Lakers v. Timberwolves: It Was An Ugly Win, But A Win Nonetheless

Phillip Barnett —  March 27, 2013

Tonight’s win in Minnesota wasn’t an easy one to watch. While the 120-117 win is valuable in terms of this team holding off the Mavericks and making the post season, it isn’t exactly the kind of performance you’d like to be seeing heading into the post season either.

The first half of the game was eerily sloppy. They turned the ball over at an alarming rate, 15 times in the first 24 minutes. When they weren’t turning the ball over, they were playing some decent basketball, running the offense through their bigs Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol who combined for 21 points and 18 rebounds on eight-for-13 shooting. Kobe, although turnover happy, was in facilitator mode early and often in the first half and was the last of the Lakers starters to record any points. Antawn Jamison also came off the bench and had a productive first half with 12 points on 4-6 shooting and four rebounds.

Defensively, the Lakers were much improved from their last two outings, but still left much to be desired. Bryant seemed a bit more locked into running his guy off the line and closing out on shooters. They also did a better job of keeping guards (Rubio, Barea) out of the paint in the first half. When the perimeter defense did break down, Howard and, to some extent, Gasol both did a great job of protecting the rim. The ‘Wolves shot 17-of-47 in the first half, which is just above a .360 clip. A lot of Minnesota’s missed shots were a open looks that just didn’t fall, but regardless, the Lakers defense did seem much improved on the night.

In the third quarter, the Lakers played a much cleaner game. The first two possessions of the third were turnovers, but they only finished the quarter with three total turnovers. The offense moved from playing inside-out to Kobe taking over (16 points in the 3rd), but the lack of turnovers allowed for a 41-point third and pushed the lead from four to 12 going into the fourth — and would have remained the same had Howard and Gasol received more touches.

However, the defensive struggles returned for the Lakers in the third, and would eventually spill over to the fourth. Barea and Rubio started getting into the paint while Dante Cunningham and Chase Budinger continually found themselves wide open — a 17-footer for Cunningham and the corner three for Budinger — were what continued to give the Lakers issues.

Regardless, the lead stayed at about 3-possession deficit for much of the second half. But in Laker-Like fashion, the Lakers couldn’t hold their lead and were a non-called foul on a Ricky Rubio desperation three away from seeing the game go into overtime after pushing their lead to 14 points. In the last six minutes of the game, the Lakers gave up 25 points and lost the rebound battle 16-3. SIXTEEN TO THREE. And while it took the Wolves 23 shots to get their 25 points in the final six minutes, the Lakers afforded them nine extra possessions with two turnovers and giving up seven offensive rebounds. Nicola Pekovic, Budinger and Rubio all scored nine points in the final six minutes while the Lakers as a team shot three-for-eight in that same time.

Of course, the ‘Wolves explored the Hack-A-Dwight option for a full minute and cut at 12-point lead to seven during that minute span, but the Lakers never really regained control of the game.

It was an ugly win, but a win nonetheless. They’ll have another opportunity to prove that they can win on the road tomorrow night in Milwaukee with a Bucks team that poses a lot of match up problems for this Lakers game. It’ll be interesting to see how they respond after an ugly win despite a few very good individual performances.

Phillip Barnett

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10 responses to Lakers v. Timberwolves: It Was An Ugly Win, But A Win Nonetheless

  1. Considering the Lakers are about the 15th or 16th best team in the NBA, I am pleased they beat anyone on the road. Pau’s D was bad and guards TO’s are the norm this year.

    It is a toss up between Dallas and Lakers for 8th. Overhype vs under hype. Tommorrow would be huge for the 0-14 back to back Lakers.

    Need you Robert!

  2. ”and were a non-called foul on a Ricky Rubio desperation three ”

    This is not good.Have you ever stood for Kobe when he was Dahntay’d and we lost the game?This is real hypocrisy,sorry to say that.Good win on to the next one,Oh Miami lost for Miami lovers,no 33 game this year.Lebron has crab-stepped enough without fouling.

  3. Just to say that yes, that could have been called, but even if it had been called I doubt Rubio would’ve made all 3 FTs. For a 77% free throw shooter, that’s pretty tough.

  4. Games like this one do nothing to raise my expectations on this team.

  5. I cannot, will not understand why Mike D. refuses to play his bench. No one is on every game and sometimes someone on the bench may give you a spark. Metta is out. Ebanks was hot at the beginning of the year. Give him some time and run. You might need him. He is 6’9″, with long arms. Try a line-up with Blake, Howard, Ebanks, Earl and Meeks. Feature Howard down low, Earl and Ebanks cutting, and Blake and Meeks spotted up. Defensively, this would also be one of the better line-ups.

  6. Busboys4me,

    I agree with you about MDA needing to find one other player off the bench. Unfortunately, he seems to have lost complete faith in Ebanks, Morris, Duhon, and Sacre. The last two I can understand. But either Morris or Ebanks could use some burn. I’ve already argued for Ebanks being used–at least minimally. But for some reason, he’s in exile. I think, MDA is going to have to bring him out of moth balls. Otherwise, he will run this short-rotationed team into the ground over the next 10 games. They’ll have nothing left for the playoffs…if they make the playoffs.

  7. Well balanced offensive attack. Dwight’s statline of 25, 16, 5 & 5 reflects dominance. As for his free throws, as I’ve stated all year, it’s not as if he came to the Lakers as a career 80% shooter from the charity stripe and is all of a sudden bricking them now. Fact of the matter is that he’s a bad free throw shooter, we knew this when we acquired him, and so this is what we signed up for. What is debatable, however, is whether D’Antoni should’ve sat him once the Wolves deployed the Hack-a-Howard strategy .. Hopefully, against an undersized Milwaukee frontline, he can put forth another dominant performance.

  8. As to the game last night…A win is a win is a win!

  9. Busboysforme…agree about Ebanks…. I also wonder about Earl Clark! Earl helped turn the season around yet last night MD’A could only find 14 minutes for him? I don’t think you can be an elite team without a dynamite bench in today’s league. Earl earned his trust when Pau went down and before.

  10. Yup it appears mike played an 8 man rotation again…kobe and nash played more than 35 minutes which means their legs will be dead today. At this point, if mike won’t play guys like morris and ebanks, why not trade them? Right now they’re useless sitting on the bench.