GAMEDAY LINKS: Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Box Score Minnesota Timberwolves 19 22 20 31 92
Play by Play Los Angeles Lakers 23 27 24 23 97


Sessions debuts, Lakers beat Wolves for 19th time

By GREG BEACHAM


Posted Mar 16 2012 10:11PM

LOS ANGELES (AP) Kobe Bryant scored 28 points, Ramon Sessions had seven points and five assists as a reserve in his Los Angeles debut, and the Lakers beat Minnesota 97-92 Friday night for their 19th consecutive victory over the Timberwolves.

Andrew Bynum had 15 points and 14 rebounds, and Pau Gasol added 17 points and 11 rebounds in the Lakers' fifth straight win overall - and their first game since early 2007 without Derek Fisher in their starting lineup.

The five-time NBA champion point guard was traded to Houston on Thursday, and Sessions arrived from Cleveland to replace him along with promoted starter Steve Blake, who went scoreless with six assists in 29 minutes. Sessions made an immediate impression with three quick layups and several sharp passes.

Bryant still kept the Lakers on track, hitting five 3-pointers and scoring 17 points in the second half while revealing no obvious displeasure with the loss of Fisher, his teammate for 13 of their 16 NBA seasons.

Kevin Love had 27 points and 15 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who have lost four of five while dropping below .500 (22-23) in a skid that began with the Lakers' 105-102 win in Minneapolis a week ago. Nikola Pekovic had 20 points and 12 rebounds while engaging in a lively clash under both baskets with Bynum, but Minnesota dropped to 1-2 on its seven-game road trip despite outrebounding the Lakers 55-47.

Los Angeles never trailed for just the second time all season, nursing a small lead throughout the fourth quarter and winning at home for the 19th time in 20 games since Christmas. The Lakers' 19 straight wins over the Timberwolves comprise the longest active streak for one NBA team against one opponent.

The Lakers improved to 8-2 in a tough 17-day stretch since the All-Star break, increasing their Pacific Division lead over the Clippers to three games.

Sessions made an immediate impression on any Lakers fans who might not have liked the trades that resulted in Fisher's departure on Thursday. General manager Mitch Kupchak shipped veterans Luke Walton and Jason Kapono to Cleveland for Sessions before sending Fisher to Houston for backup big man Jordan Hill.

Blake got no particular cheers and missed two early shots after he was announced as the Lakers' first new starting point guard in 372 regular-season games, but Sessions immediately got the fans' attention.

After getting a warm ovation when he checked in, Sessions immediately darted into the lane and scored just 13 seconds into his Lakers tenure. Along with his three driving layups, Sessions' athleticism was impressive to Staples Center fans who had grown used to watching Fisher getting beaten off the dribble by younger point guards.

Sessions finished the first half with six points, two assists and two rebounds in 10 minutes, and the Lakers led 50-41 after shutting down the Wolves except for Pekovic and Love, who scored five points in the final seconds to trim Los Angeles' 14-point lead.

Los Angeles jumped to a 16-point lead late in the third quarter, but the Timberwolves hung around with relentless inside play by Pekovic and Love, whose jumper with 5:11 to play cut the Lakers' lead to 82-76. Bryant scored four points on the Lakers' next three possessions.

NOTES: Love missed both of the Timberwolves' first two meetings with the Lakers over the previous 16 days with ailments. ... Hill, the eighth overall pick by New York in the 2009 draft, isn't eligible to play for the Lakers yet since the trade hasn't been fully approved because Fisher didn't report to Houston on Friday. Hill watched from the bench in a suit. ... The Lakers' win streak against Minnesota is their longest against one opponent since beating Dallas 19 straight times from 1995-99. ... Fans near courtside included David Hasselhoff, directors Peter Berg and Adam McKay, and Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith.


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





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Points Bryant 28, 9-20 FG
Rebounds Bynum 14, 4 OFF 10 DEF
Assists Blake 6
Steals Barnes/World Peace 2
Blocks Gasol 3


POSTGAME QUOTES



Mike Brown:

Lakers coach Mike Brown on tonight’s game: “Funny game. I look at this box score and I could’ve sworn that Minnesota shot 55% from the field, but 92 points on 40.2% from the field is a pretty good day defensively. Obviously, Kevin Love and Pekovic did a nice job on the offensive glass, they had 12, and that’s what really kept them in the game, their ability to offensive rebound. We had a lot of great production from a lot of different guys. Both our bigs again with another double-double, our bench was terrific. I thought Sessions did a nice job in the 19 minutes he played to get the ball to different people, he got Matt [Barnes] a couple wide open looks with his dribble drive and picks. Matt, obviously, brought us energy and he stepped in and knocked down shots and he made cuts and stuff like that at the right time. I thought in his 20 minutes he was very productive on both ends of the floor for us. And then with the 12 blocks, that was pretty impressive for us to have 12 blocks on a night. So, good win for our guys.”

Lakers coach Mike Brown on what Ramon Sessions brings to the team: “You can see his quickness. He’s got a second, third, and probably even a fourth gear, where he got out and got to the rim and kind of beat everybody down the floor. And then we put him in pick and roll and he was able to get into the team defense and shoot a floater and get to the rim and make passes and do all that stuff. So, it was good to see.”

Lakers coach Mike Brown on playing Ramon Sessions in tonight’s game: “If he’s eligible to play, I’m going to play him. I didn’t know how many minutes I was going to play him, but I was going to throw him out there. We don’t have any days to practice, so that was his first practice and his first game combined. He can play obviously, he’s got a feel, he’s been in the league long enough. But, the team that I’m coaching right now is very intelligent, so they helped him out on the floor, how to space and play the game of basketball. So that’s basically all I did.”

Lakers coach Mike Brown on being concerned about losing such big leads: “Yes and no. That’s part of the game of basketball. You’ve got to understand that teams will make their run at some point in time when you’re up big and you just hope that when they do make their run you can sustain it and finish the game the right way. I thought we were playing the right way for the most part, except our pick and roll defense wasn’t good and our ability to limit them to one shot wasn’t great. But, I thought we played the right way most of the time. I thought we got some great looks during the course of the game…but, in terms of opponent’s runs, it’s going to happen from time to time.”




Ramon Sessions:

Lakers’ Ramon Sessions on his transition to the Lakers: “When you got talent like we got in this lock room it makes [getting comfortable] easier for me. I did send out an email last night to get some plays emailed to me last night just in case I did play so I was able to know a few of them and it kind of worked out for me.”

Lakers’ Ramon Sessions on what he plans to do to prepare for Sunday: “I just want to learn all the offensive sets. Being a point guard, I feel like I have to know where everybody is. I can’t tell somebody what to do or where to be if I don’t know where they are supposed to be. So I just want to get in there and learn all the defensive schemes and offensive schemes and just try to get ready for Sunday.”

Lakers’ Ramon Sessions on receiving a standing ovation from the crowd: “It meant a lot to get that ovation when I checked in. [The fans] believe in me and I think the guys in the locker room believe in me and I’m definitely looking forward to the challenge.”




Pau Gasol:

Lakers’ Pau Gasol on Derek Fisher going to Houston: “Obviously it is sad when you have teammates traded, especially teammates that you’ve been through so much with and you have a great level of appreciation and respect for as with Derek [Fisher]. We’ve been through a lot since I got here and I value that a lot. Obviously the first reaction is a little bit of sadness but at the same time, you understand that can happen to any of us.”

Lakers’ Pau Gasol on Ramon Sessions: “He’s a point guard that probes, gets in the lane easily. He’s a point guard with size, athleticism and pretty good length too. I’m sure he’ll do a lot of good and positive things for us.”




Kobe Bryant:

Lakers’ Kobe Bryant on Ramon Sessions: “He’s extremely fast --- extremely fast and extremely crafty. The conversations I had with him out on the floor about execution and things like that, he seems to have a really high basketball IQ.”

Lakers’ Kobe Bryant on what Ramon Sessions brings to the table: “He can score, he can score. He can obviously get into the paint as you saw tonight. He’s going to be a feature for our team that opponents are going to have to prepare for, they’re going to have to talk about it and they’re going to have to do something to try and slow him down.”

Lakers’ Kobe Bryant on if Sessions makes his job easier: “Absolutely, you saw that tonight. You saw glimpses of it tonight where he handled the ball and got a lot of pick and roll situations, got into the paint and got guys a lot of easy opportunities and broke down the defense.”




Rick Adelman:

Timberwolves’ coach Rick Adelman’s opening statement: “We were scoring in the second half but we couldn’t ever get any stops. We got to seven but couldn’t get it past that.”

Timberwolves’ coach Rick Adelman on the Lakers: “They’re a very talented team. They have three guys they can go to and they are experienced enough. They have played together and they execute. You’ve got to find a way to stop them and we could never find a way to stop them.”

Timberwolves’ coach Rick Adelman on the team’s overall play: “We have got to play with more urgency. If you want to be in the playoff race then you have got to go out and play like you really want to stay in it. I think that sometimes if guys, if things don’t go their way or if they don’t play as many minutes they seem to just kind of start thinking about that. You can’t do that. If you want to stay in this you forget about your individual stuff and you think about the team and you’ve got to come out and play. I don’t think that as a group, as a total group, we played hard enough.”

Timberwolves’ coach Rick Adelman on Nikola Pekovic: “He’s been playing great. He’s developed in to a solid player and he’s faced a lot of length out there tonight and he just kept battling.”




Kevin Love:

Timberwolves’ Kevin Love on the loss: “I feel like at times we were able to make runs but we didn’t make enough stops. I think coach is right saying we didn’t play hard enough. These next two games are must wins for us going on the road against Sacramento and Golden State. We need to live in the present, figure out what we did wrong in these last two games, and move on to Sunday and Monday.”

Timberwolves’ Kevin Love on if the team’s struggles have to do with missing Rubio: “Some of it but we need to accept that (he’s out) and move on because he’s not coming back this season. Guys on the team need to step up. We need to find a way to share the ball and move the ball and make that contagious. Guys can’t try to do it all themselves. If we do that then we still have a chance to make a playoff push. If not then we’ll fold.”

Timberwolves’ Kevin Love on the Lakers: “Sessions looked good tonight. It looked like he’d been playing with the team for a while. Kobe stepped up and played a big game. Obviously they were going into Drew who had a big double-double. We made a few runs at them, but they were able to keep us off for the rest of the game.”

Timberwolves’ Kevin Love on the team’s troubles against the Lakers: “We know that their great at home and we’ve had troubles with them for years now. We put up a decent fight but there wasn’t that sense of urgency.”

Timberwolves’ Kevin Love on the need for everyone to produce: “We need other guys to step up. We need guys to step up and that second unit needs to bring it. We all need to come together and find a way to make this work if we’re going to make a push.”




Nikola Pekovic:

Timberwolves’ Nikola Pekovic on playing against the Lakers’ size: “Every night it’s tough to play because every night is a new challenge. It doesn’t matter who you play. Bynum is a great player so I knew it was going to be tough playing against him.”

Timberwolves’ Nikola Pekovic on playing with a sense of urgency: “It’s just so many games. We just need to find our energy and our motivation for everything and play hard. Every day we need to bring our energy. That’s the only thing we need to do.”






Timberwolves-Lakers Preview

By JEFF BARTL


Posted Mar 15 2012 10:35PM

The Los Angeles Lakers are on the verge of matching their longest winning streak of the season, yet general manager Mitch Kupchak couldn't ignore the lack of production from the point guard position any longer.

Whether team chemistry will suffer remains to be seen.

Pau Gasol is still a Laker after Thursday's trade deadline, but Los Angeles must overcome the emotional trade of veteran Derek Fisher when it seeks its 18th consecutive victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves and fifth straight win overall Friday night at Staples Center.

The Pacific Division-leading Lakers (27-16) beat New Orleans 107-101 in overtime Wednesday behind 33 points from Kobe Bryant and 25 points and 18 rebounds from Andrew Bynum.

Los Angeles overcame a 14-point deficit to earn the victory and complete a 2-0 road trip, and with a win Friday they would match their season-high five-game overall winning streak from Jan. 6-13.

"We don't get down whenever we trail by 14, 15, whatever points. We don't get discouraged," Bryant said. "We've been through it before. We've been down big in Game 7 of an NBA finals, so this is really nothing to us to maintain our composure."

Gasol was the player most mentioned in trade speculation approaching the deadline, but it was Fisher whom the Lakers sent to Houston for center Jordan Hill.

The deal came shortly after Los Angeles traded Luke Walton, Jason Kapono and a first-round pick to Cleveland for Ramon Sessions and little-used guard Christian Eyenga.

Fisher was part of five NBA championship teams with the Lakers, but Kupchak said the deal - though difficult to make - was necessary.

"It's hard to put into words what (Fisher's) meant to this organization, on the court and off the court," Kupchak said. "It's one of the hardest parts of the job that a general manager has, separating the emotions of a relationship you've had.

"We think Ramon will make an immediate impact. Despite Derek's presence, we felt that we needed more speed and more quickness in the backcourt."

It's unclear if Sessions will be join the Lakers in time for Friday's contest, though it may not matter given the team's recent history against Minnesota (22-22).

Bryant scored 34 points in a 105-102 road win last Friday, giving Los Angeles its 17th straight victory over the Timberwolves - the longest active streak in the league by one team over another.

Minnesota lost rookie point guard Ricky Rubio to a torn ACL toward the end of that contest, which began the club's current stretch of three losses in four games including a 111-105 overtime defeat at Utah on Thursday.

Kevin Love, who sat out last week's loss to the Lakers because of back spasms, had 25 points and 16 rebounds in the loss to the Jazz to continue his recent torrid play. He's averaged 32.7 points and 13.7 rebounds in the last six games he's played.

The Wolves, who have split the first two contests on their season-high seven-game road trip, remained two games back of the Western Conference's final playoff spot Thursday night after eighth-place Denver fell to Oklahoma City.


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 #4 Johnson  
  #16 GasolPF #42 Love  
  #17 Bynum C #14 Pekovic  
  #24 Bryant SG #5 Webster  
  #5 Blake PG #5 Webster  



Lakers Andrew Bynum
(bruised right knee) is probable.
Darius Morris
(bruised left wrist) is day-to-day.
Kobe Bryant
(nasal fracture) is probable.

Jose Barea
(sprained left ankle) is out.
Kevin Love
(back spasms) is probable.
Nikola Pekovic
(sore right foot) is probable.
Ricky Rubio
(torn left ACL) is out for season.


Game 1: 1/29 - LAL @ MIN - W 106-101
Game 2: 2/29 - MIN@ LAL - W 104-85
Game 3: 3/09 - LAL @ MIN - W 105-102
Game 4: 3/16 - MIN @ LAL


GAME NOTES

SEASON & SERIES NOTES; CONNECTIONS
The Lakers currently lead their season series with the Timberwolves 3-0, 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 an 18-game win streak against the Timberwolves. The two teams have met 87 times in the regular season, with the Lakers holding a 66-21 advantage. At STAPLES Center, the Lakers are 20-4 all-time against the Timberwolves and have won their last 11 straight in Los Angeles. In Minnesota, the Lakers are 9-1 in their last 10 road games and have won nine straight at Target Center. In 55 career games including 47 starts, Kobe Bryant is averaging 23.9 points versus Minnesota. In their most recent meeting (3/9/12 at Target Center), Kobe Bryant became the youngest player in NBA history to record 29,000 points (fifth ever to do so). In their first meeting this season (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 two-time (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.


BYNUM ON A ROLL
With 37 points in the Lakers double overtime victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on March 13th, Andrew Bynum recorded his third career 30+ point game but second in his last five contests. Additionally, by going 15-of-18 from the field (83.3 percent), Bynum’s night marked just the fourth time in Lakers history that a player has scored at least 37 points on better than 83 percent shooting. The last Laker to accomplish this was Shaquille O’Neal, who did so back on November 19, 1999 in a victory over the Bulls.


FISHER SCORES 10,000th CAREER POINT
With a three-pointer at the 5:17 mark of the first quarter March 13 at Memphis, Derek Fisher reached 10,000 points for his career. In doing so, he became the 308th player in NBA history to record at least 10,000 points in his career. Among active players, he became the 47th player to have scored 10,000 or more points, doing so in the closest NBA city to Little Rock, Arkansas, where he grew up and starred collegiality.


LAKERS MAKE IT 18 STRAIGHT AGAINST THE TIMBERWOLVES
Despite trailing by 14 points in the first quarter, the Lakers rallied to defeat the Timberwolves 105-102 on March 9th, extending their win streak against Minnesota to 18 games, the longest active win streak by one NBA team against another. The streak is the longest by the Lakers against another team since they defeated the Dallas Mavericks 19 straight times from 1995-99. The 14-point lead on 3/9/12 was the Timberwolves’ largest in any of their 18-straight losses to the Lakers, with their only other double-digit lead being a 10-point advantage on 3/18/11 at STAPLES Center.*


BRYANT YOUNGEST IN NBA HISTORY TO 29,000 POINTS; 5th EVER TO REACH MILESTONE
With a free throw at the 2:05 mark of the second quarter March 9th at Minnesota, Kobe Bryant reached 29,000 points for his career. In doing so, Bryant became the youngest to 29,000 points in NBA history (33 years, 199 days), surpassing Wilt Chamberlain (34 years, 198 days), who reached the milestone back on March 7, 1971. Michael Jordan (35 years, 45 days), Karl Malone (35 years, 105 days) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (35 years, 298 days) round out the five players in NBA history to score 29,000 points. Additionally, in reaching 29,000 points in 1,143 games, Bryant became the 5th fastest in terms of games. Chamberlain was the fastest to reach 29,000, doing so in 874 games, followed by Jordan (922), Abdul-Jabbar (1,056) and Malone (1,113).

Earlier this season, with a free throw at the 10:43 mark of the 3rd quarter January 1st at Denver, Kobe Bryant reached 28,000 points for his career, becoming the youngest to 28,000 points in NBA history (33 years, 131 days), surpassing Wilt Chamberlain (34 year, 109 days) who reached the milestone back on December 8, 1970. Michael Jordan (34 years, 333 days), the only other guard in NBA history to score 28,000 points, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (34 years, 363 days), Karl Malone (35 years, 212 days), and Shaquille O’Neal (37 years, 319 days) round out the top six. The youngest player in league history to accumulate 19,000 – 20,000 and 23,000 – 29,000 points, Bryant was the 16th fastest to 18,000, 15th fastest to 19,000, 15th fastest to 20,000, 12th fastest to 21,000, 12th fastest to 22,000, 11th fastest to 23,000, 9th fastest to 24,000, 9th fastest to 25,000, 8th fastest to 26,000 points, 5th fastest to 27,000 points and 5th fastest to 28,000 points in terms of games.


LAKERS MAKE IT 18 STRAIGHT AGAINST THE TIMBERWOLVES
Despite trailing by 14 points in the first quarter, the Lakers rallied to defeat the Timberwolves 105-102 on March 9th, extending their win streak against Minnesota to 18 games, the longest active win streak by one NBA team against another. The streak is the longest by the Lakers against another team since they defeated the Dallas Mavericks 19 straight times from 1995-99. The 14-point lead on 3/9/12 was the Timberwolves’ largest in any of their 18-straight losses to the Lakers, with their only other double-digit lead being a 10-point advantage on 3/18/11 at STAPLES Center.*


WORKING OVERTIME
The Lakers 85-88 overtime loss 3/6 at Detroit was the team’s 3rd overtime contest of the season. The Lakers are now 2-1 in overtime games this year, after going a perfect 4-0 in overtime games last season. Prior to their overtime loss 3/6 at Detroit, the Lakers had won six straight overtime contests. During the 2009-10 season, the Lakers finished 4-1 in overtime games, after going 2-1 in three overtime games in the 2008-09 season and 4-0 in four overtime games during the 2007-08 campaign. The Lakers’ 10 overtime contests in the 2006-07 season established a new Los Angeles era record for overtime games in a single season. With their overtime loss at Detroit, the Lakers all-time overtime record is now 137-91 (.601).


BRYANT SETS ALL-TIME RECORD FOR POINTS SCORED AT ONE ARENA
With 38 points in the Lakers 115-107 victory over the Sacramento Kings March 2nd at STAPLES Center, Kobe Bryant set the all-time record for points scored at one arena on the 50th anniversary of fellow Philadelphia native Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game. Bryant has now scored 13,788 points at STAPLES Center, passing Hakeem Olajuwon’s mark of 13,783 points tallied at Compaq Center, former home of the Houston Rockets. Olajuwon held the record since taking it from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (12,529 points scored at the Forum) in March 1998.*


*Statistical research assistance provided by the Elias Sports Bureau






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