Scouting Report: Wolves at Lakers

Wolves (22-22) vs. Lakers (27-16) - 9:30 p.m. Staples Center
Where to Watch: Fox Sports North
Where to Listen: 830 AM WCCO

*Get your questions on the radio airwaves during halftime! Just tweet questions to @WolvesRadio and listen to the halftime show hosted by John Focke on WCCO 830 AM.

The Timberwolves have had their opportunities to beat the Los Angeles Lakers this season, but in the end L.A. has come out on top each time.

Friday is Minnesota’s fourth and final shot at the Lake Show in 2011-12.

Minnesota takes on the Lakers at 9:30 p.m. tonight at Staples Center, as Minnesota tries to not only jump above .500 in the standings but also eliminate an 18-game losing streak to Los Angeles. The last time the Wolves beat L.A. was a 117-107, double-overtime win in March 2007.

The Timberwolves are gearing up for the third game on their seven-game road trip tonight after a 111-105 loss in overtime to the Jazz last night at EnergySolutions Arena bringing them back down to .500 on the season. Wolves power forward Kevin Love posted 25 points and pulled down 16 boards, and center Nikola Pekovic added 20 points. But the Wolves were out-rebounded by the Jazz 55-47 (17-9 in offensive rebounds), and had 17 turnovers. Jazz power forward Paul Millsap and center Al Jefferson both recorded double-doubles on the night, and guard Gordon Hayward gave the Jazz a game-high 26 points off the bench. Millsap had eight steals.

The loss dropped the Timberwolves to two games behind Denver for the eighth and final playoff spot.

The Lakers come off a 107-104 overtime win against the Hornets Wednesday in New Orleans in which the Lakers were forced to come from behind, trailing by as many as 17 points late in the second quarter and as many as 15 in the second half. Kobe Bryant posted a game-high 33 points, Center Andrew Bynum had 25 points and 18 rebounds and power forward Pau Gasol had 18 points and 10 rebounds.

Last time out

The Wolves suffered a tough 105-102 loss to the Lakers in their most recent matchup March 9 at Target Center. Despite Kevin Love being sidelined with back spasms, the Wolves were in control for most of the game, gaining a 14-point lead in the first quarter but allowing the Lakers to creep into the lead early in the fourth. Derrick Williams started for the Wolves in Love’s spot and recorded 22 points and 10 rebounds on the night. Nikola Pekovic posted a team-high 25 points and 13 rebounds, and Michael Beasley added 15 points off the bench.

The Lakers out-rebounded the Wolves 45-34 in Love's absence and were led by Bryant with 34 points. Bynum had 26 points and 10 rebounds and Gasol added 12 points and 11 rebounds.

Injury report

Wolves Minute with John Focke

In their previous two matchups against Los Angeles, the Wolves have been without Love as he experienced flu-like symptoms Feb. 29 at Staples Center and back spasms March 9 at Target Center. This time around, the Wolves are missing rookie guard Ricky Rubio, who is out for the season after a torn ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament), incurred during the final seconds of the March 9 game against the Lakers. Forward Michael Beasley missed Thursday’s game against the Jazz with a sore big toe.

Containing Bryant

Kobe Bryant continues to be one of the league's top scorers, recording 30-point games in 7 of the Lakers' past 9. Averaging 29 points per game this season and heating up to 31.3 in March, Bryant remains a force for the Lakers. In the LA's three wins over the Wolves this season, Bryant scored 35 points on January 29, 31 on February 29 and 34 on March 9. It will be up to Wolves guards Luke Ridnour and Wes Johnson to keep Bryant contained during their final matchup of the season.

A new look Lakers team

The Lakers were busy just before Thursday’s trade deadline, making a pair of deals in hopes of solidifying their roster for a playoff push. Most notably, L.A. sent point guard Derek Fisher to Houston in exchange for forward/center Jordan Hill. Fisher, who spent a brief stint with Utah in the mid-2000s, was a staple of the Lakers’ five NBA championships in the past 12 years. Meanwhile, L.A. added guard Ramon Sessions and forward Christian Eyenga from Cleveland in exchange for Luke Walton and Jason Kapono. Sessions, who spent time with the Timberwolves, is averaging 10.5 points and 5.2 assists this year. One player who did not leave L.A. is forward/center Pau Gasol, who was rumored to be possibly traded throughout the first half of the season but will stay put for the duration of the 2011-12 campaign.

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