There’s only one thing that can prevent the Minnesota Timberwolves from being the worst team in the NBA. And it’s the Cleveland Cavaliers. Even though the Los Angeles Lakers are capable of blowing games to the likes of the Bucks, Clippers, Kings, and Cavaliers, they couldn’t help but defeat a much smaller Timberwolves team, 90-79.
It initally appeared as though the “Lake Show” were trying to give another game away. Despite shooting 22 percent in the first quarter and just over 37 percent for the game, the Lakers only trailed 45-40 at halftime.
Kobe Bryant missed 9 of his first 13 shot attempts, but was able to finish with 24 points on an 8-for-18 shooting performance. Bryant was able to share the basketball just enough as the Lakers improved to 31-8 when “Showboat” chucks 20 shots or less.
Unfortunately for Minnesota, you really can’t teach size as evidenced by the Wolves getting clobbered on the boards, 53-39 and finishing at just under 40 percent shooting for the game.
Minny forward, Michael Beasley had an awful 6-for-18 shooting performance in which he finished with 14 points. Never a good thing when you have more shot attempts than points, Mr Beasley. But rookie Wesley Johnson had a team high 20 points by going a respectable 8-for-17.
Kevin Love, who was outgunned and outmatched by the length of the Laker frontline, barely got his 47th straight double-double. The Wolves’ all-star forward made only 2 of 10 shot attempts and finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Pau Gasol wasn’t much better, finishing with only 12 points by going 3-for-10 from the field. However, the Lakers’ 7-footer was able to grab a game high 17 boards.
Andrew Bynum, the other Lakers’ 7-footer, managed only seven rebounds, but had 14 points on 5 of 10 shooting.
Lamar Odom, not quite seven feet but close, came off the bench to contribute a 12 point, 11 rebound, double-double.
The Lakers overcame their poor shooting to outscore the Timberwolves 50-34 in the second half. Although they played poorly offensively, when you outrebound the opposition by 14 you can afford to miss a few.
Bynum admitted, “”I think we just played down to the competition.”
Ya think, Andrew? Down to the competition? Translation: It’s hard to get up for these bad teams. Laziness and a lack of effort is good enough to beat this team.
After Phil Jackson claimed that their offensive play was responsible for their current winning streak yesterday, he also claimed they couldn’t get the ball inside and couldn’t make shots Tuesday night.
This serves as a reminder that “The Zen Master” is just trying to tweak things and you can’t really take what he says seriously. In spite of allowing their opponents an average of 88 points during what is now a five game winning streak, it’s all about the offense.
Really, Phil? Lets summarize. You beat a fragile Hawk team that traded their starting point guard [Mike Bibby] two days later. It took overtime for you to steal a win against an injury plagued Portland team. You defeated a Clipper team that beat you last time you met and were missing their starting backcourt. Then you barely escaped with a “W” in OKC after they just traded a 15ppg scorer and their center for an injured and out for 2-3 weeks, Kendrick Perkins. Now you’ve beaten your old friend, Kurt Rambis and his Timberwolves. But you’ve never lost to your old pal, Kurt.
The Lakers will look to continue their streak Friday against the Charlotte Bobcats. After losing by twenty to Charlotte on Valentine’s Day, Bynum is looking forward to the rematch. “Payback”, Bynum said.
Easy to make such a statement after CEO Jordan gave away Gerald Wallace, Charlotte’s best player, before the trade deadline.
After winning their record 18th NBA championship, that’s exactly what the Boston Celtics can’t wait to say to you this June. “Payback, Drew.”
See you in the finals, if you can make it there.