The Lakers dominated the paint tonight. They tallied up 48 points in the paint. Dwight Howard was active on both ends around the rim, ending the night with 25 points on 9-of-13 shooting, while also pulling down 16 rebounds and swatting five shots. Howard also had five steals on the night. The stats were stuffed.
Pau Gasol started off his night right, getting into the post and establishing himself early. Gasol had his best game since returning by far, scoring 17 points on 66 percent shooting while also grabbing nine rebounds.
Kobe Bryant led all scorers with 31 points (16 points in the third quarter) while also dishing out seven assists. He had a handful of dunks, but actually threw down an alley-oop dunk with an assists going to Jodie Meeks. How's that ankle doing?
The problem for the Lakers, particularly in the first half, was turnovers. They totaled 21 turnovers on the night, often times looking out of sync. Some passes were behind a rolling player, some were late overall, and others were just lazy. Minnesota scored 20 points off of turnovers which kept them in the game.
Minnesota kept shrinking the margin after the Lakers went up double digits, moving to run the Hack-A-Dwight defense until the two-minute mark (and a few seconds after which, in turn, gave Steve Nash two free throws which he made one of).
The Wolves brought the game to a three-point deficit in the final minute. But what did Kobe tell another lost lead? "Not today," as he hit a mid-range jumper over Chase Budinger.
Minnesota spread the ball around with eight players scoring in the double-digits. Ricky Rubio scored 13 points and had 7 assists. Rubio and J.J. Barea combined for 14 assists. Nikola Pekovic had a big game on both the glass and the scoreboard, putting up 19 points with his 16 rebounds. He was especially effective on the offensive glass, picking up seven offensive rebounds. His 19 points were a team-high.
The game came down to Kobe watching his second of two free throws clunk of the rim. Then watching some more. Then watching. Then realizing it was going the other way and sprinting ahead to try and catch Rubio. He caught Rubio, probably fouled him as he shot up a prayer three, then ran to the tunnel not wanting to stick around to close out the game. A sloppy ending to a sloppy game but every now and then you just gotta eat a Sloppy Joe because that's all that's left in the cabinet.
So, the Lakers won for the first time in the last four games and head to Milwaukee to face the Bucks Thursday to close out their back-to-back. Can they pick up their first back-to-back sweep on the season? We shall find out soon enough.
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- Canis Hoopus probably got hacked by Kobe at the end of the game.