Lakers vs. Timberwolves! Kobe, Rubio and Love, oh my! What a fantastic matchup for a Friday evening. The Timberwolves (21-19) are one of the most exciting teams in the NBA and are building around a core group of players all under the age of 23 (Love, Rubio and Williams). If Minnesota can swap Michael Beasley for a reliable scoring threat to come off the bench they can contend in the Western Conference. I know this is a Lakers recap, but man I really dig what the Timberwolves are doing.
Los Angeles is a 2.5 point favorite and looking to close out their three game road trip with a win. Of the three previous games, this is the one Los Angeles should have had the most trouble with. Since the Lakers have been a Dr. Jekyll/ Mr. Hyde type of a team and always do the opposite of what I expect, let’s take the Lakers minus the points and enjoy a great game.
11:12: Rubio called for traveling as he tries to get passed Kobe at the top of the key. We had to wait a few years for Rubio mania to come to America, but was it ever worth the wait. In an era loaded with point guards Rubio has risen to the top of the heap. He may not be the best guard in the league but he sees the court differently than anyone else. He has the Magic/Bird passing gene.
9:25: Rubio hits a jumper. Game tied 2-2. I know, I’m really jumping on the Rubio bandwagon. He’s my new NBA man-crash, sorry Blake Griffin (it’s not you, it’s me).
9:00: Just noticed that Kevin Love is not playing in tonight’s game. The announcers mentioned that he is having back spasms. Since the Lakers have won 17 straight in this series I am more confident than ever they will end the road trip with a win.
8:40: Just as I was getting ready to shut the refrigerator on tonight’s win, Gasol throws the ball out of bounds trying to get a pass to Kobe. A win might be a little harder than I expected: Lakers trailing 4-2.
6:52: Kobe fouled by Luke Ridour as the Lakers trail 10-6.
6:13: Lakers call a time out down 14-6.
4:29: Troy Murphy subs in for Bynum as Pekovic shoots free throw.
3:41: Rubio leading the fast break throws a pin point behind the back pass to Pekovic, who is fouled at the rim. Minnesota leads 22-12.
2:35: The masked mamba hit’s a 17 ft jumper at the top of the key. How cool was that black mask he wore for two quarters against Detroit? I hope he goes back to it.
1:22: Andrew Bynum with the bucket and foul over Pekovic. I have no idea what the Lakers are going to do with all this trade talk going around, but what I do know is that while Howard is the best center in the league, he is not that far ahead of Bynum. The big difference between the two is Bynum has a mean streak/killer instinct, while Howard is more like Lebron and wants to be liked. I don’t know about you, but I would rather have the guy with a mean streak on my team: Lakers trail 27-19.
0:55: Blake to McRoberts for a monster dunk! McRoberts? He’s actually producing quality minutes off the bench? I’m so confused.
0:11: Never mind, McRoberts commits a dumb foul on Derrick Williams who was shooting a three. All is back to normal in Lakerland.
End of the 1st Quarter: Lakers down 33-21.
11:18: Bynum fouled by former number one pick Darko Milicic.
10:13: Bynum fouled as he puts a spin move on Milicic for an easy two points. Andrew is single handedly keeping the Lakers in this game as they trail 37-28.
6:00: Metta World Peace knocks down a three pointer over Derrick Williams. Lakers only down by 6.
5:40: Ridour answers with a three of his own. The lead is back to 9.
5:08: Los Angeles coach Mike Brown calls a time out as Minnesota’s lead reaches double digits: 47-37.
During the timeout KCAL runs two Del Taco commercials. Was one was not enough? Do the advertisers really think that Lakers fans don’t care about healthy ea… hold that thought, my wife just got home with my Del Taco order for dinner.
3:03: Rubio buries a three over two defenders to extend the Minnesota lead to nine points, 52-43. If Ricky Rubio were a teenage pop sensation I would have every one of his albums, and ten posters of him on my wall.
2:05: Kobe hits two free throws for his 29,000th point to put him into 5th place on the all time scoring list. Kobe only trails Chamberlain, Jordan, Malone and Kareem (38,387). To put Kareem’s record into context, Kobe would need to average 20 ppg for the next 7 seasons to pass it.
Halftime: Lakers trail by 9, 58-49. The Lakers have trailed most of this game, but I still have trouble believing that they will lose this game to a Kevin Love-less Minnesota Timberwolves team. I expect a strong second half out of Los Angeles.
10:56: Kobe hits a three pointer to cut the Minnesota lead to 6.
10:14: Fisher with a three to get the Lakers within 3. Fisher’s game has deteriorated quite a bit over the last few years, but even now in his 16th season in the league there is no other point guard that I would trust more to hit a big shot in a big game (yes I am including Derrick Rose) than him.
9:30: Lakers on an 8-0 run to cut the T-wolves lead to 1. I told you the Lakers were not losing this game.
6:23: Fisher to Gasol for an uncontested layup, as the Lakers trail by 3: 67-64.
5:39: Derek Fisher hits another long three as the Lakers trail 69-67. Fisher has 9 points in the third quarter.
2:26: Lakers trail 75-71.
1:51: Kobe nails a three as the 24 second clock winds down: Lakers trail 76-74.
0:48: Bryant goes coast to coast for an uncontested dunk. The guy has still got some lift in those knees.
0:30: The announcers are pimping out an appearance by Josh McRoberts and the Laker Girls. I wouldn’t go see McRoberts if all the Laker Girls in the world were present.
End of the 3rd: Game is tied 78-78. Minnesota has played well and put up a fight, though going into the 4th quarter in a close game is where they will miss their star Kevin Love, who has transformed himself into one of the most reliable crunch time scores in the league.
11:48: Steve Blake leads a fast break and passes to Bynum for a dunk: 80-78 Lakers.
8:09: Jason Kapono enters the game. What’s the over/under on three point shots that he misses badly? I will put it at 1 but think it will go under, only because Mike Brown is not crazy enough to play Kapono for too long in a close game.
7:00: I was right, Kobe comes in for Kapono.
6:00: Steve Blake hits a three to put the Lakers up 91-88 and the announcers scream “finally”
5:16: Matt Barnes is at the line, and calmly hits both free throws: Lakers lead 92-90 (the referees ruled that last Steve Blake shot a two)
4:42: Kobe and Ridnour trade buckets: Lakers lead 94-93.
3:39: Rubio with another behind the back pass to Pekovic. The kid is fearless, not many rookie point guards would have the guts to throw a behind-the-back pass in a close game against the Lakers.
2:41: Minnesota calls time out with the Lakers leading by 4: 99-95. I am almost ready to go Chick Hearn and close the refrigerator door on this game, but I’ll wait a few more plays.
Making a Chick Hearn reference got me thinking about the fact that he never got to see Kobe in his prime. During the early 2000’s (when Chick passed away) everyone in Lakerland wondered what Kobe’s ceiling would be. We all knew he would be great but how great? Ten years later we now know what is his ceiling is, 6 or 7 NBA titles, 35 to 40 thousands points, double digit all NBA teams, a few scoring titles and maybe a couple of MVP’s: simply put, maybe the greatest career of all time (that’s including Jordan’s)
2:17: Rubio to Pekovic again! Is this going to be the new Stockton to Malone? Ok maybe not, but its still fun to watch.
1:33: Ridnour for a clutch three pointer to give Minnesota the lead 100-99.
0:35: Goaltending by Derrick Williams gives the Lakers a 101-100 lead.
0:16: Kobe Bryant is fouled by Rubio and goes to the line to shoot two. Lakers are down 102-101, with two free throws to come: would you rather have any other player in the league at the line right now? There has been a lot of talk about players surpassing Kobe, and while that might be true, Kobe shooting free throws with the game on the line is as big of a lock as you can get.
0:03: Derrick Williams miss a five foot attempt that was disrupted by Andrew Bynum. Kobe grabs the rebound and is fouled again.
0:03: Kobe hits both free throws to ice the game: Lakers win 105-102.
End of game: It may have been harder then the Lakers expected but they were able to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves to salvage their three game road trip. Kobe hit four free throws in the final ten seconds to put the game way. Lakers cover the spread, and head home to face Boston on Sunday.