The Lakers made like Liam Neeson and held off Minnesota's pack of bloodthirsty young wolves for their third consecutive victory on what will probably be the most meaningful night of the season. In a back and forth affair, Los Angeles was able to close out the game behind a bunch of veterans taking advantage of some very raw and still learning kids who showed potential, but still need more seasoning before becoming a force to be reckoned with.
Kobe Bryant's shooting matched the Minneapolis weather (a chilly 7-20), but he was able to can four of his eight shots in the fourth to lock up a victory on his historic night. Much more so than the result, the story of this game was the future Hall of Famer passing Michael Jordan for third place on the NBA's all-time scoring list. The Timberwolves made the classy move of stopping the game to present Kobe with the game ball after his made free throw in the second quarter left him standing alone as the league's third highest scorer ever.
Other contributors included Wesley Johnson, who showed nice activity on the defensive end in addition to knocking down two of his three triples to help the Lakers defeat the franchise that drafted him. Carlos Boozer, much maligned tank commander, was actually a hero for the Lakers in this one, knocking down ten of his sixteen shots en route to 22 points off the bench. Jeremy Lin only scored 8 points himself, but he got 6 assists in addition to the transition opportunities that he created with his speed.
For Minnesota, UCLA product Shabazz Muhammad had a strong outing, scoring 28 points in a breakout game for the second year player. Fellow Bruin Zach LaVine was not able to replicate the scintillating performance he had in his last outing against the Lakers, missing eleven of his fifteen shots with 4 turnovers in a point guard role he is not quite suited for yet.
The win of course does more damage to the Lakers chances of retaining their lottery pick in the upcoming draft, but would anyone really have wanted Bryant to have to reach this milestone in a loss? Congratulations Kobe, now put some distance between yourself and Jordan before he decides to make another comeback.