Leave it to the Lakers to make a no-contest an interesting contest. A game against the slumping Minnesota Timberwolves should have been a laugher even without the services of Dwight Howard who went back to L.A. for another evaluation on his bum shoulder. Midway through the second quarter this one was looking every bit the slump-buster the Lake Show needed. Up by 29 and seemingly sinking everything from deep the starters had to be thinking of getting the 4th quarter off.
But typical of Mike D’Antoni’s team on the road the turnovers piled up while the opponents’ points in the paint went up. Before you could say “here we go again” it was a four point game in the fourth.
Minnesota switched to a zone that for whatever reason D’Antoni’s teams never adjusted to. Russian rookie Alexey Shved got hot and the Lake Show offense got cold.
Thankfully Pau Gasol was out to prove he deserves to be back in D’Antoni’s fave five by having a vintage Gasol game going for 22 and 12 with 3 blocks. Kobe Bryant did another Magic act again playing the Earvin Johnson role as usual messing around and nearly getting a triple-double with 17 points, 12 boards and 8 assists.
Most welcome of all was Steve Nash getting back into the swing of things after being largely invisible thanks to the do-it-all brilliance of Bryant. This was more of what we expected from Nash in the D’Antoni system he helped build. The veteran guard finally found his range scoring 17 with a perfect 3 of 3 from deep. The crafty Canadian even dished out 7 dimes as he and Bryant found a happy medium distributing the rock.
Another meltdown even one of the mini variety is troublesome as this team and its struggles to hold leads remains troubling. But when a team hasn’t notched a victory away from its home all year (even if said year is only a month old) is just what D’Antoni ordered.
What was refreshing was to get added contributions from different sources in Howard’s absence.
Antawn Jamison gave another great effort off the bench. His 18 points were good for second best on the team tonight as he made great cuts off the ball and sunk some quality jumpers as well.
That man Earl Clark did another daily double with 13 and 10 if you need him and tonight the Lake Show did.
A win is a win. Every single one of them is vital these days. No apologies necessary from D’Antoni or anyone in the Lakers locker room. Yes, another big lead blown is not a good thing. Neither are all the easy buckets this team keeps giving up. You get the feeling if Kevin Love were in uniform for Minnesota this one might be different. Of course we could say the same of D12 for LA.
No telling when Howard will be good to go again. The theory is he’ll travel to Detroit tomorrow to rejoin the team. Stay tuned for that.
Right now all that matters is the Lakers have extended their dominance over the T-Wolves to 20 straight making it almost six years since they’ve lost to the team from their original hoops home. More importantly they’ve got the taste of losing in the desert out of their mouths. Now all that remains is to do this again in Motown early Sunday morning. Let’s hope the starters can indeed start planning their Super Bowl party early in the fourth if they run out to another big lead early as you expect they should against the Pistons.