The Lakers are in Minnesota to face the Timberwolves on the first stop of a two-game road trip. Los Angeles is coming off of a thrilling 115-111 overtime win over the Hornets to earn a split in their season series with them. Tonight’s game is a contest between two teams going in two different directions.

The Lakers are a league best 45-10, while the Timberwolves are 18-36, winners of one of their last five games and barely treading water.

Both teams young big men have suffered injuries, the Lakers have missed Bynum, are well aware that they’re a better team with him but have moved forward to their season long quest of playing for a championship.

The Lakers and their fans have seen Kobe’s point total increase, Lamar Odom emerge as a factor since being inserted into the starting line-up and the entire team has stepped their game up in Andrew’s absence as evidenced by their 8-1 record since the injury.

The Timberwolves are a young team that has struggled all year but they’re now literally dead in the water without Al Jefferson their leading scorer & rebounder, who was having a nice season.

This is the third time facing the Timberwolves this season; the Lakers beat them in Staples Center 98-86 on 12/14/08, 132-119 at the Target Center on 1/30.

The Lakers should win this game by a large margin and the starters shouldn’t play at all in the fourth quarter. Notice the key term is the word should, the T-Wolves are averaging 102 points in their last five games. The Lakers have allowed 104 points on average during the last five games.

The Lakers defense remains a work in progress and is still in need of improvement. The Lakers need to come out aggressive defensively, jump on them early, forcing them into turning the ball over and impose their will on them so the Wolves understand that they can’t win this game this will take the crowd out of the game.

The scoring load for the T-Wolves will be on Mike Miller, Randy Foye and Ryan Gomes. The trio combined for 80 points in their recent loss to the Pacers.

The Lakers need to control the tempo, glass and need to play solid defensively which includes limiting Minnesota to one shot per possession, eliminating dribble penetration, getting back in transition and rotating out to three point shooters.

The Lakers need to throw the ball into the low post and allow Pau Gasol & Lamar Odom to go to work.  Both will set the table for everyone else.

Tipoff: 5:00 PM PST

Television

  • Los Angeles: KCAL TV Channel 9 (Joel Myers & Stu Lanz)
  • Minnesota: FS North (Tom Hanneman & Jim Petersen)

Radio

  • Los Angeles: AM570 KLAC (Spero Dedes & Mychal Thompson)
  • Minnesota: KFAN 1130 (Alan Horton & Kevin Lynch)

Injuries

Lakers:

  • Andrew Bynum (Knee)

Timberwolves:

  • Al Jefferson (Knee)
  • Kevin Ollie (Dislocated Left Elbow)