Showtime: 7:30 pm PT
Plot: It seems that in the unlikeliest of circumstances, this Lakers team can and will find a way to shock us. Whenever they're expected to lose, they shoot, rebound, scrap and hustle their way to victory--look no further than opening night against the Clippers, at Houston in Dwight's first game against LA and on the back end of two back-to-back sets just last weekend. This Show, perhaps just as much as last season, is as unpredictable as ever.
Last night against the Timberwolves was no exception. The undermanned Lakers stunned Minnesota with an offensive flurry in a 104-91 victory. LA shot 53% and forced the Wolves into their consistent undoing--long range shooting. The Lakers limited their opponents' offense to an inefficient Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Love, en route to a 34% Minny shooting night. Xavier Henry took up the slack for four absent Lakers point guards with a 21/4/4 night, along with Pau Gasol's sublime 21/13/8 line, including a three-pointer that almost collapsed STAPLES Center. Even without Kobe, the Lakers proved what a resilient bunch they are, especially when the chips are against them.
Which is exactly where they'll be tonight.
Extremely similar to the first two days of the season, the Lakers are coming off a stunning win in LA only to fly up to Golden State on the second night of a back-to-back set. The Warriors are a mere 14-13 on the season, just one win up on the Lakers and looking from the outside-in on the playoff picture. Whatever their postseason destiny at the time, there's no doubt about one thing: this Dubs team has all that ails the Lake Show.
With Stephen Curry in the fold, the Warriors seem to be the perfect alchemy of exactly how to beat LA.: long range shooting, crafty ball handlers that can attack the interior and two big men who excel at offensive rebounding. More to the point, Curry and Klay Thompson seem to be at their best when they play the Lakers, both averaging over 19 points a game for their careers vs. the Show. Golden State enjoyed the return of Andre Iguodala on Thursday versus the Spurs, which despite the loss is a welcome sign considering how poorly they played while he was sidelined with a hamstring injury.
For the Lakers, this is just another exercise in finding ways to win without an experienced playmaker or ball handlers. LA shared the rock well last night, with 27 assists on 42 makes, while watching Gasol have arguably his finest game of the season. In order to win this game, the Lakers must corral either Curry or Thompson and limit the damage from the Dubs' two big men on the inside. On the second game in two nights, the Lakers might get run ragged by one of the league's fastest squads, and thus despite their proclivity to get out ahead of the ball themselves, might want to consider controlling the pace.
As shocking as the aforementioned wins against the Clips, Rockets and T'Wolves were, a b2b win versus a very good Warriors team might be one of their most impressive feats to date. With this Lakers team, the impossible is never quite impossible.
--Follow this author @TheGreatMambino