The Los Angeles Lakers played their third and final game on their short road trip and returned to their original home— Minneapolis. The Los Angeles Lakers took on the 4-9 Minnesota Timberwolves, their second match-up in ten days. Talent wise the Lakers were the clear favorites, but looking back at their previous match-up in Staples Center, the Lakers may play “lazy” and may underestimate the Wolves. Tonight’s game had some intriguing match-ups, Kobe vs. Beasley, and of course the Zen Master vs. his student.
Just as the game tipped off, the Lakers attacked the basket and worked their way to the free throw line. Minnesota is prone to committing fouls, and the Lakers made sure they targeted the Wolves’ weaknesses. The Lakers opened up to a 5-0 lead, and kept the Wolves scoreless for nearly three minutes. However, neither team found any type of rhythm offensively and at the mid way point of the quarter the scoreboard read 11-11.
The game was essentially a back-and-fourth contest and neither team was able to put a run together. At the 2:41 mark of the opening period the Lakers found themselves trailing 17-15, as they were shooting only 38% from the field. The “Killer Bs” were subbed into the game late in the first, but they did not change the Lakers’ fortune. The first quarter concluded with the Lakers trailing 21-20, shooting a miserable 33% from the field.
The second quarter started where the first quarter left off, sloppy and stagnant offense by both teams. The low scoring affair did not cause much excitement, three minutes into the quarter a total of nine points were scored between the two teams. However, the tide quickly turned and the Lakers began to play with some style and continuity. The Lakers went on a 12-5 run and were leading 32-26 four minutes into the quarter.
The Lakers rode their momentum and asserted their power on the vulnerable Timberwolves. Kobe was subbed into the game and he single handedly brought the lead to six, all the way to 16. The Lakers were leading 44-28 with five minutes left in the half, and were shooting close to 50% from the field. Although the young guns of Minnesota went a short run to end the half, the Lakers found themselves on top 51-41 going into the locker-room. The Lakers finished the half shooting 44% and the leading scorer was Kobe Bryant with 13 points.
The Lakers opened up the second half attacking the basket and getting to the free throw line; Kobe had consecutive fast break plays and helped stretch the ten point lead to 14. As the third quarter progressed, the Lakers showed off their veteran leadership and championship skills. However, at the six minute mark of the third period big man Pau Gasol left the game with an injury. Gasol walked off the court with no assistance but the fact that another valuable player was “injured,” was not a good sign for Phil Jackson.
Luckily for the Lakers, they still had Kobe Bryant to put on a show and ice the game. Bryant had two spectacular moves attacking the basket, and was finding his groove on the offensive end. The Lakers were essentially in cruise control and were dominating the Wolves for the rest of the quarter. The Lakers had a comfortable 12 point lead, 84-72.
The outcome of the game was no mystery when the final quarter began; the only reason to watch the game was to find out the final margin of victory for the Lakers. Several starters were on the court during the fourth quarter, and they helped expand the lead to 21 points with a little over nine minutes left in the game.
The game proceeded, but the Timberwolves made a run to make a dent in the lead. As the final buzzer rang, the Lakers walked out the court victorious. After a sub-par opening quarter, the Lakers beat the Wolves 112-95 and the leading scorer was Matt Barnes with 24 points. The team went 3-0 on their short road trip and has improved 11-2. The Lakers’ next opponent will be the Golden State Warriors on Sunday at Staples Center. The game will tip-off at 9:30 P.M. EST/ 6:30 P.M. PST.