Wolves Tough Out Win Against Lakers, 109-99

After last season, the Minnesota Timberwolves know what it’s like to have major injury concerns. They took advantage of another team having those concerns on Tuesday night at the Target Center, defeating the Los Angeles Lakers 109-99.

The Lakers were already without Jordan Farmar, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Xavier Henry. If that wasn’t enough, they lost Jodie Meeks (ankle) and Jordan Hill (headache) in the first half. The Lakers did get Steve Nash back, though. Nash has played in just six games this season due to back and hamstring injuries.

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Wolves vs. Lakers

Depth or no depth, the Wolves will take the win.

“It was a good win to get,” said Wolves head coach Rick Adelman. “They came at us in the second half, we did the things we had to do to get the win. It was one we had to get to start the week.”

Although there was no Bryant in the game, Minnesota fans got plenty of scoring from the shooting guard position in the first quarter thanks to Kevin Martin. Martin led all scorers with 14 points in the first 12 minutes, while going 3-of-4 from the 3-point line. Martin helped the Wolves get off to a 38-26 lead at the end of the first quarter. The other Kevin (Love) wasn’t so bad either, putting up 11 points and five rebounds. Nick Young led the Lakers with seven points off the bench.

The starters led the way in the first, but it was the bench that carried Minnesota in the second. At half, the Wolves’ bench combined for 22 points, four more than LA’s starters. That helped the Wolves expand their lead to 68-52. Martin led all scorers with 19 points at the break, while Love had 18 points and five rebounds going into the break. The Wolves were a scorching 7-of-12 from the 3-point line at the break. Manny Harris led the Lakers with 13 points off the bench in nine minutes of play.

For as nice as the first half was, well, the third quarter was pretty ugly. The Wolves were outscored 26-21 in the quarter. The score might not seem bad, but the Wolves looked defeated for parts of the third quarter.

“Once it was 16 (point lead) at halftime, we started the third quarter again and we couldn’t make a shot again and they cut it to eight at one point,” Adelman said. “… It’s just one of those things. It never seems like the games going to be as easy as you’d like.”

Luckily they still had an 11-point cushion heading into the fourth.

The Lakers outscored the Wolves 21-20 in the final period, but the Wolves did enough to hang onto the win, including some gutsy play from Love, who took his fair of bumps and bruises during the game.

Martin led all scorers with 32 points. Love was right behind him with 31 points and a game-high 17 rebounds. Corey Brewer and J.J. Barea scored 11 points each. The Wolves shot 47.1 (8-of-17) from the 3-point line.

The Lakers were led by Young’s 24 bench points. Harris finished with 19, while Wes Johnson added 15. Robert Sacre was the only LA starter to hit double-digits, scoring 14 points.

With the win, the Wolves are 3.5 games back from the Dallas Mavericks for the eighth seed in the Western Conference. The win also snapped the team’s two-game losing streak and brought them back to .500 (24-24).

Leader of the Pack: Kevin Martin

Martin got the Wolves off to a solid start, which proved later in the game to be extremely beneficial. With 30 points, Martin now has five games this season with 30 or more points. He added four assists, shot 12-of-23 from the field and 4-of-6 from the 3-point line.

Highlight of the Night

Following an alley-oop from Nash to Johnson on one end of the court, the Wolves sprinted down the court and Ricky Rubio found a cutting Ronny Turiaf with 6:18 left in the first quarter. Turiaf made sure to throw it down a bit harder than Johnson, giving the Wolves a 16-13 lead. It was one of 13 assists for Rubio.

The Numbers Game

  • The Lakers have now lost seven straight games, the third longest in franchise history. In 1994, the Lakers lost 10 straight games.

  • With 38 points tonight, the Wolves have now scored 30 or more in the 1st quarter 19 times this season. That leads the NBA.

  • Love had his league-leading 41st double-double of the season. He has now recorded a league-high 29 games with 20+ points and 10+ rebounds, including four straight.

  • Dante Cunningham scored his 2,000th career point tonight with his jumper at 10:12 in the second quarter.

  • Los Angeles has given up 100+ points in 14 consecutive games entering the night, its longest streak since an 18 game stretch between Apr. 8 and Nov. 18, 1988.

  • Postgame Podcast

    Wolves 109, Lakers 99

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  • With 31 points and 17 rebounds, Love now has his 25th career 30/15 game, passing Kevin Garnett (24 such games) for the franchise record.

  • Quotable

    “I mean, he’s a soldier. He’s just going out there each and every night battling his butt off, trying to get rebounds, trying to put himself in position to be successful on the court and the one thing I have to give him major credit for is that he’s definitely on my case about staying and being talkative and that helps him.” — Wolves center Ronny Turiaf on Kevin Love’s toughness.

    Next Up

    The Wolves don’t get much of a break at all. Tomorrow they play Oklahoma City on the road. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. on Fox Sports North and WCCO 830-AM.

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