Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Friday evening road contest at Minnesota, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:
Lakers: Nash, Bryant, World Peace, Clark and Gasol
Wolves: R. Rubio, L. Ridnour, A. Kirilenko, D. Williams, N. Pekovic
4:43 The Lakers were hot early, using the passes of Kobe Bryant (four assists) and Steve Nash (three) to open a 21-8 lead. Bryant was also hitting the glass to make up for the absence of Dwight Howard, in L.A. receiving a PRP procedure on his left shoulder, with six rebounds plus seven points.
0:36.0 L.A. really couldn’t miss in the first, as Gasol drained back-to-back jumpers to reach 13 points, hitting 5 of 7 shots including a triple, two pull-up jumpers and a couple of post moves at the rim. They finished with 37 points in the period, five more than Minnesota’s given up in any quarter this season.
10:19 After J.J. Barea hit the third Minnesota three-pointer in as many attempts – keep in mind they’re by far the NBA’s worst long-distance shooting team – Jodie Meeks drained the sixth triple for the Lakers, and Clark converted from the corner just moments after he dunked on a fast break chance. That 8-0 run made it a 49-31 lead for the road team, on pace to score a boat load of points.
6:45 The onslaught continued, as Blake and Meeks hit again, and Nash moments later, as seven Lakers had drained at least one from deep, and a total of 10 of 13. Blake had been terrific all over the court, and added a scoop layup plus this three assists in putting the Lakers up as many as 29.
0:00 However, the Wolves rallied back in the final six minutes of the quarter, starting to bury shots from inside and out to trim the lead to as few as 13 before Nash converted the final hoop of the half. L.A. was still very much in the driver’s seat, but would likely need to find the energy with which they started the game to keep Minnesota down.
6:39 But they didn’t to start the third, missing shots from everywhere as the Wolves grew in confidence, using a 12-4 run to start the quarter, cutting the lead to just eight points. Much of their success came due to a zone defense, which flummoxed the Lakers at least for a while until Nash scored five straight points, hitting a corner three (his third) and two bonus free throws to make it 77-64.
0:00 The Lakers continued to struggle from the field, managing to make only 3 of 19 field goals, but they did convert 10 of 12 free throws to at least limit the damage Minnesota did to the lead, holding an 85-76 lead heading into the final period. Alexey Shved continued to punish off Minny’s bench, however, converting his fourth triple from waaaaay deep in the final seconds. The Wolves, the worst team in the NBA from three, had hit 9 of 14. L.A. started 9 for 11, then missed all but two of their next 14.
8:16 Zones eventually get blown open in the NBA, but the Lakers were having little success in this one as the Wolves stuck with it. Jamison did manage to become the eighth Laker to hit a triple, putting his team up 12, but Minnesota responded with a 6-0 run when Blake and Jamison missed two more from long range. The Wolves were bound to make this one interesting, though it never should have been.
5:39 The lead was suddenly down to just four after a 4-point possession, Minnesota getting a free throw and then a long three after a tap out of the second free throw miss (Shved’s fifth). L.A. finally got a bucket inside when Gasol scored and-1 off Kobe’s pass, and the Spaniard added another field goal on the next trip, this time from Nash, to make it 99-92. Gasol was thus up to a 20-point, 10-board double-double, the Lakers trying desperately to hold on.
2:22 Jamison added another bucket in the paint, and Kobe two free throws, the Wolves struggling on the offensive end as well as the lead was nine at 103-94, looking safe enough for the visitors in search of the team’s first road win in 2013…
0:00 … and it was secured in 111-100 fashion. Jamison added a layup and Nash a jumper in the final minute toward the final margin, the reserve completing a fourth straight solid game off the pine with 18 points and seven boards, Nash a terrific real life and fantasy line of 17 points (6 of 9 FG’s, 3 of 3 3′s, 2 of 2 FT’s) with seven assists, seven boards and even two of the team’s six blocks. Gasol continued his strong play of late with a game-high 22 points and 12 boards with three blocks, while Bryant was two assists away from a triple-double: 17 points; 12 boards; eight dimes. Up next is a Sunday contest at Detroit: we’ll see you there.