It is March 9, 2012 and the (23-16) Los Angeles Lakers are in Mill city for a matchup with the vastly improved (21-19) Minnesota Timberwolves. The Lakers return home to the ‘twin cities’ where the franchise began in 1947 in the NBL. The Lakers, with George Mikan, won five championships calling Minneapolis, Minnesota home.
The Lakers had the appearance of a team turning the corner and playing with some momentum and swagger after a huge win at home over the Miami Heat. At 17-2, the Lakers tied for the second best home record in the league, but after 39 games played this season, 20 away from Staples Center L.A. have come out on top only six times.
The Lakers are not the same team on the road as their shot selection wavers, their execution falters and the reserves are not playing with confidence. The Lakers are playing in the finale of a forgettable three-game road trip, two terrible back-to-back performances, including a disappointing overtime loss to the Pistons and then losing to the Wizards after surrendering a 21-point lead.
Kobe Bryant is not solely to blame, but merely one of the culprits, shooting 17-57 over the last two games. The Lakers could greatly benefit from going back to running the triangle offense.
A move back to the triangle offense would greatly improve the shot selection, offensive execution, offensive rebounding and accentuate the strength of the team Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol. The above statement is not a slight of Kobe Bryant; the reality is a move back to the triangle offense would increase the production of the entire team. The bad shots that the Lakers have taken from the field and behind the arc have affected the Lakers just as much as a turnover providing more scoring opportunities for their opponents.
The Timberwolves are a vastly improved team that has won eight of their last 11 games. Kevin Love has placed his name in the MVP conversation averaging 25 points and 14 rebounds. The Lakers currently lead the season series against the T-wolves (2-0) after a win at home and surprisingly one on the road. The Lakers have swept each of the last four season series versus the T-wolves and are in the midst of a 17-game win streak.
The Lakers are 9-1 in their last 10 trips to the Target Center and have won eight straight. One occasion where things were going good for the Lakers Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol combined for a 72-point 38-rebound performance on 1/3/12. This type of production is possible with increased shot attempts for Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol. The increased production will force the opponent to double team both Laker bigs and provide more space for shooters on the perimeter.
The Lakers need to play a full 48-minute game played with a high energy level, with intensity, better defense, control the tempo, get back in transition, using excellent ball movement, using excellent player movement and playing with a sense of urgency.
Lakers: D. Fisher, K. Bryant, M. Barnes, P. Gasol, A. Bynum
T-Wolves: R. Rubio, W. Ellington, D. Williams, K. Love, N. Pekovic
Tip-off: 5:00 PM PST
- Los Angeles: KCAL 9 (Bill Macdonald & Stu Lantz)
- Minnesota: FS North (Tom Hanneman & Jim Petersen)
- Los Angeles: 710 ESPN (John Ireland & Mychal Thompson)
- Minnesota: 1130 AM KFAN (Allan Horton & John Focke)
- Steve Blake (Costochaondral fracture) Probable
- Kobe Bryant (Nasal Fracture) Probable