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Lakers at Timberwolves: Kobe Bryant's Last Trip to Minnesota

The Wolves host the Lakers tonight at the end of a disappointing four game road trip. It will mark Kobe Bryant's last visit to Minnesota.

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Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

There has been some talk about the disappointing Target Center crowds during this home stand--we discussed it on the Awkward Bounce podcast (@Awkward_bounce), we talked about it at the Blazers game on Saturday, and our friend from Spain IberianWolf was particularly unhappy with us after his first Target Center appearance.

That shouldn't be a problem tonight, at least in terms of numbers and likely noise, as the Lakers come to town. The Lakers always draw a ton of fans to their road games, with yellow and purple jerseys descending on Target Center in huge numbers. Tonight it's likely to be even more extreme, as this will be Kobe Bryant's final visit to Target Center.

The Lakers come in a train wreck: 3-18 on the season on merit. They are in the bottom three of both offensive and defensive rating, and it's very difficult to find anything they do well.

Kobe, meanwhile, having announced his retirement, is still carrying an incredible 30.7% usage rate and a 30.6% field goal percentage. He's scoring 16 points a game on over 17 shots. That's tough to do.

Meanwhile, for reasons known only to him, Byron Scott not only lets Kobe continue this reign of shot taking terror, but, at 3-17, decided the correct move was to bench his two most promising young players, Julius Randle and D'Angelo Russell, who had been starting all season. This does have the benefit of getting them away from Kobe a little bit, but seems an odd decision given where the season is clearly going for the Lakers.

The Wolves beat the Lakers on the opening night of the season, hanging on for a win in L.A. after a late charge by the Lakers. Ricky Rubio had a huge night, going for 28 and 14, while Karl-Anthony Towns managed a 14 and 12 double-double in his debut.

Tonight is a must win following three straight home losses that have featured everything you don't want to see: poor end of game execution, coming out flat, blowing a big lead, it's all been on display over the last week at Target Center. I was extremely optimistic coming into these four home games that the Wolves, then at 8-9, could sweep, or at least take 3 of 4 against mediocre competition. Instead they have been outplayed and out coached, and almost every player has taken their turn to be the goat.

We've seen that the Wolves still have significant weaknesses that must be addressed, which include three point shooting, ball-movement, defensive awareness, and overall consistency. I suppose all of this was to be expected, but it's been disappointing to see it all come crashing down during an eminently winnable home stand.

They have to salvage something by beating the Lakers tonight. Losing to a 3-18 squad after the last week would be horrendous.  Andrew Wiggins, who has struggled badly over the last couple of games, has to find his home form--he's been much, much better on the road so far this season.

Once again, the Wolves have some winnable games coming up: their next seven include the Lakers tonight, two against the Nuggets, the Kings and the Nets. Once again, it's an opportunity to make some hay.

This time they have to make some hay. Starting tonight. Given how many Lakers/Kobe fans will be there, perhaps they can be fooled into thinking it's a road game.

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