The Lakers Regroup, Down the Timberwolves 104-91

Could it be that the rest of the Lakers are tired of hearing how mediocre they are without Kobe Bryant and how the Lakers should just give up on the season?

After 24 hours of piling on the Lakers’ organization by media pundits, Mike D’Antoni and his rag tag band of former first rounders and discarded pieces fought their way to a win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, 104-91 at Staples Center.

Dec 20, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers small forward Xavier Henry (7) guards Minnesota Timberwolves shooting guard Kevin Martin (23) during the first half of the game at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

With Kobe Bryant expected to be out 6 weeks with a broken tibia, commentary all across America began to call this a wasted season and a time to rebuild. In addition, all three Laker point guards are unavailable due to injury. Steve Blake and Steve Nash won’t be returning soon. Jordan Farmar’s return is imminent and the front office signed Kendall Marshall, fresh from the D-League, as its backup, but that was of no comfort going into tonight.

Xavier Henry was thrust into the role of primary ballhandler. Henry has limited passing instincts but is great at attacking the rim. The offense was run through Pau Gasol who came within two assists of a triple double.

The Lakers jumped out in the first quarter literally with 10 fast break points built off their defense. Xavier Henry was aggressive probing the defense and looking for his shot. He scored 11. Wesley Johnson was also active early against the Timberwolves, the team that drafted him fourth overall in the 2010 Draft. He had 4 assists, 2 steals, and a spectacular dunk on an alley oop from Pau Gasol. Jodie Meeks scored 7 in the period. Pau Gasol had 5 assists.

The second quarter saw the Laker’s lack of decision making really cause problems for them when trying to maintain a 9 point lead with 7:22 to go in the half. Stagnant ball movement and sloppy ballhandling lead to 11 second quarter turnovers. A 14-2 run by the Timberwolves to close the quarter gave them a lead at the break 53-51.

Jodie Meeks continued his strong play with 8 quick points midway through the third as the Lakers built a 71-66 lead. Nikola Pekovic dominated the quarter with 9 points as the Wolves see sawed back to tie the Lakers 64-64 with 7:26 to go in the third. Los Angeles continued their streaky ways as Nick Young closed out the quarter and the Lakers led 81-76 after 3.

Pau Gasol took over in the 4th quarter, scoring 9 in the 4th quarter and showing the versatility, at the center position, that only he possesses. Gasol hit a three pointer, scored in the post and found his teammates finishing with 21 points, 13 rebounds, 8 assists and 2 blocks. The Lakers pulled away going on a 23 -12 run to finish the game.

Nick Young had 25 points. Xavier Henry chipped in 21 and Jodie Meeks contributed 17. For Minnesota, Kevin Love had a quiet 25 points and 13 rebounds. Nikola Pekovic finished with 22 points and 13 rebounds.  The Wolves had 22 offensive rebounds which kept them in the game.The Lakers defense held the Timberwolves to 35% field goal shooting. Offensively the Lakers shot 54% from the field.

Despite the good win, the Lakers need Jordan Farmar to return quickly and to perform like he had prior to his injury. Any production from Kendall Marshall would be a net positive.

The Lakers have a quick turnaround with a back to back tomorrow night on the road against the Phoenix Suns.




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