The last time that Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves failed to record a double-double was when he posted zero points and pulled down only seven rebounds in a 112-95 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Nov. 19, 2010. Since then, he has registered a double-double in 46 consecutive games. Despite Love’s consistent efforts, the Timberwolves (14-45) have struggled mightily this season, going 3-10 through their games in February.
However, returning to the city where their franchise first originated, the Lakers (43-19) took the court in Minnesota tonight, not only looking to end Love’s streak, but to improve on their current four-game winning streak, as they continue to build momentum in the second half of the season.
The first quarter was sloppy for both teams, as the Lakers’ Andrew Bynum and Minnesota’s Wesley Johnson were the only two players to convert a field goal until Michael Beasley scored from inside 10-feet with 4:35 remaining, to give the Timberwolves an 11-8 lead.
Kobe Bryant returned Beasley’s basket with a score of his own on the next possession down, but the Timberwolves remained in control, as Love and Luke Ridnour each scored, putting Minnesota up by five, 15-10.
Although the Lakers were able to level out the scoreboard, they were not able to overcome Byrant’s 1 of 5 shooting from the field and Timberwolves ended the period on a 4-1 run, holding a 21-17 lead as the two teams headed into the second period.
The second quarter was more of the same for both teams, as the Lakers and T’Wolves continued to struggle with their shots. Although the Lakers were able to keep within striking distance in the beginning of the quarter, the Timberwolves’ reserves of Anthony Randolph, Johnny Flynn and Wayne Ellington keyed a 7-0 run to break a 27-27 tie and take a seven point lead with just under six minutes remaining in the half.
Bryant returned to the court for the Lakers at the 5:16 mark, and the Purple and Gold were able to mount a comeback, and behind seven straight points by Derek Fisher, the Lakers knotted the game at 38. And although a 16-foot jumper by Bryant gave the Lakers their first lead of the day, the Wolves ended the first half on a 7-0 run, and took a 45-40 lead into the the halftime break.
While the Timberwolves are the league’s top rebounding team, the Lakers controlled the glass in the first half, as Pau Gasol pulled down 11 rebounds in only 18 minutes of play.
Love struggled with his shot, missing four of his five first-half attempts, but he scored eight points and pulled down six rebounds, keeping him on pace to record his 47th straight double-double.
Continuing the game’s central theme of sloppiness, the Lakers and Timberwolves began the second half with back-to-back turnovers. However, still facing a deficit, the Lakers found a way to get themselves back in the game and used a flurry of free throws to take a 49-47 lead with 9:25 remaining.
While neither team was able to find much of a sizable cushion, Bryant scored 12 points in the third quarter to help the Lakers take their biggest lead of the night – a four point advantage – 64-61 as they closed out the period on a 13-3 run.
Both teams continued to struggle shooting the ball, as the Lakers shot 35.4% and and the Wolves shot 41.4% through the game’s first three quarters.
The Lakers finally were able to gain a considerable advantage over the Wolves, as they opened the fourth and final quarter on a 9-2 run, extending their lead to 11, 74-63, with 9:22 remaining.
With the Lakers starters still in for the majority of the period, the Lakers were able to close out the Timberwolves, 90-79
Gasol and Odom each registered double-doubles, each scoring 12 points to go along with 17 and 11 rebounds, respectively.
While the Lakers could not get into a flow with their shot on offense, Bryant led the balanced scoring effort with 24 points on 8 of 18 shooting.
In the loss, Love was able to extend his double-double streak to 47 consecutive games, scoring 13 points and pulling down 11 rebounds.
After picking up their 43rd win of the season, the Lakers will return to Los Angeles and re-take the court on Friday night as they play host to Stephen Jackson and the Charlotte Bobcats. The game, which tips off at 7:30 p.m. PST, will be their last home game until March 14, as they will hit the road once again for a tough four-game trip that will include matchups against, San Antonio, Atlanta, Miami and Dallas.