NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, March 9 (All times eastern)
Los Angeles Lakers (23-16) at Minnesota Timberwolves (21-19), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Los Angeles Lakers have lost two straight games against some of the worst the NBA has to offer and will try to salvage the finale of a three-game road trip tonight against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Lakers started their trip with an 88-85 overtime loss at Detroit on Tuesday, then came out the next night and dropped a 106-101 decision in Washington to fall to 6-14 as the visitor this season. Kobe Bryant led all scorers with 30 points, while Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum had 19 points apiece for Los Angeles, which blew a 21-point lead in the second half.
"I was out there kind of loafing around and having a good time," Bynum admitted postgame. "They caught up, they got their home crowd into it and they were able to hit shots."
Los Angeles last lost three in a row from Jan. 19-22 this season and are percentage points behind the rival Clippers for first place in the Pacific Division. The Lakers, who own a stunning 17-2 mark at home, have lost three in a row as the guest.
Bryant is 12 points shy of 29,000 for his career and is averaging 30.8 ppg in his previous five games. The Lakers will return to Staples Center to host Boston on Sunday and had won three straight and eight of 10 games before the current slide.
Minnesota will resume a four-game homestand Friday and has won three in a row, including the first two installments of its residency. In Wednesday's 106-94 victory over Portland, Kevin Love posted 29 points and 16 rebounds to lead the charge and Luke Ridnour added 22 points.
Wesley Johnson had 19 for the Timberwolves, who have won five in a row at home and improved to 12-10 in the Twin Cities this season.
"Their team was settling for jump shots. They missed more than they made and I think that kept them off the free throw line," Minnesota's Martell Webster said of the Trail Blazers, who attempted just four foul shots.
Wolves guard J.J. Barea (ankle) is doubtful for today and center Nikola Pekovic (foot/ankle) is listed as questionable.
The Wolves have won eight of their last 11 games and will close out the homestand Saturday versus New Orleans. They have lost twice to the Lakers this season and 17 in a row overall in this series. LA's winning streak over Minnesota is the longest by the team since defeating Dallas 19 straight times from 1995-99.
Los Angeles is unbeaten in eight straight meetings at Minnesota. The Wolves haven't topped the Lakers since a 117-107 double-overtime victory back on March 6, 2007 at Target Center.
03/09 11:09:54 ET