Lakers 104, Wolves 85: Feb. 29 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Wednesday evening home contest against Minnesota, the Lakers looking for a 17th consecutive victory over the Wolves, 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, World Peace, Gasol and Bynum
Wolves: R. Rubio, L. Ridnour, W. Johnson, D. Williams*, N. Pekovic
*Kevin Love, it was announced pregame, was out due to flu-like symptoms.

FIRST QUARTER
6:31 So much for that broken nose and concussion, how Kobe? Instead o
f appearing affected by what he suffered after getting smacked by Dwyane Wade in Sunday’s All-Star game, Bryant came out (while wearing a protective mask that looked kind of fierce) aggressively hitting 3-of-5 shots with two boards and an assist to lead L.A. to a 13-6 start.

2:49 Did we mention that Kobe loves playing hurt? The mask didn’t stop him from a pretty baseline up-and-under move, or a subsequent steal and transition one-handed hammer dunk to reach 10 points and put L.A. up 24-11.

0:00 After building a 15-point lead, the Lakers conceded a 7-0 run to close the quarter, capped by a corner three from No. 2 overall pick Derrick Williams (who had 27 points off the bench in Minny’s win over the Clippers last night, as did fellow bencher Michael Beasley) thanks to J.J. Barea’s dish. The Wolves second group has been terrific of late, as they showed pretty quickly in a quarter previously dominated by Bryant’s energy.

SECOND QUARTER
7:45 Reflecting what he’s been working out all season in practice, Andrew Goudelock brought out a crossover into a floater to snap a 5-0 Wolves run, putting L.A. up 36-29. On the floor for Minny’s second unit were four top 6 picks, while L.A. had just Bynum (No. 10) and Murphy (No. 14) in the later lottery.

0:00 The Lakers largely controlled the second quarter as they had the first, but had a terrible final minute to allow Minny to creep within six points at the half, 50-44, thanks to four quick points off two straight Bryant turnovers. First an errant pass to Gasol (Ridnour FT’s on other end after World Peace fouled hi) and then tripping near L.A.’s bench (Ridnour layup). Still, L.A. shot 54 percent and had 17 assists on 22 field goals, the ball moving well.

THIRD QUARTER
9:44 A strong start to the second half quickly saw L.A.’s lead grow to 15 at 59-44 (9-0 run), capped by a World Peace and-1 layup that obviously had him kissing his bicep (plus a toss of the ball to a courtside fan for good measure). And radio PXP voice John Ireland tweeted this amazing picture of Pekovic, a full on replica of Non from Superman 2.

6:54 Gasol turned his second swat of a Wolves’ three-pointer into his second fast break hoop, this time a dunk, to put L.A. up 63-50. Bryant was starting to flirt with a triple-double in the process, with hi 14 points, seven dimes and five boards. The Spaniard then converted a tough and-1, and two minutes later L.A. found itself up 74-56.

0:00 A very strong third quarter (33-15 Lakers) blew the game wide open, L.A. taking an 83-59 lead into the final period. #KobeMask finished the quarter with 24 points, seven boards and seven assists, while Gasol got up to 15 points, four boards, four assists and three blocks, much of that production coming in the third.

FOURTH QUARTER
6:30 A 9-0 run from Minnesota’s bench, again playing well, was enough for Brown to yank his own bench and return Bryant and Gasol (who’d seemingly been done for the night) back into the game. Bryant promptly scored on the first two possessions, the lead back to 21 (though it had only been cut to 19).

2:46 The lead pushed back to 24 as Kobe reached 31 points, seven in the three-plus minute stretch, he finally sat for the night having played 33 minutes through his mask. This was a game fully dominated by the Lakers, and specifically Bryant’s energy, inspiring some extra effort by – as always – playing through pain.

0:00 Final: Lakers 104, Wolves 85. This was the 17th consecutive Lakers victory over Minnesota. Up next is Friday’s contest against Sacramento.