Where do I even begin?
The Minnesota Timberwolves PR department will send a request for media members to RSVP prior to attending a game in which a large media turnout is expected. This is so that the department knows how many they can (and will) accommodate.
The Wolves PR department was expecting a large media turnout for Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Lakers.
As for the crowd, an array of people sporting purple and gold t-shirts and jerseys gave a decent indication of who the general public was there to see. Kobe Bryant was nine points away from becoming the third-highest scorer in NBA history. And there were few, if any, who believed he would leave Minnesota without accomplishing just that.
At around the 5:00 minute mark of the second quarter Zach LaVine fouled Bryant, sending the 19-year veteran to the free throw line with the chance to tie and surpass Jordan on the aforementioned all-time scorers list. The game paused after he made both free throws; Glen Taylor awarded Bryant with the game ball, and the crowd tipped their proverbial hats after having witnessed basketball history.
The moment Wolves fans should remember that happened on the night Kobe surpassed Jordan was before the game --Andrew Wiggins received his Western Conference Player of the Month award. Wiggins averaged 11.6 points (second among NBA rookies), 3.7 rebounds and 1.13 steals in 15 games, all starts, in November.
Lastly -- as far as ceremonies go -- Minnesota Golden Gopher football coach Jerry Kill was informally presented his own Wolves jersey at halftime. Allthewhile, there was a regular season basketball game being played.
The Lakers were ahead after two quarters, 49-44.
With Mo Williams out of the lineup (again) Zach LaVine got the nod at point guard next to Wiggins, Corey Brewer, Thad Young and Gorgui Dieng. The Lakers countered with Ronnie Price, Bryant, Ed Davis, former Timberwolf Wes Johnson, and Jordan Hill. Collectively, the Wolves and Lakers entered Sunday 12-33.
When the Wolves need Brewer to play point guard, Flip Saunders' first substitution removes Brewer in exchange for Shabazz Muhammad while the other four-starters remain on the floor. This gives Brewer a few minutes to rest before he goes back into the game, replacing LaVine. Moreover, Saunders has been more inclined to play Muhammad because that's recently been his only effective, consistent scoring threat.
At halftime, Muhammad's 14 points was a team high with Wiggins close behind at 10. Muhammad and Wiggins shot 70% and 60% from the field, respectively.
And also this.
And also this (why not).
But Carlos Boozer provided energy and scoring off the bench, scoring eight points and six rebounds in only ten minutes and, overall, the Lakers played solid team basketball during the first half -- 15 of their first 18 field goals were assisted.
In the third quarter, Muhammad scored 11 of the Wolves' 25 points which cut the deficit to two. Still, the Lakers led 71-69 going into the final frame behind double-digit scoring efforts by Bryant, Boozer, Hill and Johnson.
Seven different Wolves made at least one field goal during the fourth quarter. Usually, this would be an indication of San Antonio Spurs-like scoring distribution but that's not the case here. The Wolves made only 9 shots during that span, and didn't execute well enough down the stretch to obtain, let alone sustain a lead.
Aside from Muhammad's 28 points the bench was lackluster as Chase Budinger, Anthony Bennett and Robbie Hummel accounted for just 13 points. Brewer entered the night averaging 5.2 assists in the last five games, and contributed nine against the Lakers. He, along with LaVine recorded 10 points apiece, Young tallied eight and Dieng added nine.
The Wolves were ultimately defeated by the Lakers, 100-94.
For what it's worth, Kobe Bryant said after the game that he remembers being Andrew Wiggins. But there's no telling what Wiggins future will bring.
Flip Saunders expressed that there is no substitute for the experience Wiggins, LaVine, Bennett, Muhammad and Dieng are getting due to all of the injuries.
It's a tired narrative, but that's just what it is.
With the loss, the Wolves are now 5-18 and rank last in the Western Conference.