Scouting Report: Wolves at Lakers

Alex Conover
Web Editorial Associate

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Wolves (20-34) at Lakers (28-30) — 9:30 PM Staples Center
Where to Watch: TNT
Where to Listen: 830 WCCO-AM

View Timberwolves Game Notes

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After a tightly-contested loss in Phoenix that was nearly a comeback for the Wolves, Minnesota travels one state west to Los Angeles, continuing their roadtrip. Tipoff is set for 9:30 p.m. on TNT or 830 WCCO-AM.

Los Angeles Breakdown

Eleven games have transpired for Los Angeles since they beat the Timberwolves at Target Center; since then, they’ve gone 7-4. They’ve dropped games to the cross-town rival Clippers and reigning champion Heat; they’ve also lost to the Celtics and Nuggets. Despite seeming like a combination of future Hall of Fame candidates on paper, this Lakers club has performed inconsistently and is one spot out of the playoffs at this point.

Plenty of speculation from fans and media have taken place. After a poor start to the season, they made a coaching change and brought in Mike D’Antoni; you can assume that some adjustment took place after that move. Steve Nash and big men Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol have all fought injuries, including a foot injury that will keep Gasol out for more than a month. There is also concern that their bench isn’t as deep as it should be. With all things considered, however, this looks like a team that’s capable of sneaking into a late playoff spot and causing some damage.

Last Time Out: Feb. 1, 2013

Right when coach Rick Adelman started his postgame press conference after the Wolves’ 111-100 loss to the Lakers on Feb. 1, he summed up the game perfectly in a few sentences.

“It was just a tale of two halves,” Adelman said. “The first half we didn't come out with energy, and they just made every shot. We went to the zone and we got more active, but they beat us on the boards and we just missed a ton of free throws when we were trying to get back into it.”

The Lakers sprinted out to an early lead, kicking the game off with a 33-16 run. They shot a blazing 75 percent (6-for-8) from outside and 69 percent from the field in the first quarter.

The second quarter got even worse, as Los Angeles took a monumental lead by as much as 29 points at one point. Using a 17-3 run, the Wolves managed to climb back to a 15-point deficit by halftime.

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Then, just as quickly as the Lakers heated up, their shooting suddenly went ice cold. They managed to make just 3-of-20 shots in the third quarter and allowed the Wolves to creep back to within 10 points, with Alexey Shved ending the quarter with a buzzer-beating three from way beyond the 3-point line.

In the fourth, the Wolves came within four points of their largest comeback of all time as another Shved 3-pointer put the game at 94-90. But Minnesota shot just 4-for-13 after that point and ended up sacrificing too many chances at rebounds and missing too many free throws to stay in the game.

Key Matchup: Kobe Bryant and Alexey Shved

If you were watching Tuesday night’s game against Phoenix, you saw how Ricky Rubio was pulled in the last couple minutes and replaced with Alexey Shved. Shved is one of the few healthy Wolves whose strength is scoring and can create his own shot; unfortunately, he has recorded a combined 4-for-16 in his last two contests. The rookie is on a little slump, and if he can get out of it, it will really help the Wolves with their dilemma on the wing.

Kobe is Kobe. He’s averaging 38.1 minutes per game and doesn’t come off the court often; he’s also put up 40- and 38-point games lately. He’s a tough matchup athletically for Luke Ridnour, but at least Shved can compete with his height. Shved will be important to the Wolves’ success on both ends.

Injury report presented by TSR Injury Law

The Wolves will be without Andrei Kirilenko on Thursday against the Lakers, which will be his third stint this season missing action due to injury. He suffered a strained left calf against the Suns on Tuesday. For the Lakers, Pau Gasol is out with a torn plantar fascia in his right foot. He has missed nine games with the injury.

 

Tonight's Probable Starters
Position Timberwolves Lakers
PG Ricky Rubio Steve Nash
SG Luke Ridnour Kobe Bryant
SF Mickael Gelabale Metta World Peace
PF Derrick Williams Earl Clark
C Nikola Pekovic Dwight Howard

 


For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter, and join the conversation at WolvesNation.com.