Wolves vs. Lakers Gameday
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Wolves vs. Lakers 7:00 PM - Target Center
Where to Watch: FS North
Where to Listen: 1130 AM
*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 1130 AM.
* Martell Webster (back) - DAY-TO-DAY
* Matt Barnes (knee) - OUT
Andrew Bynum survived another trade deadline and remains an essential part of the Lakers quest for a third consecutive NBA title. Whether the heavily discussed Carmelo Anthony for Bynum deal had any validity or not, Los Angeles kept its size advantage out West while archrival Boston shipped out its starting big man. The daily scrutiny surrounding The Lake Show will not dissipate until they reach the playoffs where most analysts assume the team will reach its peak. This year's version of the Lakers is not exactly struggling but far from the impressive consistency displayed by the league leader San Antonio Spurs. Los Angeles sits in third place in the Western Conference, two games ahead of Dallas and would face a red-hot Blazers squad in the first round if the regular season ended today. Following the All-Star break, the Lakers have reeled off four straight wins, including a statement victory over the Thunder on Sunday afternoon. Los Angeles will play its next five of seven games on the road, starting with tonight's matchup against Minnesota.
Last Time Out
Kendrick Perkins has yet to suit up for the Thunder and his new team could have used another big man to help battle the Lakers on Sunday. Of course, Perkins presence may have not changed the outcome as Kobe Bryant buried clutch shots down the stretch and escaped with a 90-87 win.
The Wolves discovered the offensive rhythm that was sorely lacking in their previous six games. On Sunday night, the flood gates opened and Minnesota dropped Golden State 126-123 behind another brilliant performance from Kevin Love (37 points, 23 rebounds).
The Numbers Game
Remember the date? November 19, 2010 was the last time Love did not register a double-double. The opponent? The Lakers held Minnesota's All-Star to zero points and seven boards in a 112-95 victory. Since that uncharacteristic performance, Love has been spectacular with 46 straight double-doubles.
Match-up to Watch
Wes Johnson vs. Kobe Bryant
The teacher-student relationship will effectively be on hold tonight at Target Center. Johnson spoke openly about his admiration for Bryant but he understands the developing friendship between the two players will be tossed out the window in this matchup. Bryant is arguably the fiercest competitor on the planet and will not hesitate to unleash an offensive flurry against the rookie. Over the last two games, Johnson has seemed to increase his activity, posting 22 points against New Orleans and 17 in the victory over Golden State on Sunday. He is earning major minutes in replacing Corey Brewer at the shooting guard position and will receive a monumental defensive assignment tonight as Bryant averages 28 points per game in the two Los Angeles wins this year.
What to Look For
On the bright side, the Wolves regained their confidence on the offensive side of the floor by tallying 126 points on Sunday. Kurt Rambis reiterated to the media the importance of ball movement and how quick decision making within the offensive scheme is the only way to shoot a high percentage against a lengthy Lakers squad. Driving lanes are going to be minimal when facing Bryant, Ron Artest, Pau Gasol, and Andrew Bynum. The Wolves must hit perimeter jumpers to stretch the Los Angeles defense and provide some space inside the paint for Love, Michael Bealsey, and Darko Milicic to operate around the rim.
From a defensive standpoint, the coaching staff and players will admit the 123 points allowed to Golden State is a concern, especially as they enter a game against one of the most efficient offenses in the league. Love and the Minnesota frontcourt will attempt to limit second chance opportunities in a game featuring two the top five rebounding teams in the NBA.
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