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The Lakers managed to do just enough to hang onto a mighty 29 point lead that was turned into a 4 point game. Their first road win of 2013 is now in the bag. Oh, it's February.
It's February 1st and the Los Angeles Lakers just won their first road game of 2013. We'll just use the term "won" loosely, as they barely managed to keep a game that was a 29 point lead at one point from turning into another disappointing loss.
Instead, they gave us a disappointing win. So much more fulfilling; like a freshly baked pizza with absolutely no toppings. Or something.
The Lakers started out the game on absolute fire from deep. To the extent that they likely could have used their feet to shoot the ball and would have made at least 1 out of every 3 attempts. While the shots were dropping it was a feel good kind of game. The Lakers were beating up on a team they should have severely outclassed, even with Dwight Howard eating shrimp cocktail in Los Angeles while he undergoes his platelet rich plasma procedure. So, how did the Lakers manage to survive after giving away a 29 point lead and letting it dwindle all the way down to four?
Well, for one, they dominated the glass. With no Kevin Love to stake his claim in the rebounding department, the Lakers outrebounded the Timberwolves 57-40. Pau Gasol, starting for the PRP'ed up Howard, had 22 points and 12 rebounds on the night. He also had 3 blocks to go along with that. Matching him on the boards was Kobe Bryant, who perhaps at time tried to pass too much (yes, the words were typed), ended the night with 17 points, 8 assists, and 12 boards.
When it comes to rebounds, though, it's important to note that the Lakers were very active on the offensive glass. 17 offensive rebounds to 8 from Minnesota. Both Earl Clark (13 points, 10 rebounds, 4 turnovers) and Metta World Peace (6 points, 7 rebounds) had 4 offensive boards and certainly helped salvage the atrocious stretch of "hey let's just shoot 3's until Sunday" that came after the Lakers got all of their good shooting out of their system.
Steve Nash had 17 points on 6-9 shooting (3-3 from deep) and 7 assists while having zero turnovers. Antawn Jamison had a good game off the bench with 18 points and 7 rebounds and continues to show why having a guy who makes intelligent cuts to the basket is important, especially as the Lakers fell in love with jacking up 3's in order to beat the zone defense the Timberwolves implemented.
In the end, it was enough to beat the Wolves, no matter how ugly it may have been. Alexey Shved lead the Timberwolves off the bench with 18 points and 6 assists. J.J. Barea, noted Laker Killer, had 14 points off the bench on 6-10 shooting. Ricky Rubio had 9 points and 7 assists, and the Wolves just didn't have enough firepower to finish their near comeback.
So, there you have it. A rare road win for the Lakers in about as deflating a manner possible. Wins like this are important for the Lakers, no doubt, as a loss would have been detrimental. They need wins no matter how they can get them in order to keep any hope of scraping into the playoffs. Still, the Lakers need to play better basketball, and their bad habits and maddening tendencies continue on. To nitpick, Metta World Peace has been a black hole lately. Tonight against the Wolves he went 2-11 from the field (1-6 from deep). That's too many shots for a guy who simply isn't making shots. On the bright side, though, the Lakers kept their turnovers "down" (for their standards lately) to 12, and hit 21-24 free throws after having an abysmal period of free throw shooting over the last four.
Anyway, a win in a win is a win is a....*endless loop*. Next up on this road trip will be the Detroit Pistons Sunday morning. Beggars can't be choosers, so a face value win is all that's left. I'll go ahead and toss the game film in this flaming dumpster so we can move forward.
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- Canis Hoopus is probably still in zone and stopping the Lakers. Or, just watching the purple and gold jack up 3's.