The Lakers look to bounce back from their loss on Tuesday to New Orleans while the Timberwolves are just looking for their first win of the season after starting with 3 losses.
Phil cautioned that the Timberwolves represent exactly the kind of team the Lakers need to beat, pointing to the cautionary tale of the Bucks from last year, a team that was injured and didn’t finish well, but still swept the Lakers. The Timberwolves fit the bill of injured, with Rashad McCants not being able to go due to his recent ankle injury and he joins Randy Foye on the bench. In fact, the move may benefit the Timberwolves, as it brings in a more experienced player to help defend Kobe. The Timberwolves also offer the unknown as many of the players have only faced the Lakers a couple of times, though Jaric, Buckner, Walker and of course Mark Madsen are familiar faces.
This game also will be Lamar’s first of the season, apparently he got that doctor’s note that he and Phil were anticipating. He takes Luke’s place in the starting line-up. Coach Jackson thinks this is a good game for Lamar to get his feet wet and will judge his success tonight largely on when he fatigues and how his legs look on his shots and on defense. Lamar is also beginning this season in the small forward position, which will take advantage of his elite level skills in the open court, while still giving him ample opportunity in the post, where his length and size give him an advantage over other small forwards, whereas his quickness was his trump card last season. Coach Jackson pointed out that Lamar’s main influence on the team will be to get them to play quicker, so expect more fast breaks and more decisive execution of the triangle.
The inclusion of Lamar puts Luke on the bench, a move that augurs well for the team. Jackson explained that Luke enjoys playing with the guys that have come out with the second team and also will be a major asset in getting everyone involved, particularly Bynum.