(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

It’s February 29, 2012 and the (20-14) Los Angeles Lakers start the second half of the season by hosting the (18-17) Minnesota Timberwolves. Kobe Bryant scored 27 points in the All-Star game and passed Michael Jordan to become the leading scorer in All-Star game history with 271 points.

Bryant was the recipient of a blatant cheap shot foul by Miami Heat guard Dwayne Wade, which resulted in a broken nose and a concussion in the annual All-Star exhibition game. Arguably, the first time one all-star fouled another drawing blood in an exhibition game.

Leading to the obvious question, what was the intent of the flagrant foul? Is it time for Coach Mike Brown to dust off Ron-Ron when the Lakers host the Heat on Sunday March 4?

Kobe Bryant has played in all 34-games this season and is leading the league in scoring at 28.4 points per game. Bryant has been an iron man throughout his career and has played through injuries that will cause other players to sit out. There is a strong chance that the Lakers, seeking their 17th consecutive victory over Minnesota, will face the T-Wolves without Kobe Bryant.

(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

The Lakers lead the current four game season series against the T-Wolves (1-0) after a 106-101 road win on 1/29/12. The T-Wolves beat the Clippers at the Staples Center yesterday 109-97. The T-Wolves scored 58-points in the paint and their bench outscored the Clipper bench by an impressive mark of 72-11.

Derrick Williams & Michael Beasley combined to score 51-points and grab 10 rebounds. Williams & Beasley shot 20-25 from the floor and an impressive 7-of-7 from behind the arc. The T-wolves are seeking their sixth win in seven games.

The T-wolves are a talented young team with several weapons. Ricky Rubio has proven to be a solid floor general, Kevin Love is an All-Star and if two players on your bench can combine to score 51-points your reserves will be tough to contain. It is imperative that the Lakers defense steps up to the challenge.

The Lakers have to communicate of defense, defend, play solid against the pick-and-roll play, stop the penetration of the guards, get back in transition, control the tempo, contest every shot and quickly rotate out to open shooters. The Lakers have to take care of the ball and limit their turnovers, out-rebound, out-work the T-wolves.

L.A. has to do a good job of moving the ball and moving bodies to find a high percentage shot. L.A. needs to establish both Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol in the post and give them enough touches in the paint to affect the outcome of this game.

Starters

Lakers: D. Fisher, K. Bryant, M. Barnes, P. Gasol, A. Bynum
T-Wolves: R. Rubio, L. Ridenour, W. Johnson, K. Love, N. Pekovic

Tip-off: 7:30 PM PST

Television -

  • Los Angeles: FS West (Bill Macdonald & Stu Lantz)
  • Minnesota: FS North (Tom Hanneman & Jim Petersen)

Radio -

  • Los Angeles: 710 ESPN (John Ireland & Mychal Thompson)
  • Minnesota: 1130 AM KFAN (Allan Horton & John Focke)

Injuries -

Lakers:

  • Kobe  Bryant (Nasal Fracture) Probable
  • Steve Blake (Costochaondral Fracture) Probable

T-Wolves:

  • Darko Milicic (Abdominal Strain) Out
  • Malcom Lee (Torn Meniscus, Left Knee) Out