Lakers 104, Wolves 85: Shaken, not stirred
These things happen.
We can’t all be Kobe Bryant. In fact, these are the nights we wonder how Kobe Bryant is Kobe Bryant. He should’ve been in bed like the rest of us; wallowing in self pity and reaching for that second pint of ice cream. Instead, there he was, pirouetting into those patented fadeaways, jumping passing lanes, and whipping assists to teammates. If dislocations, torn ligaments, aching knees, a broken nose and a concussion won’t slow him down, then Kobe has simply run out of ways to amaze us. We applaud his excellence with a yawn and shake of the head.
Kevin Love, on the other hand, didn’t play tonight; presumably bed ridden with reported flu-like symptoms. This doesn’t make him weak, or any less of a competitor, it just makes the Wolves a befuddled mess. They’d gotten by without him before–including much of the previous night–however those are the exceptions, not the rule.
Or did you expect the bench to outscore our starters for the second straight contest? Well, they did (49-36), but Kobe (31) almost did too. There simply weren’t enough shooters to keep the defense honest, there weren’t enough post threats on either side of the ball to negate the Lakers size advantage, and there never has been a slasher to keep things moving, much less compete with a Hall of Famer.
Or perhaps you expected another outburst from Derrick Williams? Instead, he just set the bar impossibly high for himself. No one in NBA history has done what he did against the Clippers. This wasn’t Kenyon Martin stumbling around the perimeter after Williams, it was a sharp, lengthy and disciplined defense denying him room to operate. Even when he found space, he still missed. So Williams remains a puzzle; forced to play out of position, yet appealing to his nature won’t always yield positive results. If we honestly believe that the key to Williams development is to let him fire away from 18 feet until he happens upon another hot streak, then we’re destined to be more disappointed than he is.
Or maybe you thought Ricky Rubio would run circles around the Lakers inept point guards? Well, they tried to trap him and he found the open man. He even got out in transition and manufactured a few more easy buckets. But he also found himself in a painfully familiar position; capable of creating for everyone except himself. After a series of impressive performances before the break, fatigue seems to have taken over and our young man is now in quite the slump. Tentative and aimless, Ricky is back to shooting as a last resort. Gasol & Bynum’s length definitely didn’t help matters, blocking two of the few clear looks he happened upon, leading to a 1-8 performance on the night and a ghastly 9-39 in his last four games.
Unfortunately, this apparently is a situation we can only hope Rubio shoots himself out of. He certainly can’t overhaul his game in the midst of this hectic schedule with no practices, and abstaining from shooting will only make things easier for the opposition. We just have to play the percentages. Those numbers will creep back up and they’ll probably plummet a few more times too. But hey, these things happen.
The Wolves were without their best player and soundly beaten by the better team. There honestly isn’t much else to say about tonight other than get well soon, Kevin.