The Lakers are a damn good team. They are damn, damn good when Matt Barnes doesn't miss. I'm not really sure there is a whole lot to analyze and take away from this tilt other than the fact that the Wolves were not able to catch the world champs on back-to-back bad efforts. Quite to the contrary, they caught them firing on closer to all cylinders than none.
I suppose the big Wolves story of the night should be the 2nd quality game in a row from Darko Milicic (23 points, 16 rebounds, 5 assists, and 6 blocks), but the elephant in the room was that Kevin Love played one of the worst professional games I have ever seen played by a guy who we think is a top-shelf talent. Love ended the game with a -27, 0 points, 3 blocked attempts, 7 rebounds, and a whole lot of flat, uninspired, garbage play. He's had a good run of it lately, so it's easy to give him the benefit of the doubt for a single bad game, but this nonsense was so far and beyond the norm that it registers as nothing short of shocking. On the same night the team announces that it will sell special commemorative 31/31 t-shirts, the guy responsible for their inspiration puts up one of the biggest stinkers in recent franchise memory. Here's hoping he bounces back in the next game because he turned in a downright embarrassing effort in front of a full house against the Lakers.
On the positive side of things, Darko played some solid two way ball and Wes Johnson is an amazing defender for a rookie. Against a healthy dose of Wes Johnson, Kobe Bryant was held to 23 points on 27 shots. Kobe isn't exactly the explosive player he used to be and he leans a bit heavier on the fade-away jumper than he used to, but it was obvious that Johnson's length and athleticism gave Bryant a bit more trouble than a typical defender and it led to his poor shooting night being something a bit more than just being "off". What is so impressive about Johnson is that he doesn't bite on the fakes and tricks. He's a level-headed player and it shows in all aspects of his game.
Finally, while it was obvious that the Lakers were the far superior team and that they would have beaten the Wolves no matter what, it was impossible to ignore the awful referring in tonight's action. It was straight-up obscene. The bad call of the night came on a Kobe fast break where he was forced into a missed layup only to see the whistle blown once the ref saw that the shot was not going to drop. In a bar full of casual sports fans, this sort of obvious play was enough to draw loud groans from people who think that the NBA is something just short of rigged. That's too bad and it was painful to watch.
Why did the Wolves lose? Talent. Beyond that, they equaled the Lakers FTA mark but they did so with 6 more shots from the field. In other words, the Lakers had a higher percentage of trips to the line and their eFG was a full 10 points higher than the home team. 6-26 from beyond the arc will do that to a squad.
Well folks, that about does it for now. What say you?