Ricky Rubio #9 of the Minnesota Timberwolves dribbles away from a fallen Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on February 29, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.
Friday night’s Los Angeles Lakers at Minnesota Timberwolves game is a matchup of two losing teams that have eerily similar stories this season. Both have lost players and games to injuries, and both are fighting the odds and injuries to avoid a lost season.
The Los Angeles Lakers lost their star point guard, Steve Nash, for 26 games at the start of the season. Similarly, the Minnesota Timberwolves were without their star point guard, Ricky Rubio, for the first 20 games of the season. Rubio missed another four games around New Year’s, so Nash has only played two fewer games than the 22-year-old Spaniard.
The Lakers have lost eight in a row on the road, they have lost Dwight Howard for Friday’s game due to a shoulder injury, and they have lost six more games than they have won this season.
Meanwhile, the Timberwolves have lost 10 of their last 11 games, including five in a row. Their star forward, Kevin Love, has only been able to play in 18 games this season, and his broken hand makes him unavailable for Friday night’s contest against the Lakers. Consequently, the Timberwolves have lost eight more games than they have won this season.
The Lakers may believe they are miles ahead of the Timberwolves, but according to the standings, they are only one game up on Minnesota entering Friday night.
Also, the Timberwolves pose a matchup problem for the Lakers, as Minnesota starts two point guards with Luke Ridnour joining Rubio. Rubio does not play long minutes, as he has only hit the 30-minutes mark twice this season. Backup point guard J.J. Barea is the man trusted to take over for Rubio as the game progresses.
Lakers’ fans should remember Barea as the player who destroyed the team with dribble penetration before Andrew Bynum destroyed Barea with a forearm in the 2011 NBA Playoffs.
Suffice to say, the Lakers’ new point guard sensation, Kobe Bryant, will have his hands full on both ends of the court.
Bryant was an unknown point guard before he forcefully took over the reins of the Lakers' offense four games ago. The 34-year-old point guard, who slipped under the radar for over 16 seasons, has averaged 16.5 points, 12.0 assists, 7.8 rebounds, and 3.5 turnovers since taking over distributing duties.
With backup point guard Steve Blake also back from injury, the Lakers will hope their bolstered stable of guards can help avoid a ninth straight road loss.
One guarantee about Friday night’s game is that one of these two losing teams has to win. Thus, either the Lakers or the Timberwolves will snap a long losing streak and hope to build on a rare win.
The loser of Friday night's game, however, will be one loss closer to a lost season.