As always, feel free to refresh your browser for live updates throughout the game … On second thought, I guess they wouldn’t technically be “live” updates since you have to press refresh. But whatever.
Lakers: DJ Mbenga, Sun Yue
Timberwolves: Corey Brewer, Calvin Booth, Kevin Ollie
Lakers Fish, Kobe, Luke, Pau and Bynum
Wolves Sebastian Telfair, Randy Foye, Ryan Gomes, Craig Smith, Al Jefferson
12:00 This would have been a tricky game for the Lakers under normal circumstances, the first of a six-game trip in a cold city where the team’s record isn’t reflective of its current play, but with the OT loss vs. Charlotte on Tuesday, Kobe Bryant (who fouled out and was the opposite of happy about it) should have his squad well-focused.
11:07 After Fish opened the game with a long jumper, Jefferson grabbed his first offensive rebound, and stuck it back in to tie the score. Defensive rebounding is going to be a key throughout the evening for L.A., as not just Jefferson but also Smith, and especially Kevin Love off the bench, are quite effective on the offensive glass.
10:28 It’s a new Bynum, isn’t it? Taking advantage of his height for the second-straight possession, ‘Drew scored easily over Jefferson for a 6-2 lead. He just dropped it over Al’s head. Minnesota starts the smallest four-five combination in the league, in fact, and the Lakers know they need to pound the ball into the paint.
9:00 You knew Kobe was going to bring it tonight. He opened his early onslaught with a tough fade-away jumper off glass, plus the foul with Foye defending. He followed with a transition three, and then another tough jumper plus the harm for eight early points and a 14-5 lead.
6:52 The Bynum Project (his last five games) continued with another easy drop-in from the paint for his sixth early point and a 20-11 lead.
5:38 Remember, the Timberwolves had the league’s best record in January (10-3) before San Antonio beat Phoenix last night, and there’s a reason for it: the players are playing with a completely new confidence ushered in by head coach Kevin McHale. Seriously … try to find one basketball person around the Wolves to tell you otherwise. The confidence manifested in a quick 4-0 burst after Kobe and Bynum willed the Lakers to a 20-11 lead, which may not seem like much, but may have been enough for the Randy Wittman Wolves to give up.
3:11 With the Wolves simply out-hustling the Lakers, Ryan Gomes scored six-straight points – a triple and an and-1 – to give Minnesota its first lead at 27-26. Walton and Telfair would then exchange baskets to make it a 29-28 ballgame heading into a Lakers’ timeout with 2:34 remaining.
The Wolves have a few extra-motivated players tonight, due to respective All-Star snubs: Jefferson was left off the All-Star team, and Love the rookie team. Let me just say this: David West isn’t even close to Jefferson. Not only is Minnesota’s big man one of three players in the NBA averaging 20+ points and 10+ rebounds, but he’s the sole focus of opposing defenses (that’s when you reach star status). West scores because Chris Paul and New Orleans’ three-point shooters draw much of the attention away from him offensively, and he’s averaging only 7.3 rebounds. Ridiculous. I can understand Shaq over Al, but no way can you make the West argument, just because his team has a much better (pre-January) record. Love’s exclusion is even worse, as you’ll hear from Joel Meyers if you’re listening to the Lakers broadcast (is this too much Minnesota information? I’ll try to slow down).
2:14 Out of the timeout, the Lakers moved the ball well (with Farmar, Ariza and Odom on the floor) and got a triple from Lamar. Ariza’s inclusion on the floor is most notable here, of course, due to the worrying concussion symptoms from which he was suffering. Before the game, he said he was feeling “just fine,” and he looks … fine.
0:30 There’s Love’s first jumper, which Gasol conceded by not popping out off the screen and roll. Pau did counter by taking Jefferson easily on the low block to put L.A. up 33-31 heading into period No. 2.
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