Lakers – Wolves Running Diary

Pau shoots a hook over Kevin LoveAs 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.

Previous Lakers – Wolves Running Diary/Postgame
Lakers – Wolves Running Diary 12-14-2009
Lakers 98, Wolves 86: Postgame
Running Diary 1-30-2009
Lakers 132, Wolves 119: Postgame
Running Diary 2-22-2009
Lakers 111, Wolves 108: Postgame

Inactives
Lakers: Andrew Bynum, Sun Yue
Timberwolves: Corey Brewer, Al Jefferson

Starters
Lakers Fisher, Bryant, Walton, Odom and Gasol
Wolves Sebastian Telfair, Mike Miller, Ryan Gomes, Kevin Love, Jason Collins

The most significant pregame note is that Minnesota’s best player, Randy Foye (Al Jefferson’s been out with a torn ACL) will miss the game due to a hip flexor injury suffered in Thursday’s practice. Foye said he took a knee to the hip while attempting a dunk in practice, and while he popped up quickly, was extremely sore later that day and particularly when waking up Friday morning. He’s listed as day-to-day, and his absence will be felt since the combo guard has led Minnesota in scoring and assists since Jefferson went down.

To replace Foye, Minnesota’s starting Mike Miller at the two and bringing Collins in to play five, their biggest lineup this season by far. The undersized Craig Smith had been playing the four, with Kevin Love (or Al Jefferson) at center and Foye at the two, a lineup that L.A. simply pounded down low in their previous three wins.

Lamar boxing out Kevin Love for the reboundFirst Quarter
10:15 The game’s first hoop took a little bit, with Minnesota missing its first six shots, before Bryant stuck a jumper on L.A.’s third attempt.

9:20 It took UCLA one-year player Kevin Love only three minutes to surpass his point total from his first game here in STAPLES against the Lakers, thanks to a layup followed by a 19-footer. Last time, he made just 1-of-5 shots in 21 minutes.

3:08 Collins and Love’s trouble defending Gasol and Odom showed itself when both Laker bigs burst past their respective opponents for buckets, with Pau’s including a foul. That gave L.A. a 17-13 lead that became 20-13 a possession later when Farmar nailed a three, culminating an 11-0 run that put them in control.

1:35 If you like wet 17-foot jumpers and fierce swats, you’re in luck … D.J. Mbenga just checked in.

0:49.4 See? There’s Mbenga with a layup off one leg to put L.A. up 22-15.

Gomes managed a jumper to bring Minnesota within five after one in a rather dull first quarter in which Bryant made just 1-of-4 shots for two points, while Gasol led the way with eight points and four rebounds. Odom added two blocks, two points and a board and the Lakers held Minnesota to 8-of-24 shooting, primarily from the perimeter.

Lamar boxing out Kevin Love for the reboundSecond Quarter
8:17 L.A.’s second unit played with good energy to start the quarter, with Gasol coming in alongside Josh Powell, Trevor Ariza, Sasha Vujacic and Jordan Farmar. Powell hit consecutive hoops in the paint, preceding a Gasol put back that gave L.A. a 31-22 edge.

6:56 Vujacic nailed his second three of the game in three attempts to put L.A. up 12, which we note because Sasha always shoots better throughout the game if he’s on early. In other Sasha news, assistant coach Brian Shaw told me Vujacic wasn’t happy that Shaw called him a mosquito in our pregame interview. Oops.

5:32 Bryant’s driving layup, plus the harm, made him the NBA’s 18th all-time leading scorer, surpassing Boston’s Robert Parish. If it surprises you that Parish is that high, understand that he did play for 20 years, from 1977 to 1997. Up next is Charles Barkley. When Kobe’s accomplishment was announced a few minutes later, the crowd offered a hearty ovation, and Fisher ran over to facetiously hug Bryant.

3:19 Bryant put the Lakers up 14 with two free throws as Phil Jackson put Adam Morrison into the game for Walton. What’s fun about that is ESPN’s Gamecast still has Morrison’s Charlotte head shot when he had his super long ponytail.

2:39 What does it take to get Jackson off the bench? Apparently, anything involving Mbenga being wronged, which in this case came on a questionable goaltending call on Love’s shot.

1:21 Bryant nailed his fourth shot in six attempts in the second, then hit two free throws to put L.A. up 47-34. That gave Bryant 13 points in the quarter, still four away from his third period total against the Suns on Sunday.

The Wolves got a driving layup from Telfair, who led Minnesota with 11 points, to come within 11 at halftime, which they can live with after shooting a paltry 31 percent from the floor.

Foye on Kobe
In Minnesota’s locker room before the game, I spent a few minutes catching up with Randy Foye, who was frustrated to be missing the game because of how excited he gets to face off with Kobe Bryant. For said that Kobe’s by far the best player he’s ever played against, explaining that he literally doesn’t have a weakness in his game to exploit on either end of the floor. This isn’t anything we haven’t heard before about Bryant, but it’s always telling that no matter which player you talk to about Kobe, it’s nothing but praise and respect out into your ear.

Kobe lay-upThird Quarter
10:28 Not quiet what L.A. was looking for out of the locker room… After a free throw from Love, a long two from Gomes and an and-1 from Love, Minnesota had quickly scored the quarter’s first seven points to make it a four-point game.

Sun Yue plays for D-Fenders: In case you missed it, Lakers guard Sun Yue played his first game of the season for the D-Fenders earlier today. Here’s the game article and Sun’s postgame comments.

8:48 L.A., however, responded with 10 straight points of their own, including two Fisher jumpers, to put the lead at 14.

5:35 Fish dropped his fifth shot in six attempts, for the second time from deep, to reach 12 points on the evening to join Kobe (17) and Pau (14) in double figures.

3:39 Candace Parker’s husband scored for Minnesota. This is the rare case in which the WNBA player’s more famous than the NBA player (OK, we’ll name him – Shelden Williams, who went to Minnesota with Bobby Brown from Sacramento, who received Rashad McCants).

3:25 Kobe can score too. His back-to-back threes gave L.A. its biggest lead at 19. That’s 23 for Kobe, who’s averaged more than 30 points in his last eight games. The second triple was pretty, coming after a slick lil’ crossover, that had Kobe clicking the trigger of a gun he made with his right hand. Moments later, he checked out, perhaps for the night, as Vujacic entered the game.

0:25.2 Peezy made a nice pass to get Gasol an easy layup, passing up his own open jumper in the process. What we like most is what happened after: It’s of course customary for players to either point towards or high-five the player that feeds them for a bucket, right? In this case, Powell turned away and ran back on defense, and Gasol looked towards Powell to acknowledge the pass on four different occasions as he ran back. He finally got Powell’s attention at the opposite free throw line, resulting in a mutual point. That Pau persevered just to offer thanks says at least a lil’ bit about his character.

The quarter ended with L.A. up 77-59, allowing Gasol to join the rest of the starters on the bench.

Pau Gasol rises to block Kevin LoveFourth Quarter
9:44 “He’s deadly with that face-up game,” said Joel Meyers, who was talking about none other than Mbenga, who nailed an 11-foot jumper.

9:15 And there’s DJ again, this time throwing down a one-handed hammer dunk off a nice Farmar pass to put the Lakers up 87-64. Here comes the ice for Kobe, Pau, Lamar, Fish and Luke.

8:30 Guess who the biggest cheer of the game came for? Yup … Mbenga. Here are a few adjectives for what D.J. did to a Rodney Carney layup attempt: destroyed, abolished, annihilated, blasted, blighted, broken, consumed, demolished, devastated, devoured, disintegrated, eradicated, felled, gutted, incinerated, killed, lost, obliterated, overwhelmed, ravaged, razed, ruined, sacked, shattered, smashed, torn down, totaled, wasted, wiped out, wrecked.

He made full contact with his downward swinging paw to send the ball well past halfcourt.

7:58 Mbenga just drew “MVP” chants while making two free throws while tying his career high with eight points.

7:34 On the floor to close out L.A.’s 50th win: Farmar, Shannon Brown, Ariza, Powell and Mbenga.

6:50 Farmar went for an alley-oop off glass, following Odom’s attempt against Memphis on Tuesday, with Powell and Ariza trailing. The pass was off, and while Powell ended up catching it and drawing a foul, Phil was left with a large smile on his face on the sideline. Lakers 94, Wolves 70. Looking like tacos.

5:30 The highlights continued to roll in, this one from Brown after he turned on his after-booster and flew past a hapless defender before ___ (fill in your Mbenga adjective) ing the rim. I’m not sure if the second unit’s more intent to entertain the crowd or the starters, but either way it’s fun to watch.

4:20 Peezy checked out after a solid 18 minutes that produced 14 points (two below his season high), six boards and three blocks. Vujacic checked back in with Morrison (Farmar also sat down) to ensure the Lakers still had someone to run the show.

2:44 OK, it’s starting to get stupid. Mbenga destroyed two more shots from poor Candace Parker’s husband, and the ensuing transition layup resulted in a Brown to Ariza alley-oop layup.

1:02 All D.J., all the time. There’s his season high 10th point on a 16-foot jumper that put L.A. up 109-88.

The final score was 110-90 Lakers in a game full of fun.