On Wednesday night the Minnesota Timberwolves were without All-Star Kevin Love and thus the rested Los Angeles Lakers showed them no love in a 104-85 laugher at Staples. Taking advantage of their massive size advantage the Lakers owned the paint while a non-concussed Kobe Bryant, rocking a Rip Hamilton mask, did damage to the Wolves.
Maybe it was just a case of catching Minnesota on the second half of a back-to-back that led to the lopsided victory. Then again, it wasn’t like the Wolves had to travel since they took on the Clippers last night. Can’t overlook the absence of Love. But this one was never really a contest.
Looking more like the Kurt Rambis Wolves of yore instead of the Rick Adelman Wolves of now, Minnesota showed little to no interest in competing.
Mike Brown got a solid effort from his team. The Lake Show looked rested and rejuvenated after the All-Star break and the Masked Mamba showed no side effects of either the broken beak or the concussion that had him questionable coming into the contest.
Kobe was in killer mode from the jump. In 32 minutes of run, Bryant filled the box with a healthy line of 31, 7 and 8. Take away his 0 for 4 from the arc and you’ll see Kobe was a highly efficient 11 of 19 from inside the three-point line.
Fact of the matter is this game was decided in the paint, that land patrolled by Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol.
Now if all you’re looking at are stats then you wouldn’t know how abusive the Laker bigs were to the Minnesota frontline. Bynum went for 13 and 13, good for a career best 22nd double-double this season and counting. No matter who the Wolves put on Drew it was murder. His post moves, aggressive nature and more of those perfectly timed lobs spelled the demise of Minnesota’s chances of staying above .500.
As for Pau, he had a good night. Not one we’ll be talking about years from now. However in the third quarter, when this game was blown wide open, Gasol was at his best. On the night Pau had 15 points with 11 of those coming in that aforementioned third.
The Lakers outscored Minnesota by 18 in the third and eventually opened up a 25-point lead. A slight run in fourth must have made Coach Brown nervous cause once the Laker lead slipped to 19 Brown put his starters (minus Derek Fisher) back in with 6 minutes left in the game.
In case you missed the first three quarters, Kobe summed up his game once he got back in late. Instantly Bryant went to work, dropping spot-up jumpers, off-balance shots in the lane and playing with the intensity necessary to end this game. Before you knew it Luke Walton was in and the game was in the refrigerator.
Not to be overlooked the Laker bench got some very nice contributions from Matt Barnes, Steve Blake and Troy Murphy. Barnes played with that infectious energy he’s known for. Blake ran the show with extreme confidence as he continues to steal big minutes from Fisher in the fourth. Murphy was active on the boards and efficient shooting the rock.
Of serious note was the Laker D. Look no further than how much differently the Lakers defended J.J. Barea tonight when compared to how they fared against him last season. While only on the court for 9 minutes, Barea found it impossible to walk through the lane like he normally does and took a goose egg to LAX. Ricky Rubio didn’t find life as easy either. His scoring is never much of talking point but tonight Pau’s countryman was pretty much mute.
For whatever it is worth, the man that did put in a decent night for the Wolves was Michael Beasley who dropped 14 on 13 shots off the bench. Before the game word spread that the Lakers nixed a deal that would have put Beas in purple and gold. Stay tuned to that. We might not have heard the last of this trade talk.
Cracking the 100-point barrier is rare for the Lakers these days so to see them do while in cruise control tonight was nice. They can’t count on facing every team without their best player going forward but when and if they do this is the type of effort you’d love to see.
Tags: Andrew Bynum Derek Fisher J.j. Barea Kevin Love Kobe Bryant Kurt Rambis Luke Walton Matt Barnes Michael Beasley Mike Brown Minnesota Timberwolves Pau Gasol Rick Adelman Ricky Rubio Rip Hamilton Steve Blake Troy Murphy