Game Preview & Chat: The Minnesota Timberwolves

Kurt —  December 4, 2007

Records: Lakers 9-8; T-Wolves 2-13
Offensive ratings: Lakers 110.0 (11th); T-Wolves 102.5 (22nd)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 106.0 (15th); T-Wolves 113.6 (30th)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom, Vladamir Radmanovic, Andrew Bynum
T-Wolves: (Lots of injuries and game time decisions, so this is a best guess) Sebastian Telfair, Corey Brewer, Ryan Gomes, Craig Smith, Al Jefferson

Lakers Notes: First the injury update — Kwame Brown and Ronny Turiaf did not make the trip with the team and are out tonight and tomorrow. (UPDATE: According to the Lakers Web site Mihm did not practice yesterday and is a gametime decision. He needs to play tonight.)

For the last two games, the Lakers offense has been its weakness. For the season the team has an offensive rating of 110 (points per 100 possessions) but for the last two games that has fallen off to 94.2 (Orlando) and 101.2 (Jazz). Odom has taken some heat for part of the offensive problems, but this really has been a team effort. Of course, if you were going to turn that around, playing the worst defensive team in the NBA when they are banged up is the best way to do it.

What to do about Odom has been the hot topic in the comments, now Mr. Green at Sportshub has weighed in. I think a number of you will agree with him.

The Timberwolves Coming In: The Timberwolves were not the most talented or deep team in the league in the first place, so the little run of injuries has devastated this team.

For tonight, Antoine Walker (ankle) and Al Jefferson (bruised knee) will likely play but did not take part in the physical parts of practice yesterday. Marco Jaric, Randy Foye (kneecap stress reaction) and Theo Ratliff (knee) are out.

Jefferson has been the only real quality offensive player the T-Wolves have of late, he has averaged 20 and 10 in their last 10 games. After that it is McCants, who is shooting just 45% (eFG%) in the last 10 games (but 35% from three, so hang with him out there).

Last Time These Two Met: It was Lamar Odom’s first game back and it may have been his best game this season — he had 18 points on 70% shooting, was aggressive going to the hole, had 10 rebounds and was a team best +22. Kobe added 30-7-7. Kwame was out but Bynum and Mihm combined for 20 rebounds and 20 points on 9-17 shooting. And the Lakers cruised to a win.

Of course, they got away with a ton of turnovers that game as well, so there are things to work on.

Keys To The Game: The Lakers offense should get back on track tonight — if it does not, I’ll be a little more concerned. Also, this is a game the struggling Lakers bench should be able to get on track against a depleted Minny second unit.

Minny has one guy who really can take over a game in Al Jefferson. Bynum is still learning on defense, but if he puts out the effort he did against Dwight Howard the other night that will be enough.

Where you can watch: Game time is 5 p.m. (Pacific). In Los Angeles tune into KCAL (9), nationally you’ll need League Pass. Since I’ll be at work late paying the price for a day at home sick, I’ll be watching on Gamecast.