Scouting Report: Wolves vs. Lakers
Web Editorial Associate
Email / Twitter
Wolves (17-25) vs Lakers (20-26) — 8:30 PM Target Center
Where to Watch: My 29 and ESPN
Where to Listen: 830 WCCO-AM
View Timberwolves Game Notes
Got questions during tonight’s game? Send them to Wolves Radio via Twitter using the hash tag #WolvesRadio!
It’s primetime, and the Minnesota Timberwolves are hosting the Los Angeles Lakers at 8:30 p.m. on national television. Tune into this Western Conference matchup on ESPN, My 29 or 830 WCCO-AM.
At 34 years old, Kobe Bryant is still putting up elite numbers. He’s averaging 28.1 points per game, and his 48 assists over his last four games is a career high over such a span. Dwight Howard sits second in scoring with 16.5 per game and first in rebounding with 11.9 per, but a labrum injury in his most recent game has him at day-to-day status.
Beyond Bryant and Howard, there are plenty of household names playing in Los Angeles. Metta World Peace is third in scoring with 13.4 PPG, and he’s tops in steals with a 1.7 average. Steve Nash leads the team with 7.7 assists, and Pau Gasol adds 12.8 PPG. Yet, despite all of the star power present, Los Angeles has posted a 0-7 road record in January. Will that losing streak continue in February? Minnesota hopes so.
Last Time Out: March 16, 2012
Kobe Bryant scored 28 points, Matt Barnes and Pau Gasol each scored 17 and Andre Bynum had a double-double with 15 and 14 as the Lakers defeated the Timberwolves, 97-92.
The Lakers maintained a lead all game as they won at home for the 19th time out of the last 20 chances. It was also their 19th straight victory over the Timberwolves dating back to March 6, 2007.
Minnesota’s frontcourt recorded double-doubles as Kevin Love had 27 points and 15 rebounds and Nikola Pekovic logged 20 and 12 of his own.
"We have to have more urgency as a group," Wolves coach Rick Adelman said. "You can't talk about it. You have to do it. We have to go out in the last four games on this road trip and make a statement."
Key Matchup: Kobe Bryant and Alexey Shved
Now Shved likely won’t guard Bryant—there’s a good chance Andrei Kirilenko will. But these two will have a large impact for their respective teams at the same position.
Shved, in his first game back from injury against the Clippers, did not shoot efficiently. In fact, the rookie had struggled from the field in a couple games before his ankle sprain.
“It’s not just this game where I missed a couple shots,” Shved said after the loss to the Clippers. “It was two or three games before the injury. Today I feel better than before, and I really think that I want to make my open shots. It’s crazy to miss open shots. If you get a pass and miss two, three, four times in a row.”
And that’s just it. The Wolves need a scorer, someone who can produce a chunk of points at any given notice. Kirilenko is known for his all-around game while Ricky Rubio is known for his passing. The only true threats at shooting guard are Luke RIdnour—who is more of a point himself—and the rookie Shved. We have seen Shved experience success already this year, but he needs to step up and be that threat for the Wolves tonight.
Bryant is experiencing another stellar year. Lately, he has stepped out of his pure scoring mold, showing a penchant for distributing the ball as well as scoring effectively. Which Minnesota defender will try to neutralize one of the best scorers in the league? Odds are that Andrei Kirilenko will try his luck, as the 6-foot-9 forward matches up well against the lengthy Bryant.
Injury report presented by TSR Injury Law
The Wolves had both center Nikola Pekovic and guard Alexey Shved return to the lineup on Wednesday against the Clippers after missing five games. That certainly added depth to this team, particularly at the wing position. Having Pekovic back against a Lakers team that features two elite big men is crucial in this matchup. On a side note, guard Brandon Roy said yesterday he suffered another setback over the weekend and still has no timetable on his return.
As for the Lakers’ elite big men, one of them is questionable for tonight’s game. Center Dwight Howard has been hindered by a torn labrum in his right shoulder, and he is questionable for tonight. The Lakers are also without Jordan Hill, who is done for the season after undergoing hip surgery in late-January.
|Tonight's Probable Starters|
|PG||Ricky Rubio||Steve Nash|
|SG||Luke Ridnour||Kobe Bryant|
|SF||Andrei Kirilenko||Metta World Peace|
|PF||Derrick Williams||Earl Clark|
|C||Nikola Pekovic||Dwight Howard*|