As if scripted by a Hollywood screenwriter, the first act of the Lake Show is coming to a close with a chance to right a wrong. Tonight, the Los Angeles Lakers end their three-game road swing with a stop in Minnesota where a rematch with the T-Wolves awaits.
It was just over a week ago that the Lakers experienced that strange phenomenon only championship teams can – being embarrassed in a win.
Minnesota shot themselves in the paw with 25 turnovers during a narrow 99-94 loss at Staples. The end result would be Derek Fisher apologizing to the fans and then taking his team to task for their less than impressive victory.
Given the way Kobe Bryant went at the Pistons just a couple nights ago there is ample reason for Kurt Rambis to be concerned. Bryant had one of those take-it-personal games where he wanted to impose his will early and get some rest late. Mission accomplished. Now the focus is on Minnesota.
When last these two teams clashed it was Kevin Love who stole the headlineses by putting up a healthy double-double of 23 and 24 in the losing effort. Just to prove that was no fluke, K-Love later outdid himself with a staggering 30-30 performance just shortly after. And you still think the Lakers don’t miss Andrew Bynum?
Pau Gasol has been playing at an MVP level this year but not even he alone is capable of keeping Love off the boards. This will be a team effort.
Of course, that means little if the Lakers aren’t punishing the young Wolves for making careless mistakes. Last time these two tangled the Lakers were unable to make Minnesota pay the price for their missteps. A five point nail biting win should have been 25 point snooze fest. Instead, the Lakers left it late during their worst win of the young season.
Sending a message to non-contenders might be seen as bullying but that is what champs must do. After giving the T-Wolves life in Los Angeles tonight must be all about sending the locals home early. Another close contest could spell more misery for a team just beginning to find its rhythm defensively. Another plus would be getting more rest late in the game for the starters. But that’s just being plain greedy. We’ll settle for a three-game sweep but would be pleased if this was another win with ease.