Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Friday evening home contest as the Lakers played their first game since Monday evening, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Gasol and Bynum
Wolves: L. Ridnour, W. Johnson, M. Beasley, K. Love, D. Milicic
6:00 Halfway through the first quarter, the Lakers didn’t look like a team with three days between games, instead coming out focused on both ends while building a 13-9 lead. Pau Gasol had six of those points, the Spaniard looking to remind people that he can fill the box score when he wants to even as Andrew Bynum’s numbers have been the focus of late.
2:11 That didn’t last long. Focused start, perhaps, but the next four minutes were poor. Four turnovers from the home team showed the suddenly sloppy play, which Minnesota took advantage of to take a 19-15 lead. The Wolves had already collected 15 rebounds, including seven on the offensive end.
8:00 It got better for L.A. when Gasol returned to the floor, the Spaniard reaching 13 points rather quickly, alongside three boards and three blocks, to bring the Lakers within one on the scoreboard. One interesting thing out of the first quarter came as Ron Artest was subbed out with about a minute left, and he paused to chat with Phil Jackson, who did not appear happy with Artest (0-for-5) or his shot selection. Also 0-for-5 in the first was Bryant, playing on that sore left ankle, contributing towards L.A.’s 37 percent in the period.
2:34 Fourteen minutes into it for Bryant, and he’d still yet to score. He didn’t attempt a field goal in the second, instead trying to get the ball inside to Bynum (10 points) and Gasol (15), while the Wolves continued to hold a narrow lead at 44-40.
0:00 The Wolves had led by as many as 10 in the first half, but would take just a 2-point lead into the break at 51-49, trimmed in part due to two threes to close the half from Bryant. As has been the case for a few years, the Lakers tend to draw an opponents best effort, and they got that from a Wolves team with only 17 wins, just three fewer than the consecutive times L.A. has beaten Minnesota.
12:00 A piece of news out of halftime: Bryant didn’t start, actually not returning to his spot on the bench until the ball had been inbounded with Shannon Brown in his place. He would return, however, at the 6:18 mark of the third, leaving us to speculate that he was simply getting his ankle worked on for an extended period of time at the half.
5:56 L.A.’s first offensive possession with Kobe back on the floor saw No. 24 create an open three for Artest, which he sank to put the Lakers up two. Artest had made only one of his first eight attempts, but his triple was the sixth make for the Lakers, one more than Minnesota.
0:00 The Lakers closed the quarter on a 7-0 run to take a 78-74 lead into the fourth quarter, with Bryant scoring seven of his 13 points in his 6-minute stint, and the Laker D closing down angles at the other end. Meanwhile, there were about five kids occupying Jack Nicholson’s seats, with Will.I.Am of the Black Eyed Peas sitting to their left. Random.
7:07 Stepping up of L.A.’s bench was Matt Barnes, who first converted an and-1 in transition and then cut to the hoop and floated home his next shot off Odom’s feed. The Wolves, however, had been relentless with effort, as witnessed by 16 offensive boards, keeping the score tight.
5:57 And then things got kind of weird. Beasley had been jawing with several Lakers throughout the night, starting with Artest in the first half, and most recently Bynum. Well, after some contact on L.A.’s offensive end, Beasley drove to the hoop on the baseline and jumped up, only to be met with an elbow from Bynum that knocked him off balance, resulting in a real hard fall directly on his hip. Trash talk ensued, as Bynum stood his ground and Beasley obviously didn’t like it, and the always-up-for-it Barnes coming over to offer his positive thoughts. After all the bodies cleared, Bynum got ejected with a flagrant two foul, and Minnesota took a one-point lead.1:57
As close as the Wolves kept things throughout, everybody in the building assumed the Lakers would eventually figure it out, and they did with an 8-0 run highlighted by Odom’s pull-up three-pointer. With all of the flagrant, uh, stuff going on, L.A. had picked up its defensive intensity, making things real tough on the road team. The game would end in kind, the Lakers clamping down on defense, Odom adding another jumper and a winning streak over Minnesota pushed to 15 games. POSTGAME NUMBERS
We kept track of some of the more interesting numbers in L.A.’s 106-98 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Lakers winning for the 11th time in 12 games out of the All-Star break:
35 Shooting percentage for Kobe Bryant, bothered by a sore left ankle that he rolled last Saturday at Dallas. "I thought his timing was off,” said Phil Jackson. "His shooting was off. But his effort was good.” Jackson added that he didn’t think Bryant would miss any time, as usual, even if he’s clearly not at 100 percent. After the game, Bryant said his neck was also really hurting him (he’d banged heads with Minnesota’s Martell Webster), but he guaranteed he’d play on Sunday against Portland.
27 Career high in points reached by Timberwolves rookie Wes Johnson, who made 11-of-21 field goals to lead all scorers.
25 Points for Pau Gasol on an efficient 12-of-17 shooting line, plus five boards and a game-high four blocked shots. "Pau kind of carried us, kept us going,” said Jackson.
17 Offensive rebounds for the Wolves, which helped them stay in the game from the onset.
16 Turnovers for the Lakers, off of which Minnesota scored 22 points. L.A. managed only nine points off Minnesota’s 17 turnovers.
15 Straight wins for the Lakers over the Wolves.
1 Ejection in a game that randomly turned intense in the fourth quarter, as Andrew Bynum got tossed for a flagrant two foul of Michael Beasley. Whether or not a suspension
0.5 Games needed by L.A. to clinch the Pacific Division. Either a Lakers win or Suns loss would do the trick.