Lakers-Timberwolves Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 31, 2013
The start of their Grammys road trip provided anything but harmony for the Los Angeles Lakers. Facing their first opportunity to bounce back from a loss since Kobe Bryant turned facilitator and with Dwight Howard injured again, the Lakers try to regroup Friday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves. During its three-game homestand, all finally seemed right for Los Angeles (20-26) in a season plagued by inconsistency and a lack of chemistry despite its star power. The Lakers averaged 106.0 points and shot 52.8 percent while totaling 89 assists in those victories, and Bryant - third in the league with 28.1 points per game - had more assists (39) than shots (34) in that span. Bryant seemed well on his way to another double-digit assist total Thursday at Phoenix, racking up nine over the first two-plus quarters in helping the Lakers grab the lead. However, he had none over the final 21 minutes and went 2 for 7 with two turnovers in the last 7:57 as Los Angeles squandered a 13-point lead in the final 10 minutes of a 92-86 defeat. "Tonight was a big setback for us especially," said guard Steve Nash, who had 11 points in his return to Phoenix after being acquired by the Lakers in a sign-and-trade deal in the offseason. "We were in control of the game and couldn't close it out. That's disappointing." One of the reasons the Lakers lost their eighth straight road game was Howard leaving with 6:57 remaining after aggravating a shoulder injury, something that may hinder him for the remainder of the season. He finished with nine points and 14 rebounds. "It is my understanding that it is something that will hurt, then it will go away and he will be able to play,'' coach Mike D'Antoni said. Pau Gasol picked up some of the slack with 14 points and five rebounds off the bench. Bryant's 48 assists are his most in any four-game span of his career, and him sharing the ball often provides the Lakers their best chance for a victory. They are 3-15 when Bryant records fewer than five assists and 5-20 when he attempts 22 or more shots. When he takes fewer than 20, Los Angeles is 14-4. When facing the Timberwolves, Bryant and the Lakers have always found the proper balance for victories since a double-overtime loss March 6, 2007. Los Angeles has won 19 straight over Minnesota (17-25), the longest active streak for one team over another. The Wolves have dropped five straight after a 96-90 defeat to the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday that spoiled the return of coach Rick Adelman, who missed 11 games to be with his wife as she dealt with seizures. Nikola Pekovic had 17 points and 12 rebounds but Minnesota was outscored 12-4 over the final four minutes. ''Teams are playing aggressive and they want to win,'' guard Ricky Rubio said. ''We have to come back and don't step back and try to push them.'' That lack of aggressiveness has been most apparent on defense. The Timberwolves have allowed an average of 51.0 percent shooting - 7.9 above their season average - and 101.4 points during their losing streak while being outscored in the paint by 9.6 per game. Adelman is hoping Pekovic and Alexey Shved having a game under their belts after each missed the previous five will help. Shved had 12 points and three assists off the bench Thursday, while Pekovic posted his seventh double-double in 15 home games with 17 points and 12 rebounds.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Kenny Smith could interview for Rockets coach

DeMarcus Cousins’ brother tasered during nightclub brawl

John Wall undergoes surgery on both knees

Cowboys on Hardy: If it's not working, 'it’s time to move on’

26-year-old wunderkind John Chayka named Coyotes GM

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Donald Trump says he will not attend Alvarez-Khan fight

Terrell Owens: Sam Bradford is a ‘coward’ for demanding trade

Frank Vogel will not return as Pacers coach

Luis Scola heaps praise on Kyle Lowry: ‘He’s the soul of our team’

Cowboys still hope Jaylon Smith can play ‘at some point’ in 2016

Von Miller: ‘I’m going to be a Denver Bronco for life’

Why Toronto winning the first pick in the NHL draft is so important

Nike, Krispy Kreme collaborate on sweet Kyrie Irving sneakers

Did Johnny Manziel flip off camera crews in court?

Shilling wants to charge fans to watch games with him virtually?

Five MLB managers already on the hot seat

LeBron sidesteps question about reported ties to ‘Space Jam 2’

Underrated players showcasing themselves in NBA Playoffs

Al Davis had no idea who Darth Vader was

WATCH: Braden Holtby allows 5-hole OT winner to Penguins

Michigan TE Jake Butt shares cool photo of his All-American portrait

John Daly: I 'wasted my talents in the 90’s'

Nebraska commit Keyshawn Johnson Jr. to meet with Lane Kiffin

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

QUIZ: Name every player in MLB to pitch a perfect game

Dangerous hits spotlighted in Round 2 of the NHL playoffs

QUIZ: Name every Triple A Minor League Baseball team

Most exciting games of the 2016 NBA playoffs so far

Five bizarre moments in Round 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs

How the Sharks have 'weathered the storm' against the Predators

Okay, who stole the Kansas City Royals player off that billboard?

Eight players to watch in Round 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs

A Round-By-Round Look At the NFL Draft

10 biggest takeaways from the NBA playoffs thus far

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker