Below is a running diary of L.A.’s home contest against Minnesota as the team looked for an eighth straight victory to open the season, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Odom and Gasol
Timberwolves: Sebastian Telfair*, Wesley Johnson, Michael Beasley, Kevin Love, Darko Milicic
*Telfair was starting for the injured Luke Ridnour (hamstring) and Jonny Flynn (hip).
7:24 For the first time in several games, the Lakers came out slow on offense, making only 3-of-13 shots to start a game tied at nine after four minutes. It wasn’t for a lack of open shots, however, suggesting a turn of the tide in a manner of time.
5:08 Well, that didn’t last long. With some stops on the defensive end, the Lakers started to get better looks on offense, and made four of five to roll off a quick 8-0 run that produced a 17-9 lead into a Kurt Rambis time out.
2:07 Phil Jackson saw that time out and raised Rambis with one of his own in response to a 16-4 run by the Timberwolves that found the visitors up 25-21. Minnesota would add one more three-pointer to go 5-of-5 in the period from distance, enough to produce a 28-26 lead into the first quarter break. Kobe Bryant was aggressive in the quarter, taking eight shots and making four to lead the way with 11 points plus five rebounds, but Lamar Odom struggled towards 2-of-7 shooting and Pau Gasol took only four shots, making two.
10:15 We’ve mentioned a few times this year that Matt Barnes was an All-American wide receiver in high school, even garnering a Player of the Year award after catching 28 touchdowns as a senior. A few examples of his hands have come this year on Bryant QB passes down the court, and on Tuesday we saw him make a great catch on an alley-oop layup from Brown to ignite some early energy in the second.
5:45 With the offense still a bit sluggish, the Lakers turned to Bryant when he entered in the second, and he quickly produced a swished turnaround, a defensive board (his sixth) and finally attracted Minnesota’s full attention on a drive before feeding Odom for an easy layup, giving the Lakers a 40-39 lead.
0:00 The Wolves played the Lakers tough in each of their three meetings in 2009-10, and the first half was no different despite a late burst from Bryant, who scored eight straight Lakers points to help LA open a 58-52 lead. Minnesota turned the ball over 13 times, troubled in part by Artest’s three steals and constantly active hands, but made up for it with 15 offensive rebounds, eight from Love alone.
9:22 Some early third quarter foul trouble became an issue when Odom picked up No. 4, bringing Barnes into the game to play backup power forward. Bryant, however, hadn’t noticed, nailing an early triple to give him 11 straight Lakers points.
3:30 Barnes continued his strong play off the bench for the L.A., who finally began to pull away with Artest’s 13th points coming off Gasol’s dish and a fastbreak layup from Barnes courtesy of Ron Ron’s leading pass, making it 76-69 margin. Bryant was threatening to surpass his season-high of 30 points by getting to 28 earlier in the quarter.
0:01.9 It appeared as if a textbook transition play executed by Blake (pushing the ball), Brown (attracting the defense before dishing) and Gasol (finishing with his left hand) would end the quarter with L.A. leading by nine, but Wolves backup Maurice Ager managed to hit a 48-foot buzzer beater to make it 82-74 after three.
6:10 After a torrid start to the season, Odom could be excused for having a slow game, as his fifth foul put him in some jeopardy early in the period. Phil Jackson left his lanky left in, however, and was quickly rewarded with a driving left-handed layup that gave L.A. a 89-83 lead, Minnesota refusing to go away quietly.
2:38 Odom continued to make up for his slow start with two more buckets, first a three and then a layup at the rim, to score seven straight Lakers points and create some space with a 94-87 margin. Bryant, meanwhile, was stuck on 28 points, having made only 2-of-10 second half field goals.
0:05.9 It certainly wasn’t the prettiest of efforts from the Purple and Gold, but L.A. nonetheless emerged with their eighth straight win to start the season, its final point coming from Bryant at the foul line for a 99-94 victory. Kobe finished with a season-high 33 points on 12-of-28 shooting, while Gasol added an 18-point, 10-rebound double-double.