Scouting Report: Wolves vs. Lakers
Minnesota Timberwolves (25-44) vs Los Angeles Lakers (36-35) — 7:00 PM Target Center
Where to Watch: My29
Where to Listen: 830 WCCO-AM
View Timberwolves Game Notes
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The Wolves will start a challenging home stand tonight against the Lakers, but they are coming into the game red-hot after last night’s throttling of Detroit, beating the Pistons 105-82 on the road. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. on My29 and 830 WCCO-AM.
L.A. Lakers Breakdown
Los Angeles is on a three-game slide, the latest hiccup in a season that has Laker faithfuls rattled. As upset as the fans may be, however, if the season ended right now, the Lakers would be playoff-bound. Los Angeles has 11 games left this year, and more than half of them are at home. They need to win games like tonight to fight off teams like Dallas and Utah and stay in playoff contention.
Kobe Bryant suffered a minor injury before returning against Washington, but his presence and 20+ point games haven’t been enough to win L.A.’s last two games. More disturbing for Laker fans is that they have now dropped to 0-7 with Nash, Bryant, World Peace, Gasol and Howard as starters—which is likely their ideal consensus star-studded lineup. Rather, their more successful units include Earl Clark and Darius Morris... a frustrating concept for a franchise that made large efforts to acquire future Hall-of-Famers this offseason.
Last Time Out: Feb. 23, 2013
Kobe Bryant and bench guard Jodie Meeks each hit four 3-pointers as the Lakers cruised past the Wolves 116-94 on Feb. 23. The win edged Los Angeles one game closer to a playoff seed.
"I've been in attack mode since the break. It's go time," Bryant said. "We're getting a little closer, and we're starting to get in more of a striking distance where you start watching (the playoff race)."
It was a discouraging night for the Wolves, who have not beaten the Lakers in Staples Center since 2005. Los Angeles shot 16-of-32—50 percent—from long-range.
"Man, it's tough. I don't think anybody in here has ever lost like this before," Williams said. "I mean, we've had only nine or 10 players all season, and it takes a toll on you every single night.”
J.J. Barea had 20 points off the bench to lead Minnesota’s offensive attack; Luke Ridnour recorded 19 and Derrick Williams had 15. Ricky Rubio logged a double-double with 13 points and 13 assists.
Bryant hit 13-of-22 from the field to total 33 points. Reserves Antawn Jamison and Meeks added in 17 and 16 points, respectively.
Key Matchup: Kobe Bryant and Luke Ridnour
Bryant is back from his brief break, and all suspicion of any post-injury rustiness was dashed when he dropped 36 points in his latest game against Golden State—a 109-103 loss. Although Bryant filled the box score, however, he only shot 2-for-10 from long range and he shot below his season average from the field.
Ridnour is going to have to guard Bryant the same as every other shooting guard who is bigger than him—as well as he can. For a player who is a veteran but lists at a generous 6-foot-2, this can be a tall task (pardon the pun). The last time Bryant faced the Wolves, he scored 33 points, but coach Rick Adelman in addition’s teammates have faith that he can get the defensive job done. However, if Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni decides to maneuver his lineup tonight (as he might with Metta World Peace out, see below), Bryant could be shuffled in the lineup to small forward and Jodie Meeks could be inserted in at shooting guard, or vice versa. We will learn more at shootaround or just before gametime.
Injury report presented by TSR Injury Law
The Wolves continue to stand pat in their injury situation with 12 healthy players, and they continue to await Kevin Love’s next re-evaluation of his right hand that could determine whether or not he returns to play this season. He said on Sunday he is scheduled to have the hand looked at later this week. For the Lakers, Metta World Peace suffered torn cartilage in his left knee during Monday’s loss to the Warriors, according to an L.A. Times report. The report said he is to fly back to L.A. today, and a timetable for his return will be issued then. It also said Jodie Meeks could be inserted into the starting lineup tonight, potentially at the 2 while Bryant slides down to small forward. Jordan Hill is also out for the season with a hip injury.
|Tonight's Probable Starters|
|PG||Ricky Rubio||Steve Nash|
|SG||Luke Ridnour||Kobe Bryant|
|SF||Andrei Kirilenko||Jodie Meeks*|
|PF||Derrick Williams||Pau Gasol|
|C||Nikola Pekovic||Dwight Howard|
*-Could be inserted into starting line up with MWP out tonight