Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Sunday evening road contest at Minnesota, the Lakers looking to bounce back from a Saturday loss at Milwaukee, 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, World Peace*, Gasol and Bynum
Wolves: R. Rubio, L. Ridnour, W. Johnson, K. Love, N. Pekovic
*For the first time this season, World Peace started the game at small forward for L.A. Devin Ebanks was the opening day starter as World Peace got into shape and was intended to serve as an offensive spark off the bench (in addition to his expected defense), then Barnes started for much of January until tonight.
8:04 A very, very strong for the elder Spaniard Pau Gasol had L.A. off to an 11-3 lead, Gasol hitting all four of his shots over and around Kevin Love. His countryman Ricky Rubio has been more responsible than anyone for Minnesota’s improved season, a 9-10 start, but he was quiet in the opening minutes.
2:23 Same story in the next six minutes, Gasol hitting two more shots to reach 14 points on 6-of-8 field goals, helping his team hold a 22-19 edge after the opening quarter. L.A. held the Wolves to only 39 percent field goals, but Minnesota did its damage thanks to the offensive glass, converting six boards into 10 points.
5:45 With Bryant and Gasol resting, the bench provided a rare lift on the scoreboard, with rookie Andrew Goudelock continuing his effective scoring off the bench with five quick points, and Troy Murphy adding back-to-back 3′s to put L.A. up 39-32.
2:45 Moments after passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the most field goals in franchise history, Bryant added a beautiful hoop off glass, spinning to his left, with his left hand. With that, his field goal total grew to an absurd 9,936 makes. L.A.’s biggest lead came on a short jumper from Gasol, up to 16 points, with a 49-36 lead.
0:00 The one area in which the Wolves were really able to hurt L.A. and stay within reach was on the offensive glass, as 11 boards led to 16 second chance points. They were shooting only 37.5 percent from the field, LAL helping well on Rubio pick and rolls in particular, the young Spaniard totaling only a point and three assists.
8:50 Back-to-back triples from Bryant got L.A. off on the right foot in the second half, producing a 12-point lead. An odd stat to that point: Bryant led all players with nine boards, at the expense of Bynum’s usual board stats (12.5, third in the NBA), who grabbed his first with 8:30 to play in the third.
5:01 Another Kobe triple, followed by Gasol’s put-back of a missed Fisher three, allowed L.A. to open its biggest lead of the game at 73-55. The Wolves were shooting only 33.3 percent, as LAL continued to play effective defense.
0:00 L.A. had done a terrific job in half court D all evening, but when the Wolves went to a zone defense, down 17 points, the Lakers started taking and missing threes, which resulted in several Rubio-led run outs at the other end, and ultimately in a 14-2 run to close the quarter. The 17-point lead was thus, suddenly, down to five heading into the final quarter.
9:54 The 20th offensive rebound of the game for Minnesota got the Wolves to within a single point in a game they trailed by 18, and had never led. Fast break points were 11-0 for Minny, and second chance points 25-8.
5:05 It was fitting that the first Wolves lead of the game came on yet another offensive board, as Beasley’s tip in made it 91-89 for the home team, the rebounding battle favoring Minnesota by a count of 50-35. Gasol, however, scored four straight points to put L.A. back up by two with 3:53 to play.
0:28.0 Bryant’s two biggest shot outs of 14 makes came in the final 1:16, first a fading pull-up across the lane, and then a runner – the dagger – in the paint, through about four Timberwolves, which put L.A. up 103-96. Two late turnovers provided a brief scare, but L.A. held on to take a 106-101 road win out of Minnesota, just the second road victory of the season for the Lakers.
Bryant finished an impressive evening with 35 points and 14 boards, while Gasol matched his season-high with 26 points on a very efficient 11-for-15 effort from the field. Bynum wasn’t far behind, totaling 21 points himself with seven boards and two blocks, L.A.’s three best players also staying on the floor for 41, 41 and 36 minutes, Bryant and Gasol playing the entire second half.
Next up is a home tilt against Charlotte on Tuesday. We’ll see you there.