Kobe Bryant’s arms lay on the backs of the seats on either side of him as the final minutes of the fourth quarter waned. Matt Barnes sat on his right, elbows resting on his knees and a towel wrapped around his back. Both looked on, the end of their 3-game road trip coming to a perfect 3-0 close. A season ago, such an image would’ve been impossible to imagine, with the latter faking an inbounds pass in the face of the former. This season, however, it’s as if the incident never happened.

On a night where he shot just 8-27 from the field, Bryant scarcely appeared frustrated or anxious. Maybe it’s because he’s not concerned about his stats. Maybe it’s because he knew that despite shooting so poorly, if it came down to it, he would hit that game winner if need be. Or maybe, Bryant was reminded again, that he no longer works alone. He not only has one or two superstar teammates to compensate for a bad shooting night, he’s got a whole bunch, and tonight, Barnes offered one of his best games as Bryant’s new teammate.

The Timberwolves, despite a losing record, have been riding high on whatever cause will let them – Kevin Love’s monster rebounding ability, Michael Beasley’s recent game winner, a nothing-to-lose-so-why-not-just-play-hard attitude. And considering how close they were to defeating the defending champions on the road, tonight’s rematch on their own home floor provided a chance at redemption…if only those complacent Lakers would show up again.

Unfortunately for Minnesota, the Lakers on this road trip have been anything but passive and tonight would be no exception. A key item on the Lakers’ to-do list was to control Kevin Love and control they did, keeping the former UCLA Bruin to 0-7 from the field, zero free throw attempts, and single digit rebounds (7). There would be no repeat of Love’s 31-31 game, at least not on the Lakers’ watch.

Michael Beasley showed much more fight for his 25 points, though he shot just 9-22 from the field and was forced into a game high six turnovers.
No, the team that Minnesota faced a week and a half ago was not at Target Center today. The L.A. Lakers team that came to play was much more focused, rebounding just as well as their opponents with their 46 boards to the Timberwolves’ 47. They handed out 30 assists on 40 made field goals and converted on 10 of 19 from behind the arc (53%). They also had 10 steals, with Derek Fisher leading the way with four snatches.

The Lakers team that came to play today had six players in double figures, and their bench outscored the home team’s reserves 45-34.

Yes, there were Kobe Bryant miraculous makes to note (one up and under from beneath the basket comes to mind). And yes, the Timberwolves made a few runs at the lead with hopes of keeping it competitive, but in the end the defending champions just played like defending champions, and when they play as such, they’re just too much for any team to beat.

Leading the way for tonight’s victory were two warriors whose names are not Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol or Lamar Odom. This game’s heroes were Derek Fisher and Matt Barnes. Fisher, whose age (36), is noted by commentators each time they mention his name, as if to insist on his “decline”, has been, and always will be, the quiet hero on this Lakers team. Sometimes his presence on the court is hardly noticed until he makes that big shot and tonight he hit two big ones – one to give the Lakers an early 11-point lead in the second quarter, and then another after Minnesota’s 11-0 run. He was 5-5 for the night, hitting both three-point attempts. Fisher is second in the league in 3-point field goal percentage with 60%!

And then there was Matt Barnes. In just under 24 minutes of burn, he shot 7-7 from the field, converted on all five of his three-point attempts, was a seamless 5-5 from the charity stripe and, just for the sake of having a well-rounded game, collected seven rebounds, passed out six assists and managed to swipe a pair of steals. All this and ZERO TURNOVERS.

The Lakers are now 3-0 since dropping two to Denver and Phoenix and head home to play the Golden State Warriors on Sunday. Just like that, a new winning streak has begun.

Box Score
Pre-game Thoughts:
A 3-0 road trip would be a great success, but the last time the Lakers met ‘sota’s squad, they were in the comforts of home and they played like it. Hopefully, the last two victories against “lesser” competition has paved the way for tonight’s game.
Half-time Thoughts: 51-41 – The Lakers are shooting just 43%, but the Wolves are no better shooting just 38%. Leading the way with 13 points and six rebounds is Kobe Bryant, though he’s shooting just 5-15 from the field. With just a 10-point lead, this is still a game.
Most Thoughtless Player(s) of the Game: The Timberwolves for attempting 26 three-pointers and only converting 6 for 23%!
Most Thought-filled Player(s) of the Game: Matt Barnes, and it’s not even close – 24 points on 7-7, 5-5 from 3PT, seven rebounds, six assists, a pair of steals and a whopping +27. Talk about perfection! (To be fair, Lamar Odom was a +26, but he didn’t shoot 100% from the field.) Derek Fisher deserves an honorable mention for also shooting 100%, 5-5 from the field and 2-2 from 3PT.

  • Lakersno834

    These games are supposed to be like this. Cant’ wait till we get tested against a stronger team like the Spurs and Hornets. They have a better record now and I am not liking it.

    • the lakers rock!!!!!!

      the record will catch up with those two losers, ask yourself, do you see san antonio winning 65 games while the lakeres only win 57, i don’t think so and neither should you

      • http://www.twitter.com/kevinsmoore moorepower310

        The Spurs Celtics and Hornets are off to a fast start but the season is too long for the old spurs and celtics to keep up. Watch, soon the young OKC team will go on long winning stretches because the old folks will be done. And the Hornets, well no one is trying to beat them. Everyone wants to beat the lakers and that’s awesome. I ignore how other teams are doing as long as the Lakers are above a 75% winnage. <—- new word! Winnage!

  • Robert.

    This Lakers team is the ‘type’ of team that the Celtics represented years ago, in their ‘run’ (to 2008). Recall that on a given night, one or the other on the team would be a ‘star’ for a day, and help win the game.
    .
    Now, the Lakers are like that. They have many stars; many players who can step up and help win. Matt Barnes can have a night like tonight; Steve Blake can also have a night like this as well.
    .
    That’s what Kobe is laughing about. He finally has a team he can depend on. Then, when needed, he can ‘close’ the game or provide help. He can save his legs for important games. This is nothing but good news.

    • Yep

      He’s not really saving his legs or sharing the ball when he is putting up 27 fucking shots!
      Barnes 24 points on 7 shots
      Kobe 23 points on 27 shots
      He is still my favorite player…but holy shit dude! I just don’t get him :(
      Just imagine if he had taken say 10 shots…we would’ve won by 30!

      • 2Phatt

        Yep- Your 100% on point, Jellybean don’t get it. To many DAMN shots, with a bad shoting percentage, dude needs to CHILL he has a great offensive team to work with.

        • sasha4lvp

          agreed. 27 shots!

    • Robert.

      Kobe is ‘getting his legs’ back. He’s not quite there yet. Recall last year, when he had the ‘highest’ shooting percentage of his career, during the same time? (Nov-early Dec?). This was before his hand injury. He was shooting 49%.
      .
      Although one should practice more to get one’s shots perfected for a game (and I’m sure Kobe does that), this is nothing compared with developing your game “IN” a game. Case in point, Sasha is an “11 O’clock” shooter. He has (or had) the highest shooting percentage in practice (at one time). But come game time …… CLUNK.
      .
      Kobe HAS to put up shots, to get in the rhythm of shooting in games. For second or third string players, like Sasha, practice outside the game is much more important. He has to come ‘cold’ off the bench, and make those ‘few’ shots.
      .
      Kobe, on the other hand, is a starter. If he starts missing, he shouldn’t be ‘shut down’. It is said that if a starter misses shots, the antidote is ‘shooting more’. The shots will fall. And then, he’ll get in rhythm and make higher percentages.
      .
      Shooting with 5 players attacking you, and 4 other teammates on the court is much more difficult than shooting on an empty court with a complete open look. Kobe takes ‘difficult’ shots – but has to. Why? Because the other team is focusing on him, double teaming him, hacking. Kobe rarely if ever gets open looks. He has to be creative to get shots.
      .
      He’ll get his rhythm back.

  • Lakersno834

    Just checked out the schedule. After facing Miami on Dec 25th, Lakers play @ Spurs and @ New Orleans. 3 back to back to back games that are gonna be a great test. Closest good team we play before that is one @ Utah and twice against Chicago. Lakers’ schedule is back loaded this year for sure.

  • gameplan

    no worries about hornets and the spurs. I only care for the celts they’re are still dangerous even if they drop to okc and clev.

  • http://57.amklac laffs atu

    YEP your new here, when he misses 20 shots, his knee or pinkie is messed up……….come-on ballwash.

    • laffs atu.

      Yep I’m retarded here! When I miss spelled words every now and then, I feel retarded! my fingers hurt or my wrist is messed up………….come-on people, help a retard out

    • laffs atu.

      YEP YouRe niwe here’ whin hie messis 2 sots, hes kee our pinkie is meessed up…..come on bellwash……keepin it retarded like the real “laffs atu”

    • laffs atu”s vagina

      EVERYONE NEEDS TO STOP PICKING ON LAFFS ATU! WE DON’T NEED TO HEAR ANYMORE WHINING ABOUT BULLIED FAGS KILLING THEMSELVES!

  • http://57.amklac laffs atu

    when you say help a retard you mean bryant right?

    • NBAmazingKB24

      i shink he ment yoo

      • laffs atu”s vagina

        TWAT?

    • laffs atu.

      Well if you’re last name is Bryant laffs atu, then YES RETARD!……….keepin it retarded like the real “laffs atu”

  • Genius

    i just figured this out,,since we need a back up center,,why not try to get TROY MURPHY from the nets,,Vujacic can be a good back up for Morrow,,and Murphy is not really helping the NETS,,so why not trade 2 useless players,,

    NJ=vujacic and 1st round pick
    LAL= Troy Murphy

  • LAKER BOY 82

    MATT BARNES STEPPiN iT UP!

  • http://www.lakerspot.com Scott

    The second unit really picked it up yesterday!

  • 2Phatt

    Great game by Matt, Thriller may find himself sitting often. And with Kobe’s number of shots are totally un-acceptable, There are plenty of game that wouldn’t need a last second shot to win if he had a better percentage. 8-27 that’s just plain RETARED.

  • 2Phatt

    Genius- What kind of genius are you? Troy Murphy…a #1 and Sasha? WTH, c’mon man that don’t make any type of LOGIC.

  • trippleoccho

    Kobe doesn’t need to take all them shots especially against a whack team like the Timberwolves.

  • Lakersthe2010champs

    As a Lakers fan, I hate to see Kobe’s hogging the ball and shooting that much. It totally destroy the chemistry of the team. Everyone can score on this team, so Kobe should respect his teammates and play much less one-on-one. It’s hard to watch Kobe still tries to make all of these acrobat shots one after another. Just like Karl Malone said, with all the good players around, playing basketball does not have to be that hard.

    • Lakersno834

      I totally agree. Kobe is acting like old days kobe again. He’s kinda ticking me off too. He needs to chillax a little bit. Pau pays the most minutes and he doesn’t get the shots he should down in the post until the very end of the game. Kobe is putting up Way too many Long range shots. He feels this urge to stick it to the crowd in the away game. It’s a good thing but make sure that you are also involving your teammates and lighting up that fire in them as well.

  • the lakers rock!!!!!!

    i just needed to blow up some steam. those idiots at espn are ranking the heat at first place, the celtics at 2 and the horents at 3, the lakers are 4 acording to them. are they shitting me, how can that hillinger be so stupid?! the heat lost again to the grizlies, the celtics lost to a thunder team that didnt even had kevin durant at home, and are u really telling me that the hornets are going to finish with a better record than the lakers or beat the lakers in the playoffs for that matter. i had it with those cocksucker, first all that hype for the heat who are clerly in over their heads, and now this bullshit, fuck espn, fuck abc and fuck disney. its ovious to me disney owns the fucking company since they live in a fairy tale

    • Genius

      ive seen JOHN HOLLINGER’s power rankings,,and he always fucking have HEATS on top,,dat guy is more bias than J.A. Adande ahahahaa JOHN HOLLINGER dont know shit

      • the lakers rock!!!!!!

        yeah, sometimes you just have to put aside the hate and see the reality, the lakers are the best team in the nba. any real analist can fucking see that!

    • Robert.

      Hollinger’s stats have ‘incorrectly’ predicted the Champion at the end of the season the last few years since they started.
      .
      “At best”, the statistics predict who will make it ‘into’ the playoffs, and let’s say one of the top 5 on the list will be the Champion.
      .
      But we don’t need his statistics to know that. All we need to do is see who have the top 5 records at the end of the season. We can just look at nba.com, which takes a minute, and no ridiculously subjective calculations necessary.
      .
      Hollinger has ‘always’ fabricated his stats to support whatever argument he wants. He has even created, out of thin air, statistics to support his ‘greatest guard’ arguments, etc. He’ll come up with some far fetched parameter like, “most wins with an opponent’s defense that has fewest rebounds on Tuesday travel days with 3 of the other top players on your team and the opponents with their main star injured for a month or two during a snowy winter” etc. etc. He could even make Radmanovic seem like the greatest player in history.
      .
      It’s 100% subjective, and is in line with EastcoaStPN’s interest in elevating east coast teams, LeBrick, the Cell-Dicks, etc. – AND, diminishing Kobe’s value because the media is still pissed at Kobe for being tight lipped.
      .
      Just a typical Laker hater. Ignore him. He’s nothing but a stat-wanna-be lame reporter geek.

  • the lakers rock!!!!!!

    1 lakers
    2 celtics
    3 spurs
    4 hornets
    5 magic
    6 heat
    this is how i see it, the record its not as important as most analist think, last years playoffs just prove my point. the lakers and the fucking celtics are the two teams to beat and in all honesty, i don’t think anyone can beat the lakers exept for maybe the fucking celtics.

    • daboss1848

      why do proctologists care about nba team records, and who listens to their nba opinions anyway?

  • http://57.amklac laffs atu

    WOW hillbilly laker fans loving dumb-ass bryant and picking the lakers ………priceless!thanks for the good laugh this mornibg…

    • laffs atu.

      WOW retard “laffs atu” doesn’t seem to respond back when people call the Dumb Ass out………….priceless! thenks four thi good lagh theis mornibg……….I’m “laffs atu” and I approve this message.

    • LakersFirst

      Of course, they love picking the Lakers. You know who they are! The Back to Back NBA World Champions!!!

  • http://57.amklac laffs atu

    YOU MEAN THE REACH AROUND WORLD CHAMPIONS……….WILL BE KNOCKED OFF THIS YEAR IF THERE IS A GOD.

    • LakersFirst

      Get ready to become an atheist. With a stronger bench this year, the Lakers are even more dangerous. 10-2 without their starting center. Get ready to hate us more (I love it!!!)

  • Robert.

    Only Boston fans like the Celtics. Only Miami likes the Heat. EVERYONE loves the Lakers. The WORLD loves the Lakers. God loves the Lakers. The Lakers are God’s team, and he wants them to win. The Lakers were created on the 8th day.

  • http://57.amklac laffs atu

    GUESS GOD sent bryant to rape whatshername?i think satan is better suited for hell-a.

    • LakersFirst

      Last time I checked, he was never convicted or found guilty of rape.

      It’s good to see you like to “judge” people.

  • Robert.

    God loves all his children, including you laffs.

  • Genius

    My Power Rankings:
    1. Lakers
    2. Spurs
    3. Celtics
    4. Hornets
    5. Thunders
    6. Heats
    7. Magics
    8. Jazz
    9. Bulls
    10. Mavericks

  • http://57.amklac laffs atu

    thank-you ROBERT.