Tim's Game Preview: Game 41, Los Angeles Lakers

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It's going to be a "White Out" tonight at the Target Center when the Wolves face the Lakers.

Minnesota Timberwolves (21-19) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (23-16) at Target Center

It has been five years since the Minnesota Timberwolves defeated the Los Angeles Lakers in a regular season basketball game. A lot has happened since March 6, 2007. George W. Bush was still the President of the United States. Brett Favre was still quarterback of the Green Bay Packers. 300 was tops at the box office and Justin Timberlake's "What Goes Around" was the #1 single on the Billboard Top 100.

The Lakers' streak of 17 wins against the Wolves includes 2 this season on January 29th and February 29th. The first, at the Target Center, was close until late in the fourth, when Kobe Bryant sealed a 106-101 victory with a couple of jumpers. The second, at STAPLES Center, was a 104-85 blowout (although the Wolves were missing Kevin Love).

Tonight, the Wolves' staff has prepared for a "White Out" at Target Center, where all fans will receive a white t-shirt prior to the game. Unfortunately, the plans for a complete white out will likely be foiled by bandwagon fans wearing Laker jerseys (and hats, and shoes, and socks...)

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"I don't think anybody can really say that we're the laughingstock of the NBA anymore. If you come in here thinking that, you're going to catch an 'L' real quick," said Wesley Johnson after Wednesday's win over the Portland Trail Blazers, in which Johnson had a season-best 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting.

Projected Starting Lineups

C: Nikola Pekovic vs. Andrew Bynum
PF: Kevin Love vs. Pau Gasol
SF: Wesley Johnson vs. Metta World Peace
SG: Luke Ridnour vs. Kobe Bryant
PG: Ricky Rubio vs. Derek Fisher

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Kobe Bryant, preparing for his post-basketball career as The Black Mamba, the world's clutchiest superhero.

Last 5 Games

Los Angeles Lakers: (Tied for 1st in Pacific w/LAC; 5th in West)

Wed, Feb 29: Win vs. Minnesota 104-85
Fri, Mar 2: Win vs. Sacramento 115-107
Sun, Mar 4: Win vs. Miami 93-83
Tue, Mar 6: Loss at Detroit 85-88 (OT)
Wed, Mar 7: Loss at Washington 101-106

Minnesota Timberwolves: (3rd in Northwest, 10 1/2 behind OKC; 8th in West)

Wed, Feb 29: Loss at LA Lakers 85-104
Thu, Mar 1: Loss at Phoenix 95-104
Sat, Mar 3: Win at Portland 122-110
Mon, Mar 5: Win vs. LA Clippers 95-94
Wed, Mar 7: Win vs. Portland 106-94

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Over the last three seasons with Dallas, Barea played in 79, 78 and 81 games, respectively. This season, he's only played in 23 of 40 games with the Timberwolves.

Injuries

Los Angeles Lakers:

No notable injuries

Minnesota Timberwolves:

J.J. Barea - Doubtful with a sprained left ankle
Nikola Pekovic - Sore right foot/ankle; practiced on Thursday

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"Maybe if we never let go, they won't trade either of us to Orlando."

Noteworthy Stats

  • Over the last three games, Kevin Love is averaging 36.7 points and 14.3 rebounds
  • Love's 8.6 FTA per game are 2nd highest in the NBA, behind only Dwight Howard with 10.8; Love's 7.2 FTM per game are the highest in the NBA (Howard is 10th with 5.3)
  • A win tonight would be the sixth straight home victory for the Wolves, a feat that has not happened since April 12th, 2004
  • After having the highest number of turnovers per game during the past two seasons, the Wolves are only 26th this season (15.7)
  • Since breaking his nose, Kobe Bryant is averaging 30.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game on 43% shooting (his season averages are 28.7 points, 5.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game on 44% shooting)
  • Wesley Johnson is in the midst of a 5-game streak with 0 free throw attempts. It is his third streak of 5 or more FTA-less games this season, including a 7-game streak to begin the season.
  • 8 NBA starters have had a streak longer than 7 games without a FTA this season, with Andris Biedrins and Lavoy Allen tied for 1st at 13 games. The others are Ben Wallace (10), DeShawn Stevenson (9), Boris Diaw (two streaks of 8 games), Jason Kidd (8) and Anthony Parker (8)

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Just in case you needed any extra motivation to root for the Timberwolves against the Lakers. Imagine this guy at Target Center tonight ...surrounded by a few hundred of his friends.

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