In case you were unaware, Kobe Bryant has played basketball for many seasons in the NBA. He has also announced that this will be his final season, and given that this was the final regular-season game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Minnesota Timberwolves and that they have the two worst records in the Western Conference, this was Kobe's final game against the Wolves. Wouldn't you know it, he had comfortably his best game of the season, and the Wolves failed to beat one of the only teams with a worse record than them in a 119-115 loss from Los Angeles.
The problems with the Wolves were the same as they've been for most of the season: they didn't make a three pointer until most of the way through the third quarter and finished 4-17 from behind the arc. Karl-Anthony Towns attempted only nine shots in 32 minutes on the floor. The defense continued to be abysmal, allowing 119 points to a Laker team that hadn't ever scored that many in a non-overtime game this season, and the most they'd scored in any game since December 9, a game in which they played... the Timberwolves.
The Lakers had lost ten straight. The win takes them to 10-41 on the season, still four wins behind the Wolves (who, for the record, remain only two wins behind their win total from the entirety of last season). This basketball team is not good. Yes, Kobe had his best game of the year and made vintage Kobe shots that have often been airballs this year, but the Wolves again were down by double digits at the end of the third quarter, and while Andrew Wiggins started the fourth quarter on fire to drag them back into it, they dug the hole too deep and, once again, couldn't execute late in the game on either offense or defense.
Instead of continuing to bemoan all of that, let's examine Kobe's career against the Wolves. This was his sixty-fourth and final game of his career against Minnesota, and his 38 points tonight were the third most he's ever scored in a single game against the Wolves, nine years after his best effort of 50 in March 2007. You can see each and every one of those scorelines here, thanks to the excellent Basketball Reference. Almost more surprising than the 38 points were the seven 3s Kobe poured in. He had never made more than four in a single game this season. Seven was his most in a game since 2008, and the most he's ever made in a game against the Wolves.
In short, a dude who has shot 27.3% from beyond the arc this season went off and made seven threes, and held off a decent attempt at a comeback from the Wolves. Andrew Wiggins got up to 30 points before fouling out shortly before the end of the game, and Ricky Rubio made a few incredible passes on his way to 15 assists. The problem, as it so often is, was what happens when Rubio, Wiggins and Towns leaves the floor.
This is an embarrassing loss, and one that likely slots in as the second worst loss of the year behind the embarrassment of the second loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. The thing is, I'm not nearly as angry as I was after that game. I'm disappointed, but this almost felt inevitable. It feels like last season again.