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 Lakers 98, Wolves 86: Postgame

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PostSubject: Lakers 98, Wolves 86: Postgame   Tue Dec 16, 2008 6:13 pm

Published by Mike Trudell
on December 14, 2008

Remember the San Antonio Spurs of 2005 or 2007? Generally speaking,
those squads would ease through their early schedule before really
ramping things up heading into the playoffs.
One difference between those Spurs teams and this Lakers team is
that L.A. is still managing to win nearly every game (20-3’s pretty
good) while not playing at their best. Whether or not L.A. is able to
do the same of course remains to be seen, but I’m not sure that a great
deal of worrying should be occurring with the current circumstances
surrounding the team.
Sunday against the Timberwolves, who had the ill-fortune of drawing
the Lakers in their white jerseys (L.A.’s 5-0 in white), Andrew Bynum
and Pau Gasol used their length to disturb Minnesota’s best player, Al
Jefferson, into 8-of-24 shooting (20 points). When Jefferson struggles,
Minnesota struggles (36.1 percent shooting), and the Lakers took
advantage particularly in the fourth quarter, when they pulled away
early and kept a double-digit lead for most of the period. To be fair,
Minnesota (4-19) is among the best matchups in the league for L.A.,
because their bigs don’t spend much time on the perimeter, which has
been about the only way to really threaten the Lakers this season.
Speaking of this season, among my favorite quotes thus far came from
Wolves head coach Kevin McHale (who took over after Randy Wittman was
fired last week) when he spoke about L.A.’s length: “The two big guys
that are in there are big guys.”
Right. Not just on defense, as it turned out… Gasol finished with 18
points, 11 boards and six assists with three blocks, while Bynum put up
14 points, nine boards, three assists and three blocks. Kobe Bryant
tossed in 26 points to lead all scorers, while Trevor Ariza contributed
14 points, three steals and five boards off the bench.
Other than Minnesota’s 17 turnovers - which they actually made up
for on the offensive glass - the biggest statistic was the 52-32 points
in the paint edge for the Lakers, which again goes back to L.A.’s
length. But let’s get a good McHale quote in here, as it’s quite
telling in terms of low-post philosophy:
“I thought that tonight we had a couple plays early where our guys
drove hard and they got an offensive foul on Foye, and Bynum came over
and I thought he bodied him before Randy threw his arm off and you get
a couple of those early and it makes you a little bit passive to get in
there. We got to turn the corner and keep attacking the paint. You
don’t got to attack the paint to shoot it, you got to attack the paint
to play out of it, and I thought we got a little bit passive at times
out there attacking the paint.”
A good point he makes, as the Wolves certainly became a jump
shooting team when they either realized they weren’t getting calls, or
that Bynum and Gasol were too disruptive. That ultimately helped spell
the visitor’s doom.
Finally, your numbers:
89.5
Free throw percentage for L.A. on 17-of-19, after the team had missed
14 free throws against Sacramento on Friday. Both misses were courtesy
of Bynum; Kobe, Pau, Fisher and Ariza were all perfect from the charity
stripe.
52
Points in the paint for the Lakers, compared with just 32 for the Timberwolves.
37.5
Kobe Bryant’s shooting percentage on 9-of-24, after he was 11-of-21
(52.4 percent) on Friday night. Bryant struggled against Phoenix on
Wednesday (6-of-16, 37.5 percent) and the Kings on Tuesday (9-of-25, 36
percent). Add that up, and he’s shooting 40.7 percent in his last four
games.
36.1
Minnesota’s field goal percentage, including 1-for-5’s from Sebastian
Telfair and Kevin Love, a 2-for-12 from Randy Foye and Jefferson’s
8-of-24. Ryan Gomes (5-of-11), Craig Smith (5-of-Cool and Mike Miller
(4-of-6) all shot well.
10
Boards for Lamar Odom, tying a season high. Odom scored six points and
added two steals, a block and an assist, but wasn’t happy that Gasol
and Bryant had to re-enter the game in the fourth quarter.
6
Assists for Derek Fisher, a season high.
3
Blocks by both Gasol and Bynum. Al Jefferson added three swats for Minnesota.

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