Wolves crush Lakers 113-90

The last time the Wolves beat the Lakers…well…you already know.

On March 6, 2007, the Minnesota Timberwolves beat the Los Angeles Lakers 117-107 in double overtime. Ricky Davis scored 33 points to lead the Wolves, while Kevin Garnett added 26. Marko Jaric scored 12.

In 2007, Jim Carrey was starring in a mediocre thriller called “The Number 23,” and Jonah Hill was drawing genitalia in “Superbad.” An Avril Lavigne album was the top-selling record overseas.

In 2007, Florida won its second consecutive NCAA men’s basketball championship on the strength of big men Al Horford and Joakim Noah, as well as a scrappy wing named Corey Brewer.

You know where I’m going with this lede. All of these things happened in 2007, which was the last time the Wolves beat the Lakers, as will no doubt be pointed out ad nauseum over the next couple days. And that’s fine. But more important than the end of the streak — much more important, in fact — was the way Minnesota snapped it.

Maybe “snapped” is the wrong word. “Obliterated”? “Demolished?” Whatever. What matters is that the Wolves crushed the Lakers 113-90, riding a historic first quarter for 48 minutes to claim a big win.

Just how historic was that first quarter? Take a look at some of these numbers, from the Wolves PR team:

  • The 47 points bested the franchise record for points in a quarter.
  • Minnesota scored a franchise-record 47 points on 16-of-21 shooting. The Wolves missed their first two shots of the game and went 16-of-19 to close out the quarter. The Wolves ended the quarter on a 30-9 run over the final 6:06.
  • The 47 points were just three off the league record for most points in a first quarter. It was just the 28th time in league history a team had scored 47+ points in the first quarter.
  • As a team the Wolves hit on 7-of-9 attempts from long range in the first quarter – Love 4-of-5 and Martin 2-of-2.

If NBA Jam developers were writing code, they would have made sure either Kevin Martin or Love missed a little more in that first quarter. They were unrealistically, unbelievably hot. And although they cooled off eventually, the Lakers would never get closer than 14.

Putting aside the first quarter (with difficulty), let’s get to some real bullet points:

  • We are nearly 400 words into this recap without mentioning that Ricky Rubio finished with a high-quality triple-double. Rubio tallied 12 points, 10 boards and 14 assists, shooting 5-for-9 from the floor and 2-for-2 from 3-point range. His shooting was probably unsustainable, but his passing was excellent, and he bothered the Lakers into turnovers repeatedly, finishing with five steals.
  • Nikola Pekovic had fairly solid game, scoring 14 points and pulling down seven rebounds. He seemed to get into the flow around the basket a little better as time went on.
  • Minnesota’s defense, for the most part, was EXCELLENT. The Lakers finished with 18 turnovers, and although I wasn’t keeping track, the vast majority were forced by Wolves defenders sneaking up behind bigs for steals or getting their into passing lanes. Steve Blake, of all people, managed to light the Wolves up at times and finished with a team-high 19 points on 11 field goal attempts. But a big part of the reason the Wolves were so successful on the break (19 fast break points, according to ESPN who usually guesses such things very conservatively) was because the defense was stealing the ball and creating transition opportunities.
  • Here’s another reason the transition offense was working so well:

  • Playing Minnesota would be STRESSFUL for a defense. You have to be paying attention every single second on both ends because A) If you fall asleep on defense, Rubio will make you pay B) If you fall asleep on offense, Corey Brewer is leaky like a faucet and C) Kevin Love. See above.
  • The only rainy cloud on this otherwise sunny game: All five starters played more than 30 minutes in a blowout because the bench couldn’t really hold the lead. This wouldn’t be a big deal except the Wolves play the better of the two LA teams tomorrow night in Staples as well.

Minnesota is good this season. The Lakers are not. It wasn’t tough to project that this would be the year the Wolves ended the drought. But after all of the melodrama, it was nice to see Minnesota drain the tension from the beginning.

Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.

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