 

Follow up question "Did it work?"
I think so for a little bit it did but then he got going and opened up for everybody else so  I think he was pleased with the outcome.

Offensively were you trying to be more aggressive?
I just tried to stay aggressive; I've been having the mentality to come out aggressive and just try to stay within that and just try to help the ballclub by doing whatever I can do by knocking down shots or getting rebounds and stuff., so really just trying to go out there and trying to stay confident.







Aaron BrooksTimberwolves Forward Michael Beasley

Talk about the defense in the 1st half?
That was our game plan to stop their main guys and I felt like we did a pretty good job on Kobe and Pau Gasol, all their guys really. We just couldn't knock down shots. I was out of it, Wes was the only one that was knocking down shots. We did what we wanted to do, but we just didn't execute how we wanted to on offense.

Does the team learn anything playing against a team like LA?
Definitely, we just got to stay in, with the good or the bad; you just have to stay in until the end. I felt like we had a chance going to the end of the game in the last 4 to 5 minutes of the game. We just have to learn to stay in it and stay positive.

At halftime was the team told to be ready for Kobe to try and take over?
We weren't really worried about that, we just wanted to stay aggressive on the defensive side and keep getting stops and trying to put some points on the board.




Aaron BrooksTimberwolves Forward Anthony Randolph

Did you feel outsized going against Gasol and Bynum?
I loved it, I love banging down there with guys like that who are bigger than me and stronger than me. That's what I love about the game.

Was the dunk a little bit of a taste of what you can do?
That's just a little bit of what I can do. I'm still trying to get my hops back and stuff like that but like I said I'm still trying to get into the swing of things. It's kind of different playing in the game and banging with guys and tying to get my wind back and things like that.












LAKERS VS. TIMBERWOLVES GAME PREVIEW

By MATT BECKER, STATS Senior Writer

After stumbling into the All-Star break, the Los Angeles Lakers are once again playing like a title contender.

Little suggests this will change with a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The surging Lakers look to win their 14th straight over the Timberwolves when they meet Tuesday night at the Target Center.

Los Angeles (42-19) arrives in Minnesota after Sunday's gritty 90-87 win over Oklahoma City opened up a 4 1/2-game lead over the Thunder for third place in the Western Conference. The Lakers rallied from a 14-point, second-quarter deficit and turned up the defense after halftime, holding Oklahoma City to a season-low 31 second-half points.

Los Angeles has won four straight, including victories over Atlanta and Portland - two other possible playoff teams - after going into the break riding a three-game losing streak capped by an embarrassing loss at lowly Cleveland.

"The rest did the guys some good," said Kobe Bryant, who finished with 17 points Sunday to move past Elvin Hayes for seventh on the NBA's career scoring list. "It was a chance to kind of recover, regroup, and focus on the opportunity that we have ahead of ourselves."

The Pacific Division-leading Lakers, now within two games of second-place Dallas in the West, are playing much better offensively, averaging 102.0 points during the winning streak after averaging 87.7 during their skid.

"(We have) better focus," Pau Gasol said. "We like where we are, and we want to do what we have to do to get back to level we want to be at."

A loss to the Timberwolves would certainly not fit into those plans.

The Lakers haven't lost to Minnesota since falling in double overtime on March 6, 2007. They've won 13 straight in the series since, making this their longest current winning streak over any opponent.

Los Angeles has actually been more productive lately at the Target Center than at Staples Center, averaging 114.2 points in winning the last six in Minnesota.

The Lakers won 112-95 in Minneapolis on Nov. 19 after beating the Timberwolves 99-94 on their home court 10 days earlier. Bryant combined for 56 points in those two games, while Gasol totaled 34 points and 24 rebounds.

While Los Angeles attributes its turnaround to the All-Star break, Minnesota (14-46) credits snapping a seven-game skid to a passionate team meeting.

A day after a frank discussion in which players and coaches vented about their frustrating season, the Timberwolves defeated Golden State 126-123 on Sunday for their first win since Feb. 8.

Kevin Love led the way, finishing with 37 points and 23 rebounds for Minnesota, which had averaged 89.6 points during its skid.

"This was almost a must-win for us," said Love, who has four 30-point, 20-rebound games this season. "We felt like we haven't been playing well the past five or six games, and we had to come out and win this one. So we're just happy we did."

Love extended his NBA-leading double-double streak to 46 games, and is now within five of matching Moses Malone's record for consecutive double-doubles set from Dec. 29, 1978-Oct. 12, 1979.

Love's run began after he was held scoreless on 0-of-7 shooting and grabbed seven rebounds against the Lakers on Nov. 19. He had 23 points and 24 boards in the first meeting.



Copyright 2011 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




Lakers Matt Barnes (right knee surgery) is TBD.
Theo Ratliff
(left knee surgery) is out.

Martell Webster (sore back) is doubtful.


11/09 - MIN @ LAL W 99-94
11/19 - LAL @ MIN W 112-95
03/01 - LAL @ MIN
03/18 - MIN @ LAL


The Minnesota Timberwolves are suffering through another disappointing season under Head Coach Kurt Rambis. They currently have the worst record in the conference at 14-46 as we prepare to play them in the last game of a road trip. This is a dangerous game. Does that last line sound familiar? It is the same one used to describe the game we had at Cleveland before the all-star break (of course that was the last game of a much longer road trip). We need to understand that we will get their best effort of the season as they try to get a signature home win.

Read Full Scouting Report @ Lakers Courtside Connection


GAME NOTES

SEASON& SERIES NOTES; CONNECTIONS
The Lakers lead their current season series with Minnesota 2-0 after sweeping each of the last three season series with the Timberwolves (2009-10: 3-0, 2008-09: 4-0, 2007- 08 3-0). The two teams have met 82 times in the regular season, with the Lakers holding a 61-21 advantage. At STAPLES Center, the Lakers are 18-4 all-time against the Timberwolves, 9-1 in their last 10 home games and have won their last nine straight in Los Angeles. In Minnesota, the Lakers are 7-3 in their last 10 road games and have won six straight at Target Center. Under head coach Phil Jackson, the Lakers are 28-12 against Minnesota. In 50 career games including 42 starts, Kobe Bryant is averaging 23.5 points versus Minnesota. In 2007, Bryant scored 50 points 3/18/07 vs. MIN, becoming the first Laker since Elgin Baylor in December of 1962 to post consecutive 50-point games as well as the first player since Wilt Chamberlain in 1963 to follow a 60-plus point scoring night with 50-plus points. Additionally, Bryant's 50-point effort matched Cedric Ceballos' series record 50-point game posted on December 20, 1994. Minnesota head coach Kurt Rambis played nine seasons with the Lakers, averaging 4.9 points and 5.5 rebounds in 569 games while winning four NBA Championships ('82,'85,'87,'88). Most recently, Rambis served as an assistant coach on Phil Jackson's bench from 2001-04 and 2005-09, helping lead the team to two NBA titles (2002, '09). Timberwolves assistant coach Dave Wohl served as a Lakers assistant coach in Rambis' playing days on Pat Riley's staff from 1982-85. Minnesota forward Kevin Love played collegiately at UCLA. Additionally, the Lakers and Timberwolves have met twice in the postseason (2003 First Round, 2004 Conference Finals). The Lakers defeated the Wolves 4-2 both times despite Minnesota holding home-court advantage in both series.

BRYANT PASSES ELVIN HAYES FOR 7th ON NBA'S ALL-TIME SCORING LIST
With an eight-foot running bank shot at the 5:56 mark in the fourth quarter of the Lakers victory 2/27 at Oklahoma City, Kobe Bryant moved past Elvin Hayes (27,313) for 7th on the NBA's all-time scoring list. Earlier this season, Bryant moved past Hall-of-Famers Hakeem Olajuwon (26,946) 1/28 vs. Sacramento, Oscar Robertson (26,710) 1/7 vs. New Orleans, Dominique Wilkins (26,668) 1/4 vs. Detroit and John Havlicek (26,395) 12/10 at Chicago on the all-time list. At his current pace (25.1 ppg), Bryant (27,320) is poised to move into 6th on the all-time list by season's end. Next on the all-time list ahead of Bryant and Hayes (7th/27,313) are Moses Malone (6th/27,409) and Shaquille O'Neal (5th/28,590). Among the top seven scorers in NBA history, five have worn the Lakers uniform (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1st), Karl Malone (2nd), Wilt Chamberlain (4th), O'Neal (5th) and Bryant (7th)).

Bryant has been steadily moving up the list over the past few years. Earlier this season, with 23 points at Chicago (12/10/10), he passed John Havlicek (26,395) for 11th. Last season, he passed Alex English (25,613), Reggie Miller (25,279), Jerry West (25,192), Patrick Ewing (24,815) and Allen Iverson (24,368). In passing West with a slam dunk at the 4:14 mark of the third quarter February 1, 2010 at Memphis, finishing the game with 44 points (West's retired number), Bryant became the leading scorer in Lakers franchise history. In 2008-09, Bryant passed Gary Payton (21,813) and Hall-of-Famers Charles Barkley (23,757), Robert Parish (23,334), Adrian Dantley (23,177), Elgin Baylor (23,149), Clyde Drexler (22,195) and Larry Bird (21,791).

SCORING CONSISTENCY
Kobe Bryant's 24 points in the Lakers victory over the Clippers (2/25) took him over the 1,500-point mark for the 11th consecutive season, marking the longest such streak by an NBA player since Karl Malone reached that milestone in 12 straight seasons (1986-87 to 1997-98).*

RECORDS BEFORE & AFTER ALL-STAR BREAK UNDER JACKSON
On Tuesday, February 16th, the Lakers concluded a seven-game road trip as well as their pre-All-Star break schedule with a 38-19 record (.667). Below is a breakdown of the Lakers pre & post All-Star break records under head coach Phil Jackson:

STRONG ALL-STAR SHOWING FOR GASOL
With an All-Star Game career-high 17 points (8-13 FG), seven rebounds and two blocks, Pau Gasol helped the West hang on down the stretch for a 148-143 victory over the East in the 60th NBA All-Star Game at STAPLES Center. Logging the most minutes of any Eastern or Western Conference reserve (24:22), Gasol posted the game's second highest plus/minus with +10, equaling Atlanta guard Joe Johnson's +10 and one behind Denver forward Carmelo Anthony's +11 on the night.

IRON MAN
Entering the Lakers game at Minnesota, Derek Fisher has played in 474 consecutive regular season games dating back to April 15, 2005, the longest consecutive games streak among all active NBA players. Fisher moved into the top position after Portland's Andre Miller (632) missed the Blazers game against Phoenix (12/7/10) due to NBA suspension. Additionally, Fisher has started 352 consecutive regular season games dating back to January 15, 2007, tops among all active players by more than a season's worth of games (2nd – Luis Scola). Former Laker A.C. Green holds the NBA record for most consecutive games played with 1,192 dating from 11/19/86 – 4/18/01 while a member of the Lakers, Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat.

GASOL'S 30/20
With 30 points (8-15 FG, 14-14 FT) and 20 rebounds February 16th at Cleveland, Pau Gasol posted the first 30-point/20-rebound game of his career while becoming the 10th Laker in franchise history ever to do so, joining Shaquille O'Neal (10), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (19), Happy Hairston (1), Wilt Chamberlain (21), Rudy LaRusso (1), Elgin Baylor (77), Larry Foust (1), Clyde Lovellette (1) and George Mikan (10) in the 30/20 club (number in parentheses is with Lakers only). The last Laker to record a 30/20 game prior to Gasol was Shaquille O'Neal, who posted 31 points and 26 rebounds in an overtime victory over Milwaukee on March 21st, 2004.

WIRE-TO-WIRE
With their 104-80 victory vs. Atlanta on February 22nd, the Lakers recorded their league-leading NINTH wire-to-wire win of the season. Getting to seven wire-to-wire victories in just 39 games matched the Lakers regular season total from all of last season, while their eighth in 46 games surpassed that total. This season, the Lakers (9) lead the NBA in wire-to-wire victories, followed by the Celtics (7), Heat (7), Spurs (6) and Nuggets (6) through games played 2/27/11. The Lakers other wire-to-wire victories this season came against the Warriors (10/31 vs. GS, 11/21 vs. GS), Grizzlies (11/2 vs. MEM), Wizards (12/7 vs. WAS), Pacers (12/15 @ IND), 76ers (12/31 vs. PHI), Cavaliers (1/11 vs. CLE) and Jazz (1/25 vs. Utah). Last year, the Lakers claimed NINE wire-to-wire victories (games in which they never trailed); seven during the regular season and two during the 2010 Playoffs (4/18 & 4/27 vs. Oklahoma City). During their previous championship run in 2008-09, the Lakers claimed 11 wire-to-wire victories; nine during the regular season and two during the 2009 Playoffs (4/29 vs. Utah & 5/17 vs. Houston). Last season, the Lakers also lost twice in wire-to-wire fashion (98-107 1/8/10 @ POR and 75-91 3/26/10 @ OKC).






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