This game was so bad, we’ll skip the high points and head straight for the low ones.
The inability to defend combined with the inability to score – that’s what plagued the Lakers in tonight’s game (and in the 47 losses before it). In a nutshell, and in the simplest terms, that’s exactly how Minnesota led by as much as 41 points, and that’s how they won 143-107.
Defense – The Timberwolves are the highest-scoring team when it comes to the first quarter. They average about 29 ppg in the first 12 minutes of each contest. Tonight, for the second time in four meetings, Minnesota got off to a blistering 40-point romping of the Lakers (41 to be exact), led by Kevin Love, who scored 15 of his 22 points, in that first quarter. Minnesota’s shooting percentage in each quarter were as follows: 65%, 63%, 67% and for their finale in the fourth – 75% shooting from the field. 75%! No combination of players that Coach Mike D’Antoni put on the floor could muster anything that even remotely looked like defense. The T-Wolves got to the hoop and scored much too easily, collecting 66 points in the paint and earning 40 free throw attempts (33 of which they converted).
Offense – In stark contrast to Minny’s skyhigh shooting percentages, the Lakers’ quarterly production were the following: 40%, 24%, 57% and 55%. Their improvement in the second half would have had a lot more impact, had they been successful in keeping the Timberwolves at bay offensively. And the threeball, which has been this team’s indicator of success this season, failed them tonight. Just 7-25 from behind the arc, 28%. It’s no secret that the Lakers most certainly live by three, and as the saying goes, they sure die by them as well. The second half score was a close one, 69-64, Timberwolves. Most of the damage, however, had been done in the first half and the Lakers could not cover enough ground to catch up.
Rebounds – 49-26, a disparity of 23 boards. Rebounds, like defense, are all about effort, and as evidenced by the Lakers’ disheartening performance as a whole tonight, it’s not surprising they lost.
Ball Movement – The Lakers had none. Minnesota handed out 33 assists, led by Love’s 10, and the Lakers had just 22 dimes. What happened to Kendall Marshall? In 15 minutes of floor time, he went 0-6 and handed out three assists. Steve Nash, who suddenly decided right before game time that he could play, scored just four points and handed out six assists.
In a game in which they turned the ball over just eight times compared to Minnesota’s 21, the Lakers could not take advantage. They looked completely helpless and hapless, and are probably looking forward to the end of this season as much as the rest of us.