Led by Kobe Bryant’s 31 points (11-23 from the field, 9-10 from the free throw line), eight assists, and seven rebounds, the Los Angeles Lakers easily took care of the Minnesota Timberwolves last night in a 104-85 victory.
Unsure if he would even play after suffering a broken nose and mild concussion during Sunday night’s All-Star game, Bryant put to rest any concerns over his condition and absolutely dominated the game. To prevent further injury to his nose, Kobe wore a plastic protective mask which officially garnered him the nickname “Masked Mamba” throughout the game.
As for Minnesota, All-Star Kevin Love was out due to flu-like symptoms, leaving the other Wolves to fend for themselves.
The Lakers jumped out to an early lead (26-18) by the end of the first quarter, led by Bryant’s 10 points, three rebounds, and two assists as well as scoring from each of the Lakers’ five starters.
The second quarter featured two big plays from Andrew Bynum. The first was a quick spin move and powerful dunk resulting in an “and-1” play which even got Kobe up off the bench in approval of the sequence. (It looks as though Bynum was saying something to the effect of “I attacked fast and strong just like the ‘Kobe System’ says” to which Kobe simply replied “You’re welcome.”) The second was a lob play from Steve Blake off of a pick-and-roll which resulted in another thunderous dunk over two defenders for Bynum. Blake also had a big second quarter, dropping in eight points on 3-5 shooting (2-4 from three-point range). The Lakers remained ahead, 50-44 at halftime.
The Lakers came out with a purpose in the third quarter, and absolutely dominated the Timberwolves behind Bryant’s 14 points and Pau Gasol’s 11 in the period. Gasol didn’t necessarily get a lot of touches, but he remained aggressive in transition and on the offensive glass which resulted in big plays for the Lakers, who outscored Minnesota by 18 in the quarter to lead 83-59 going into the fourth.
The fourth quarter belonged mostly to the reserves, although the starters (minus Derek Fisher) returned to the game with six minutes left in the game despite the Lakers being up by 19. Bryant made a few more brilliant plays, and went back to the bench as the Lakers went on to win, 104-85.
After Bryant, Pau Gasol was the second highest scorer for the Lakers, earning 15 points, five rebounds, and four assists. Andrew Bynum had an even double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds, and looked explosive after receiving an injection in his knee which contained a synthetic lubricant. Matt Barnes was his usual energetic self, adding nine points and eight rebounds (four offensive). Steve Blake (two steals) and Metta World Peace each contributed eight points and five assists, while Derek Fisher (three assists) and Troy Murphy (six rebounds) had seven points apiece. Andrew Goudelock, Jason Kapono, and Luke Walton each scored two points in garbage time.
For the Timberwolves, Michael Beasley (six rebounds) and Martell Webster led the way with 14 points apiece, followed by 12 points and nine rebounds by Anthony Randolph. Derrick Williams and Nikola Pekovic each had 10 points and seven rebounds, while Luke Ridnour scored eight points. Ricky Rubio had nine assists, three rebounds and three points, and Wes Johnson scored five points as no other T-Wolf scored more than four.
Now, let’s break down the victory.
Next Page: The Breakdown