Wolves Fight Back, Fall To Lakers 120-117

by Mark Remme
Web Editor

Alex Conover
Web Editorial Associate

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Down by three, Ricky Rubio raced down the court with the ball and tossed up a 3-pointer, missing the shot.

The shot, highly contested by Kobe Bryant, didn’t make it to the rim, and the Lakers broke their three-game losing streak with a 120-117 win in Minnesota.

“I don’t like to lose,” Rubio said, who finished with 13 points and seven assists. “I hate it. Sometimes it’s tough. When you give everything and something like that happens … it’s tough.”

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Wolves vs. Lakers

The shot came after a last-ditch effort by the Wolves to come back in a second half that was controlled by Los Angeles. After leading by four at half, the Lakers went into overdrive and shot 72 percent (18-for-25) from the field in the third quarter, starting with an 11-1 run. Bryant had 16 points in the third quarter alone.

Los Angeles picked up a much-needed win that perpetuated a winning streak against Minnesota dating back to 2007. They are currently slated as the eighth seed in the Western Conference, but Dallas and Utah are hot on their tails.

“Our energy was a lot better,” L.A. center Dwight Howard said. “Played inside out pretty well tonight. Just had a good win.”

The Wolves managed to mount a late comeback with the help of Howard’s poor effort at the free throw line, shooting just 3-for-10.

“That’s something for the Lakers,” forward Chase Budinger said. “They might have to worry about that in the playoffs or something like that, but it’s a blessing for us that he missed some of those free throws and got us back in the game.”

Despite all of the valiant efforts late in the contest,

There were plenty of positives coming out of Wednesday’s loss for Minnesota. Eight players scored in double figures, tied for the most in franchise history in a single game. The Wolves scored 71 points in the second half, the most they’ve scored in any half since December 2010.

Bryant led all scorers with 31 points; Howard added 25 points and 16 rebounds for L.A. Antawn Jamison scored 18 off the bench for the Lakers.

Nikola Pekovic recorded a big effort down down for Minnesota, grabbing 19 points and 16 rebounds. Dante Cunningham had 18 points, including a monster 16-point effort in the final quarter. Budinger had the best game he’s had since his comeback, scoring 14 points on 50 percent shooting and logging nine boards as well.

“(Cunningham) made some big shots,” coach Rick Adelman said. “We were doing a nice job of executing. Pek was rolling; they had to go after Pek, which left Dante open and he knocked down shots. A lot of guys contributed in this game.”

Play of the Game

The Wolves were down by as much as 12 with three minutes left in the game, but a late surge made a huge difference. The Lakers had maintained at least a two-basket difference all half until Chase Budinger scored a well-timed putback off a Dante Cunningham miss. The bucket from Budinger brought the Wolves within three with a minute left in regulation.

Numbers Game

  • Los Angeles came out of halftime on fire, going on an 11-1 run. They continued to dominate the rest of the third quarter, going 18-of-25 from the field and shooting 72 percent.
  • The Wolves' 71 points in the 2nd half tonight are the most they've scored in any half since pouring in 73 in the 1st half against Cleveland on Dec. 4, 2010 (a game Minnesota won 129-95) and the most in a 2nd half since scoring 72 at Charlotte on Apr. 8, 2008 (a 121-119 loss).
  • The Wolves landed eight players in double figures—led by 19 points from Nikola Pekovic—to tie a franchise record set originally vs. San Antonio on Jan. 16, 1992.
  • Minnesota swiped 15 steals tonight, equaling its single-game season high set initially in the Dec. 15 overtime win vs. Dallas. It's the Wolves' high total in a regulation game since picking off 15 steals at the L.A. Clippers on Jan. 19, 2011.
  • Quotable

    “I don’t like to lose. I hate it. Sometimes it’s tough. When you give everything and something like that happens. It’s just like you keep going through. It’s tough.”
    —Wolves guard Ricky Rubio

    Next Up

    Continuing their home stand, the Wolves will host the Thunder on Friday and then the Grizzlies on Saturday. There’s no action on Easter Sunday, and then the Celtics come to town on Monday.

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