Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 1/31/13
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.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Top takeaways from NFL Championship Sunday

Six incredible stats from the Belichick/Brady era in Boston

You wont believe how much Super Bowl tickets cost

Tom Izzo issues statement clarifying Larry Nassar comment

Brady cracks joke about hiding his hand injury from media

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Brady, Patriots are Super Bowl bound again

Is Nick Foles having elbow problems? Speculation persists

Rob Gronkowski suffers concussion in AFC championship game

Dolphins open to drafting QB in first round

Former Cavs coach David Blatt takes funny shot at his old team

Neck surgery will end playing career of Miami CB Malek Young

Behind the scenes: History of the Super Bowl in pictures

Sports & Politics Intersect: Nassar's victims put USA Gymnastics, MSU on trial

The 'One of these things is not like the other' quiz

Top 25 times franchise players have changed scenes in MLB

The best college hoops games to watch down the stretch

NHL Weekender: Kings, Leafs heading in the wrong direction

NFL Championship Weekend Predictions: History will be made in the NFC

Devin Booker is expanding his game beyond getting buckets

Greatest NFL Conference Championship moments ever

Top 10 X-factors for Conference Championship Games

Case Keenum deserves better than the also-ran description

Best performances in the history of NFL Conference Championship games

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 Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Behind the scenes: History of the Super Bowl in pictures

Sports & Politics Intersect: Nassar's victims put USA Gymnastics, MSU on trial

Top 25 times franchise players have changed scenes in MLB

The 'One of these things is not like the other' quiz

The best college hoops games to watch down the stretch

NHL Weekender: Kings, Leafs heading in the wrong direction

The 'Baby I'm a (All-)Star' quiz

Devin Booker is expanding his game beyond getting buckets

Ranking baseball's GMs entering the 2018 season

NFL Referee Hotline Bling: The Saints miss an important long-distance call

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