Lakers 90, Wolves 79: March 1 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Tuesday evening road contest at Minnesota, the Lakers looking for their fifth straight win out of the All-Star break, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:

Starters
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Gasol and Bynum
Wolves: L. Ridnour, W. Johnson, M. Beasley, K. Love, D. Milicic

FIRST QUARTER
6:29 Despite an entirely sluggish start on offense in which the Lakers made only 1-of-8 field goals and turned the ball over three times, the road team trailed by only one at 7-6 as the Wolves had made only 2-of-13 shots themselves. We’ll spare you the proverbial “They were as cold as it was outside” in Minnesota joke.

3:17 In one of the worst collective offensives starts this guy can remember, the teams had made only five total field goals in the first 30 attempts before the Wolves finally hit three straight and Bryant hit his first of five attempts, producing a 15-10 score. Not the prettiest basketball, by any m3eans, after eight minutes of run.

SECOND QUARTER
9:14 The Lakers finished one of the slower first quarters in recent memory with only five makes in 22 attempts (22.7 percent) yet trailed by only three at 21-18 as the Wolves weren’t much better (8-of-22). Andrew Bynum was, by far, the best player on the floor through that point of the game, going for 10 points and four boards plus two blocks, looking physically dominant against Minny’s bigs.

0:58.3 Bryant’s free throw line jumper had given the Lakers their first lead of the ballgame, certainly a surprise, though the Wolves went on a 7-0 run to close the half, enough to take a 45-40 lead into the break. It was definitely L.A.’s worst half since the final game prior to the All-Star break in Cleveland, with Gasol and Bryant somehow combining for only seven point. Of course, 24 minutes remained to be played.

THIRD QUARTER
7:07 L.A.’s energy was much better out of the halftime tunnel, which quickly produced results on the scoreboard. Gasol and Bryant combined for nine of the team’s 11 points, tying the game at 51 on Bryant’s pull-up jumper.

4:03 Gasol, however, had hit only two of his first seven shots, this after making 6-of-13 the last time he was in Minnesota (doesn’t like the weather?). He did manage to hit a tough fadeaway over Anthony Randolph, however, which preceded four straight points from Bryant that tied the game at 58.

0:00 It was yet another solid defensive effort for the Lakers in a second half quarter, the Wolves managing only 16 points while L.A. chipped in 25 at the other end to turn a five-point halftime deficit into a four-point lead at the close of the period. Luke Walton’s J closed the quarter, and preceded some trash talk from Walton towards good buddy J.B. Bickerstaff, an assistant on Rambis’s bench.

FOURTH QUARTER
9:22 The solid defense continued into the fourth quarter, and the Lakers capitalized on the other end with a 9-2 run capped by Odom’s jumper that opened a 74-63 lead, full control of the game coming in the process. The Wolves were unable to generate much other than long jumpers, while the Lakers were executing well at both ends.

6:24 Bynum checked out after a solid night of 14 points, seven boards, two assists and two blocks, but perhaps more importantly for the Lakers, he looked excellent physically, exploding off one and two legs more so than perhaps in any other game since his injury. The Lakers held a 76-65 lead when he checked out, holding the Wolves to four points in the first half of the quarter and 20 total since halftime.

1:03 Bryant’s jumper kept the lead at 10, all but ending a game taken over early in the third quarter by the Lakers on the defensive end.

POSTGAME NUMBERS
34 Second half points scored by the Wolves, as the Lakers continued their run of excellent second half defense. Minny managed 16 points in the third quarter and 18 in the fourth after scoring 45 in the first half.

25 Bench points for the Lakers, led by Lamar Odom’s 12 points and eight from Shannon Brown. Odom added 11 rebounds for his double-double.

17 Rebounds for Pau Gasol, three short of his season high of 20. He added 12 points despite uncharacteristically struggling from the field (3-of-10). It was the 15th time this season Gasol’s had at least 15 rebounds.

14 Consecutive wins for the Lakers over the Wolves.

7 Combined first half points for Lakers starts Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. Bryant, however, scored 12 points in the third quarter alone to help turn the game around for L.A. and finished with 24.

3 Rebounds shy of a third straight double-double for Andrew Bynum, who looked good throughout in scoring 14 points with seven boards, two blocks and two assists.