Lakers vs. Timberwolves Preview: Lakers Forge On Without Kobe Once More Reviewed by Momizat on . On Thursday the Lakers received news that Kobe would miss six weeks due to a knee fracture. Originally the injury was not deemed serious so fans and teammates w On Thursday the Lakers received news that Kobe would miss six weeks due to a knee fracture. Originally the injury was not deemed serious so fans and teammates w Rating: 0
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Lakers vs. Timberwolves Preview: Lakers Forge On Without Kobe Once More

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Lakers vs. TimberwolvesOn Thursday the Lakers received news that Kobe would miss six weeks due to a knee fracture. Originally the injury was not deemed serious so fans and teammates were rightfully shocked. In the wake of this news the team signed Kendall Marshall for point guard depth. The team will need to band together and rediscover the superb chemistry that they had earlier in the season.

Tonight the Lakers will play host to the Timberwolves who have their star Kevin Love back who missed most of last year. With Love and Rubio healthy many thought the T-Wolves would make a push for the playoffs. However they have been pretty average and are only .500 for the season. If they were in the Eastern Conference they would be a lock for the playoffs but in the deep West they are on the bubble. The Timberwolves beat the Lakers 113-90 back in November.

Frontcourt: Kevin Love is one of the best power forwards in the league at the moment. The former UCLA Bruin is so versatile that he’s tough to completely shut down. He is averaging 25.2 points, 13.7 boards, 4.2 assists and 2.5 threes per game. His fullcourt outlet passes are very dangerous and the Lakers will need to streak back on defense after a missed shot. Love also likes to set a pick then roll to the three-point line where he’s scoring at a 38.7% clip. Hill and Williams will need to anticipate the possibility of Love rolling out beyond the arc rather than to the rim.

Starting center Nikola Pekovic is coming off of a monster 30 point game against the Blazers. He’s a large man who can clear space and get tons of easy shots near the rim. Pau Gasol will need to body up and prevent Pekovic from getting deep in the paint. The Lakers guard will also need to stay in front of Rubio and prevent him from setting up Pekovic for easy lay-ins.

Backcourt: Ricky Rubio notched a triple-double in the first meeting between these two teams earlier this season. The Lakers couldn’t stay in front of him and Rubio slashed and dished his way to 14 assists. While Rubio is an amazing passer, he’s a very weak shooter and the Lakers guards need to stay in front of him and force him to shoot. Rubio’s weakness is Kevin Martin’s strength; Martin is a very good shooter and is the team’s second leading scorer with 20.6 ppg. Martin is particularly deadly from beyond the arc where he is knocking down 40.3% of his attempts.

Rounding out the starting five is Corey Brewer who is a terror on defense. He is only used sparingly in their halfcourt offense for spot up threes and cuts to the basket. Brewer also scores often in transition via laser football passes from Kevin Love. Backup point guard J.J. Barea is not someone the Lakers should fall asleep on. He’d probably start for the current injury depleted Lakers squad and he’s a formidable scorer and slasher.

Keys to Lakers’ Victory:
Scamper Back After a Miss: Love and Brewer seem to connect on highlight fullcourt outlet passes several times per game. Love’s uncanny ability to pinpoint 50 foot passes and Brewer’s dashing speed are a deadly combination in transition. With that in mind the Lakers need to keep an eye on Brewer as soon as they miss a shot and make sure someone is running with him. The Lakers cannot afford to give up too many cheap/easy points if they hope to win tonight.

Guard Rubio’s Passing Lanes: Since Rubio always seeks to pass the rock, the Lakers should overplay his passing lanes and allow him space to shoot. Other teams have been successful playing Rubio this way and it’s an effective strategy given his poor shooting. The Lakers need to take away Rubio’s strength and force him to beat them with his weakness. It would be a good thing if Rubio attempts 12+ shots since he only makes 35.2% of his field goals.

Team Chemistry: The Lakers had great team chemistry early in the season before Kobe returned. Once their star returned the team took a few games to adjust to his presence. It seemed like things were just starting to click before they received news of his knee injury. To say the Lakers are disappointed and shorthanded is an understatement. They will need to rally together, move the ball on offense and give a concerted effort on defense. This squad has shown that they can be competitive without their star and they’ll have a chance to rediscover that chemistry tonight.

Minnesota Timberwolves (13-13) at Los Angeles Lakers (12-13)
7:30 PM PST, December 20, 2013
Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

Timberwolves Projected Starting Line-up
PG: Ricky Rubio
SG: Kevin Martin
SF: Corey Brewer
PF: Kevin Love
C: Nikola Pekovic

Key Reserves: PG: J.J. Barea PF: Dante Cunningham PF: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute

Lakers Projected Starting Line-up
PG: Xavier Henry
SG: Jodie Meeks
SF: Wes Johnson
PF: Jordan Hill
C: Pau Gasol


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About The Author

Kevin is currently an editor for Lakers Nation. Kevin works and resides in Manhattan, New York. Follow Kevin on Twitter @Kevin_Cruiser.

Number of Entries : 113
  • Paytc

    Playing 500 ball was all we needed to do to be in the playoff picture until Kobe returned to help anchor the team down. The team exceeded many critics expectations and did hold it together at 10-9. But as we get further along in the season time starts to become a factor. We can no longer just play 500 ball and put ourselves in the best position to make the playoffs.

    We will have to dig deep and win just about every winnable game…plus pull off an occasional upset. At the very least we need to keep batting 500. If Kobe misses 20 games there are still 37 games remaining upon his return. We can still pull off the upset and shock the world.

    The bigger the odds are against you the more satisfying the thrill of victory becomes. Remember we still have hope. One game at a time. Bigger odds have been overcome.

    Go Lakers !

  • jeremy

    the team needs to come together and play like they did before kobe came back. it wont be the same without the PGs, but lets hope Kendall Marshall can help hold down the PG spot till farmar back

  • Daryl Peek

    LAL have officially signed PG Kendall Marshall. He inked his contract following shootaround. D’Antoni said it’s possible he plays tonight.

    Mike Trudell ‏@LakersReporter10m

    Marshall knows many of the Lakers. He played against Henry in AAU, against Kelly while at UNC, with Johnson in Phoenix last year.

    The fact he knows a few of the guys should help accelerate the chemistry factor. Jimmy and Mitch def did their homework. Lets see what the kid has….

  • Jim213

    The Lakers took a beating the last time they played the Wolves as ALL the starters SCORED in double digits. Rubio, Pekovic, and Love OUT HUSTLED the Lakers in the paint (10+ rebounds!). Aside of that Rubio was credited with 14 assists!

    Too assure that the team gets back to 500 avg! the Lakers will need to BEAT the Wolves in the paint as they’re 5th in the league and 3rd in PPG! Given that the Wolves are 7th in assist per game the Lakers will have to limit Rubio’s assist (close to 8 pg). As Rubio avg’s close to 3 steals a game too.

    Given that X is playing the 1 it may be best to try to drive in (at first) more while either dishing out the ball outside or trying to score more layups. This IMO will/may help him get into foul trouble though the con is Rubio manages to attain some steals. Aside of that Rubio is struggling with his shooting so by limiting his assist and ability to drive inside he’d likely be forced to take jumpers given he’s the main ball distributor.

    However, a bigger problem will be K Love as PAU! SMH should play man to man though the team has to find a way to limit his 3 point opportunities. Pau will need to limit K love chances outside though has the ability to score inside but aside of Love Pekovic has been the other threat for the Wolves on the boards as I have no doubt that G Man will out hustle Pekovic inside the paint though should be cautious with fouls.

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