The Timberwolves have had a rough go of it this season. They sit in 12th place in the Western Conference at 20-34 and are a miserable 3-14 over their last 17 contests.
Life won’t get any easier for the shorthanded Wolves tonight when they face the Lakers. The host of this evening’s 48 have bested the Wolves 20 straight times, the longest active streak in the NBA.
These two sides last met on February 1st in Minnesota with the Lakers prevailing 111-100. Bryant led the way with 17 points, 12 boards and 8 dimes. Five other Lakers scored in double figures, and they battered the Wolves on the glass, 57-40.
Excuses don’t cut it at the pro level, however veteran coach Rick Adelman’s team has been decimated by injuries to key players. 2X All-Star and member of the 2012 USA Gold Medal Olympic team Kevin Love has suited up for only 18 games this season.
Athletic SF Chase Budinger has only competed in 6 contests, and 3X All-Star Brandon Roy a mere 5. Last year’s runner-up for ROY Ricky Rubio has been back for 29 after tearing his ACL last March.
And to make a terrible situation worse, 11th-year starting SF Andrei Kirilenko will be sidelined after straining his left calf in Tuesday’s overtime loss to Phoenix.
At 28-30 and currently in 9th place in the West, the Lakers have had to overcome injuries to Pau Gasol and Steve Nash. But their poor record can mostly be attributed to problems gelling, advanced age and internal strife.
This Laker team with Kobe, Pau, Dwight, Nash, World Peace and Antawn Jamison was expected to make a run at the 2013 title. After all, their starting five has an All-Star at every position and a total of 33 All-Star game appearances between them. But after just 5 games coach Mike Brown was fired and Mike D’Antoni was hired.
Los Angeles has been playing better ball of late going 11-5 in their last 16. However, the Lakers displayed two of their main weaknesses, turnovers and free throw shooting, in Tuesday’s 119-108 loss at Denver. They committed 15 turnovers and shot 14 for 31 from the charity stripe. Howard is shooting a career-worst 48.5% from the line was a painful 3 for 14.
With only 24 games remaining in the regular season, every one is a must-win for LA if they hope to overtake Houston or Utah for a playoff spot. Tune in to TNT at 10:30 PM ET to see if the once Minneapolis Lakers (1947-1960) can continue clawing their way into playoff contention.