GameDay LIVE Blog: Wolves vs. Lakers | Feb. 4, 2014



Final: Ballgame. The Lakers made this one challenging, but Minnesota pulled out a 109-99 Cherry Berry victory. Noteworthy stat here: Kevin Love just picked up his 25th career 30-point, 15-rebound game of his career, passing Kevin Garnett for the most in franchise history. He finished with 31 points and 17 boards tonight. Kevin Martin led all scorers with 32 points and was 4-of-6 from 3-point range. J.J. Barea added 11 off the bench. Minnesota moves back to .500 at 24-24, and they secure their first season of beating the Lakers multiple time since 2005-06. MIN 109, LAL 99

Q4 4:10: Love hit the ground hard after driving to the basket, and he spent enough time on the ground afterward to warrant a Timberwolves full timeout. But he walked back to the bench under his own power, and he went back out to shoot free throws. Love hit both an dis now up to 30 points and 15 boards. Not a bad night, folks. MIN 102, LAL 91

Q4 5:53: Martin is up to 30 after another basket, and throw J.J. Barea into the mix here for aggressive scorers in this half. He's up to 11 after a nice drive, hoop and 1. Barea's had a couple of those in the second half, and it's been a factor as L.A. continues to knock on the door. MIN 100, LAL 91

Q4 9:09: Minnesota responded after the Lakers cut this lead to seven. They've pushed things back up to 11 here highlighted by a K-Mart dunk that puts him at 28 for the game. The Lakers are getting great production from their bench, particularly 17 from Swaggy P, 15 from Harris and 13 from Johnson. Sacre has 14 in the starting lineup, but he's been the main man for that starting five. MIN 95, LAL 84

End Q3: Minnesota still leads by 11 heading into the fourth and is in good position to knock out a win here tonight against the Lakers, which would be their first against LAL at Target Center in 12 tries. They're starting out the third with Barea, Martin, Mbah a Moute, Cunningham and Love on the floor--playing small here to kick things off. Love has 28 and Martin has 23, while Rubio has 13 assists. But Rubio turned the ball over late in the third and Adelman quickly went to Barea, so we'll see how that plays out in the fourth. MIN 89, LAL 78

Q3 5:34: L.A. just cut this lead to 10 with 5:34 to play in the third. Minnesota needs to stop this run and get something going on the offensive end before they let this depleted Lakers team cut the deficit any further. MIN 75, LAL 65

Q3 7:12: The Wolves are letting the Lakers hang around here. Their once 25-point lead is down to 14, and it had dipped to as low as 12. Love (23 points) and Martin (19) are keeping things rolling. Minnesota is shooting 7-of-13 from 3, while the Lakers are shooting 7-of-11. Minnesota is sticking with the starting five here as we hear the midway point of the third. MIN 75, LAL 61

Halftime: The Lakers cut this once 25-point lead down to 16 at the break led in part by Manny Harris' 13 points on 5-of-5 shooting off the bench. The Wolves are led by Martin's 19 points and Love's 18 points. Meanwhile, we've got a halftime show coming up here that was unannounced but supposed to be very great. I've been hearing about it all night. And we've got.......Tag Team singing Whoomp There It Is. This is fantastic. 1995 Mark would be proud. I owned Jock Jams Volume I, after all. Back to the game. Minnesota has an 18-10 lead in the paint and a 14-3 edge in second chance points. They held all Lakers scorers under 10 except Harris' 13. The Wolves have seven from Brewer, five from Budinger and Cunningham and four from Barea, Dieng and Mbah a Moute. MIN 68, LAL 52

Q2 2:46: L.A. is starting to heat up a bit from distance. They've now hit 5-of-9 from 3-point range overall--the latest coming from Johnson--and they've cut this lead to 16 with 2:46 left in the second. Minnesota does have an 18-8 edge in the paint and an 11-3 lead in second-chance points. Time to start seeing them get to the basket and work inside out. MIN 60, LAL 44

Q2 8:56: I can tell you a few things about this game. One, for the kids out there watching their first Lakers game (and for some reason reading this blog), note that this is not your typical Lakers squad. I can't remember a Lakers squad with this type of lineup in recent memory--even the Rudy T year had Kobe on the floor. He's hurt right now. I'm thinking you need to go back to the 1993-94 season when the Lakers missed the playoffs and were in between viable superstars. Which brings me to Point 2: The Lakers' fans always come out in droves when L.A. is in town, but tonight there are very few people in purple/gold here at Target Center. I did see a girl wearing an old-school Derek Fisher t-shirt, so props to her. But the right of the fair-weather fans must not have decided to come out tonight. Third, Swaggy P not only has the best nickname of anyone on the court, bu the's got the best sneakers. Bright Lakers yellow from heel to toe. Great shoes. MIN 47, LAL 31

End Q1: On Nov. 10 against the Lakers, Kevin Love had 18 first quarter points and Kevin Martin added 16 in the first 12 minutes as Minnesota opened up a 47-23 lead at Staples Center. Tonight, Martin has 14 and Love has 11 as the Wolves lead 38-26 after 1. Nice starts for both those guys in two games against the Lakers. The Wolves as a whole are shooting 56 percent from the field. Meanwhile, the Lakers are struggling with Nash not on the court. He had four assists in eight minutes, but the rest of the team has four total assists in the remaining 53 player minutes in the first. Even when he's battling injury, he makes a big difference on the court. MIN 38, LAL 26

Q1 1:59: Nash exited the game, and in the last 2:24 the Wolves went on a 9-2 run punctuated by Martin's 3-pointer and Brewer's big slam in transition. Rubio, by the way, has eight assists tonight and we're not through the first quarter. MIN 32, LAL 22

Q1 4:23: Still a hot start offensively for Minnesota, which is shooting 9-of-13 from the field and 3-of-4 from 3-point range. But here come the Lakers, who cut this lead to three thanks to a little boost from Nick Young (Swaggy P entered after Jodie Meeks left with an apparent ankle injury), six from Sacre and four points and four assists from Nash. Nash just hit eight minutes and will likely come out here until the second half. The plan was to play him 5-8 minutes in the first half, then 5-8 in the second half. Here comes Kendall Marshall to replace him. MIN 23, LAL 20

Q1 10:34: Good start for the Wolves, who are 3-of-3 from the field led by two 3s by Kevin Martin. He's got six early points and Love has two more as Minnesota jumps out 8-2 and Mike D'Antoni calls a timeout. Remember in the teams' first meeting of the year Love and Martin had huge first quarters. This is the type of game against a depleted Lakers team that Minnesota should jump on early and never look back. MIN 8, LAL 2

Starters:

Lakers:
PG-Steve Nash, SG-Steve Blake, SF-Jodie Meeks, PF-Ryan Kelly, C-Robert Sacre

Wolves: PG-Ricky Rubio, SG-Kevin Martin, SF-Corey Brewer, PF-Kevin Love, C-Ronny Turiaf

PREGAME 6:30 PM: It’s unanimous as basketball fans that it’s hard to see Steve Nash battle through a season like he’s doing this year. The two-time NBA MVP had such a long line of successful seasons without being hampered by injury, but the past two years it’s been rough. This year in particular, he’s only played in six games and hasn’t been on the court since Nov. 10 against Minnesota.

Unfortunately for the Lakers, it’s been much of the same across the board. Kobe. Gasol. Blake. Farmar. Kaman. You name it, and they’ve experienced it injury-wise.

Tonight, Nash and Blake are back in the starting lineup and Farmar is technically available but might not play. The Wolves have played the Lakers twice already this year but in a way they’re seeing a completely different team each time. Wolves forward Dante Cunningham said Minnesota isn’t getting caught up in that. It’s the same deal every night.

“Every game is a challenge,” Cunningham said. “Ever game either someone’s hurt, somebody’s coming back or you know vice versa. They’ve had hurt players the last few games, and we’ve had hurt players now. It’s definitely a challenge every time you play a game.”

He said the Wolves need to stick to their gameplan tonight of playing inside-out basketball. With Pau Gasol out with a groin injury, that provides opportunity inside despite Minnesota also missing Nikola Pekovic.

He said without Pekovic he and other teammates are focused on trying to fill his minutes and his productivity.

“Right now it’s just a time for everyone on the team to pick up the slack and step up and continue to build a little bit more and help the team be successful,” he said.

The Wolves haven’t beaten the Lakers multiple times in a season since 2005-06 season. They were 3-1 that year, and tonight Minnesota could improve to 2-1 against this L.A. club. No Gasol helps that cause, but they do need to watch out for what Kevin Love called opportunistic play. Like the Wolves, L.A. has players filling roles of injured players who are ready to step up. The Wolves are ready for that possibility.

Meanwhile, they’ll need to try and handle what Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni will throw at Kevin Love, who he called a lethal threat during his pregame interview tonight.

“Well, he’s going to get numbers,” D’Antoni said. “We’d like to make it hard for him, you know, we’ll double when we can and but yeah, you can’t forget. You can’t let Kevin Martin get 30 and you can’t let other guys get off, so you try to make it hard on him, don’t put him on the foul line and whatever points he gets, hopefully… a team defense and go from there.”

PREGAME 6:10 PM: Welcome to Target Center, folks, as we get set for tonight's game between the Wolves and the Los Angeles Lakers. It's always a big deal when the Lakers come to town, even during years like this that have been completely depleted by injuries and weak depth to begin with. We'll get to that in a second. First, though, I want to note that tonight's game is on Fox Sports North Plus, so make sure to check your local listings for the FSN Plus Channel Guide.

Apologies on few pregame posts tonight, but the new Wolves practice facility news occupied most of my afternoon. So to get things kicked off here, I'm going to toss the game blog over to a post Kyle Ratke wrote earlier today after shootaround as well as a couple pregame notes you should consider before tonight's game. I'll be back with a fresh post shortly.

From this morning's shootaround:

The injury bug has hit the Los Angeles Lakers hard this season, but Tuesday night at the Target Center, they’ll be getting at least two of their starters back on the court.

Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni told media members at shootaround that LA will have both Steve Nash and Steve Blake available for the game against the Timberwolves and both players are expected to start.

D’Antoni said he expects Nash, who has played in just six games this season trying to fight off s back and hamstring injury, to play the first 5-8 minutes of each half. Blake, who is recovering from a torn elbow ligament, has no minute restriction.

“You know, I have no idea,” Nash said on his playing time. “You know, I’m just happy to get the chance to play again and hopefully get a little bit of conditioning and rhythm and game application.”

D'Antoni said Nash, Blake, Jodie Meeks, Ryan Kelly and Robert Sacre will start tonight for the Lakers.

This will be a much different look for the Lakers. From Jan. 3 to now, the Lakers had been starting Kendall Marshall at the point guard position. The Lakers signed Marshall after he was cut by the Washington Wizards.

Marshall is averaging 10.5 points and 9.6 assists per game this season, impressive marks for a player who didn’t have a job for the majority of the season. Now, though, Marshall will likely see his minutes decrease dramatically.

“Yeah, he’s fine. No, he’s good. I just talked to all of them, I told them that you know, don’t get used to playing 40 minutes and not ever coming out and making a mistake and not coming out,” D’Antoni said. “Still an opportunity to get 20-25 minutes, play hard, perform and whether you’re a starter or not could change tomorrow. We could have another starting group tomorrow but everybody will get an opportunity to make the best of it.”

Here are a few key notes as you get set for tonight's game:

  • The Wolves trail in the all-time series 22-71, and are 15-31 at home. The teams have split two previous meeting this season with the Wolves winning 113-90 in Los Angeles on Nov. 10 and the Lakers winning 104-91 in Los Angeles on Dec. 20. The Wolves have lost the last 11 meetings at Target Center, dating back to a 117-107 double overtime win on March 6, 2007.

  • Wolves Notes

  • Kevin Love ranks 4th in the NBA in scoring (25.5 ppg), 2nd in rebounding (13.1 rpg), and 4th among forwards in assists (4.0 apg) and 3rd in free throws made (299). Love is coming off a 43-point, 19-rebound performance against the Hawks, joining Patrick Ewing as the only two players since 1985-86 to record multiple games with 43+ points and 19+ rebounds in the same season.

  • Love has recorded six 30+ point, 15+ rebound games this season, and now has 24 in his career, equaling Kevin Garnett's franchise record total. He has scored 30+ points in three of the last four games, averaging 33.0 ppg on 50.6% shooting over that span. Love is shooting 93.8% (45-for-48) from the free-throw line over the last five games.

  • Ricky Rubio ranks 1st in the NBA in steals at 2.64 per game, 4th in assists with 8.2 apg and 18th in free-throw percentage at 84.7%. He has recorded 5+ steals in a league-best eight games this season.

  • Kevin Martin ranks 4th in the NBA in free throw percentage at 88.5%, 18th in free throws made (193) and 23rd in scoring at 19.3 ppg. Martin ranks 6th in the NBA in points off turnovers at 4.4 ppg.

  • Ronny Turiaf is averaging 7.5 points, on 65.0% shooting, 8.0 rebounds and 27.5 minutes over the last four games (3 starts).

  • Over the last three games, Dante Cunningham (10.0 ppg on 66.7% shooting) and J.J. Barea (11.3 ppg, 4.7 apg) have carried the load for the Timberwolves bench.

  • Minnesota ranks 4th in the league in second-chance points (15.4 ppg) while ranking 4th in points in the paint (47.0 ppg). Pekovic (5.20 ppg) and Love (4.72 ppg) rank 1st and 3rd respectively in second-chance scoring and Pekovic is 1st in points in the paint (13.6 ppg).

  • The Wolves have attempted as many or more free throws than their opponent in 43 of 47 games this season. Minnesota ranks 3rd in the NBA in free throws attempts with 26.7 per game, and are allowing the fewest free attempts at 18.6 per game.

  • Lakers Notes

  • Los Angeles has lost its last six games and 12 of its last 14 contests. The Lakers have allowed 100+ points in their last 14 games, their longest such streak since 1986-87.

  • The Lakers have allowed the most rebounds (48.53 rpg) and steals (9.72 spg) in the NBA this season and the 2nd-most points (106.1 ppg)

  • Kendall Marshall is averaging 13.0 points and 11.0 assists over the last four games. He has recorded 9 point/assist double doubles in 19 games this season. In 15 starts, Marshall is averaging 11.9 ppg, 3.6 rpg and 11.5 apg. He ranks 3rd in the NBA in three-point shooting percentage at 45.5%.

  • Jodie Meeks is averaging 20.6 points, on 49.3% shooting, and 2.0 steals over the last five games.



  • For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter.