As always, feel free to refresh your browser for live updates throughout the game … On second thought, I guess they wouldn’t technically be “live” updates since you have to press refresh. But whatever.
Lakers: Andrew Bynum, Sun Yue
Timberwolves: Corey Brewer, Al Jefferson, Sheldon Williams
Lakers Fish, Kobe, Luke, Lamar and Pau
Wolves Sebastian Telfair, Randy Foye, Ryan Gomes, Craig Smith, Kevin Love
Before the game, Wolves Head Coach Kevin McHale – coach of the month in January – had this to say about the Lakers:
“They’re not as long as they were (without Bynum), but you still have to play them the say way. They’re tough. They’re very efficient with their triangle especially when it’s anchored by a guy like Kobe (Bryant) or Michael Jordan that can play all different positions in it. They’re moving constantly, they’re in unison, it’s really an effectifve way to play basketball. We just have to try and make them take jump shots … And we have to get out and run them, one thing you can do is get out and get transition points. The other thing they have going for them is they have one of the best closers in the game in Kobe, so they hang around (and have a chance to win) no matter what. They’re tough.”
10:36 In a major mismatch, Gasol scored over Love quite easily from the right block. Moments later, Telfair (who hit six threes against Miami in Minny’s road upset) hit a three but was countered by Walton at the other end for a 5-5 tie.
9:30 Telfair, again, from three. If Minnesota’s going to stay in the mix tonight, the triples are going to have to keep falling. L.A. gave up way too many easy looks from three against the Hornets, and may not be the most aggressive in popping out to contest as they might against Boston or Cleveland.
5:33 Though the Wolves came out much hotter than the weather (14 degrees) in hitting 6-of-9 shots, Fisher’s J gave the Lakers a 16-15 lead after the game’s first timeout. Let’s ask this question … What’s more of a lock tonight, Gasol posting 20 and 10 or Heath Ledger winning “Best Supporting Actor?” Can I push?
3:33 I was trying to explain to the Orange County Register’s Kevin Ding and LA Times’ Mike Bresnahan that Gomes should be a starter in deep fantasy leagues like the one in which they play each other, just as he missed a field goal. No matter, he started the game with seven points, two assists and a board as the Wolves went into the second time out down 21-20. L.A. was led by seven points from Gasol and eight from Bryant.
1:25 Randy Foye, who’s Minnesota’s go-to guy on offense with Al Jefferson on the DL (ACL), is in quite a tough matchup with Kobe Bryant. Foye missed his second attempted shot of the quarter because he rushed it, wary of Bryant closing in on him, though he did have three assists to help the Wolves take a 26-25 lead.
0:36.0 Odom nailed his second consecutive perimeter jumper and watched Ariza dunk ahead of him in transition to reclaim a three-point lead for the Lakers heading into the second quarter.
Remember how poorly L.A.’s bench played on Friday night, particularly to start the second and fourth quarters (16 total points for the game)? What that might mean is an increased effort here today, a prove-our-worth type of bit.
8:52 The effort was certainly there, but a few turnovers allowed the Wolves to stay close. L.A. went up 38-35 on a Gasol dunk to keep the lead where it was at quarter’s end. Speaking of Pau, how comfortable are we with him getting all these minutes anchoring the second unit? It’s not so much that he plays worse in games he receives big minutes (on the contrary), it’s whether that will wear on the Spaniard when the playoffs start.
6:39 Josh Powell committed his third foul of the quarter off the ball, which hurts the Lakers more because Gasol had to check back in after just over a minute of rest. The Lakers, meanwhile, got two more Odom hoops and a Bryant jumper to take a 44-39 lead.
5:48 D.J. Mbenga sighting. Either Phil or one of his assistants was also thinking that Gasol doesn’t need to play 44 minutes tonight, and threw D.J. into the game for Pau. It paid off immediately, actually, as Mbenga swatted Foye’s layup attempt.
4:00 With L.A.’s offense stalling, Minnesota reeled off five straight points to tie the game on a Gomes triple. He then nailed a driving layup to give the Wolves a 46-44 lead. Gasol came back a minute later.
0:36.0 Walton did what he does (great pass) to find Gasol for an alley-oop that put L.A. up two after they’d been down three. Pau added a jumper with seven seconds remaining to pad the slight lead, and get himself to a game-high 17 points on 8-of-10 shooting. That’d be 80 percent, plus four boards and three assists.
8:45 The player of the first half, Gasol, hit four straight free throws to put L.A. up three after Minnesota had briefly taken the lead. That gave Pau 20 points, though he needed six boards to get the 20-10 and jump ahead of Ledger.
5:34 Fisher’s three-point shot spent five full seconds on the rim before falling through, giving L.A. a 70-66 lead. Previously, Minnesota played the Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love” after Kevin Love hit two free throws. That was fun.
2:25 A slick driving layup from L.A. native Craig Smith brought the Wolves within two, though Kobe immediately countered with his 20th point on 9-of-15 shooting. Bryant has also notched six dimes in nearly 28 minutes.
1:26 Smith was at it again, this time in transition after L.A. turned the ball over for a 10th time. Tie game at 78. Moments later, Bryant turned the ball over for the sixth time (he thought he was fouled) and Smith hit again in transition thanks to a give-and-go with Foye. As such, the Wolves took an 80-78 lead into the fourth quarter.
Here’s the bottom line: L.A.’s collective effort tonight has been similar to Mickey Rourke’s focus on acting in the 1990s (but we can still give him his due for “The Wrestler” tonight).
11:40 Some great ball movement by the group of Farmar-Vujacic-Ariza-Odom-Powell produced an Odom and-1, starting the fourth off right for the Lakers, who could really use a pick-me-up from the second unit.
9:17 Though the Wolves clawed their way to a four-point lead on pure effort, Odom again scored in and-1 fashion to cut the lead to one…
8:35 … Only to see Rodney Carney’s dunk and Randy Foye’s layup put the lead back to five.
6:57 Thanks in part to two Odom offensive boards, the Lakers chipped away quickly to make it 89-88 Wolves when Gasol and Bryant checked back in for Powell and Vujacic. Odom then stole the ball from Foye after a rebound, drew a foul and hit both free throws to put L.A. up one. In related news, Odom’s been fantastic, at times L.A.’s only player matching Minnesota’s intensity, and had 22 points and 12 boards to that point.
3:49 A potential big shot was missed by Mike Miller, who before this season was one of the league’s best shooters (he simply hasn’t gotten it going this season). At the other end, Bryant hit an and-1 for a six-point swing that put L.A. up 98-95.
2:32 Big three from Luke Walton, at a big time. Bryant had fed Gasol, who found Walton on the opposite side of the floor (triangle personified).
2:00 Miller, however, finally hit a three … But was answered by Fisher, who took a charge a possession before Miller’s make. Two big plays from Fish after he got the Lakers into OT.
But Gomes answered right back with a three for the Wolves.
1:22 In what’s suddenly been a hugely impressive display of shot-making, Bryant hit a baseline fadeaway before Telfair answered with a layup. Lakers by one, 106-105.
0:20.5 It’s fitting that Lamar Odom would make the game’s biggest make after a series of big shots, tipping in a missed Kobe three from 25 feet to put L.A. up three.
0:14.1 Bryant was fouled after Gomes missed a game-tying attempt from three, but missed the first of two free throws. Lakers by four.
0:09.2 Foye nailed Minnesota’s third consecutive three (with Telfair’s layup mixed in), this time to cut L.A.’s lead to one. How ’bout that?
0:07.8 After receiving the inbounds play, Bryant was fouled and hit both free throws. Minnesota had one more chance, but this time Foye missed a triple as time expired.
A somewhat dull game turned out to have a sparkling final four minutes, with the Lakers barely escaping for their 46th victory.