PG: Luke Ridnour
SG: Wesley Johnson
SF: Michael Beasley
PF: Kevin Love
C: Nikola Pekovic
The Los Angeles Lakers (48-20) have been on a tear lately. Kobe and Co. are 10-1 since the All-Star break and are hoping that the Minnesota Timberwolves (17-52) are the next victim they welcome into Staples Center on Friday night.
The key to the Lakers recent success is the reemergence of Andrew Bynum. In his last 10 games, Bynum has averaged 12.6 ppg, 12.7 rpg, and 2.6 blocks per game. ‘Drew’s recommitment to defense and rebounding is taking a lot of the pressure off of Pau and the rest of the Lakers squad.
The ankle injury suffered by Kobe Bryant against the Mavericks nearly sidelined the superstar guard. His knack for playing through injuries would not let him stay off the floor. The Black Mamba showed no ill-effects on Monday against Orlando, playing 31 minutes, scoring 16 points, grabbing five boards, and dishing out four assists. Laker fans can expect to see Kobe in the starting line-up for Friday’s game.
The biggest story out of Minnesota is not the Timberwolves, but it is one of their players. Kevin Love is a double-double producing machine. His streak of 53 consecutive double-double’s was snapped against Golden State last Sunday night. Love is easily a 20-20 threat and the Lakers will need a team effort to keep him off the boards. Love has also improved his offensive game, not only can he beat you with post-moves and the mid-range game, but his range extends out beyond the three-point line. Minnesota’s lone All-Star is averaging 20.7 ppg, and 15.7 rpg and the Lakers must make it a point to keep him well below his averages.
Forward Michael Beasley is also a guy who has an array of offensive talents. Beasley is averaging just about 20 ppg this season, and he, like Love, can beat you in many different ways. The rest of the T-Wolves roster can be broken down as role players, or complimentary players. Two guys to watch out for, however, are Jonny Flynn and Wesley Johnson. Both of those players are young and athletic, and can provide quick scoring and energy.
Three Keys to a Laker Victory:
1 . Keep Love off the boards – It will take a team effort to do it, but Love is the engine that makes this team go.
2 . Don’t make a role player look like an All-Star – It seems that the Lakers are always letting no-name players beat them up. Nikola Pekovic cannot have 15 points and 10 boards.
3 . Keep up the recent play – If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.