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Mask, And Ye Shall Receive


Did everyone enjoy the Timberwolves' visit to Staples on Wednesday night? I hope so because, first of all, 19-point blowout victories are fun, but also we're going to be seeing rather much of the Wolves over the next couple weeks. By March 16 the Lake Show will have faced Minny two more times, part of a schedule stretch heavily weighted toward beatable opponents. I feel like I'm always writing something along these lines, but this time I swear I mean it: if Lakers are going to make a serious push to reclaim their place among basketball's elite, this is where the run needs to begin.

What we saw on Wednesday was encouraging. Six days of rest gave the Lakers clear eyes, bouncy legs and the focus to make quick work of an overmatched opponent. That's not meant to disparage the Wolves, who are clearly on the right post-Rambis trajectory. But they had to tangle with the Clippers on Tuesday and were minus Kevin Love, who sat out with flu symptoms. Even with Love they would've been in trouble, and without him they really had no good offensive options. His absence turned a likely Minnesota loss into a definitive ass-kicking.

At times the Laker offense last night was as effective as we've seen it all year. It wasn't so much about amazing individual performances, although the Big Three all had moments when they amazed us. It was more about the system as conceived coming together at a team level. Guys got into offensive sets quickly. They moved without the ball, making well-timed cuts to the rim. Everyone made smart reads and kept the rock moving. Again, the competition won't always be so accommodating, but these are the Mike Brown Lakers we're talking about. Smooth offensive execution is a rare luxury.

I also enjoyed how they pushed the pace off missed hoops. We saw some lovely outlet passes from Andrew Bynum and Metta World Peace, and guys did well running the floor and making themselves available for long-distance hookups. The only thing about the Laker offense worthy of complaint was its poor three-point shooting (what's new?). The final offensive-rebounding numbers aren't impressive, but I suspect that has a lot to do with how the game got out of hand in the second half. In the second quarter, when the Wolves made a little run to get within shouting distance, the Lakers' second unit hit the offensive glass hard to help maintain a decent cushion.

Defensively the Lakers just didn't have much to worry about. Bynum did a great job swallowing up Ricky Rubio on the pick and roll. The rookie point guard, who I swear has more facial hair than actual face, shot 1 for 8 and looked increasingly confused as the night wore on. As a group Minnesota's guards shot an appalling 7 for 34. The best play on Rick Adelman's menu tonight involved Rubio throwing something wild over Bynum's outstretched monster arms and hoping Nikola Pekovic could track down the miss for a putback.

Ah yes, Rick Adelman... you could've been the Lakers' head coach, and many of us still wish you were. You wouldn't have put your starters back into the game up 19 with six minutes to play, right? Mike Brown decided that was a necessary step even though Kobe's playing a ridiculous number of minutes this year, he just had a concussion and oh yeah, THE LAKERS WERE UP BY 19. A fine line separates caution from panic, Coach Brown. I know the bench inspires terror at times, but come ON. You need to be a bit more careful about your stars' well-being.

(Yes, I know Phil did this sort of thing all the time. It was pretty stupid when he did it too. Also, he never did it just days after a Kobe concussion.)

So will Kobe keep wearing the protective mask? I dunno, I'm not a medical doctor (just a Doctor of Love). But you know who I really wish would wear a protective mask? YO MAMA. Heh heh heh.

Seriously, though: just on the nights I come over.

(*drops mic*)










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Follow Dex on Twitter @dexterfishmore.

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