GAMEDAY LINKS: Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Box Score Minnesota Timberwolves 18 26 15 26 85
Play by Play Los Angeles Lakers 26 24 33 21 104


Masked Kobe leads Lakers' blowout of Timberwolves

By GREG BEACHAM


Posted Feb 29 2012 10:05PM

LOS ANGELES (AP) Kobe Bryant had 31 points, seven rebounds and eight assists while playing with a clear mask over his broken nose, and the Los Angeles Lakers returned from the All-Star break with their 17th consecutive win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, 104-85 on Wednesday night.

Bryant didn't miss a game after Dwyane Wade broke his nose and gave him a concussion with a hard foul in the All-Star game Sunday. After getting clearance to play about an hour before tipoff, Bryant wore a Richard Hamilton-style mask that didn't appear to affect the NBA scoring leader, who made nine of 10 free throws through the plastic.

Pau Gasol scored 15 points and Andrew Bynum had 13 points and 13 rebounds for the Lakers, who improved to 15-1 at home since losing their Christmas opener.

Michael Beasley and Martell Webster scored 14 points apiece as the Timberwolves played the middle game of a back-to-back-to-back set without Kevin Love, who sat out with an apparent case of the flu.

Minnesota couldn't duplicate its stellar shooting in an impressive win over the Clippers one night earlier, going 5 for 20 in the decisive third quarter of the Wolves' second loss in their last seven games.

Rookie Derrick Williams had 10 points while taking Love's starting spot for Minnesota, which finishes its three-night odyssey on Thursday in Phoenix.

Bryant made major strides over the previous 24 hours in his recovery from the All-Star injury. He was bothered by headaches, nausea and neck pain afterward, but passed every test for concussion problems from his neurologist, Dr. Vern Williams, who declared him symptom-free before the game.

"Kobe is Kobe," Lakers coach Mike Brown said. "I don't think he ever wants to sit out. If he had two broken legs, (he would say), `Tape this one, and staple this one, and let's go."'

Bryant has played through countless nagging injuries in the last few years as the prep-to-pro star approaches his mid-30s, so his teammates weren't surprised to see him in uniform. He has been playing with a torn ligament in his right wrist since the season began.

He tried out the mask during pregame shootaround and apparently liked it. Bryant hit his first two jumpers in the opening minutes and finished the first quarter with 10 points, showing no limitations.

Bryant also received several brief massages from the Lakers' physical therapist on the bench, both before and after scoring 12 points in the third quarter while Los Angeles pulled away. The huge lead allowed Bryant to sit out much of the fourth quarter.

Los Angeles led by 15 in the first quarter, but Minnesota got back within 50-44 at halftime. The Lakers gradually took control while outscoring the Wolves 33-15 in the third quarter, led by Bryant's scoring and Gasol's 10 points after a quiet first half.

Brown showed no mercy on his starters after Minnesota trimmed the lead under 20 points in the fourth quarter, putting Bryant and his fellow starters back in with 4 minutes to play.

NOTES: The Wolves haven't beaten the Lakers since March 6, 2007 - the longest active streak of victories in an NBA matchup. Minnesota will get two more chances to end the streak in the next 16 days. ... The Lakers have won 11 straight home games over Minnesota. ... Fans near courtside included Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea, comedian Chelsea Peretti and Spanish tenor Placido Domingo, who greeted Minnesota G Ricky Rubio at halftime.


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





View More Photos


Points Bryant 31, 11-23 FG
Rebounds Bynum 13, 1 OFF 12 DEF
Assists Bryant 8
Steals Blake 2
Blocks Bynum/Gasol 3


POSTGAME QUOTES



Mike Brown:

Lakers coach Mike Brown’s opening statement:

“I thought our guys played a good basketball game. There are a lot of good things that we saw on the court tonight. One of the things that Minnesota did, they hurt us up in Minnesota with offensive rebounding, they had 24 or 25 offensive rebounds for 30-something second chance points. Our guys did a better job in that department. You know a team shoots 39% from the floor and there’s a lot of offensive rebounds out there to get and they had 12 tonight. So it’s at 39% and 85 points from the field, it’s a good defensive effort.”

Lakers coach Mike Brown on team’s offense:

“I thought offensively we did a lot of good things. I thought that our bench was good. Matt Barnes’ energy, getting four offensive rebounds himself and eight total. Steve Blake hit five assists and one turnover. I think that we had 30 points from our bench which was a good night. We had a lot of guys step up and score for us.”

Lakers coach Mike Brown on the team’s starters:

“Overall, our starters were good. Obviously, with Pau [Gasol] and Andrew [Bynum] patrolling the paint and having six blocks between the two of them with the number of shots that they changed. Andrew [Bynum] with a double double, 13 and 13 was a very productive night on nine shots. And then you look at Kobe, 31-7-8, it was a terrific night for Kobe with those numbers. Overall, offensively we were good too.”




Kobe Bryant:

Lakers’ Kobe Bryant on having a concussion:

“It’s been an experience. I’ve never had one before so it’s an experience.”

Lakers’ Kobe Bryant on having to pass a test in order to play tonight:

“Yeah, but I understand the severity of the situation. You have to go through those steps, it’s part of the job.”

Lakers’ Kobe Bryant on wearing a protective mask:

“It was fine. I just felt like I started sweating immediately inside of it, it was kind of like a sauna on my face. I was drinking my own sweat, or something, and it was totally disgusting.”

Lakers’ Kobe Bryant on the team’s performance tonight:

“We looked really sharp. We played really well, we were very intense, we played with a lot of energy at both ends of the floor. We played with a lot of aggression.”




Pau Gasol:

Lakers’ Pau Gasol on beating the Timberwolves:

“They played last night, we didn’t. They had their all-star out of the lineup, we didn’t. We just had a better flow out there today. They played a very good game last night against the Clippers. Tonight they didn’t get going like they did last night.”

Lakers’ Pau Gasol on if he thought Kobe would wear the mask all game:

“I had my doubts but I think it was smart for him to keep it on and protect his nose. Mask or no mask he’s the player that he is. It was great that he was out there and as aggressive and effective as he was tonight.”




Andrew Bynum:

Lakers’ Andrew Bynum on the difference between their two match-ups with Minnesota:

“No K. Love. It was that simple.”

Lakers’ Andrew Bynum on his knee:

“I felt great actually. My knee feels really, really good right now. The injection really helped and there’s no swelling.”

Lakers’ Andrew Bynum on if he was surprised that Kobe played tonight:

“No, I think that’s definitely part of his catalogue. He wants everybody to think that he’s tough, and know that he’s tough and do what he’s paid to do, which is get buckets.”




Steve Blake:

Lakers’ Steve Blake on Kobe playing tonight:

“I wasn’t surprised at all. He’s so tough that nothing is really going to slow him down. I appreciate the heart that he gives us every single day. It makes us want to fight for him and it brings the team together. It shows how much he cares about us and this team.”

Lakers’ Steve Blake on how he feels after the All-Star break:

“I feel fresh. I feel really good. The first day back after taking four days off your feet hurt a little bit and your legs hurt a little bit, but you get back into that rhythm starting now.”




Rick Adelman:

Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman on the team’s performance tonight:

“We didn’t play well, we weren’t sharp. [Lakers] had a step on us all night long. I can’t tell you why, I just think we have to have a better effort tomorrow.”

Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman on bouncing back for their game tomorrow against Phoenix:

“Well we have to. We know it’s our third game in a row and we know what they’re schedule is like so they’re going to come out just like these guys [Lakers] did. That’s the way it is, we have to respond to it.” Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman on Anthony Randolph’s play tonight:

“He worked hard. He was active and took advantage of the time he got.”

Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman on whether losing 17 straight games against the Lakers influenced the team’s performance tonight:

“It has nothing to do with this. That’s past history. We’ve lost twice to them. That’s the only thing we’re concerned with.”

Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman on playing without Kevin Love:

“Sure we missed him [Love], but I thought they attacked us early in the game. They were ready to play; they really came out and were aggressive. We cut it down to 6 at half time and the flood gates opened in the third quarter.”

Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman on Kobe Bryant playing with injuries:

“If he’s going on the court to play, I expect he’s going to play well. If he didn’t feel that good he probably wouldn’t have played. But he got to the line and did what he was supposed to do.”




Michael Beasley

Timberwolves Michael Beasley’s opening statement:

“From the start, they played harder than us, they wanted it more than we did, they were playing physical from the beginning, it got us out of our game and we couldn’t fight back.”

Timberwolves Michael Beasley on team’s defensive effort inside tonight:

“We defended well in some parts of the game, but as a whole, we were terrible defensively. We let Kobe get whatever he wanted, we let Bynum dominate the paint and we let them get nine offensive rebounds.”




Derrick Williams:

Timberwolves Derrick Williams on playing back-to-back games in his hometown:

“It’s great, but it could have ended better with a win. At the same time, it’s great playing in front of your family and friends and just getting back here. It’s a long way from home, but like I said, it’s always great being at home.”

Timberwolves Derrick Williams on missing Kevin Love tonight:

“You can’t say it’s his fault. It’s our fault we didn’t play to the level we’re supposed to play at. We found out a couple minutes before we went out, but at that point, we all have to step up.”

Timberwolves Derrick Williams on team’s offensive performance tonight:

“We didn’t hit shots all night. It happens. We hit every shot last night, but we just didn’t hit the shots that we normally hit tonight. It’s just a game. It could have been fatigue, but at the same time, that’s no excuse. We just have to stay ready. We have another game and hopefully we get that one.”




Ricky Rubio

Timberwolves Ricky Rubio on if fatigue is getting to him:

“No, I don’t think about it. I just had two tough games, but that’s it. I have my work cut out and need to keep improving.”

Timberwolves Ricky Rubio on team’s performance this season thus far:

“We are a young team and we can do great things. We’ve been pretty good this season.”






Lakers-Wolves Preview

By JEFF MEZYDLO


It’s been almost five years since the Los Angeles Lakers lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves. If they are to continue their dominance in the series, the Lakers might need to do it without Kobe Bryant.

There’s also a chance the Timberwolves could be without their best player in this contest.

A broken nose and concussion could keep Bryant out Wednesday night when the Lakers look for a 17th consecutive victory over the visiting Timberwolves and banged-up star Kevin Love.

The NBA’s leading scorer at 28.4 points per game, Bryant is day to day after he was knocked to the floor hard by Miami’s Dwyane Wade during Sunday’s NBA All-Star game. Bryant, who finished with 27 points and became the all-time leading scorer in All-Star history, saw a neurologist Tuesday and will be re-evaluated prior to the game. He’s played all 34 games this season despite dealing with a torn ligament in his wrist.

“We’ll be prepared either way,” coach Mike Brown told the Lakers’ official website. “I know he’s tough as nails, though.”

With or without Bryant, the Lakers (20-14) will return from the break looking to bounce back from last Thursday’s 100-85 loss at Western Conference leader Oklahoma City. Los Angeles is sixth in the West, but only one game behind the Pacific Division-leading Clippers.

“We still have things we have to figure out about how we’re going to play and how we’re going to execute,” Bryant said.

The Lakers have had little trouble executing against Minnesota (18-17), averaging 107.4 points during a 16-game winning streak that dates to a 117-107 double-overtime road loss March 6, 2007. Bryant has averaged 27.2 points during that streak, and had 35 points and 14 rebounds in a 106-101 victory at Minnesota on Jan. 29.

The 16 straight wins in this series are tied for the longest active run of dominance by one NBA team over the other. Portland has also defeated Minnesota 16 consecutive times.

While the Timberwolves would certainly catch a break if Bryant is out, All-Star Andrew Bynum (16.3 points, 12.8 rebounds per game) and Pau Gasol will still be on the floor. Gasol has totaled 53 points on 71.9 percent shooting in the last two meetings with Minnesota.

The Timberwolves beat the Clippers 109-97 on Tuesday for their fifth win in six games overall. Rookie Derrick Williams and Michael Beasley each had 27 points as Minnesota shot 51.3 percent. The Wolves’ bench outscored the Clippers reserves 72-11 in the first of three road games in as many nights.

One-half game out of the final playoff spot in the West, Minnesota surpassed its 2010-11 total of 17 wins Tuesday.

“We’re feeling good about ourselves,” said Williams, averaging just 7.8 points after being selected second overall in last June’s draft. “We’re getting two games in a row (at Staples Center). It’s going to be great. It’s another team in our way.”

One possible road block facing the Timberwolves is the health of former UCLA star Love (24.5 ppg, 13.3 rpg), who took a shot to the ribs in the third quarter Tuesday and left the court. He returned to the bench about 5 minutes into the fourth wearing a padded shirt.

“I got it X-rayed and everything seems to be fine,” said Love, who was held to 10 points for the second straight game and finished with seven boards. “It’s going to have a lot of bruising and some inflammation, but hopefully I’ll be good to go for (Wednesday).”

Love had 33 points and 13 rebounds against the Lakers last month.

The Timberwolves have dropped 10 straight at Staples Center against the Lakers since a 113-108 win Dec. 2, 2005. Minnesota has not beaten both the Lakers and Clippers in Los Angeles in the same season since 2004-05.

Probable Starters .
  Lakers    
  #15 World Peace SF #4 Johnson  
  #16 GasolPF #42 Love  
  #17 Bynum C #14 Pekovic  
  #24 Bryant SG #13 Ridnour  
  #2 Fisher PG #9 Rubio  



Lakers Steve Blake
(costochaondral fracture) is probable.

Malcolm Lee
(torn left meniscus) is out.
Darko Milicic
(left abdominal strain) is out.


Game 1: 1/29 - LAL @ MIN - W 106-101
Game 2: 2/29 - MIN@ LAL
Game 3: 3/09 - LAL @ MIN
Game 4: 3/16 - MIN @ LAL


GAME NOTES

SEASON & SERIES NOTES; CONNECTIONS
The Lakers currently lead their season series with the Timberwolves 1-0, have swept each of the last four season series with Minnesota (2010-11: 4-0, 2009-10: 3-0, 2008-09: 4-0, 2007- 08 3-0) and are in the midst of a 16-game win streak against the Timberwolves. The two teams have met 85 times in the regular season, with the Lakers holding a 64-21 advantage. At STAPLES Center, the Lakers are 19-4 all-time against the Timberwolves and have won their last 10 straight in Los Angeles. In Minnesota, the Lakers are 9-1 in their last 10 road games and have won eight straight at Target Center. In 53 career games including 45 starts, Kobe Bryant is averaging 23.6 points versus Minnesota. In their most recent meeting (1/29/12 at Target Center), Kobe Bryant passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the Lakers franchise leader in field goals made, in a game where the Lakers posted zero steals for only the second time in franchise history and Minnesota matched an opponent franchise record for fewest turnovers in a game (4). 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. Both Minnesota forwards Malcolm Lee and Kevin Love played collegiately at UCLA. Love’s father, Stan Love, played 81 total games for the Lakers during the 1973-74 and 1974-75 seasons, averaging 6.2 points and 3.3 rebounds. Timberwolves rookie guard Ricky Rubio and Lakers forward Pau Gasol are both long-time members of the Spanish National Team and most notably, were members of both Spain’s silver medal winning team at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics and Spain’s twotime (2009, 2011) defending Eurobasket Championship winning teams. 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 each series.


WORLD PEACE ONE STEAL SHY OF 1,500 FOR HIS CAREER
Entering the Lakers February 23rd contest in Oklahoma City with 1,499 career steals, Metta World Peace (currently fifth on the active steals list) is one steal shy of accumulating 1,500 for his career. Jason Kidd tops the active leaders list with 2,519 steals, followed by Kobe Bryant (2nd/1,697), Kevin Garnett (3rd/1,630) and Shawn Marion (4th/1,534). Baron Davis is sixth on the active list with 1,498 career steals. The 2004 NBA Defensive Player of the Year has finished among the top-five in the NBA in steals per game five times in his career and has led his team in steals in 10 of his 12 NBA seasons. A member of the NBA All-Defensive First Team in 2004 and 2006 and the NBA All-Defensive Second Team in 2003 and 2009, World Peace currently ranks 37th on the NBA’s All-Time career steals list.


LAKERS HOLD BLAZERS TO SEVEN FIRST QUARTER POINTS
In their 103-92 victory over the Trail Blazers on February 20 at STAPLES Center, the Lakers outscored Portland 29-7 in the first quarter, where they held the Trail Blazers to just 3-of-17 shooting and outrebounded Portland 21-5. The Blazers’ seven first quarter points marked their lowest first quarter points total in their 3,363-game history in the NBA. The total also matched the second lowest first quarter points total allowed by the Lakers since moving to Los Angeles prior to the 1960-61 season; on February 4, 1987, the Lakers outscored the Sacramento Kings 40-4 in the first quarter in a 128-92 victory at The Forum and on January 9, 2004, the Lakers outscored the Atlanta Hawks 34-7 in the first period in a 113-67 victory at STAPLES Center. The last time the Lakers held a team to seven points or less in any quarter came back on December 9, 2009, when they outscored the Utah Jazz 28-6 in the fourth quarter in a 101-77 victory at STAPLES Center.*


KOBE BRYANT BECOMES NINTH GUARD IN NBA HISTORY TO ACCUMULATE 6,000 REBOUNDS
With nine rebounds in the Lakers 111-99 victory over Phoenix 2/17 at STAPLES Center, Kobe Bryant (6,005 career rebounds) became the ninth guard in NBA history to accumulate 6,000 rebounds (includes players listed as G, G/F or F/G). Jason Kidd, the only guard in league history to amass 8,000 rebounds, tops the list, with Oscar Robertson (G), Scottie Pippen (F/G) and Chet Walker (F/G) the only other guards to post at least 7,000+ rebounds. Magic Johnson (6,559) leads all Lakers guards in career rebounds while Michael Jordan is another notable guard on the list with 6,672 career rebounds.


BRYANT PASSES SHAQUILLE O’NEAL FOR 5th ON NBA’S ALL-TIME SCORING LIST
With a 23-foot jumper at the 5:08 mark in the second quarter 2/6 at Philadelphia, Kobe Bryant moved past Shaquille O’Neal (28,596) for fifth on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Last season, Kobe Bryant moved past Hall-of-Famers Moses Malone (27,409) 3/8/11 at Atlanta, Elvin Hayes (27,313) 2/27/11 at Oklahoma City, Hakeem Olajuwon (26,946) 1/28/11 vs. Sacramento, Oscar Robertson (26,710) 1/7/11 vs. New Orleans, Dominique Wilkins (26,668) 1/4/11 vs. Detroit and John Havlicek (26,395) 12/10/10 at Chicago on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Next on the all-time list ahead of Bryant (28,601) are Wilt Chamberlain (4th/31,419), Michael Jordan (3rd/32,292), Karl Malone (2nd/36,928) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1st/38,387). Among the top six scorers in NBA history, five have worn the Lakers uniform.

Bryant has been steadily moving up the list over the past few years. In 2009-10, 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).


BYNUM RECORDS SECOND CAREER 20-20 GAME
On February 6th at Philadelphia, Andrew Bynum totaled 20 points (8-13 FG) and 20 rebounds, marking his second career 20-point, 20-rebound game (3rd career 20+ rebound game). Bynum’s other 20-20 game came earlier this season on January 3rd, when Bynum totaled 21 points (8-15 FG) and 22 rebounds as the Lakers defeated the Houston Rockets 108-99 at STAPLES Center, becoming the youngest Laker to do so (24 years, 68 days) since Rudy LaRuso tallied 30 points and 21 rebounds on February 26, 1961 at the age of 23 years, 107 days. Bynum’s only other 20+ rebound game came on 4/5/11 vs. Utah, when he grabbed a career-high 23 rebounds. The last Laker to record a 20-20 game prior to Bynum was Pau Gasol, who posted 30 points and 20 rebounds on February 16, 2011 at Cleveland.


DOMINATING THE GLASS, BUT LOSING THE GAME
In the Lakers 95-90 loss at Philadelphia on February 6, the Lakers out-rebounded the 76ers 55-30, marking the first time the Lakers lost despite out-rebounding their opponent by 25-plus rebounds since they out-rebounded New Jersey 55-28 in a 109-103 loss to the Nets at STAPLES Center on 1/28/05. The last time any team lost when out-rebounding their opponent by 25-plus rebounds occurred on 3/11/09 at Detroit, when the Pistons out-rebounded New York 64-39, but fell to the Knicks 116-111.



*Statistical research assistance provided by the Elias Sports Bureau






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