First, I want to start off by wishing Kobe a speedy and full recovery. With that said, I still have full confidence in the rest of the team to stay afloat in his absence.
When the Lakers played the Timberwolves earlier in the season, the Wolves snapped a 22-game losing streak to the Lakers. Kevin Love dropped 25, Kevin Martin dropped 27, two Wolves had double-doubles, and Ricky Rubio even messed around and got a triple-double. It was an all-around horrible defensive game for the Lakers as they allowed the Wolves to post 113 points on 50% 3-point shooting. Only Steve Blake had a good game for the Lakers, with 19 points and 8 assists.
Unfortunately, Blake is still not available for this game, along with Jordan Farmar and Steve Nash. The Lakers need to shut down the perimeter scoring of Love, Martin, and Rubio that killed them the last time. On Tuesday, The Lakers were able to chase the Grizzlies off the 3 for the most part, but the Wolves have much more firepower, and the Lakers will have less.
The Timberwolves showed that firepower on Wednesday when they burned the Blazers, 120-109. Love, Martin, and Pekovic combined for 81 points and 29 rebounds. They Lakers will look to keep them under control, as it will not be easy to survive another 120-something-point sprint. Jordan Hill will be a key by securing defensive rebounds to keep the Wolves’ shot number down.
X-FACTOR OF THE NIGHT
Pau Gasol. Pau played the most aggressive I have seen him play in a long time against the Grizzlies. He has a lot of work to do tonight on the boards against Love and Pekovic. If Pau can stay aggressive on offense and defense like he was on Tuesday, he can frustrate the Wolves front court and force them to take outside, low-percentage shots. Hopefully he can stay aggressive without Kobe setting him up on pick-and-rolls.
NUMBER OF THE NIGHT
47. Last time the Lakers played the Timberwolves, the Wolves dropped 47 points in the first quarter. THE. FIRST. QUARTER. How is that even possible? On Tuesday against the Grizzlies, the Lakers got out to a quick lead and responded well defensively when the Grizz made a late push. The Lakers have to keep the Wolves’ offense under control in the first quarter tonight to avoid having to play from behind.
The Lakers and Timberwolves are both coming off good wins. The Lakers have also had two full days off to recover. I think they will come out aggressive and confident at home tonight. The Lakers will control the tempo with defense and rebounding and pull out a win, and tacos, 107-95. Lets go Lake Show!