The Lakers looked to win their second-consecutive game when they faced off against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Staples Center. The Lakers would be without Kobe Bryant tonight, as he begins his recovery on his knee fracture that he served on Tuesday night. The Lakers would start Xavier Henry at point guard, as he would become the fifth player to start at that position for this team.
The Lakers came out with a lot of energy, largely inspired by the effort from Xavier Henry. He had some good success driving to the basket early and capitalized on his opportunity as the primary ball-handler. At the end of the first he had 11 points on four of seven shooting from the field.
The rest of the guys did a great job of running the floor in transition, and provided good spacing in half-court sets. As for the T-Wolves, they made a continued effort to pound the ball inside, and looked to score on every available opportunity, but the Lakers constant energy on both ends of the floor reigned supreme, as they broke out to a nine point lead at the end of the first quarter.
Score at the end of the first: Lakers lead 35-26.
The second unit came in very sluggish, as the Wolves trimmed the lead early in the quarter after converting on a few Lakers turnovers. This forced D’Antoni to bring a few starters (Gasol, Meeks, Henry) back in the game, which would help the Lakers restore the lead that the first unit had built.
However the Wolves would keep on fighting, as they continued to force turnovers and execute on the offensive end. By half time, a Lakers lead that was once 11 points turned into a deficit as Minnesota ended the second quarter on a 20-7 run.
Score at the end of the first: Lakers trail 53-51.
The Lakers and the Timberwolves traded baskets for the first five minutes of the second half, switching leads on virtually every other possession. It wasn’t until the halfway through the third quarter when one of the team was able to get some separation. A mini-run (inspired by eight third quarter points from Jodie Meeks) allowed the Lakers to take a seven point lead, but the Wolves continued to fight back as they had done in the first half.
However, around the three minute mark the second unit came in and provided that spark that lakers fans have become accustomed to seeing, as the went on an 8-1 run in the final two minutes of the third quarter to going into the fourth with a five point advantage.
Score at the end of the first: Lakers lead 81-76.
Minnesota found a way to come back and tie the game in the early part of the fourth quarter, as the Lakers defense couldn’t find a way to get stops. Pau Gasol came alive in the fourth quarter, and essentially closed the game for the Lakers as he scored seven straight points during in the final four minutes of the quarter en route to his near triple-double finish. This Laker team had so much fun playing together tonight, and ironically found some inspiration with Kobe not on the floor.
Lakers win 104-91
Lakers News: Kobe Bryant Out Six Weeks With Fracture In Knee, Steve Nash Out Four More Weeks