GameDay Live Blog: Wolves at Lakers | Nov. 10, 2013
GameDay Live Blog | Final: Wolves 113, Lakers 90
Final: The Wolves beat the Lakers 113-90 tonight, ending their 22-game losing streak to Los Angeles. It's also the largest win for the Wolves over the Lakers in team history--the previous high was 18. Martin had 27, Love had 25 and 13, Rubio had 12 points, 14 assists, 10 boards and five steals, and Brewer had 17. More to come postgame so stay tuned to Timberwolves.com. MIN 113, LAL 90
Q4 2:47: Rubio's 12 points, 14 assists, 10 rebounds and 5 steals makes him the second player in Wolves history to have a 10/10/10/5 game. Kevin Garnett had 22/15/10/7 on Dec. 14, 1999. MIN 108, LAL 86
Q4 5:05: We're midway through the fourth, and the Wolves still have a 24-point advantage. They're getting a nice push from Barea this quarter--he just took a feed from Rubio and scored on a driving lay-up. He's got eight of the Wolves' 12 bench points tonight. MIN 107, LAL 83
Q4 8:50: Ricky Rubio drained a 3-pointer that puts him at 12 points, 13 assists and seven boards for the night. He's got a fighting chance at a triple-double tonight. Meanwhile, he just found Love in the paint, and Love powered through contact to score and draw the foul. His old-fashioned 3-point play put the Wolves up 18, and Barea's mid-range jumper just put the lead back up to 20. MIN 100, LAL 80
End Q3: We're through three here in L.A.,and the Wolves still hold a 14-point lead that once was as many as 29 this quarter. The Lakers are making a run here and it is in large part due to Steve Blake's 3-point shooting. He has 19 tonight and is 5-of-7 from distance. One telling stat here is that the Wolves' bench has just six of the team's 90 points--Barea has four and Shved has two. Martin has 27 points, Love has 22 and Pek has 14. Brewer has 12. MIN 90, LAL 76
Q3 3:45: Steve Blake is doing his part. He's 4-of-5 from 3 tonight, but the Wolves are still up 84-64. Meanwhile, Steve Nash is having back troubles tonight and he will not return. MIN 84, LAL 64
Q3 6:31: The Wolves are up 82-53 after another long outlet pass by Love to Kevin Martin for the reverse. Meanwhile, we're doing a little celebrity spotting here at Staples Center. Jack Nicholson is a given, and he's very stoic tonight on the sidelines. We've also spotted Jake Gyllenhaal, Leann Rimes and Fred Couples. Who else is here? We'll keep an eye out. Our panel of spotters includes myself, Jerry Zgoda and Marney Gellner. MIN 82, LAL 53
Halftime: The Wolves are leading 67-48 at the half tonight, and they're putting on quite a show when it comes to stealing momentum, forcing the Lakers into mistakes and converting on the other end. Meanwhile, they're shooting 53.2 percent from the field and are led by Love's 20 points/11 boards and Kevin Martin's 19 points. They're still shooting 7-of-11 from 3-point range. Brewer also has 10 points, Rubio has seven points and nine assists and Pek has five points and four rebounds. MIN 67, LAL 48
Q2 3:17: Every time the Lakers try to put some momentum together, they miss free throws or turn the ball over. Most recently, the Lakers picked up a rebound off a Wolves miss but turned the ball right over to Ricky, who found Love wide open under the basket for 2. It's still an 18-point lead as we near the end of the first half. MIN 59, LAL 41
Q2 6:11: The Lakers are trying to chip away here, and they had a little bit of a push in the first five minutes of the quarter. But they're missing a lot of free throws (7-of-13), and that's hurting their momentum. They are also 1-of-6 from distance. The Wolves, meanwhile, are still 7-of-10 from downtown and hold a 23-point lead. Also, Love has his double-double with 18 points and 10 boards. MIN 53, LAL 32
Q2 8:57: The Wolves' bench is logging some time here to start the second. This is an important timeframe in this game, because the Wolves have given up some ground in the second quarter the past couple games. But they're still up 25 here with 9 minutes left in the second and are sprinkling in some reserves along with Martin, Love and Pek. They're coming back out of this timeout with the starters on the floor aside from Shved in for Brewer. MIN 53, LAL 28
End Q1: The Wolves just set a record for the most points in a quarter in franchise history, and they lead 47-23 after 1. Their previous high was on April 19, 1992 against Charlotte. They also had 46 in the fourth quarter vs. New Jersey on Dec. 26, 1997. The Wolves are shooting 76 percent (and that includes a last-second heave by Brewer at the end of the 1st) led by Love's 18 points (5-of-6) and Martin's 16 points (7-of-8). They have 12 assists on 16 field goals. MIN 47, LAL 23
Q1 2:58: Love and Martin are on fire right now, and the Wolves are leading by 20 because of it. Martin just hit another runner, bringing him to 7-of-8 with 16 points (2-of-2 from 3) on the night, and we're not done with the 1st quarter. Love is 4-of-5 (all from 3) and has 14 points and seven boards. The Wolves are shooting 80 percent as a team (12-of-15), while the Lakers are 6-of-17. MIN 36, LAL 16
Q1 5:21: The Wolves are starting out hot from the field. They're 9-of-12 from the floor and 5-of-6 from distance. Kevin Love is 3-of-4 from 3-point range and has nine points and five boards midway through the first. He's hit a couple 3s right in front of Jack Nicholson. Martin already has 12 points 2-of-2 from distance and 5-of-6 from the field. MIN 23, LAL 14
Wolves: PG-Ricky Rubio, SG-Kevin Martin, SF-Corey Brewer, PF-Kevin Love, C-Nikola Pekovic
Lakers: PG-Steve Nash, SG-Steve Blake, SF-Nick Young, PF-Pau Gasol, C-Chris Kaman
8:20 PM: Last pregame notes before starting lineups (as the Wolves enter the court. Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni talked about former Wolves forward Wes Johnson a bit today. He said Johnson, who is averaging 8.7 points and 4.4 rebounds per game, is providing thrust to the basket and athleticism for the Lakers this year.
“Defensively, he guards as well as anybody, especially inside,” D’Antoni said. “He does a great job getting rebounds and knocking rebounds loose. His athleticism is a big plus.”
One key difference?
“He’s never played the 4, and I think the 4 is a good position for him,” D’Antoni said. “He can play the 3. We don’t want to go away totally, but until he gets his shot down and be able to put the ball on the floor a little bit better, the 4 isn’t a bad spot for him.”
8:15 PM: As mentioned before, the Lakers are putting together strong bench play this year. They’re first in the league in bench points per game and fifth in bench shooting percentage. The Wolves, by comparison, are not getting the productivity out of their bench they’re looking for through six games. That’s something that could make a difference tonight, given Minnesota has lost leads in their past two games in the second quarter when their bench entered the game.
“We’ve been trying to find our way,” Adelman said. “We’ve been very inconsistent off the bench. That’s something we’re looking to get better at and find an answer for. But their bench has been very good. They don’t slow down when their bench comes in. It’s something we have to keep working on and find some type of rotation that’s going to be successful, whether it’s starters or off the bench.”
Meanwhile, Adelman said the Wolves will want to push the pace and control tempo tonight. They’ve been incredibly effective in transition this season, and on the road in this building it’s going to be extra important to not let the game slip into the Lakers’ control.
“They beat Houston, they beat the Clippers here. It’s going to be a difficult game to play,” Adelman said. “We have to come out and play the way we did last game, not two games ago.”
Rubio said the Wolves have done a great job of getting out on the fast break. That needs to be consistent tonight.
“Corey is giving us—I don’t know how he does it, but every time we get a shot he’s going,” Rubio said. “He’s great at doing that, and we’re going to try to take advantage.”
As for the 22-game losing streak to the Lakers, Adelman was not aware of its existence. No comment there. Rubio put it short and sweet: “Twenty-two games is a lot. It’s time to do it.”
8:00 PM: Just settled in here baseline at Staples Center getting set for tonight's 8:30 p.m. CT tipoff. I will be back with a couple pregame updates from Ricky Rubio and Rick Adelman momentarily, but briefly here Derrick Williams said he is available to play tonight. He warmed up on the court during pregame and said he'll be suited up tonight. He missed Friday's game with back spasms.
4:30 PM: Wolves forward Kevin Love enters this game coming off a rare performance in NBA history: 32 points, 15 boards, eight assists and three 3-pointers against the Mavericks on Friday. Those stats showcase a few points of interest about Love: For one, he’s back. Plain and simple. Two, not only is he the unstoppable rebounder and stretch 4 we’ve all grown to know, but he’s becoming a guy who moves the ball well and gets his teammates involved.
That’s a tricky proposition for opponents, and the Lakers know it.
“You’ve got to get into him,” Lakers forward Pau Gasol said. “You can’t give him easy looks. They’re going to look for him, and I know Ricky looks for him all the time. But keep him off the boards, that’s a big thing with him because he gets his like 3-4 put backs every game, easy points for him. So we’ve got to keep him off the boards. You’ve got to do it for 40-some minutes because that’s what he plays.”
Mike D’Antoni is familiar with Love’s game not only from their matchups in the NBA but because of his involvement with the Team USA program. He said Love’s work ethic sets him apart, and over the last 2-3 years he’s established himself as that elite brand of power forward at the NBA level.
For Love, it’s all about how he approaches the game.
“He just knows how to play,” D’Antoni said. “He’s really smart in drawing fouls, getting out to the 3-point line, posting up if you’re going small. He’s just a really good player. He knows how to play.”
One of the biggest things Love’s done this season so far is heaving those outlet passes to a wing leaking off opponents’ misses, namely Corey Brewer. He’s always had that ability, but it’s becoming more and more evident this year with the personnel around him.
“They have a really nice, dynamic team and they’re playing well,” Gasol said. “They know how to play. You have to get back in transition. You have to know what they do, understand and so we’ve got to put pressure on the outlet passes a little bit more on Kevin’s rebounds instead of turning around and getting back and running. Their wings, especially Corey, they leak out and they’re tough to get back to.”
Pregame 4:00 PM: Greetings from downtown Los Angeles, where the Lakers will host the Timberwolves tonight at Staples Center. Tipoff is set for 8:30 p.m. on Fox Sports North and 830 WCCO-AM. Tonight is significant for a couple reasons—For one, it’s Lakers Game Day, and we all know how the Lakers bring out the passion in all opposing teams’ fans. Given their history and roots in Minnesota, that always amplifies the situation. But two, tonight the Wolves can do something they haven’t done since March 6, 2007.
That is the last time the Wolves beat the Lakers, 117-107, double-overtime victory at Target Center in which Kevin Garnett scored 26 and added 17, Ricky Davis had 32 and the Lakers started the likes of Smush Parker and Brian Cook.
There is a real possibility the 22-game losing streak could end tonight.
L.A. is still without Kobe Bryant as he recovers from his ruptured Achilles, the Lakers are playing up and down basketball (3-4 overall) and they’re coming off back-to-backs at Houston and New Orleans on Thursday and Friday. If there was ever a recipe to take the Lakers down, this would be the time.
But they’re still the Lakers, and this game is being played at Staples Center where the Wolves haven’t won since March 31, 2005 (105-96). That makes tonight’s game even more intriguing.
The Wolves didn’t shoot around this morning due to the (West Coast-adjusted) 6:30 p.m. early start, which is typical for Minnesota. Adelman generally doesn’t shoot around if the team plays a game earlier than the 7 p.m. local tip. The Lakers uncharacteristically shot around at Staples Center today due to a season ticket member event in which a huge crowd of fans sat in sideline seats from baseline to baseline filling about the first 15 rows. A public address announcer walked the fans through each drill, and it was shown on the big screen as well.
The big talk for the Lakers heading into tonight was containing Kevin Love, who is putting up video game-like numbers right now, and trying to curb the Wolves’ fast break.
“They’re the No. 1 paced team in the league, so they’ve got a lot of leak outs with Corey Brewer,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said. “Kevin Love presents a big problem for our bigs or smalls, whoever has to guard him. Pekovic is tough on the boards, and Kevin Martin never misses from 3 it seems like. They’ve got some stuff going on. It’s going to be a very energy kind of game, and we’re going to have to be really sharp because they’re 4-2, they could easily be 5-1. They’re pretty good.”
We’ll get to Love in a subsequent post, so stay tuned. But for now, let’s focus on the transition game for a moment. The Lakers are 25th in the league in opponents’ fast break points per game, allowing 18.3 per night. The Wolves, as you saw on Friday with the Love to Brewer connection, are really pushing the pace. In order to slow them down a bit, the Lakers are going to try and do a defense by committee approach: Crash the boards hard to limit Love’s outlet passing opportunities, and don’t lose track of Brewer at all costs.
“Just a conscious team effort to do individually what we can do to protect each other,” forward Pau Gasol said. One area to watch tonight is bench play. The Lakers are getting a lot of their offensive punch from their reserves (53 points per game on 46 percent shooting, both top 5 in NBA), while the Wolves have relied heavily on their starters due to lacking bench production over the past few games. The Wolves’ reserves have relinquished second quarter leads the last two games, and if Minnesota gets off to a fast start with their starters it will be key to see how the reserves match up on both teams.
A couple other notes: No word yet on Derrick Williams’ availability. He didn’t dress on Friday due to back spasms. Will check tonight with Adelman during his pregame media availability. Also, Steve Nash didn’t play on Friday for the Lakers but that was a product of the team’s strategy of not playing him in back-to-backs early on in the season. He is expected to play tonight, but we will confirm that later, too.
Stay tuned for more from Staples Center as we get set for tonight’s matchup.