The opening of a weekend back-to-back started Friday night at the Target Center with the old habitants of the Minneapolis area in for a visit. The Timberwolves opened up with Rubio, Ridnour, Kirilenko, Williams, and Pekovic. The Lakers countered with Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Earl Clark, and Pau Gasol.
As a quick aside, I have to say that the Wolves’ home crowd has been pretty impressive in recent weeks, particularly when considering the struggles the team have been going through. Let’s give kudos to @TwolvesArmy and others! That said, a lot of Lakers fans were in the crowd Friday night. This can be best summed up by Ryan Tanke – Timberwolves SVP of Ticket Sales and Premium Seating.
Great to see so many NY Yankees fans here in yellow tonight. #WolvesUnited
— Ryan Tanke (@ryantanke) February 2, 2013
The Lakers got off to a red hot start, opening up a quick 13-4 lead and forcing Adelman to use an early timeout. Let’s move on, you are more likely aware of the reasons for these struggles and they have been common themes over the past few weeks. Minutes later, Steve Nash blocked a jumper attempt by Ridnour and the tone had been set for the evening.
Going into the second timeout, the Lakers held a 27-12 lead. The reason is simple – the team was “en fuego” from the field. Asking Ridnour to match up with Kobe Bryant is quite unfair. After the second timeout, Adelman finally made the switch and brought in Alexey Shved. Despite Shved’s shooting efforts to end the quarter, it wasn’t enough to slow down the Lakers, who shot a scorching 68% in the first quarter. At the end of the 1st quarter, the Lakers held a 37-24 lead. This would have been a great quarter of basketball if the Wolves were ahead.
The 2nd quarter was a lot of the same – very entertaining basketball but much more enjoyable if you are/were rooting for the Lakers. Late in the quarter, the Pups went on a nice run to make the game a heck of a lot more interesting going into halftime. This included a beautiful fast-break that had Rubio ahead of the pack and throwing a behind the back pass for a DWill slam. At the half, the Lakers held a 68-53 lead. As always, here are my HT thoughts through a Wolves lens:
- This team does a tremendous job of putting itself in holes and finding a way of keeping your interest piqued
- Rubio looks light years ahead of where he was just a few weeks ago
- Please trade JJ Barea
At the start of the 3rd quarter, the Pups were able to cut the lead down to ten points with several jump shots falling for AK47, DWill, and Ridnour. It could have been even closer if DWill had any ability to finish at the rim these days – he missed a few in the paint, including a dunk. This was followed by a 7-0 run by the Lakers to increase the lead back up to 15.
While it got a little ugly in the last few minutes, the Twolves were able to claw their way back to a single digit deficit. Alexey Shved hit a three pointer from about 26 feet to cut the lead to nine points going into the final frame, with the Lakers holding an 85-76 lead.
The 4th quarter was incredibly frustrating, as the Twolves had a number of chances to cut the lead down further and further and were inches away from making it a one possession game. Then everything fell apart for the team. The Lakers made enough plays to extend their lead and wound up holding off the Wolves to win 111-100. (I do not feel like complaining about JJ Barea or the fact that we still have to limit Rubio’s minutes any further.)
Keys of the Game
- FT Shooting – Again. 8-18 from the FT line and that is, for the lack of a better word (or cursing), pathetic.
- Offensive Rebounds – The Lakers finished with 17 offensive rebounds and that is just offensive.
Three Stars of the Game
- Pau Gasol – Finished with 22 & 12 and really set the tone for the Lakers in the first half.
- Kobe Bryant – He’s good. 17 points, 12 rebounds, and 8 assists. I actually have to say that the few rebounds that stand out in the game were provided by Kobe. He destroyed Luke Ridnour early on in the game.
- Alexey Shved – Shved had a very nice game despite the low shooting percentage (6-16). He finished with 18 points, 6 assists, and 4 rebounds and hit a number of shots from the outside to give the team some life.