Jonah: I tweeted the other day the amount of possessions Ricky Rubio has stolen away from the opposition in the matter of six games. He only managed one last night but his stat stuffing ways never declined. And despite another poor-to-mediocre shooting night, he still managed to fall just short of a 13/13/8 triple double. It would’ve been the first of his career. There’s no doubt in my mind he’ll get it soon but I guess it was the only mini victory worth cheering for in the wake of that travesty.
Tom: Of all of the streaky, undersized potential game-changers in the NBA, JJ Barea is perhaps the least predictable. There is absolutely no way to know whether good Barea (8-14 from the field, 20 points) or bad Barea (7-17 for 16 points against Phoenix) is going to show up on any given night. Sometimes when good Barea shows up, it’s enough of a spark to push Minnesota passed a better team. That wasn’t the case against the Lakers in part because Barea, along with the rest of Minnesota’s perimeter defenders, allowed the Lakers to drop in 16 3-pointers. But…he scored a bunch, I guess? So yay?
Jonah: Before and after Nikola Pekovic left the game, the Lakers attacked the paint. The Wolves have never been a great interior defending team due to sloth-like slow rotations. There was one play where Derrick Williams got beat off the dribble baseline by Kobe Bryant and Pekovic suffered the wrath of a poor, mistimed bailout with a tremendous dunk. It was a simple play that made Kobe look like God — as he did most of the game — that never should’ve happened if the Wolves’ interior help defense was just one step ahead like it usually should be. A great coach once told me, “Defense is not about reaction. It’s about anticipation.”
Tom: Watching the game with some friends, I pointed out as the game was coming to a merciful end that Minnesota couldn’t even put in their scrubs because all of their scrubs are starters at this point. The injury train has gone completely off the rails for the Wolves, as Nikola Pekovic left the game after nine minutes with an abdominal strain. There doesn’t seem to be an update just yet as to whether or not Pek will play in Portland on Saturday.
Jonah: Due to Andrei Kirilenko’s injury, the starting lineup was all out of sorts the entire game. The Lakers made that message clear in the first half with 57 points, and the Wolves never really had a chance to get back in it with such wide margins. The matchup the I chuckled at was seeing Williams try to stick with Kobe all game. Again, it’s not his fault he was stuck with the improbable task of guarding one of the league’s best offensive weapons but it happened. Williams only managed to get hands in Kobe’s face when he was being “lazy” and settling for step-backs. But when Kobe would attack Williams, slow feet, lumbering body and all, it was no contest.
As the title suggests, this is the 21st straight loss to the hands of the dreaded Lakers. Let history be our judge, but do the Wolves really deserve this kind of streak? It’s bad enough that the team that started professional basketball in the Twin Cities, that saw great success, moved to L.A. in the first place, but now we suffer through painful defeats on the reg. The Lakers will always be the enemy, folks. Never forget that.
Tom: The Lakers scored 48 points from 3-point range and 42 points in the lane. That adds up to a total of 90 points. When you add LA’s 12 made free throws, you get 102. What does this mean? The Lakers didn’t need to take a single shot deemed “inefficient” to beat Minnesota.
Next up: The Wolves end their road trip with a game against Portland, Saturday night at 9 pm.