“You can’t stop me,” yelled Kobe Bryant as he drained a third quarter three in the face of Wes Johnson, and it seemed to be the theme of the night as the Timberwolves lost their 16th straight game to the Los Angeles Lakers. The Timberwolves lost on their home floor 106-101 after shooting just 40-104 from the field and 5-21 from three. Kobe Bryant scored 35 points and pulled down 14 rebounds as his team improved to just 2-7 on the road this season. The Lakers shot 50.6% from the field and 42% from beyond the arc, despite ranking dead last in the NBA in three point shooting percentage
It was just one of those nights for the Timberpups and they lost a game that they had countless opportunities to win. The absolutely dreadful shooting and poor production out of their guards proved to be too much to overcome and the Pups fell to 9-11 on the season.
In a historic night, Kobe Bryant set the all-time Lakers field goal record adding another elite honor to his pedigree. He continued his dominance over the Wolves and closed out tonight’s game with precision, hitting well-guarded shots in the fourth quarter to secure the win.
Kevin Love was one of the few bright spots for the Timberwolves tonight and had 33 points and 13 rebounds. Love was a monster on the offensive glass and his tip-ins contributed to a season-high 32 second chance points for the Timberwolves as a team. Ricky Rubio had another poor shooting night going a mesely 2-13 from the field and scoring 5 points while dishing out 8 assists and pulling down 4 rebounds. Rubio has been great this year but his field goal percentage is beginning to look more like his percentage last year in Spain.
The Timberwolves looked very out of sync with their recent additions in Martell Webster, Brad Miller, and Michael Beasley. JJ Barea continues to sit out with an injured ankle and hamstring, and the Pups really missed his offensive production as the Wolves guards shot an abysmal 10-46 from the field and recorded only two three pointers. It is going to take time for the players back from injury to form chemistry on the court, as less than a week of practice with the addition of 4 players is too much to handle in this year’s shortened NBA season.
Brad Miller made his Timberwolves debut and had 3 points in 7 minutes. However, Miller had a stupid technical foul in the middle of the third quarter, which turned a Lakers turnover into a Lakers free throw. Not smart basketball from a guy whose role on the team is to play with veteran poise.
Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum were matchup nightmares for the Timberwolves frontcourt as they are simply too big and too talented for any of our interior defenders. Love guarded Bynum for much of the game and did not stand a chance on many possessions due to his size and lack of elite athleticism. Standing at 7’0” and 290 pounds, Bynum had his way with the Timberwolves on the post. The absence of Darko was greatly felt tonight and they were a worse team without him.
Nikola Pekovic played a very good game in Darko’s spot tonight and had 13 points and 9 rebounds in only 20 minutes. However, he played very little in the second half and Bynum was able to exploit his absence.
Michael Beasley played a very good game off of the bench as he netted 18 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. Beasley was unselfish and played very smart basketball, and it was a thrill to watch him play so well against a good Los Angeles defense. If he can learn to embrace a role as a 6 man, Beasley could provide a great spark and scoring threat off the bench that not many teams have.
The Timberwolves defense really struggled tonight as the help defense was not there and there was no stopping the Lakers on the low post. Kobe Bryant was left wide-open several times on three pointers which he nailed, and the fact that a player of Bryant’s stature is left unguarded on multiple plays is unacceptable. The Lakers have very few offensive weapons outside of Bryant and the fact that they did not put their defensive focus on Bryant is mind-boggling.
The Timberpups had a dreadful first half, shooting just 18-48 (37.5%) from the field and 1-7 from three. The looks were there but nothing seemed to fall causing frustration for the sellout crowd. Several wide-open looks didn’t even hit the rim and unfortunately every team goes through games like tonights every now and then.
The Pups were able to cut an 18 point second half deficit and even were able to take the lead in the 4th quarter, but their poor defense and inability to consistently hit shots led them to lose this one.
As poorly as the Pups played tonight, they only lost by 5 points to a good Lakers squad. There is still so much room to grow and the adjustments will have to come in practice.
Key Stat: 40-104 from the field for the Timberpups. Those numbers are not going to cut it especially against the Lakers. The Timberwolves need to start taking advantage of their home court matchups and they had many chances to win tonight.
Key Player: Kobe Bryant became the all-time leader in completed field goals for the Lakers tonight and his historic career deserves a ton of attention. He is still performing at an elite level and is truly one of the greatest players in NBA history.