The Lakers were coming off a three game losing streak as they faced off with the Minnesota Timberwolves Friday night at Staples Center. The contest was a change of pace for the Lakers as three of their last four opponents are title contenders while the T’Wolves are still rebuilding.
The Timberwolves were one of the few teams whose defense has been as bad as the Lakers so far this season, but despite their bad record, the T-Wolves are full of young talent led by top overall pick Andrew Wiggins.
The Lakers came out in their alternate black and yellow Hollywood night jerseys but it did nothing to change the poor perimeter defense as the T’wolves opened the game with a Mo Williams three. To the relief of Laker fans, Kobe Bryant answered right back with a three of his own followed by consecutive jumpers by Wesley Johnson and Jeremy Lin. A pair of Jordan Hill free throws increased the Laker lead 9-5 with a little under nine minutes remaining. The offense looked fluid as passes were crisp and the Lakers were making sure to cut leading to two easy baskets for Carlos Boozer. Another three pointer from Mo Williams tied the game at 13 with over six minutes remaining. Possessions later Kobe got the Staples crowd on their feet with a breakaway reverse dunk to put the Lakers up by six. Mo Williams continued to torch the Lakers as he was the first player to reach double figures on either team. Ed Davis continued to hurt himself picking up two early fouls but remained in the game. Nick Young started nicely hitting an and-one jumper of his own stretching the lead 26-19. The T’Wolves did themselves no favors committing back to back turnovers leading to two Bryant baskets including a nice crossover lay up. The Lakers used their great start to end the first quarter on top 30-23.
The second quarter started the same as the first quarter ended for the T’Wolves opening up with a turnover as both teams started ice cold from the field. Robert Sacre finally broke the drought with a smooth turnaround jump shot. Wayne Ellington joined the party with a three of his own followed by a Sacre running lay up to increase the lead to ten. Nick Young joined Davis with three early fouls. Jeremy Lin continued his aggressive play with a beautiful reverse lay up. His aggressiveness led to a nice Hill dunk a few possessions later but the T’Wolves cut the lead down to four with a little more than four minutes remaining. Johnson was the recipient of some nice team ball movement, knocking down a wide open three from the left corner. Bryant and Boozer kept the Lakers on top with a nice fast break but Boozer missed on the next fast break down the floor. Johnson hit another three from the corner off a Bryant assist putting them up four with 17 seconds left in the half but he couldn’t come up with a last minute opportunity after stealing the ball on the T’Wolves final possession as the Lakers went into the half winning 58-54.
The starters returned to the floor for head coach Byron Scott to start the second half as the T’Wolves briefly tied the game before Boozer put the Lakers up 60-58. Lin continued penetrating the defense and Hill continued to benefit from it as he slammed down another basket. Lin also continued his solid shooting, draining another fade away from 15 feet away. Two possessions later Staples Center exploded as Lin launched a pass from half court for an and-one alley-oop dunk by Johnson. The pass was the eighth assist of the game for the Lakers point guard. The team play really began to improve with solid ball movement and hustle rebuilding the Laker lead to five with under seven minutes remaining in the quarter. Corey Brewer used a quick and-one post up to tie the game at 77. Both teams bad standings were magnified with extended stretches of bad defense from both squads. Bryant reached the basket for another lay up putting him at 20 for the game but rookie Zach LaVine continued to have a career night as he led the T’Wolves with 22 points. Lin continued to distribute the ball as this time Ed Davis got the easy hoop on a slam dunk. Lin wasn’t finished as he drained another three as both teams almost reached 100 points at the end of three quarters.
Ed Davis started the scoring for the Lakers in the fourth but the T’Wolves took the lead with an early three as the Lakers continued to hurt themselves with the turnovers. Johnson scored another easy lay up to put him at 19 points for the game. Nick Young, still finding his rhythm, came through with another jumper giving the Lakers the lead once more and again on a three ball after two missed free throws from Davis. Nick young continued his fourth quarter barrage with a nice drive topped off with a two handed jam. The swag continued on the very next play when Kobe found Young at the basket with a laser pass for another dunk for his 13th point of the quarter putting the Lakers up 115-107. The Timberwolves would come back behind Williams who hit two three-pointers to tie the game at 115. Kobe hit a hook to give the Lakers the lead, but Williams responded with a layup to tie it right back. Kobe missed two free throws and a Young layup pushed Minnesota ahead by two. But Kobe would hit a tough fadeaway to tie the game at 119 with five seconds left. The Lakers would foul Thad Young with 2.8 seconds left and he would split the free throws to put Minnesota up one. Kobe got an open look, but it was just short as the Lakers lost their fourth straight game 120-119.[divide]
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